by Rahman Alli
The cost of constructing one road will employ 10, 000 people in the Civil Service and pay them for 10 years.
In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘holds office’; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfil those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.
– John F. Kennedy
Democracy. Government. Governance. These three influential words share certain things in common and, at the same time, differ to some extent. While democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally – either directly or indirectly through elected representatives, government, according to Wikipedia, is the system by which a community is governed. In its broader sense, it refers to the particular executive in control of a State at a given time or the larger system by which any State is organised. More often than not, it is occasionally used as a synonym for governance. Governance in itself refers to “all processes of governing – it relates to processes and decisions that seek to define actions, grant power and verify performance. From the three above definitions, governance seems to be the end result of the threesome and one that directly affects the people.
Taking the case of Ogun State, how do we rate governance? What are the yardsticks to measure governance in the Gateway State? This is the significance of this piece; the analysis of which derives from available statistics as regards realities on ground.
Three years on, the hallmark of the government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun State has been that of urban roads, bridges and flyovers mostly centred within Abeokuta metropolis with others at Ijebu Ode, Sagamu and Sango. According to Governor Amosun, these flyovers and roads, when completed, will attract huge economic benefits to the State, facilitate the movement of people and goods as well as improve the quality of lives. This is in compliance with his idea of creating an enabling environment for foreign and local investors to tap the huge human and natural resources that abound in the State. Coming from the horse’s mouth, this could then be said to be the economic theory of his government which could as well be coined Amosunomics.
Apart from the aesthetic values these sprawling six-lane ‘Ogun Standard’ roads with drainages, median, walkways, traffic lights and green areas, added to the landscape in the select areas, the cost of the colossal projects has generated controversy and attracting criticisms not only from the opposition parties in the State but, interestingly from within the ruling party itself; the All Peoples Congress (APC). As the opposition, most vocal of which is the Labour Party contends the astronomical cost of an average of about N1billion per kilometre, Senator Remi Bakare, a staunch member of the APC, who indeed stepped down for Amosun in the wake of 2011 governorship election confirmed the massive spending on various road construction in the State, but asked: What is the volume of vehicular traffic in Ogun State that justifies such massive construction? Why embark on massive road construction at the expense of education, health and other vital sectors of the polity? The cost of constructing one road will employ 10, 000 people in the Civil Service and pay them for 10 years. So, are there no better thing we can deploy our resources on? This will be the first government I have seen whereby you have massive spending going on and not yet impacting on the economy of the state”.
Quite a number of yardsticks could be employed to measure human development. Chief among these is access to income to obtain basic necessities including food, shelter, health, education, social services etc. While some people’s assets are their skills, the case of the urban poor living in slums and squatter settlements are employment opportunities as key constraints on their ability to improve their living environment.
The immediate past government of Otunba Gbenga Daniel laid a solid fool-proof foundation for industrial growth in Ogun State. Part of this is a fifty-year masterplan as template. The OKNLG, the Free Trade Zones and deep sea port, Ogun Agro-Cargo Airport, the international markets, industrial parks, Guangdong et al.
The bottom line of his massive road construction projects is nothing more than undoing all that the government of OGD did in road construction hence the unearthing all the quantum of asphalt and bitumen he met on ground all in the name of ‘Ogun Standard’. And talking of Ogun Standard, it all started with the six-lane Lalubu road which was constructed at a rock-bottom amount with very minimal demolition. And, what’s more? The project was done by the State-owned OGROMA. It is on record that no contract was awarded to a non-Ogun indigene in the eigth-year reign of Otunba Gbenga Daniel in Ogun State compared to awards of contracts to foreigners and non-indigenes owned contractors with little or no benefits to the people of Ogun State.
The success of the democratic process in a country or State as the case may be depends on the capability and integrity of the organs of the state, institutions of governance and the extent of people’s participation and satisfaction in governance. As it has been agreed that democracy involves the process of governance and development, democracy remains only an empty rhetoric as human development cannot sustain without good governance and governance cannot be sound unless it sustains human development.
Rahman Alli is a secondary school teacher in Ogun State
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.