A New Song in Ogun State

The Governor (Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State) has been emphasizing that his administration is very particular about hard work. Here we are on a Sunday, I look at the construction going on, definitely I am impressed. Whether it is a canal, the road network, health or education, clearly I can see a demonstration of the 'Can do attitude'. I have not been to a state where people are working quite as hard as this one, and I have been in most of them. - Chris Cooter, Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, April, 2013

When sometimes Nigerian writers make what seem superlative comments on the performance of public office holders, we tend to dismiss their observations as either outbursts of sycophants or suborned hagiography. We do not appear to expect anything good from our leaders. Very much like Nathaniel in the Holy Bible who wondered if great news could come from Nazareth.

Well, Jesus Christ confounded him by the reality of the Messiah Himself emerging from Nazareth. It was not just anything good coming from there. The Greatest Good News was from Nazareth.

In the case of Nigeria, why can't we accept something beneficial can come from our leaders and their government? I think it is simply because we have been used to decades of misrule at the hand of most of our politicians and their military predecessors. And so we have got accustomed to decadent governance for so long that when a change for a good one occurs, we do not notice it. We are slaves to a long unbroken tradition of barren rule, becoming blind to the other side of the coin, even when some among us perceive it.

We assail those who see the stirrings of transformation, branding them as having been bought to sing the praise of the change agents. Sometimes we even say those objective compatriots are courting the attention of those in power in order to join them to 'chop'.

But as we have noted in the quote above, the impartial diplomatic community in our midst also takes note of what is happening around us to voice their opinion.

We may not be too hard on those who look indifferent to the good things coming out of the Ibikunle Amosun government in Ogun State because of the misdeeds of the past. It will amount, nonetheless, to a greater harm not to acknowledge that the song of governance in the state has changed. The new song deserves acclaim.

Such has been the complete change in tune that that a member of a normally taciturn diplomatic corps has been hailing the music and dance of hope being churned out by the Amosun administration. When Ambassador Chris Cooter of the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria visited Ogun in 2013, he came face to face with a pleasant surprise that convinced him that hope is not lost after all for the Black Race.

He saw a state where, before the advent of Amosun, the Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR) was the measly figure of N703 million per month. But upon contact with the Midas touch of Amosun, the statistics galloped to N4 billion every month. Eventually, by March 2014, according to a government statement, a record N4.6 billion had made an entry into the books. It is not only an unprecedented feat, but also it takes on an added value because the figure exceeds Ogun state's income from the Federation Account.

We must understand the implication of this and how it came about. First, it implies that a government is in place in Ogun, which has declared that it is prepared for a future not dependent solely on oil for development. It is prepared to stand on the human and non-oil natural resources of the area to develop the state and its citizens. Ogun is teaching us that a society can make it without this non -renewable commodity, which has been a curse rather than a boom to Nigeria.

Now the next stage of the question: how did Amosun and his government do it without being an oil producing state? Many believe Amosun applied two policy levers. Number one, he and his team dictated a tune that disavowed ostentation and a lust for the public till. He is preaching a philosophy that has signaled the arrival of a government dedicated to selfless service. Secondly, he blocked all the holes through which the highly placed short changed the system and stole billions of naira meant for the development of the people and the construction of critical infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools, industries, research centres, agricultural institutions etc. It is the combination of this personal public -spirited life style of a public office holder and a development- focused government that has given Ogun state the fresh perspective in administration the world is noticing. It should be the launch pad to the next level for a state that has experienced inhuman neglect so terribly in the past.

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