June 1, 2023

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Dapo Abiodun: Six months of giant strides in Ogun State…… By Kunle Somorin

7 min read

Many Nigerians would have failed to notice the highly significant event that happened in Ogun State shortly after the current state governor, Dapo Abiodun, assumed office. On the Lagos/Ibadan expressway, some pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) had been kidnapped, but the governor was attending a retreat in Abuja. So, what did he do? He asked President Muhammadu Buhari’s permission to leave the meeting, got the president to release a helicopter for aerial surveillance, and headed back to Ogun. Within a few hours, seeing the artillery mounted in the skies, the assailants buckled and panicked, and all the hostages were rescued, including others that were not previously known to be in the kidnappers’ den. This event, just one out of very many, is an eloquent testimony to the fact that good governance is currently ongoing in Ogun State.

Consider the scores of souls that have perished in forests across the country while some governors dithered, spewing empty rhetoric as bandits committed murder and rape with reckless abandon. Significantly, Governor Abiodun did not hype that incident, content with the fact that he had done what the law and duty apportioned to him. Such a noble approach however often serves only as weapons in the hands of the purveyors of fake news. a prime example is one Segun Sowunmi’s latest two diatribes casting the Ogun helmsman in the mould of a failure in six months. Tactlessly insulting Oyo State in the bid to prove Ogun exceptionality, the writer claimed that Abiodun is running an “all-inclusive (sic), now clearly cosmetic, uninspiring administration.” Of course, there are those who, without any introspection, would ingest his spin hook, line and sinker. While the writer is, like every citizen, qualified to criticize, even rebuke, the governor, I do not think he has a duty to ignore facts, even if he is only intent on undue attention, in doing so. And so his qualms, built on fancy rather than facts, need not detain us further as we show, with ample evidence, why Dapo Abiodun may yet be the best governor that Ogun has had since the return to civil rule.

Security, as everyone knows, is the raison d’etre of the state, yet it is a fact that when Abiodun resumed at Oke Mosan, law enforcement agencies did not have good equipment in place, meaning that the Commissioner of Police could not readily engage his counterpart in the military or Department of State Service (DSS). Governance being problem-solving, Abiodun did not whine about this: he set to work immediately, sourcing and providing the needed equipment. He also purchased 100 ‘4x 4’ patrol vehicles and 200 motorcycles to aid the police in their work. Apparently enthralled by his strides in security, the Business Day Research and Intelligence Unit gave Ogun an award: The Most Improved State On Security. That was not fortuitous, really: when in Lagos between 1995 and 1997, car snatchers from neigbouring Republic of Benin put Lagos under siege, it was to him that the state turned for relief. His two major interventions, the vehicle tracking system and Alarm Network, an initiative that led to the Rapid Response Squad project, quickly passed the message that there would be no escape route for robbers, as the criminally-minded in Ogun must be finding out right now.

The Ogun helmsman apparently does not subscribe to the pernicious practice of window-dressing state capitals while leaving other parts of the state to rot. Through the newly set up Ogun State Public Works Agency, roads that were hitherto a nightmare to motorists are now being rehabilitated, and this is being done simultaneously in all the local government areas of the state. Go to Otta, go to Ifo, go to Abeokuta, Sagamu and Ijebu-Ode; the roads are being worked on with renewed vigour, especially now that the rainy season is gone. Again, it is doubtful that any right-thinking person would find fault with the rehabilitation of 236 schools, one school per ward, across the state. Is that not better than building a few mega schools in major towns and leaving the majority of schools in the state to rot? How can it be a crime that there is no ward without government’s educational presence in Ogun State? Has the revocation of the N3,700 education levy per pupil not alleviated the suffering of parents in the state? In the last six months, the Ogun governor has approved the years 2016 and 2017 promotion of over 10,000 teaching and non-teaching staff in public schools, resolved the MAPOLY crisis and ensured its re-accreditation; implemented the recommendations of the visitation panel on the Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), including appointment of a Governing Council, and established a Government Delivery Unit for Education, among others.

The job portal which seems to be giving critics nightmares was put up to determine the number of underemployed and unemployed youths in Ogun State. Within three weeks, it recorded over 120,000 names. Businesses operating in the state post vacancies on the portal, and a local content law is afoot that will stipulate that a certain minimum of companies’ staff must be Ogun State indigenes. Besides, skills acquisition centres have been set up across the state, the first being the Tech hub in Kobape, Abeokuta. The technology hubs have been set up to rejig ICT across the state and confirm the premium position of the state in digital economy. In fact, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy rated Ogun as the Best State In ICT Penetration And Adoption. In any case, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Anchor Borrowers Scheme is on course to produce Ogun agricpreneurs. A total of 10,000 youths harvested from the job portal and allocated a hectare of land each, with the documents attached to the lands, have begun slowly to build wealth. The CBN has provided funding, and will pay the agricpreneurs stipends until the harvest. Stage two of the plan will engage another 40,000 over the next three months, so that in the next two years, about 200,000 agricpreneurs would have been created. Providing food for people through a project that attracts a zero digit interest rate shows that Governor Abiodun certainly did his homework before coming to Government House, and will not be among those praised for a few months, only to receive condemnation for the rest of history.

In the health sector, the Abiodun Administration has given dilapidated hospitals a facelift and set up more resident primary health centres, again per ward, so that people can enjoy health services without travelling miles away from home. At the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, the recruitment process for all categories and cadres of healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab scientists, radiographers, etc) has already commenced; the State Hospital Ilaro, has been refurbished; and free medical outreach held at Ilishan, Odeda and Ilaro, addressing polio, diabetes, malaria, eyes, malaria, typhoid and other health conditions.

To ensure accountability and prudent financial management of the state resources, including the implementation of the medium term expenditure framework for budget preparation, Abiodun established the Fiscal Responsibility Commission for prudent financial mgt of state resources; efficient allocation of public expenditure, revenue and debt management; and long-term economic stability. It established the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Office and implemented staff biometrics and payroll audit and treasury management solution for single view and efficiency in treasury and payment processing, and a Bureau of Public Procurement Council has come on board, too. Moreover, it is a fact that for the most part, state chief executives and cabinet members have prepared budgets lacking the crucial connectivity with the socio-economic needs of the populace. In line with the paradigm shift that has hallmarked his administration so far, the Ogun State governor obtained the inputs of critical stakeholders in all the three senatorial districts in the state. As he noted, “We strongly believe that governance should be a participatory process and an inclusive one. Achieving the Ogun State of our dreams will require the inputs of all; it is our belief that the people should have a say on issues that concern them and they should, therefore, be allowed to take their rightful place in the governance process.”

The Ogun State Business Environment Council is now in place to improve and streamline the state’s internal processes towards achieving better scores in the ease of doing business ranking. Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency(Ogun Invest) has been established to attract investment and provide a one-stop shop for investors and support businesses. The Enterprise Development Agency (EDA) is for capacity building and facilitation of financing access to support the MSMEs sector. There is of course the Ogun State Economic Transformation Project Implementation Structures, part of the requirements for the establishment of Project Steering Committee (PSC), Project Implementation Unit (PIU) for the $250m World Bank loan. How can a government which initiated a creative arts and entertainment hub in conjunction with Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility Limited (SANEF), a special purpose vehicle of the bankers’ committee to further deepen development at the grass roots be said to have done nothing in six months? What about the 50 units of housing at Hilltop Estate Abeokuta, the 200 low-income, mass housing units project at Ibara Abeokuta; and the newly established Ogun Sports Commission geared towards youth development? Why mock the empowerment of widows through the ‘OkowoDapo’ loan programme with 2,000 initial beneficiaries?

On the issue of commissioners, the list will be broad-based and will reflect the wishes and aspirations of the good people of Ogun State. Let Abiodun continue building structures that will take Ogun to greater heights. He will be appreciated for it.



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14 min read

Petrol subsidy removal not immediate — Presidency Source Tinubu’s govt By Our Reporters, LAGOS The removal of petrol subsidy will no longer be immediate, Vanguard gathered authoritatively last night. Recall that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had said in his inauguration speech Monday that the subsidy was gone, as it was not provided for in the 2023 budget. But sources told Vanguard yesterday that implementation of the removal of subsidy would commence post-June. The need to clarify issues, sources told Vanguard, informed the meeting the President had with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Group Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, Mr. Mele Kyari, in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday. It was learned that the essence of the meeting was to engage labour anytime from today to ensure the seamless removal of the subsidy. A source said one of the fallouts of the meeting was for NNPCL to set up a template that would ensure that no toxic fuel was imported into the country and also create a benchmark for price. The clarification came as scarcity of the product ground activities in major cities nationwide yesterday. Yesterday, fuel queues emerged in many petrol stations as marketers who started hoarding fuel sold the product for as high as N600 per litre and transporters hiked fares. From the South-West to the South-East, South-South to North-West and other zones of the country, it was tales of woe and fuel crisis gathered steam. Tinubu resumes at Aso Rock, meets with Emefiele, Kyari Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu yesterday met with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the Group Chief Executive Officer, of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, Mr. Mele Kyari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on the matter. This was the first official assignment by the President after his inauguration as the 16th president of the country at Eagle Square, Abuja He arrived at the forecourt of the State House at about 2:30 pm through the quarter guard gate, which is his official entrance gate and was received by the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the out-going Director of Protocol, DOP, Emefiele and Kyari, among others. Although the agenda of the meeting was not made public, it may be in connection with the removal of fuel subsidies and the attendant fuel scarcity. It was learned that the issue of unification of foreign exchange, and recent naira redesign was also discussed. NNPCL backs Tinubu on petrol subsidy removal The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, has backed the removal of subsidy on petrol. The Group CEO of NNPCL, Mele Kyari, said in Abuja that payments for petrol subsidy had been a huge burden on the company’s cash flow, disclosing that the Federal Government is owing the company N2.8 trillion it paid on petrol subsidy. NNPC Limited was saddled with the payments for subsidy by former President Muhammadu Buhari with the company carrying the cost in its books as petrol under-recovery. The company however deducts the cost from the revenue due to the Federation Accounts from the sales of Federation Crude Oil. Speaking to journalists, Kyari said the NNPC Limited “welcomes the decision of Mr. President to announce that the subsidy on PMS (premium motor spirit) is over. This has been a major challenge for NNPC continued operations. We have been funding the subsidy from the cash flow of NNPC since the government is unable to defray the cost of the subsidy that is due to the corporation. “We believe that this will free up resources for the NNPC to do the great work that this company is doing for our country and it allows us to continue to operate as a commercial entity”. While assuring consumers that NNPC has enough stock of petrol in the supply system, he appealed the potential change in pump should not be enough reason for people to engage in panic-buying. Also speaking, the Chief Executive of Nigerian Mainstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, Faruk Ahmed, said that with the removal of subsidy, there would be no price cap on the sale of petroleum products in the country. Ahmed said President Tinubu’s pronouncement in his inaugural speech on the removal of subsidy was in line with the law. He said that the Federal Government has not been financing subsidies since 2022, adding, “the reality today is that the government cannot afford it.” Subsidy ‘ll end Nigeria if….— Shettima Meanwhile, as many state governments and some stakeholders kicked against the policy, yesterday, Vice President Kashim Shettima stressed the need to end fuel subsidies saying failure to do so would end the country. Speaking to journalists on his first day in office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Shettima said Nigeria needs to get rid of fuel subsidy, arguing that the subsidy regime was not benefiting Nigerians but has been subsidizing the lifestyle of the rich. He, however, assured that despite expected opposition from beneficiaries of fuel subsidy President Tinubu would frontally address the menace. His words: “The President has already made pronouncements yesterday (Monday) on the issue of the fuel subsidy. The truth is that it is either we get rid of subsidy or the fuel subsidy gets rid of the Nigerian nation. “In 2022, we spent $10billion subsidizing the ostentatious lifestyle of the upper class of the society. “We will get fierce opposition from those benefiting from the oil subsidy scam but where there is a will, there is a way. Be rest assured that our President is a man of strong will and conviction. “In the fullness of time you will appreciate his noble intentions for the nation. The issue of fuel subsidy will be frontally addressed. The earlier we do so, the better.” Reps back removal of oil subsidy Indeed, members of the House of Representatives have thrown their weight behind subsidy removal and appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the new government. The House of Representatives at plenary session hailed the removal of oil subsidy and lauded the government for the decision, asking Nigerians to be patient with the new administration. The commendation and the appeal came on the heels of a motion under matters of urgent public importance moved by Mr. Jimoh Olajide representing Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency of Lagos State. TUC rejects subsidy removal, says it’s joke taken too far However, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Festus Osifo and Nuhu Toro, respectively, warned that it is a joke taken too far. The body while assessing the President’s inaugural speech, said “”While listening to Tinubus’s Inaugural Address, we were at first encouraged by his pledge to lead as a servant of the people (and not as a ruler) and to always consult and dialogue, especially on key and knotty national issues. But we were subsequently taken aback, even horrified, when he announced the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products. “If by this, he means increases in pump price and the exploitation of the people by unregulated and exploitative deregulated prices, then it’s a joke taken too far. It is not for nothing the Buhari government pushed this to the new administration. But we expect the Tinubu government to be wise on such a sensitive issue and be more explicit in its pronouncement to avoid contradictory interpretation when comparing his written statement, what he said and the provision in 2023 Appropriation Act. “We dare say that this is a very delicate issue that touches on the lives, if not very survival, of particularly the working people. Hence, it ought to have been treated with utmost caution, and should have been preceded by robust dialogue and consultation with the representatives of the working people, including professionals, market people, students and the poor masses. “Accordingly, we hereby demand that President Tinubu should tarry awhile to give room for robust dialogue and consultation and stakeholders’ engagement.” “This new administration cannot be seen to be speaking from both sides of its mouth, we urge President Tinubu to be a President with a human face,” it added. Don’t panic over removal of petrol subsidy — NMDPRA Also, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, has cautioned against the current panic over the planned removal of petrol subsidy in Nigeria. In a statement, NMDPRA said: “The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) wishes to address concerns regarding the announcement of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by President Bola Tinubu. “Contrary to speculations and concerns, the announcement is in line with the Petroleum Industry Act (2021) which provides for total deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector to drive investment and growth. “We are working closely with NNPC Limited and other key stakeholders to guarantee a smooth transition, avoid any disruptions in supply as well as ensure that consumers are not short-changed in any form. “The Authority assures that there is ample supply of PMS to meet demand as we have taken necessary steps to ensure distribution channels remain uninterrupted and fuel is readily available at all filling stations across the country. We, therefore, call on Nigerians to remain calm and resist the urge to stockpile as it poses a significant safety hazard. “The NMDPRA reassures all Nigerians that the removal of subsidy on PMS is a step towards building a more sustainable and prosperous future for our nation. We will continue to monitor activities and implement necessary measures to enhance transparency and accountability in the petroleum downstream sector.” MOMAN, DAPPMAN back FG Also, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, DAPPMAN, endorsed the removal of fuel subsidy. rances given by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), we wish to reiterate that there is no cause for alarm. We strongly urge Nigerians to avoid panic- buying or stockpiling of petrol. “This behaviour not only creates artificial scarcity but also poses a significant safety hazard. The NNPCL has assured Nigerians of adequate fuel supply and the NMDPRA is working closely with stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition. They are ensuring distribution channels remain uninterrupted, thereby making fuel readily available at all filling stations across the country. “The decision to phase out this fuel subsidy regime is not merely a fiscal reform; it is a significant stride toward social justice. We are heartened that the administration plans to redirect these substantial funds towards essential public goods such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare. These investments symbolize our shared future, promising considerable, long-term benefits for all Nigerians. “We understand the concerns regarding potential price increases. However, we expect marketers to maintain reasonable pricing, as NNPCL remains the sole supplier of the product currently. ‘’We anticipate minimal changes regarding distribution costs, considering the cost of the product constitutes 80% of the pump price. ‘’We pledge, in collaboration with the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, and other crucial stakeholders, to manage these distribution costs diligently to minimize their impact on the pump price. “Considering this policy clarity, we ask our suppliers to continue supplying products to all legitimate marketers. We also urge all stations to remain open and avoid hoarding products. We eagerly await the day when the Dangote Petroleum Refinery, as well as other licensed importers, join the current supplier in a bid to diversify the source of petroleum products and enhance market competition. “MOMAN and DAPPMAN will maintain an open dialogue with the Federal Government, advocating for stability in the oil sector during this transitional period. We are prepared to support any measures from the Government that would help cushion the impact on the populace. We once again laud President Tinubu for his bold vision and stand ready to collaborate with his administration in its effort to promote greater economic equality. The pain in Imo In Imo, Vanguard’s check showed that petroleum marketers who remained open for business, quickly changed their meters from N230 per litre of premium motor spirit to between N350 and N450 per litre. It was also observed that while a good number of the dispensing outlets shut their stations, a long queue of desperate buyers were spotted in the stations that opened for business. Transport fares have either doubled or tripled, since Tinubu made the announcement. Transport fare from Owerri to Mbaise, which used to cost N500 or less, before the announcement has jumped to N1,000 or more, depending on the part of Mbaise the traveler was going. Fuel sells for N450 per litre in Ondo In Ondo State, long queues have resurfaced at filling stations just as the product was sold for between N300 and N450 per litre. Commuters, especially students and civil servants were groaning as they were stranded across the state, following a hike in transport fares by over 100 percent by commercial drivers. Majority of the filling stations were under lock and key, while the few open ones were swarmed with motorists in search of fuel. Queues return at fuel stations in Ogun Also, in Ogun State, residents of Abeokuta, yesterday, woke up to fuel scarcity and long queues in filling stations across the metropolis. Checks by Vanguard revealed that some filling stations in Abeokuta, Sagamu, Ifo, Sango/Ota and Ijebu-Ode were closed, while a few that dispensed petrol had long queues of cars and people. Artificial scarcity, and indiscriminate hike reign in Kwara Artificial fuel scarcity surfaced in Ilorin on Monday evening and continued yesterday as many petrol stations which dispensed the product earlier in the day, including BOVAS which dispensed at N200 per litre, had shut their gates. A few petrol stations sold at N300 per litre. A member of IPMAN in Ilorin, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, told Vanguard on phone that Tinubu’s removal of petrol subsidy was ill-timed, adding that he should have waited for Dangote Refinery to come on stream before removing the subsidy. Frustration as fuel sells for N550 per litre in Anambra Most filling stations in Anambra State did not open for business on Tuesday, while the few that opened sold fuel for between N500 and N700 per litre. Although some people attributed the closure to the declaration of May 30 as Biafra Day, others said the marketers responded to the announcement by President Tinubu during his swearing in that “fuel subsidy is gone.” Shortly after the presidential inauguration on Monday, most filling stations adjusted their pumps to N300 per litre, but on Tuesday, they refused to open for business. Meanwhile, transport fares have suddenly gone up in the state. For instance, a trip to Onitsha from Awka has increased from N500 to N800, while that of Nnewi has increased from N500 to N700. Also, transport fare from Awka to Enugu increased from N1000 to N1200, while that of Awka to Abakaliki increased from N1500 to N2000. Long queues resurface in Kano In Kano, long queues of vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles resurfaced at filling stations across the ancient city. Black marketers in the state, who sold a gallon (4 litres) for N1,300 now sell at N1,700. A few of the filing stations dispensing the product sold at N270 to N300 per litre and many others closed shop. Taraba grounded by scarcity, as commuters remained stranded The situation was not different in Taraba where long queues of vehicles at petrol stations constituted biottlenecks to free flow of traffic. Consequently, commuters were stranded, as transporters hiked fares by as much as 200 per cent. Commuters groan as fuel sell for N750 in Calabar In Cross River State, most filling stations in Calabar shut down, while those selling had hiked the price from N210 to N750 per litre . Vanguard also observed commuters who cannot afford to pay N300 per drop from the usual N100naira, trekking two to three kilometers to get to their offices. When our reporter went round the metropolis yesterday morning, only mega stations were selling at N205 to N210, with very long queues but at about 11:30 a.m they started selling at N400 per litre and eventually shut down. Black marketers sold at between N750 and N800 per litre and are selling only 10 litres per person. Subsidy removal wicked, inhuman act – OSUN GOVT As petrol stations increased fuel price to N300 per litre, with some hoarding the product, the Osun State government, yesterday, described the removal of fuel subsidy by the President as inhuman and an act of wickedness. It also threatened to seal any filling station in the state caught hoarding the product. A statement by the governor’s spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, described the President’s pronouncement removing the subsidy as unpatriotic. It read: “The attention of the Osun State Government has been drawn to the deliberate hoarding of PMS by the fuel dealers within the State as a result of the statement from the Inaugural Speech of the new President, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on the removal of fuel subsidy, thereby causing unnecessary hardship for the people in the State. “This deliberate action is not only inhuman but also unpatriotic and will not be allowed by the government. To this end, the Special Monitoring Team on fuel scarcity set up by Governor Ademola Adeleke headed by the Chief of Staff, Mr Kazeem Akinleye, is still effective and shall not condone any form of economic sabotage. “As from 30th May 2023, the Committee shall begin special monitoring of all the filling stations across the state in collaboration with law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders. Any fuel station found guilty of hoarding fuel to create artificial scarcity shall be sealed off and operators prosecuted for the crime of economic sabotage.” Oyebanji warns fuel dealers, to shut those hoarding product In Ekiti, Governor Biodun Oyebanji warned that heavy sanctions await petrol dealers hoarding petroleum products, with a view to creating artificial scarcity and hiking prices of the products. The Governor urged the marketers to await further directives on the implementation of the planned subsidy removal by the Federal Government and avoid actions that are capable of inflicting hardship on the citizens. Diri warns marketers against hoarding, price hike in Bayelsa In Bayelsa, Governor Douye Diri directed oil marketers in the state against hoarding and raising the price of fuel. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the governor warned that his administration will take stern measures against any filling station that flouted the directive. He said the government had received reports that filling stations in the state capital had hiked the pump price of petrol above the usual price of between N193 and N250 per litre to N500 per litre and above. The Bayelsa governor said it was wicked for oil marketers to swiftly seek to profiteer at the detriment of the people following a mere pronouncement that had not taken effect. Diri said he had directed the Ministry of Mineral Resources and the petroleum task force in the state to shut down any filling station hoarding the product or caught selling above the usual price with immediate effect. Similarly, petroleum marketers and owners of filling stations in Bayelsa State reportedly agreed to sell their old stock at N380 per litre. The product was sold for between N700 and N750 in the black market, while most filling stations remained shut. It was learned that the decision by marketers to sell at N380 per litre was reached after a meeting between the Bayelsa State Petroleum Task Force, the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, and petroleum marketers in the state. According to a source at the meeting, the selling of petrol at N380 per litre will commence by 3pm on yesterday across filling stations in the state.

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