Dear “Oga” Dapo,
I am pressed to reintroduce myself in these crucial times that have befallen our state and nation. My name, Dimeji Sodeke, carries the weight of historical significance, and I trust this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. I am not writing to cast aspersions or criticisms without solutions, rather, my intentions are firmly rooted in the desire for the betterment of our people and state.
I have often wondered if your advisors truly comprehend the meaning of an appeal letter or if their defence of democracy is overshadowed by the desire to use a public office for personal gain. Nonetheless, I believe this reintroduction will catalyze positive change.
Your Excellency, I hope that you will graciously accept this letter as a sincere gift of truth, unlike the deceitful tales fed to you daily by the charlatans that surround you. I have spent a considerable amount of time analysing the current state of affairs and have concluded that to truly understand the people, one must lead them while to truly understand leaders, you must be led.
The escalating insecurity in our state has reached unprecedented levels, as evidenced by the recent murder of the Olu of Agodo Village in the Ewekoro Local Government Area. Additionally, the recent cult clash in Sagamu highlights the dire situation faced by unengaged youth who resort to crime. These incidents reflect on the current leadership and raise questions about how these young people obtained their weapons. It is important to address these issues and find solutions to ensure the safety and well-being of our people.
I was deeply disturbed by the “Eleyi” saga and the lack of good advisors surrounding you. It is a slap and a huge insult to every person of the state, as it became important that you surround yourself with individuals who understand that a leader who relies solely on nobles will struggle to maintain his position. Your authority to manage those around you may be weakened when surrounded by those who consider themselves equals. By aligning yourself with the people and their needs, you will find more support and loyalty.
The recent ministerial selection process, where Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola was favoured over you, raises concerns about the respect and dignity accorded to your personality and administration. It is essential to address these concerns and ensure that the decisions made are in the best interest of the people rather than personal agendas.
The abuse of power by the DSS and other civil security bodies is a worrying trend. These institutions should serve the national flag and not be used for personal agendas. It is crucial to promote dignity, patriotism, and consciousness among the people and ensure that democracy is upheld.
It will be Nasir El Rufai in his book titled “The Accidental Public Servant”, made it known that despite the gross seemingly dislike between him and Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo during his tenure, he would still recognise him as the most reliable candidate to restructure the FCT Capital when it was time to move in action. In his book, he clearly stated that Obasanjo told him to his face that he was just stubborn and lacked respect but he admitted his prowess, worth and meticulous nature to be the one who could help in making the FCT project successful. The point noted here is that what if at the time El Rufai was so critical about the President and he had been nabbed by DSS, would the dream of the FCT project that will have today been possible? Your excellency, not every voice that tries to intimate you with truth is an opposition neither nurturing agendas. Some plain truth comes from the fact that the state is never a one-man show. Could we agree that the situation is a whole institution of security serving the agenda of a man in a Democratic setting? Even enemies show respect for themselves.
The lack of inclusion and acknowledgement of youth in your administration has led to a loss of faith and a dark outlook for the future. It is essential to actively involve the youth in governance and prioritize their needs. There is no gain in saying the fact that the New Media personalities around you are only young because the internet is not what aged politicians could properly navigate their way through. If not they would have been the same recycled beings as usual. One would naturally think Ogun state will follow soothe the positive inclusion of youths in government that commenced in Oyo State where there are high numbers of young representatives in all spheres and appointments. Ogun state is notable for producing scholars and is ruled by intellectuals as we would never believe there will be a day when Ogun state will also be included in a certificate saga where its leader will be requested to present WAEC results.
Your Excellency, let me remind you that in 2018, you promised free Education as part of your manifesto only for our tertiary education to be one of the most expensive in recent times. This is so germane to us because we believe you owe education a lot with your story along the lines of understanding what an average teacher passes through since your late father served the nation prestigiously in that arena. All promises in that line and also health care are absolutely in shambles. If no one agrees with this assertion in the corridors of power then we would only love to ask if they could be confident enough to get treated in our current state hospital. Or any of your aides will confidently enrol their children in any of our government schools?
There is a call for transparency and accountability in the use of funds allocated to the state are paramount. One of many examples is the question towards the utilization of the World Bank loan the state was budgeted around 2020 alone #449.974bn of $2.22nd approved for Nigeria, in which Ogun was a beneficiary. The budget breakdown into 24% for Infrastructure (#107.964bn), 28% for social welfare (#128.067bn), 20% for Education (#91.608bn), 2% for Youth Empowerment (#7.896bn) which led to many probing into asking what has happened to all these finances?
Meanwhile, It didn’t take too long for Sahara Reporters in 2020 to declare the present administration in Ogun state as the most notorious fake news peddlers in the world. This makes many youths wonder in the state why a Governor thinks giving a Big Brother Nigeria winner, Laycon a house and some cash prize is part of the oath sworn to appropriately use taxpayers’ money effectively.
I urge you to implement a program similar to the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship, which provides leadership training for young citizens of the state. This program can be tailored to our state’s needs, ensuring merit-based selection and representation from various disciplines and professions.
As a matter of urgency your Excellency, there is a need to start erecting community libraries in every area of the state to encourage the awakening of the mind and engagement of youths as against the numerous hotels and club bars found in almost every known street. Kindly let secondary schools in the area be registered with such community libraries so these teenagers can further their research and be positively engaged outside the four walls of the school. This project, if it will ever be adopted, should therefore be entrusted in partnership with a reliable Educational NGO so there could be checks and balances of appropriate utilisation of expenditures and implementation of the project with the target frame time met. The NGO can better sweep this outreach across rural settings with lots of volunteers in place which amounts to an absolute reduction of crime rate, cultism, internet fraud and ritual killings in the state. A problem is like grass, if an advisor proffers a solution like cutting the surface of the grass, in no time it will resurface but when an advisor tackles the issue from the root, the problem becomes the past.
Instead of using force against our citizens, we should focus on training them in self-defence, reporting, and communication. By actively engaging with the people and utilizing taxpayers’ money effectively, we can create a positive and inclusive society.
Your excellency, it will be a very wise move to reorientate the entire workforce of the state by giving them hope on what to fight for. To break this down to its simplest form is to say that naturally, humans will want to better their situation by making sure they move up the social strata from the lowest cadre to at least the middle class. The middle class, which has gone into extinction in Ogun state should be reawakened by your administration as it gives a focus on those who work tirelessly to grow the economy. The Civil Servants deserve dividends of democracy, leverage to loans, housing scheme benefits, quality education for their children, credit systems and occupational acts that protect their integrity in service. I would rather address them as Civil workers as the word “Servant” already reflects the concept of our dark-gory historical experiences. Promises made, such as free education and improved healthcare, must be fulfilled to regain the trust of the people.
Hence, you will be ahead of your peers in governance by initiating this and Ogun State will set the pace for others to follow. You will earn respect amongst your political peers and your name will be immortalised on the lips of the people forever in songs.
In conclusion, I believe that a prince can only be safe against the few nobles who surround him, not against the hostile majority. By aligning yourself with the people and addressing their needs, you can ensure their support and create a safer, happier, and more prosperous state.
I hope you consider these recommendations and work towards a better future for our state and its people.