Mr. President, I most heartily welcome you on behalf of the government and good people of Ogun State to your second home, the Gateway State. Your visit to Ogun State today is not just a routine official visit of a sitting President to a state. It is a honour done to the good people of the Gateway State. This is your first visit since my assumption of office. We look forward to many of such.
All the projects and programmes of our administration in Ogun State are deliberate and guided by our vision. The vision is to give Ogun State a focused and qualitative governance and create an enabling environment for a public-private sector partnership to thrive. We believe this is fundamental to the socio-economic development of the state and individual prosperity of our people.
The choice of the five projects that we are commissioning today from our many landmark projects was a daunting task. These are just a few of our achievements. We have so much more to showcase. These selected few that Your Excellency will commission are, however, symbolic of the various types of projects across all sectors of our dear state’s economy. And they are spread all through the three senatorial districts.
It is noteworthy that all our projects have the inputs and are informed by the needs of the people as expressed by them at different engagement fora that we provide. This is because we anchor our “Building our Future Together” agenda on inclusiveness, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability, justice, and obedience to the rule of law. Under our five Development Pillars, with the acronym I.S.E.Y.A, that is, I – for Infrastructure, S – for Social Welfare and Wellbeing, E – for Education, Y – for Youth Empowerment, A – for Agriculture and Food Security, we based our choices on what the people say they want and we get their buy-in for implementation.
May I provide a panoramic view of the five projects. The Gateway City Gate, for instance, is an iconic monument that not only beautifies the environment, but a reflection of the new approach to governance in the state. It symbolizes the convergence, harmony, and unity amongst all the groups and sections of the state. It is not just a physical intersection of the three senatorial districts; it is a symbol of the togetherness of our people and the legendary warmth and hospitality to our visitors and guests.
The Ijebu-Ode-Epe Road, a federal road, is another strategic arterial road that links the Lekki/Epe corridor of Lagos State to the eastern corridor of Ogun State at Ijebu-Ode. With this road, socio-economic activities in the South East and South South zones of our country will receive a boost through the linkage of the road to Sagamu-Benin Expressway for easier access by motorists to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest economy.
In the same vein, the Sagamu Interchange-Abeokuta Road is 42km in length and is the main arterial road that leads to our capital city. It is a dual carriageway with streetlights, median and other road furniture. This road, though a federal road, was redesigned and reconstructed to address the daily challenges being experienced by commuters, and to make commuting between the state capital and other parts of the state and, indeed, the rest of the country a safe, secure and pleasant experience. The two roads are very significant and critical to the socio-economic development of not only Ogun State but the nation at large.
Our affordable housing estate at Kobape in Abeokuta comprises 526 units of two and three-bedroom bungalows. The King’s Court at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, is a middle/high-income housing estate and has 31 of its 85 units in the first phase fully completed. The remaining 54 units are at various stages of completion.
Furthermore, several similar housing projects are under construction in different parts of the state. Our aggressive housing programme is aimed at delivering 2,500 units of houses by the end of our first term. So far, we have achieved over 60 per cent of the target within 30 months and are confident that we will deliver on this commitment, as we have done in all our programmes.
We have many more projects that could have been scheduled for commissioning, but for time constraint. Yet, there are many others at different stages of completion. These include the first phase of the Ogun State International Agro Cargo Airport at Ilishan, and Atan-Lusada-Agbara expressway, which leads to Agbara Industrial Estate, the industrial nerve centre of not just our state, but also Nigeria and, indeed, the entire ECOWAS sub-region. It is, therefore, our hope that Your Excellency will graciously grant our request to return and commission more projects when they are completed and ready for commissioning later in the year.
Beyond these physical projects, we have also embarked on several fiscal and policy reforms to enable the effectiveness and efficiency of government. Some of these are the reinvigoration of the Security Trust Fund; establishment of Public-Private Partnership Office; launch of Ogun Digital Economy Infrastructure Projects; Ogun State Land Revenue and Management Systems (OLARMS), and the establishment of Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency, among others.
The Business Environment Council, which provides a truly one-stop shop for big investors; and business bottlenecks in dealing with government establishment of Ogun State Enterprise Development Agency to strengthen the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and boost their capacities; and all these have led to an increased IGR of about N95 billion in 2021.
That is the Ogun State of our dream. And, there are testimonials that we are on the right path. In the last 30 months, we have restored people’s trust and confidence in their government. We will continue to rekindle the hope of the people; and will NEVER take their mandate for granted.
Mr. President, I want to thank you for facilitating that the Central Bank provides us support, particularly as we embraced and domesticated your ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’ policy in agriculture. To date, through Anchor Borrowers’ scheme, we have turned about 30,000 young men and women into agripreneurs.
Your Excellency, I wish to specially thank you for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan new standard railway gauge. The longest part of the rail-line is in Ogun State, with five stations, the most by any state. We also thank you for the ongoing reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The longest stretch of that road is also in Ogun State and is due for completion this year. These projects are particularly strategic to the economic development of not only Ogun State but the entire nation. The railway and the improved Lagos-Ibadan expressway have brought tremendous increase in economic activities in our dear state and other states.
In the same vein, we appreciate your approval to Aliko Dangote for the reconstruction of Sagamu-Interchange-Papalanto-Ilaro road through the Federal Government’s tax credit scheme. Let me also appeal that the same tax credit scheme be extended to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) for the reconstruction of Sagamu-Ogijo-Ikorodu expressway. This road not only leads to one of the largest depots of NNPC at Mosinmi, Sagamu, it is also an alternative road to the ever-busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway. We also look forward to the approval of similar creative funding arrangements for the Otta-Idiroko road and other federal roads traversing our dear state. We passionately appeal to Your Excellency to graciously direct relevant agencies to expedite action towards prompt rehabilitation and completion of these roads. This will improve the welfare and wellbeing of our people.
The number of federal roads in Ogun and their strategic significance to the socio-economic development of the country cannot be over-emphasised. Your Excellency, it is noteworthy that Ogun State has more federal roads than any other state in the country. Therefore, we are passionately requesting again that Ogun State be accorded a special status for Federal Government Infrastructural Funding, especially on roads.
I thank the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, for the tremendous support we have enjoyed from his ministry. Our appreciation also goes to the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the creative funding support and same appreciation goes to others in the private sector: Dangote, Herbert Wigwe and Abdul Samad Rabiu, that have been supportive one way or the other in the implementation of our “Building Our Future Together” Agenda.
To the good people of Ogun State, words are inadequate to convey my appreciation for the support, cooperation and prayers that we have enjoyed from you all since the inception of our administration. I thank our royal fathers, religious leaders, community leaders, civil society organizations, marketmen and women, the youth, security agencies and the media for your support. Our thanks also go to those non-indigenes of our dear state that have made Ogun State their home. We do not promise to do everything, but we will do everything that we promise.
At this point, it is my honour and privilege to present, on behalf of the government and people of Ogun State, the Key to the Gateway City Gate. This formalises your long-term honourary indigeneship of Ogun State. You are no longer a visitor. Mr. President, welcome home.
•Excerpted from a speech delivered by Gov. Abiodun during the official visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Ogun State, on Thursday, January 13, 2022