Deepening Democracy In Ogun State

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Deepening Democracy In Ogun State

 

By

 

Adegbenro Adebanjo

Personal Assistant to Governor Gbenga Daniel

 

 

August 18, 2006 

 

For some leaders, leaving the cosy environment of their offices is something they will rather avoid. Whenever the terrain they are to visit is far removed from the seat of power they tactically hide under the exigencies of state matters and ask their aides to represent them.  Other leaders reluctantly go to one or two rural settings through out their tenure just to fulfill all righteousness. The only time they are compelled to visit those parts of their jurisdiction that are nearly impossible to get to is when there is a major upheaval that is threatening the peace of their domain and country. Of course and as a matter of rule they only stay for one or two hours. Typically majority of those in power simply leave the people in the lurch after divesting them of their votes.

 

Ogun state is certainly not one of those climes where the leaders are only interested in the people for selfish reasons. The government of Otunba Gbenga Daniel is showing, in words and deeds, how the leadership can connect with the people. In the last three years Governor Daniel has made regular working visits to different parts of the state a cardinal principle of his administration. These are not just whistle stops visits. It is a carefully plan affair during which the governor attends a village square meeting with the people. The meeting is held in designated rural communities. And it is actually a village square setting as the governor and officials of his government sit with the people, take questions from them, listen to their complaints and demands and explain rationale behind government projects and actions. There have been occasions when the governor had to reverse some decisions based on the demand of the people.
    
Through the ongoing community development assessment tours, Governor Gbenga Daniel is once again reinforcing the fact that the people are the centerpiece of governance. But if the truth must be told the ward to ward visit personally led by Governor Gbenga Daniel is not a tea party and only leaders who are genuinely interested in the welfare of the people can attempt it. Chief Ebenezer Babatope erudite politician and one of the closest associates of the late stage Chief Obafemi Awolowo witnessed first hand the gathering of the people and their governor in Owode during the grand finale of the assessment tour of the Obafemi Owode Local Government. He must have witnessed a replication of the true democracy during the Obafemi Awolowo era when the people in concert with their true leaders decided the way forward for their communities.
 
According to Chief Babatope such regular consultations between the government and the governed engender development and lead to verifiable progress. The former minister of the federal republic said he was not surprised that much progress was being recorded in Ogun State since the government is in tune with the needs of the people. Chief Ebenezer Babatope described the tour which began in Yewa North Local Government on Tuesday May 30 as a mass movement that would change the face of politics and further enhance good governance in Ogun State.
 
He is right. One of the major aims of the tour which would take Governor Daniel to all the 236 wards in the State is to assess the level of development and the impact of government programmes on the people. The tour is also in consonance with Governor Danielís belief that the people must have a say in government. The Governor is mindful of the fact that one of the reasons why past governments fail to deliver real dividends to the people was because they did not bond with the people. They did not know what the people actually wanted and when projects were taking to communities there was no follow up to assess whether those projects were functional and beneficial to the people.
Governor Daniel is making the rounds of the communities to see things for himself. He is talking to the people and not just relying on the feedbacks from officials. By feeling the pulse of the people, he would be able to assess how well is government has performed and what other things that are needed to be done. This is a unique approach to the empowerment of the people and the strategic development of communities.
 
If the reactions of the people in the communities so far visited are anything to go by, the goals of the tour are being met. For one the people want to be part of governance going by the way they besiege the venues of the interactive sessions with the governor. The community assessment tours have become a peopleís parliament of sorts as the representatives of different interest groups take the governor and his officials to task on several issues. There have been   commendations and knocks. On the whole however the general consensus is that the Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration has succeeded in bringing government closer to the people through the execution of people oriented policies and projects.
 
 Chief Sesan Soluade, who served as deputy governor to late Governor Bisi Onabanjo, had to leave other pressing matters to attend the one held in Kajola in Obafemi Owode Local Government area. Chief Soluade, a Chieftain of the Alliance for Democracy, said he was impressed with Governorís Daniel Style of governance and his delivery of dividends of democracy to the people. At Ode Remo ward I, The Alaye of Ode, Oba Funso Adeolu described the Governor as a man whose truth and sincerity of purpose is obvious from his concern for the welfare of the people. He said by listening to the people and tailoring development to suit their needs, Otunba Daniel has succeeded in transforming the State.  Oba Adeolu aligned himself with the general consensus that the OGD administration has impacted positively on various communities in the State. At Ado Odo ĖOta Local Government Chief Ogungbayi Akanni said Otunba Daniel was the first Governor since inception of the state to have identified with the welfare of the Baales, pointing out that their monthly stipends had been increased from three hundred naira (N300) to five thousand naira (N5000) per month. For the Asiwaju the Asiwaju of Aworiland, Senator Ayo Otegbola it is the Governorís love for the people that has propelled him to embark on the tour after successfully providing life changing amenities for the various communities in the state. And the good performance of the government have been further reinforced during the tour as the visits have become another opportunities to show case the many people-oriented projects in the various communities. Roads, water housing and electrification schemes, blocks of classrooms, hospitals and markets have been commissioned in the course of the tour.
At all the stops Otunba Daniel always make sure that he preaches the virtue of politics of tolerance among the various aspirants to political offices. At Remo North, Obafemi Owode, Yewa North, Ado- Odo and Ijebu Ode all the aspirants were brought together by the governor. He told them that what should be uppermost in their heart was service to the people. He has also continued to urge them to shun violence and other behavior that could lead to chaos in the polity. And the approach is actually working to engender political tolerance which many have said would help the state to achieve generally peaceful elections in 2007.
 
 But then nothing good come easy .And the ongoing effort of Governor Daniel to deepen democracy through the assessment tour is very tasking. As early as 600am the advance team of the governorís team is ready to depart for the community development assessment tour. By 8.00 the Governorís convoy is on its way out of Abeokuta. On a typical tour day the governor does not return to Abeokuta until after dusk. This is to be expected as the Governor spends an average of three hours at each ward visited. Those who have joined the governor on the tour have come to find out that Otunba Daniel has a passion for the people and feels completely at home in their midst. He is never in a hurry to leave and patiently listens to all question and comments before providing answers to them or simply giving directives that would provide immediate succor to the people.
 
The gains too are enormous. The people of Ogun State now know that they have a say in governance and they can hold the government accountable at all times. And they know that the OGD administration has certainly delivered on its promises. That is why the people themselves are the ones  testifying to the many gains of the three year old administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel in Ogun State .Democracy is working in the Gateway State.
 

 

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