Dayo Adeneye is the Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy. He spoke recently with LAIDE RAHEEM. Excerpts:
What has been your experience in government?
It has been a very good eye opener for me. It got me exposed to a lot of things, especially how government runs. One would realise things are not what they seem, when you are outside the government.
In Ogun State, we get just above N1billion as allocation from the Federal Government in a month, yet the state has a salary obligation of over N9billion. We play catch-up every month. We still have social amenities, like roads, water, electricity, schools, hospitals and others to provide to the people. Where would the money to do all that come from? That is why we need to diversify our economy and increase our IGR. That is what a good government does
What is government doing to ensure the state owned television station, OGTV, meets the demands of the NBC as regards digitalisation as well as wider reach? Also, how did the government resolve the recent industrial crisis at the state-owned radio station, OGBC?
When I was appointed commissioner, the first thing on my agenda was how to get OGBC and OGTV back to the great heights they were noted for. Not that they were doing too badly, but technology has changed. Gone are the days when these two stations held sway, after the FRCN and NTA. Those were the dominant stations then. But now, you can start a radio station in your room. And with the proliferation of TV and radio stations all over, that era of domination is over.
Regarding the signals of OGTV getting to certain areas, the only area without proper signal is Ijebu-Igbo and it has to do with the topography of the place. There is a kind of valley in that area that absorbs signals and there is little we can do about that. We just changed our transmitter. The governor was able to approve and release money for the purchase of brand new transmitter last year from Italy. We have also ordered for a back-up 10killowat transmitter. And when we tested the first one, we were received as far as Ajah and Epe in Lagos. Our signals are also received in Oyo and part of Ondo states.
People who cannot still receive our signals within Ogun State might need to change their antennae. Right now, we are operating on a new transmitter for the past year, and we are about to install the second one for the same OGTV. We have been able to upgrade OGBC as well, in preparation for the digitalisation process.
When you talk about digitalisation, it is a very expensive process, which the government cannot do alone. Even the US that is at the forefront of pushing for it is kind of stalled a bit. They too have gone back to the drawing board and let their people know how expensive the process is. We are doing the same thing in Nigeria.
The date has been shifted a couple of times, and NCC and NBC think we will make headway this year. They held some meetings with state commissioners for information and we are making some progress. The problem is that when you go digital, you might not be able to receive signals with your antennas, you will need what is called set-up boxes, like your decoders at home, but a bit cheaper.
Everybody must have this in order to be able to receive signals. And when you talk about box, that will cost between N15,000 and N30,000. Not everybody will be able to afford that and definitely, government will have to step in. So that is where we are in terms of digitalisation. We are ready as organ of government, our transmitter is digital ready to send out signals but another issue is if our people can receive it.
What of the OGBC?
OGBC and OGTV were both set up as independent organs, yet government has ownership of it. They don’t pay their revenues into the coffer of the state government. So they are like a business, and you know the first rule of any business is to sustain itself; pay salaries and generate its own running cost. Any business that fails to do these has a problem.
Giving consideration that the media outfits carry state functions, this administration increased their subventions. I don’t want to start naming figures, but the two stations receive subventions, which have been paid up to date as I speak. There is no reason these two organs should be owing salaries…
(Cuts in) They claimed the subventions were not adequate to take care of salaries of staff.
Their subventions are not meant to pay salaries, they are just to augment. They have laws guiding them, they have boards and we do not interfere with what they do with their revenues, even though we should. So it behoves them to make sure salaries are paid, more so, when government does not ask them to pay their revenues into its coffer. In the situation where you can’t pay salaries, you need to look inward. If you need to restructure the organization, that should be done.
You contested for a seat in the State House of Assembly in 2015. 2019 is beckoning, are you angling for any political office?
I listened to the call of my people to come home and contribute my quota in 2013/2014. That brought me into politics and I am well committed to it. Our late sage, Papa Obafemi Awolowo, is today remembered for his service to his people and the nation. He left a lot of legacies. In my own case too, I want to be remembered for good.
Wherever my people feel I can serve them, when that time comes, I will take it up. Man proposes but God disposes. But I remain committed to this political adventure. Nigerians should stop talking and get involved.
There was an article about the ages some of our past leaders participated in leadership. General Yakubu Gowon was in his early 30s, when he became Head of State. Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu and his colleagues got involved at age 28. Professor Pat Utomi became a special adviser in his early 20. So, what is wrong with our youth? They need to get involved in the process, especially when it has been proven by statistics that youth occupy a larger percentage of our population.
They should be represented in governance, but you cannot get on the football pitch without your jersey and you don’t lace your soccer boots. Therefore, we urge the youth to get involved that is why I am involved, because decisions taken by politicians will affect our lives and future. Go, register to vote, and if you are interested in contesting, make your intention known. Participate in the process.
Is the state in any form in competition with Lagos State?
We are not in competition with any body, let me state that first and foremost. Yes, our neighbours are important to us. Lagos remains the commercial capital of Nigeria, but Ogun State, with over 500 industries established and over 120 situated in the state in the last six years, with investments of between $200 million to $2billion dollars, is indeed a force to reckon with in the industrial development of the nation.
We are not competing with any state but we continue to think up ways to increase economic development and generate employment for our citizens. It should be noted that the state government has put in place policies and programmes which attract 75 percent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria to the state.