Two months into his second year in office as governor, the people of Ogun State have begun to express worry over Prince Dapo Abiodun’s alleged sluggish approach to governance.
Ogun State citizens, who say they are losing patience over the governor’s snail speed, maintain that the nature of his emergence, especially the stiff opposition to his emergence from his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was enough to spur him into expeditious performance.
It would be recalled that a section of the state All Progressives Congress (APC), which left the party, joined the newly formed Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
Wining the election against all odds, the people of the Gateway state therefore saw Prince Abiodun as the much-awaited Messiah to turn the fortunes of the state around within the shortest possible time.
Part of the great expectations from Abiodun, his cabinet and Ogun APC are majorly in the areas of infrastructure, especially road construction, rural development and urban facelift, due to dilapidated infrastructure and retinue of abandon projects across the state left behind by the immediate past administration.
The people of Ogun State hold the belief that the administration has so far performed below expectation, noting that although Abiodun’s mien portrays him as a humble servant with the interest of his people at heart, he appears to be faltering in his approach to governance.
Findings by The Guardian revealed that the laissez faire attitude to mandate delivery could turn out as a serious albatross on the governor’s ability to make the desired change in the state.
Some commentators said that in terms of achievements, the state has never had it so bad since the return of civilian administration in 1999, compared to the number of projects completed and commissioned by previous administrations within their first 12 months in office.
Governor Abiodun’s critics attribute his underperformance to late appointment of commissioners, which they said crowned his perceived unpreparedness for the task of governing the state.
To the average resident, the governor seems to have taken up a responsibility that he was not equipped for, considering the way and manner he handles state matters.
For instance, it is common knowledge that on January 10, 2020, when the commissioners were appointed, the governor had already wasted more than seven months before forming his government.
It is generally believed that cabinet members, particularly commissioners, help a governor to coordinate his programmes and deliver on his agenda, but within the period before cabinet members were yet to be appointed, the governor had some Special Advisers and other aides that could not handle governance properly.
While analyzing the state of governance in Ogun State, an indigene and former spokesperson of Atiku Presidential Campaign, Segun Sowunmi, picked holes on the performance of the governor.
According to Sowunmi, who contrasted the current administration with its predecessors, including those of Chief Olusegun Osoba in 1999, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Amosun, Governor Abiodun “is going about things in a rather snail slow speed, which suggests a lack of preparedness.
“…Moving on to the present administration, with the activities of His Excellency Dapo Abiodun, perhaps it may seem that he is up to something. But what is it with this winking in the dark? What are his handlers doing relative to what we are used to in Ogun State? The continuous statements about public-private partnerships seem to me that the Abiodun government has no clear agenda of its own.
“And in case it does, it is going about things in a rather snail slow speed, which suggests a lack of preparedness. And to think his government put together such a large committee, with a few good names to look at things, is baffling to a patriotic citizen and lover of Ogun State.” Sowunmi’s remarks received welcome approvals, just as governor’s aides descended on him, attacking his person and describing him as a partisan observer. Yet, the first major road that set tongues wagging was the 32Km Sango-Ojodu Abiodun road in Ogun State.
Though contract for its rehabilitation was awarded by the Amosun administration, it was abandoned and there was much public anticipation that the new administration would pull it through given that the road can reduce their travel time while opening up the area for commerce.
Perhaps, based on the people’s expectations, Abiodun promised extensive rehabilitation of the road, which actually took off, but was abruptly abandoned mid-way, thereby worsening the situation.
Not only is the road currently in serious state of disrepair and abandonment, the overhead bridge at Ijoko, which forms part of the project has begun to collapse due to the activities of heavy duty trucks and articulated vehicles used by contractors working on the rail lines construction.
Also, it was gathered that some other projects Governor Abiodun inherited from the preceding administration have also been left to depreciate and rot further.
Prominent among the roads, sources said, are within Abeokuta area, including the Kuto, Ajitadun-Elega bridges, Ilaro-Owode Road; Aiyetoro -Lafenwa Road, and Adigbe-Panseke road, among others.
Sources also disclosed that some other projects were left untouched since the governor assumed office, just as the government abruptly stopped contractors working on others.
A fortnight ago, the state announced it has mobilised back to sites all contractors handling uncompleted projects inherited from the previous administration without further delay.
The Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ade Akinsanya, disclosed this after inspecting some of the roads and flyovers under construction in Abeokuta, the state capital. He also disclosed that government had released funds sufficient to execute all abandoned projects across the state in record time, adding, “It is embarrassing that many of these projects had been awarded since 2012 and 2013.”
However, as at penultimate Tuesday when The Guardian visited the state, it was observed that no serious work has taken place so far. At the Kuto overhead bridge, it was observed that skeletal work was ongoing, with little or no supervision.
On November 15, 2019, when the governor visited the scene of a fatal tanker fire accident, at the old Tollgate, Sango, which killed two persons and 17 vehicles burnt, he did not only shed tears, but also promised: “We shall do everything humanly possible to forestall future recurrence.”
Though a federal road, Abiodun promised to expedite action to immediately begin reconstruction of the axis, for easy movement of goods and people, and consequently, “a reduction in the occurrence of accidents of this nature.”
But, again, seven months down the lane, the condition of the Tollgate has not only gone from bad to worse, over 10 different accidents have been recorded after, with more than 15 lives lost.
An Abeokuta-based political analyst, Mr. Oyinloye Benson, in an x-ray of Abiodun’s style of governance, advised residents of the state not to expect much from his administration.
He said: “I don’t think it has taken any of his predecessors so long to appoint commissioners. The excuse tabled by his supporters and party members on the issue of funds were not tenable. How do you expect results, when the necessary parameters were not put in place on time?
“He has forced people to begin unwarranted comparison of his administration to Amosun’s, whose stooge was voted out due to what the state suffered in his eight years administration.
“I am not sure Abiodun prepared to govern the state, the last few months have exposed his inadequacies and I have no doubt that he may not leave the state better than he met it. His approach to governance is not good for the interest of this state.”
The immediate past chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Comrade Arabambi Abayomi, who doubles as the chairman of Labour Party (LP), said several factors slowed down the administration’s efforts.
“All the previous governors were sworn in with one united and very loyal party structure behind them, unlike in Dapo’s case, where the crisis keeps festering, until its present position that threatens an implosion. Nonetheless, after the administration settled down and fully stabilised, he got his government policies, projects and programmes speaking for his administration.
“Meanwhile, besides, and notwithstanding all of the above, for anyone to rate the Amosun government anywhere near the performance of Dapo Abiodun would be an exercise that is denied logic, simply because you can’t successfully compare a government that is performing and developing each and all sectors to a government of a mono-sector performance.
“Amosun was active in developing only roads in exclusively one Senatorial Zone, while Dapo has been creditably acknowledged across the state as a governor performing very well and commendably in virtually all the sectors of government.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Kunle Somorin, denied the allegation of slow performance, saying, “The last one-year and the achievements on ground negate the ‘imagined slowness’.
“Sango-Ota through Akute to Lagos is about 32 km and has five or six bridges. Three of the bridges were almost completed before the contractor, CCC, left the site.
“We are reassessing this road with a view to getting it completed. We’ve already discussed with the contractors, who are ready to return to site.
“It is not just this one alone. There are several others that were abandoned around the state, which a projects review committee set up by Mr. Governor has worked on. These include, the Ilaro – Owode Road; Aiyetoro – Lafenwa Road; Ilishan – Ago Iwoye Road; Ikangba – Lagos Garage – Ilese Road in Ijebu; Journalists Estate Road, Arepo and others.
“Be assured that a large chunk of the N250b recently approved by the House of Assembly will go to infrastructure, especially the roads in question. We have about 60 of such projects we are set to tackle around the state.”
Despite the clarifications and claims by Somorin, watchers of Ogun State politics insist that if the governor fails to up his game within the shortest time possible, he might fall victim of political scheming ahead of 2023, since his rivals in the 2019 poll have moved next door to him.