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For Dapo Abiodun, it’s all about the social contract

For Dapo Abiodun, it’s all about the social contract
August 12
20:29 2022

BY ISMAIL RASHEED

The fact that governors are considered the chief security officers of their states but do not, in reality, have powers over police personnel deployed there is easily among provisions that rankle the most about Nigeria’s federalism. However, nothing highlights some of the confounding points of Nigeria’s federalism as starkly as the classification of roads in a manner that literally causes a dilemma for governors with regard to fixing federal roads in their states. 

I read a statement recently wherein the Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said that his administration will commence the reconstruction of the Lagos-Sango Ota-Abeokuta road if the federal government failed to do so in two weeks’ time. In an age where nearly every action is cynically reduced to the shenanigans of politics, there are certainly some who would think it was mere posturing. But the governor was apparently speaking in the context of the president’s comment made about three years ago, urging governors not to fix roads owned by the federal government as the latter would no longer reimburse states monies spent fixing such roads.

To users of such roads, however, the distinction between state and federal roads makes little sense. This state-federal roads dilemma will, understandably, be felt more in Ogun State, reputed to be the state with the highest number of federal roads in the country. The brunt of collapsed roads is essentially borne by the people who, predominantly, reside in states where such roads exist. Not surprisingly, their rage is often directed at their governors – not the presidency. Governor Abiodun clearly understands this. His comment during an inspection tour of the said road underscores that: “At its expiration, the state government would, putting the safety and comfort of its citizens first, have no choice than to immediately intervene through total reconstruction.”

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He would reinforce this compelling sense of obligation to the people’s welfare one week later when he approved the reconstruction of the 32-kilometre Sango-Ijoko-Akute-Yakoyo and the 8-kilometre Mowe-Ofada roads. It did not matter that these were federal roads. His concern was how their deplorable conditions would be adversely impacting the people’s lives, both their daily commute and their businesses. So for the Ogun State governor, the sustained zeal that has characterized his upgrade of collapsed infrastructure, public healthcare and education is not influenced by a vain desire to earn public acclaim. For him, it is all about fidelity to his social contract with the electorate. From the Igan-Ishamuro Road in Ago-Iwoye, Ijebu North Local Government Area to the 4-kilometre Oba Erinwole road that was once a nightmare for travellers heading to Ikorodu from Sagamu, the steady stream of robust infrastructure projects being commissioned further amply demonstrate this.

Amid all the remarkable turnaround that has birthed projects like the reconstructed Ijebu Ode-Epe-Sagamu-Benin (federal) Expressway Interchange and 42-Sagamu Interchange-Abeokuta road, however, there is yet a sprinkling of cynicism that could be gleaned, especially on the social media. It does appear that for each road fixed by the government, there is an online hound gleefully pointing out a bad road elsewhere that similarly requires some makeover. Perhaps it just might have been commendable if the motive of this online brigade was altruistic. The puerile nature of their civic monitoring gives them away as partisan agents of some disgruntled politician, who increasingly seems like a relic from an ancien regime.

It is thus not mere coincidence that Senator Ibikunle Amosun, a former governor of Ogun State, is dredging up an old grudge as the plaudits for his successor’s stellar performance become even more resounding. Sounding, as he always does, as though his words were a holy writ, Amosun proclaimed that Abiodun “must be removed from office in 2023”, alleging that the latter’s electoral victory in 2019 was rigged.

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Rasheed lives in Abeokuta.



Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.

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