The rocky and ancient town of Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, was agog the day after the gubernatorial election took place across the country. Immediately it was officially announced that the State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has won the gubernatorial race, the whole town erupted in wild jubilation and unbelievable ecstasy. Leading in the victory euphoria is the Governor himself. As soon as he got wind of the electoral verdict, Governor Amosun took to the streets with thousands of his supporters, in what is, perhaps, the celebration of the hardest earned electoral victory in the history of the State. From the Government’s House in Oke-Igbein, the Governor, amid thousands of joyous supporters, trekked round the State capital, to express his joy and appreciation to electorates and residents. The celebration train moved to areas such as, Ibara, Omida, Totoro Sapon, Itoku, Ago-Oko, Ijemo, Kuto and Ake among others. It would be an overstatement
to say that Abeokuta was momentarily brought to a standstill. All for Amosun, the man with the towering cap.
In all sincerity, it is difficult to deny Amosun the pleasure of his electoral triumph which is a product of his widely acclaimed sterling performance in the last four years as Governor of the State. Amosun’s victory is a triumph of social infrastructure development over resort to stomach infrastructure. It will be recalled that the outcome of the 2014 Ekiti State gubernatorial election, in which Dr. Ayodele Fayose unpredictably defeated the then incumbent Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was suggestive of the reality that the Nigerian electorates are now merely interested in stomach infrastructure as against social infrastructure development. The outcome of the 2015 elections, with specific reference to Amosun’s re-election feat has, however, partly rubbished the veracity of the stomach infrastructure hypothesis.
Undoubtedly, great things are happening in Ogun State under Amosun’s leadership. Abeokuta, the state capital is wearing a better look. The first over head bridge in the rocky town has been built and commissioned for the use of the people. Presently, new roads and other basic infrastructure are springing up across the state. The ancient town of Ijebu Ode is also experiencing huge infrastructure renewal especially in the area of road construction and rehabilitation. In terms of infrastructure development, the good times are, indeed, here for the people of Ogun State.
Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of the Amosun’s administration trail blazing governance in Ogun State is its determination to even infrastructure development across the state. Unlike previous administrations that grossly neglected satellite communities in the state that share border with Lagos State, the Amosun administration is taking its developmental strides to these hitherto forgotten Ogun state communities. These communities, popularly referred to as ‘New Lagos’, on the account of their proximity to Lagos and the fact that majority of the residents work in Lagos, are undergoing various stages of infrastructure development. The inhabitants of ‘New Lagos’ are particularly delighted about this new turn of event because previous administrations in the state never really considered them as part of Ogun State. This explains years of infrastructure decay they have been subjected to. Fortunately, the coming of Amosun has since altered the
For instance, in the Mowe-Ibafo axis of the State, there are now signs that the state government is working hard to improve the living condition of the people. Currently, the long forgotten Mowe-Ofada road is undergoing considerable expansion and rehabilitation. When it is eventually concluded it would serve as a big relief to residents of the axis. Same goes for Akute, Alagbole, Ajuwon, Ijoko and other such Lagos neighbouring communities of Ogun State. There is presently an ambitious road rehabilitation and expansion project, incorporating over head bridges and light rail, designed to link all these communities together. A visit to Alagbole, Akute and Ijoko axis of the State, would reveal on-going efforts of the State government at massive road construction.
Of all Amosun’s populist policies and programmes, the one that particularly touches the residents of ‘New Lagos’ is the novel regime in the acquisition of Certificate of Occupancy popularly referred to as C of O. A Certificate of Occupancy, according to Wikipedia online, is evidence that the building complies substantially with the plans and specifications that have been submitted to, and approved by, the local authority. It complements a building permit – a document that must be filed by the applicant with the local authority before construction to indicate that the proposed construction will adhere to ordinances, codes and laws.
Through this new C of O initiative, home and land owners in Ogun State have gotten what could be described as a ‘relieve package.’ Governor Amosun stated during the inauguration of the charter that the initiative was part of his administration’s commitment to the provision of affordable housing and urban renewal, borne out of the urgent need for reliable population data as the government planned for the future needs of the state. Through the initiative, the state Government has reduced land title fees from N430, 000 to N100, 000. Prior to this new regime, a building approval cost N275,000; survey plan was N60,000, stamp duty was N45,000 and the C of O was N50,000. However, with the new land title regime, tagged Homeowner’s Charter, building plan approval now costs N20,000; survey plan N20,000, stamp duty N20,000 and C of O N35,000.
It is in appreciation of all his laudable programmes that majority of the residents of ‘New Lagos’ voted massively for the Governor in the recently concluded election. A close look at the poll’s results would reveal that the Governor recorded outstanding victories in ‘New Lagos’ predominantly peopled Local Governments such as Ifo and Obafemi Owode. It is an indication that the residents are appreciative of his moves to improve infrastructure in these areas.
The challenge before Governor Amosun now is how to sustain the current tempo of development. The tradition in the current dispensation has been for Governors to work very hard in their first term only to go to sleep during the second term. Only Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and, perhaps, very few others have been able to alter this trend. The challenging aspect of Amosun’s victory is that it is a call for more work. The residents of ‘New Lagos’, in particular, look forward to the completion of all the major infrastructure projects of the Amosun administration in their areas. They have persevered enough with the Governor. Now is the time for him to pay them back.
Governance is about integrity and sincerity. The people who voted a government into power must not be used as guinea-pigs. The promise of every well meaning government must be its bond. Governor Amosun should do all within his power to sustain the current momentum. Today, people pay glowing tribute to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo for his unwavering efforts to transform the living standard of his people in the old western region. Like Chief Awolowo, history equally beckons on Governor Amosun to write his name in gold.
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja