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By: Tope Adaramola  
 Published  May 15th, 2012

Without pre-empting the incumbent government in Ogun State, the commemoration of the one year in office of Senator Ibikunle Amosun may definitely come with glee and fanfare, considering the concrete evidence of some projects embarked upon to revolutionise the state, for which the government could beat its chest in pride.

Needless to say that the emergence of the ACN government in Ogun State on  May 29 last year signified the resolve of Ogun people for a change from the reins of the PDP under which they had been ruled in the last 8 years. To Senator Amosun, there was little time to bake cookies, given the enormity of challenges bordering on rebuilding and reconstruction awaiting the state on all fronts under his administration. Gladly enough, there seemed to appear in the horizon a renewed hope for the citizens going by the structural, human and economic revival witnessed in the state in the last one year. For instance, a visitor to Abeokuta, the state capital would have a clear impression about the positive changes that has evidenced the progressive mooring of the present administration. Whilst the roads are wearing a new look, devoid of the filth and cavernous pot holes, which was their lots before, so also is the pervading ambience of peace and tranquility which is germane to development. Agreed that it may be premature to appraise any government in such a short period of its ascension, if the wise saying that “morning determines the day” is anything to go by, one may be right to surmise that Ogun is on the threshold of a new dawn.

But be that as it may, it would be most uncharitable to attribute all the credits that accrue to the regime in the last one year to the pragmatic or managerial acumen of the distinguished Senator turned Governor, without flashes of light beamed on the contributions and support of his better half, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, who has not only complemented the dynamism of her husband, but also played up the relevance of the office of the First Lady, most admirably. She has in the course of time reduced the venom of critics who still hold the views that it is needless to retain the office of the First Lady in the country, considering the abuse to which such offices had been subjected to in the past. Rather, the British -born Governor’s wife has simply put her focus on the less privileged, the youth, the elderly, widows and the unemployed who constitute a critical mass of the state’s population, rewriting their stories for the better. 

In the area of youth empowerment, the Governor’s wife brought in some measure of foresight by facilitating a well coordinated entrepreneurial training programme where multitude of unemployed graduates had the rare opportunity of learning skills in their chosen area of interest. The purpose was to reduce the monstrous unemployment problems and to build the economic base of the state and the nation. Numbering about 120, the trainees who were majorly unemployed graduates learnt skills in shoe making, hair dressing, barbing, and interior decorations, etcetera, to the point of being capable of setting up their own businesses. Through the exercise, the trainees were imbued with renewed spirit of entrepreneurship and a remoulding of their mindsets to become employers of labour rather than white collar job seekers. Some of the trainees who confessed that they initially took the initiative as one of the jamboree schemes of government in the past had their pessimism reversed with the depth of its content and proclivity of government to achieve the focus set for the project. One Miss Anifat, a Sociology Graduate averred that with the consistency of such training, youth unemployment would soon become a thing of the past in the state.  Suffice it to say that no government could talk about sustainable development without paying due attention to the plight of the youth who are agents of change today and leaders of the nation tomorrow. It is a known fact that the phenomenon of ‘youth bulge’ has plagued some nations of the world with Nigerian having its own painful part in form infantile criminal behaviours and restiveness. This is why this initiative has come at an auspicious time and it is worthy of commendation.

Also in the bid to promote sporting activities among the younger folks, Mrs Amosun gave tremendous moral and financial support to the nation’s under 17 female soccer team-the Flamingoes- during their camping in Ogun State, in their bid to qualify for the female Junior World Cup. The presence of Mrs Amosun as well as the enormous support she mobilized for the team through her presence at the stadium gingered the ladies to wallop their counterparts from Zambia 5 goals to zero. Same support she gave to the under 20 Female Soccer team (The Super Falconet) making them to thrash their Zimbabwean opponent 3 goals to nil. As a Guidance Counselor by training, the Governor’s wife is quite cognizant of the need for children to grow in a socially acceptable environment of care and love. This motivated her to organise the first Ogun State kiddies Christmas carol during the yuletide last year, an event that could be reckoned as the first of its kind to be organized in the state. Held at the auspicious MKO Abiola Stadium, Mrs Amosun utilized the forum to make a clear statement about the pivotal place that the welfare of children play in the heart of the current administration and promised not to relent in making the event a yearly ritual to the delight of the children, numbering about 500.

Leveraging on the disposition of the government to provide qualitative health care to the people, especially the down trodden, the office of Mrs Amosun recently facilitated free eye surgery for citizens with eye challenges. Describing the eye in the biblical metaphor as the light of the entire body, Mrs Amosun while flagging off the exercise at the General Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta, said the exercise was a redemptive medical effort to bring a ray of hope to patients of eye problems such as cataract, glaucoma, etcetera. Describing the initiative as part of her Free Eye Camp exercise in tandem with Chanrai Foundation and Empee Group, the governor’s wife noted that over 400 people were screened across the 20 Local Government areas of the state with over 150 receiving free drugs while 100 were billed for surgeries. Prior to the date, 50 beneficiaries had undergone the operation successfully. The boundless joy of the beneficiaries was encapsulated in the emotion laden appreciation of one Pa Amos Sobiye who gave plaudits to the First Lady for turning their story of being blind to history.

 Apparently cognizant of the plight of women as tenderers of homes who should be empowered to give needed support to their families, the First Lady had given practical action to her avowed promises to alleviate their plight. Utilising the 2012 Women’s Day Celebration, Mrs Amosun distributed vocational equipments such as sewing machines, freezers, generating sets, hair dryers, etcetera, to enable them establish small scale businesses of their own with a rekindled hope of generating income and improving their livelihood. In a manner that was unprecedented, the Governor’s wife utilized her privileged position to network with notable manufacturing companies to secure distributorship rights for women while some of them had the privilege of free interest loans with 12 months repayment period. The motive is to break the herculearn challenges of having direct access by small scale traders to big companies with which they could embark on profitable businesses.

All said, given the level of education and exposure of the Mrs Amosun, it may not be out of place for her office to conceptualise a holistic project or programme thrust, code named for the target population. Aside from constituting a trajectory to help proper focus, such thrust will also highlight benchmarks with which the success or otherwise of each of the projects could be evaluated during the life of the administration. Experience in time past has shown that anything short of this will definitely amount to picking several pies in the sky without being able to hold on to one in particular for which the office could take clear credit. 

It could be concluded, however, that given the modest achievements already on ground by the Amosun led administration in Ogun State, the electorates by now do not have any iota of regrets casting their votes for the Owu-born Accountant who proudly reiterates at every fora that his focus was to re-establish the state in the front row of national development. But like the proverbial saying that “however fat the neck is, it definitely must rest on a neck”, the crucial roles and contributions of the office of the First Lady operated by his wife, Olufunso, could not be omitted in recounting the lengthy success story of Ogun State under the present regime in the last one year.                            


‘Tope Adaramola is a

Public affairs commentator

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