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Letter to Dapo Abiodun

Published by The Nation on Fri, 19 Apr 2019


Sir, let me start by congratulating you for a battle well-fought. If man were God, Adekunle Akinlade would have been declared Ogun State governor-elect. It is for this reason that the interest of the people of Ogun State should be your primary focus when you are sworn-in on May 29, which incidentally also marks your 59th birthday.Let me make it clear here sir that my intent in writing you is not to rubbish the records of outgoing Governor Ibikunle Amosun. Like all mortals, he has his faults, which some people believe are capable of eclipsing his achievements. I leave that for time to decide. I was excited some days back when your spokesman, Remmy Hazzan, released a statement on your 23-man economic transition committee. According to the statement: Ogun State is blessed with an abundance of human resources in all fields of endeavour and this is reflected in the array of distinguished sons and daughters who have volunteered their skills, rich and diverse experience, and vast network, to work on this important assignment. Furthermore, our commitment to provide an inclusive Government is expressed in the composition of the committee.Looking through the membership of the committee chaired by Mr Tunde Lemo, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), I felt you mean business. I also like the fact that you looked beyond party affiliation by including Dr Reuben Abati, who was Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship running mate, and Mr Gboyega Isiaka, who was a rival in the poll. This shows that you know that for Ogun State to develop, all hands must be on deck.At the risk of telling you things you know sir, permit me to recap the place of Ogun State in Nigerias history. Ogun State has produced two Heads of State. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, aside from his time as military Head of State, also led us as a civilian president for eight years. No one in the countrys history has this kind of record. Ogun also produced a Head of State in Chief Ernest Shonekan. Ogun was home to the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Great minds such as Prof. Wole Soyinka, Chief Olusegun Osoba and many more are sons of Ogun State. I dare say Ogun is a state whose history other states, including my Lagos, cannot boast of.Up till now, Ogun State anthem makes me nostalgic. I sang it for six years as a student of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Isaga-Orile, near Abeokuta, and can still recite it word for word. The lines are powerful and the message in it I indulge you to imbibe.Sir, I have said all this for you to know that you are not going to govern just another state. You are going to govern Ogun, the home of Olumo Rock, the home of men of no mean stature, the home of great teachers and above all, the land of knowledge. This great state, which is number three in terms of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), deserves to be better than what it is. I sincerely believe that the state has not fully taken advantage of its closeness to Lagos. Agreed that the Ibikunle Amosun administration was able to work on its proximity to Lagos to raise the IGR significantly, the border towns, such as Alagbole, Agbara, Lusada, Mowe, Ibafo and Akute, are treated as though they are in Lagos State. Yet, residents pay their taxes to Ogun.I am always sad each time I visit friends in Akute and its axis. The Amosun administration went to this axis with bulldozers to pull down houses and started a massive bridge that, if completed, would have opened up the axis to greatness. In the beginning, the pace of work was frenetic. By the time people started salivating of the coming goodness, works technically ceased and even when it was later resumed and more houses pulled down, the pace was never the same again. And driving in the axis became a pain. It got so bad that residents had to forcefully inaugurate the bridge to ease their pain.Inner roads in Lusada, Mowe, Akute, Lambe and many of the border towns are in a terrible state. Other amenities, such as pipe-borne water, are inexistent. Sir, I am emphasising developments in the border towns because I believe they have a major role to play in Ogun States future. Abeokuta is important; Ijebu-Ode is germane, but there are immediate gains to get from fixing the towns close to Lagos.Let me also state here sir that you should avoid one major mistake when you resume on May 29let the past be in its rightful position. Let the people know what you have for them and not bore them with how your predecessors actions are making you unable to better their lives. The people know that hospitals are not in their best; they know that many schools are in states of disrepair; they know that many roads are terrible, and they know that water supply has not received the attention it deserves. With your experience in the business world and in politics, what the people expect is for you to tell them how you will improve the bad situation. Workers need to know they will get their allowances and salaries; teachers need to know they will have opportunities for retraining, and farmers need to know that the government can support them to commercialise their farms.I will also like to point out the need for your administration to make the best of the fact that Ogun is home to many higher institutions. Some even say no state has more higher institutions than Ogun. Sir, it should be about quality and not quantity. If you carry your due diligence and discover that any of these government-owned institutions cannot meet up with the quality standard expected, please shut it down or find a way to get it up to the required standard.Before I let you have your peace, sycophants are already plotting how to make you feel you are the best man in the whole wide world. Liars. That is what they are. Do not take them seriously. They are out to ruin you. The Yoruba will say: eniyan laso mi. You need to surround yourself with quality people, people who can look at you in the face and tell you the truth. This is how to succeed. Anything short of this is an invitation to failure.For now, say me well to your wonderful mother, Mrs. Victoria Abiodun. I cant stop seeing that picture of her praying for you in my minds eyes. Say me well to your kids and wife, too. But above all, Ogun deserves much more than what is currently on offer and taking the towns bordering Lagos more serious is a good starting point.
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