Open Letter to Gov Dapo Abiodun: Let Ogun Border Communities Breathe
Your Excellency, on December 5, this year,2023,you presented an Appropriation Bill of N703.03billion, tagged Budget of Sustainable Growth and Developmemt to the Ogun state House of Assembly. Apart from being almost 50% more than last Year’s Budget of N472.3billion, it is the first Budget after your re-election in March this year for a second term of four Years in office. You also said the Budget is part of Midterm Financial Framework. The previous day,the State House of Assembly led by Honourable Olukunle Oluomo announced that a Bill to make government focus attention on Semi- Urban and Rural Developmemt has passed through second reading.
The intention of the Bill according to Honourable Babatunde Tella,is to enact a Law for governments in the state to develop semi- Urban and Rural areas which has suffered indescribable neglect and hardship in the last twenty Years .
The sponsor of the Bill definitely want the you as the head of the executive to do the obvious in view of the backwardness being experienced by the Rural and semi Urban communities in the state God has made you to preside over.
The Bill is a confirmation that the elected Representatives are not oblivious of the fact that their various constituencies have suffered and still suffering unprecedented neglect in the state.
Tellas initiatives is commendable for the fact that making a Law on Developmemt of such areas- which governance is all about, is the only reasonable thing to do to alleviate sufferings and commence Developmemt of other sectors.
This sufferings you will agree with me, is occasioned by lack of infrastructures like motorable roads, functional schools, Health posts and other social amenities which in themselves are what is needed to stem Rural- Urban migration with its negative effects.
Since you came to power in 2019, you have sort of pretended as if the Semi- Urban and Rural communities are either not existing or not part of your constituency. Like others before you, you have developed the latent attitude of Focusing only on Urban centres of the state as if they only make the state.
It is without gainsaying that the health of the Rural and semi- Urban areas of the state is by extension that of the state vis a vis the 36 states and the federal government.
More importantly, it appears you have only paid lip Service to developing this neglected areas. The last twenty Years in Ogun state has been a deliberate neglect of Rural and Urban areas as if it has become the accepted norm that underdevelopment is a key policy of all previous governments and by extension yours.
This Years Budget by your governmeng is the fifth full Budget since you assumed the leadership. If one is to take your Excellency serious,the proposed Capital Expenditure of N415.66billion with a recurrent of N287.3billion should if faithfully implemented and not reduced to viral to other sectors not initially captuted, make an impact in the state.
But the question remains, are you fully committed to uplifting the Semi Urban and Rural areas or an avenue to reduce the agitations of the citizenry?. Sir,it has become a practise by many governments to always Divert the Budget or allocations to other purposes other than what they are meant for. Governments often forget that Appropriation is a pact with the citizens the moment the elected Representatives approved it after doing their oversight functions. One only hopes that the House of Assembly now on a retreat to scrutinise the Budget will do the needful before passage into Law.
One key area which has suffered unexplainable neglect and abandonement is the border areas of the state in spite of its proximity to Lagos,the Economic nerve centre of the country.
As of today, Ifo local government with a 1991 Nigeria population estimate of 539,170 is by far the biggest in the state and one of the biggest in the country
By todays calculation, the population cannot be less than 3million given the growth rate of the past thirty Years.
Ifo local government also housed the biggest abandoned Road project-the Ijoko-Agbado-Akute- Alagbole Road measuring 32 kilometres in size with population now bursting to its seems.
The only story that residents of this area can tell is the demolitions of their houses-most with no compensation paid,twelve years ago.
Sadly enough,the five abandoned bridges and fly overs, are now home to miscreants and other undesirable social elements and den of drug abusers.
It will interest citizens to know that for the past twelve years or so,the state government have been a beneficiary of monthly tax returns of at least N500m from Lagos to fulfil the residency laws which permits those working in other states to pay their taxes in their state of residence.
Last year August ,Ogun state Finance Commissioner, Dr Okubadejo confirmed in a post Budget press conference that such monthly remittances have not stopped.
Yes,Tax collected in any part of the state is meant for the whole state hence you should be sensitive enough to allocate a substantial part of this to address the serious infrastructural deficits in Ogun border communities.
Your Excellency,In the past four Years,the border communities have not been breathing but suffocating under a neglect that looks more of deliberate ploy not to complete a project initiated by your predecessor. You should take a second look at this since governance is a continuum.
Yes,we take your promise that the Atan-Lusada Road, which is another strategic linkage to Agbara, the state industrial hub, will be completed in nine months as you promised in the Budget speech, such promises should not end like the one you gave to several communities along Ijoko- Alagbole Road last year.
You will recall that such promises were given after the stretch of road has been reasonably scalled down to two lanes.
Alas your promises were not matched with action.
It is true that some palliatives on the roads-most of which has since returned to their original state have been done, work have since stopped after the March election when your second term was secured.
You made a promise to segment the construction of the roads to five, of which attempt were made to do only two in the last fifteen months,work has since stopped.
The promise you made in this Years Budget to fix the Ota- Idi Iroko is also commendable only when it is actualised. This is important especially given the Economic derivatives from the Road being a border with neighbouring country.
Open Letter to Gov Abiodun
Your Excellency,you will agree with me that the macro- economic prostrate which border towns in Ogun state have been subjected to in the past two decades is indescribable.
If next Years Appropriation is faithfully implemented- there is no reason for excuse,since the state has become a beneficiary of the triping effect the removal of oil subsidy has on Federal Allocations since June last year, the state will witness a breathe of fresh air.
There is also no reason why the N209.1billion budgeted for Infrastructural Developmemt and which represented 30% of total Capital Expenditure,will not provided succour to neglected border communities with the Economic derivables Ogun state can get from such if faithfully implemented.
Akute end of the Ijoko road
Lagos is expanding not within but without its borders everyday and Ogun state remains the major beneficiary.
But such is achievable only if Economic and political expediency comes into play in allocating and releasing budgetary provisions.
Afterall,the abandoned projects which is evident all over the state are serviced with the public Debt of N59.05 incured on the projects and others by successive governments.
The multiplier effect of providing infrastructures cannot be over emphasized.
With its proximity to Lagos,border communities which developmemt has been arrested by the attitude of previous governments should stop. Such mindset and attitude should change during your second term tenure.
It is on record that Ifo, Ado Odo -Ota today delivered more votes to the All Proggressives Congress,APC this year and previous electoral circles since 2011 and they deserve to be compensated.
I also implore you to ensure that the twenty local governments utilise their monthly allocations from the Federation account judiciously since you still operate Joint account. Like I said previously,I like to emphasized that the health of the local governments is the health of the state collectively. They should be seento use funds allocated to them for the people to distribute wealth and reduce poverty.
Your Excellency,since this is your last chance as Governor of Ogun state and with increased inflow of funds fom Federation Account, such should be ploughed into actual development of all border communities to reap the economic bounty of the increasinghly expanding Lagos population.
While your initiative to extend the Blue Rail Line and on -going Red Line to Agbara and Ijoko axis is commendable, bear in mind that access roads to enjoy this service by the residents is non existent in such areas.
While,it is not out of place to secure the reconstruction of Ota-Abeokuta road fom the federal government,such should not be done at the expense of intra city and inter state roads which are necessary for boosting commerce and trade within the state.
With the serious economic situation of the country occasioned by years of misplaced project priorities, the state and your government can reduce the pains by making conscious effort to reduce the pains of commuting within the state and between it and neighbouring states.
Since,you have three more budgets to implement, following to the letter this years Budget of Sustainable Growth and Developmemt will go a long way to ensure you live a lasting legacy in the state.