Ogun State now one of the fastest growing in Nigeria —Commissioner for Information
Dayo Adeneye is a popular name in the entertainment industry. He is one the pivots of the now-globally-acclaimed Nigeria’s brand of Afro-pop music, as a music talent hunter and producer. Adeneye, who now serves as Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, speaks on his experience and the secret behind the success of the Governor Ibikunle Amosun administration. Excerpts:
YOU joined the cabinet of Governor Ibikunle Amosun over two years ago as the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, how would you describe the experience so far?
In the first place, my deep appreciation to His Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, CON, FCA for the honour and privilege given to me to serve the good people of Ogun State in this capacity. Note that until my appointment, I was a private man, doing my enterprise within my dictates. However, since I took this government assignment, it has been a new challenge entirely. It is a different ball game that has been so challenging, and at the same time, an eye opener. An eye opener in the sense that, my daily routine is no longer the time I like to wake up, or how early to sleep, or at the pace I feel. More important, the job exposes me to new perception of governance, the many indices involved, the approach and concepts, particularly, as it relates to such a vibrant State like Ogun. Of most interest is the vision and the proactive manner that our Team Captain approaches governance through the five cardinal programmes of his Mission to Rebuild. The zeal, passion and commitment by which His Excellency drives the ship of the state have been extraordinary, thus, making the experience very demanding, energizing, exciting and fulfilling at the same time. Often times, one has to step up the pace as fast as possible with renewed strength. Nonetheless, it has been rewarding with occasional fun.
Judging from where you were coming from as a successful media and entertainment personality, how have you been handling your duties as the mouthpiece of the state?
While a private man, my approach to my work was full of devotion, hard work and passion. Though, with some understanding of what it takes to be a public officer. For instance, I have been a broadcaster for decades, part of my routine included making observations, then presenting on radio/TV what should be the ideal society, things that are being done well and otherwise. Also, trying to keep other professional colleagues on their toes; be you a rapper, comedian or musician. I do these to ultimately help them become superstars, and with these, I consider it as a good way of propagating the great ideals and talents in Nigeria, and the black race in general. So, to an extent, I take my new role and responsibilities in public service as an extension of what I was doing previously. Though, then, it was easier for me as an outsider to the workings of government, to complain about what government has not done, or ought to have done.
But now, as a Commissioner for Information, and like you said, “the mouthpiece,” let me quickly observe that the governor, in the real sense of governance, is the number one spokesperson for the state. My job, I must say, is much of assistance, as he is the captain of the Mission to Rebuild Team.
Meanwhile, describing how I attend to my job requires the imperative need to explain the enormous scope of the governor’s vision and Mission to Rebuild. The process of which, he outlined as; five cardinal programmes, namely: Affordable qualitative education; efficient health care delivery; agricultural production/industrialisation; affordable housing, urban renewal and rural and infrastructural development / emolument generation. This is a mission powered by a vision of a state that is peopled by well-educated and healthy citizens, industrially well developed and secured for everybody to realise his or her potential under a caring government able to deploy the resources of the state for the betterment of all.
However, we should not forget that the crest of good governance, and avenue for smooth ride and acceptance of government’s policies and programmes remain the ability of the citizenry to understand, cooperate and support same. Expectedly, this should be the fundamental responsibility of the state’s information management with adequate capacity to attract the right attention, support and cooperation of the people.
This is the position and responsibilities that I found myself. But I must confess that the sincerity of purpose, speed and pragmatic dispensations of the governor, and by which he attends to these socio-economic development in the past six years of the administration have really helped us a lot, as the people can easily see for themselves the tremendous transformation that has become the fate of the state.
Ogun State presently is witnessing a new dawn in terms of socio-economic transformation that is greatly turning around the fortunes of the entire citizenry. With all sincerity, we have a lot going on in the state, with a population of about 7.2 million and rich history and culture. Don’t forget too, that we stand on the shoulders of giants. A lot of firsts come from Ogun State. Do we talk of first professor of medicine, first woman to drive a car, first Nobel Laureate, just to mention but a few? So you can imagine the task. We cannot afford to let down these people, records and history. So when you take cognisance of these, then you know one must be up to the task. You must be ready to deliver, and be up to duty. That has been my consciousness. Today, we can unequivocally submit that Ogun State is standing up there and among the top three fast growing and viable states in Nigeria.
This position was obviously not what you had in mind when you decided to contest for a seat in the State House of Assembly in 2015. How have you been able to handle this position for more than two years?
Let me start from a spiritual concept. In all things and issues, man can only propose, but it is only God that disposes. Though, my intention was to get involved in politics, because, politicians make policies that affect our lives. Irrespective of decisions they take, our lives are always affected in one way or the other. Meanwhile, rather than folding arms watching what they do right or wrong, and whereas one equally has the potential and opportunities to contribute, I considered it better to join the train, and give unique service, than to sit in the comfort of an air-conditioned living room and erroneously continue to see politics as a dirty effort. That is exactly what propelled me into politics in the first instance. Besides, my desire has always been about change, about helping people, and I realised I can do that on a wider platform of governance. I realised one can reach more people through governance. Of course, I contested for House of Assembly seat in 2015, but I still thank God for how it went. The process was an eye opener and I learnt a lot. Meanwhile, I appreciate where I found myself eventually. The seat I occupy today is one that is very strategic, even if going by the name alone. I pride myself and I thank my God that I am able to find myself on this seat. I don’t take things for granted. I want to work even more, in a way that my service and contributions can stand the test of time.
Now that you seem to have finally settled in well, what has changed about Dayo Adeneye?
In fact, nothing has really changed about my person. I remain the same humble, friendly and hardworking man. What I think has changed is more about what I have to do by virtue of my new job as commissioner for information of a frontline state like Ogun. With my schedule, one can be called to question at any time. If something happens within the state around 2.00 a.m, for instance, I have to know about it. I have to be able to give information about it. The job is no longer a 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. duty; I don’t get to close at 5.00p.m. anymore and go home to play golf. It is a 24-hour responsibility. That is why I said earlier that it is quite challenging. I have to be up-to-speed and up-to-date about every news that affects the 20 local government areas and 37 LCDAs, and the entire state. I have to keep abreast of what is happening in Nigeria, and particularly those that concern Ogun State.
Before you joined the cabinet of Governor Amosun, you were one of those who believed the government could do better in certain areas that could impact on the lives of the people positively. Now as an insider, what can you say about governance that has changed your perspective?
When you are on the outside, it is easier to believe that government must be responsible for everything and all we need to do is to receive from government or be attended to. We expect that electricity should be working, the roads should be fixed, and everything should work smoothly. Yes, in sane environment that should be the story, but not the total responsibility of government. Now, being on the inside, I have been able to see things from another perspective and understanding that there is a lot more to the issues of governance.
There are myriads of other things government does and caters to, such as security, education of our children from primary to tertiary and facilities for education, health, infrastructure and so on. But in most cases, citizens think of what affects them only. We forget that there are other communities somewhere that need other things more urgently than us. We also tend to always be unmindful of the financial limitations of government at one particular time or the other. So, government and governance have to attend to these and other factors, and endeavour to touch each and every area of life.
What is the magic wand Governor Amosun has been using that makes it appear as though the state is in competition with Lagos State in terms of development?
To be honest with you, there is no magic wand except his ingenuity, purposeful leadership, commitment and sincerity in governance. Secondly, we are not in competition with anyone. Ogun State is Ogun State, but the two states complement each other. However, since we came on board, security of life and property has been our number one goal. Next is infrastructural development. No investor will come to any place where they cannot move their finished products. They have to be able to move their goods and services. Transparency as I said, is another. You apply for land and it takes six months to get the land, or apply for licence or a certificate and it takes forever, definitely one would not be comfortable moving to that state. As a matter of fact, in 2012 when the World Bank report came out, it rated Ogun State number 35th.His Excellency immediately effected major changes as One Stop Shop was created at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to ease the burden of investors coming into the state and we also kicked off what we call the Investors Forum where we showcase facilities and opportunities available to potential investors in Ogun State and a few other things that have turned around the fortunes of the state. So by the time the next World Bank Report eventually came out in 2014, Ogun State was rated among the top 5. So, you can see that a lot of these projects that we have mentioned worked for us. Early this year, a Commonwealth Survey came out whereby they made it known that 75 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is domiciled in Ogun State . So, if we are attracting 75 per cent of all foreign investment to Nigeria, we must be doing something right. So you can see there is no magic wand, but hard work and the grace of God to have a selfless, highly committed, honest and pragmatic governor with a good sense of devotion to serve mankind.
The governor is believed to be a workaholic, but you have been able to manage to work with him for over two years. What would you describe as his driving passion in the last six years?
I wouldn’t use the word, workaholic. I just believe that His Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun is somebody that works with passion. His unequal attitude and devotion to work always reminds me about my late father’s popular saying, “don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” The governor believes that most of us travel and can see how well things are done in the developed countries, particularly the right attitude and concepts of democratic governance. So, he wonders why we cannot do or aspire to replicate such feats and selfless development approach here. Secondly, he believes we must be the architects of our wellbeing as nobody will develop Africa, Nigeria and Ogun State if not the citizens themselves. So, that is the inspiration which fuels his passion. Consequently, the strong will to advancing the betterment of his people has continued to be his driving force. He works so much with vigour d continues to turn around the fortunes of Ogun State and Nigeria by extension with prudent utilisation of the available resources. Besides, he lives by example. That is why I think, we his commissioners, special advisers and others follow suit, because, he doesn’t say “go and do it”. He says, “follow me.” He leads. He is always at the forefront. He doesn’t say, “you people go and report to me.” Most occasions we work round the clock. I could recall an instance when he led a supervision of projects across for like ten hours at a stretch. At a point, some of us were about grumbling of tiredness until one of us reasoned that the man, our captain, who is apparently older than many us is still standing, strong and in similar condition. Immediately, the majority of us lost every sense of complaint, but marvelled at his resilience and untiring spirit. I think the governor is always conscious of the strong foundation and legacy of the founding fathers of the state and was not only ready to sustain it but to tremendously improve the standard even for the upcoming generation to appreciate. And, of course, it is glaring that the people approve of him and his transparency of governance, hence their overwhelming appreciation and support for his administration. They see the monumental road networks and flyovers with world standard fittings; the vastly improved and subsidised health care delivery.
How would you describe your relationship with the governor and how has it affected your performance in office?
In a way, the governor is not just my boss, but also my mentor and leader from whom I’ve learnt a lot about leadership and governance. His attitude is always an inspiration to me as he treats me with kindness, understanding and support. I enjoy a robust relationship with him. He would gladly commend you for a job well done, but push you to do it even better next time .My relationship with him is, therefore, cordial and healthy. But please, the governor loves excellence. He does not give eye service, but he always appreciates and rewards honesty, punctuality and dedication to work.
You once said that you decided to join politics because you believe you could make a difference in the way governance is being run in this part of the world. Would you say this government has lived up to expectation in the last six years?
Thank you very much. Governance can be likened to a football team. If you don’t wear your jersey, lace your boots accordingly and be available for the match, there is no way you could play with the team. In fact, you cannot score goals, neither would you be able to defend your team. So, you have to either join a political party, and or, register to vote. As a team player, I can conveniently say that the administration has performed wonderfully well, and has a convincing record that would stand the test of time in the history of socio-economic development of the state since creation in 1976. As a matter of fact, this government’s performance has already earned our Team leader, His Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, CON, FCA, another name “the Architect of Modern Ogun State” from the good people of the state in recognition of his successful rebuilding mission. And I make bold to state that if you would like to understand better the reason behind the people’s admiration for the man, I plead that you take a drive around the state, then you will see what they mean! It’s a new dawn of development across the state.
You will discover how far-reaching the achievements are, even with the paucity of funds, recession and so on. When you go round the three senatorial districts, you will see that almost every aspect of our people’s lives has been touched. You will see the world standard model schools, the new markets, shopping malls, housing facilities, world-class road networks flyovers and bridges with quality touches, affordable and accessible quality health services and many more in a relatively serene and peaceful environment where lives and properties of the citizenry are adequately protected. I can unequivocally say that the administration has performed beyond expectation.