Ogun: 10-Lane road construction stirs disquiet

By Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta   |   12 February 2017   |   4:30 am  

The 10-lane Abeokuta-Sagamu interchange road under construction<br />

• It Is Misplaced Priority, Says Opposition
• They Are Myopic, APC Responds

The Ogun State government and the two major opposition parties in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Labour Party (LP), are at loggerheads over an ongoing 10-lane road construction, which commences from Abeokuta, and ends at the Sagamu inter-change.

In an attempt to douse the growing uproar, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government has expended immense energy in explaining that the multi-billion naira road project became expedient in view of the swelling number of investors that have trooped to the state within the last couple of years, and the compelling need for a road of such nature, that would facilitate easy transportation of goods and services. The explanation appears not enough to soothe the opposition’s seething anger.

The state House of Assembly recently approved a N65.7 billion loan to the government for infrastructural development. Even though the exact amount budgeted for the road project is shrouded in secrecy, many residents are of the view that the government has committed the state into massive indebtedness, which generations yet unborn would struggle to offset.

Other than the road project, the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has hinted that his administration also plans to construct railway lines from the state capital, to link all major cities in the state.

While some people view steps like these as laudable, others, especially members of the opposition see it differently, claiming that the projects were not “people-oriented but elitist.” The PDP specifically sees such projects as a “misplacement of priorities.”

According to factional chairman of the party in the state, Sikirulai Ogundele, who spoke to The Guardian, “These projects are not going to have any direct economic impact on the local economy of the state because the people handling the projects are aliens.”

Apart from that, he claimed that all road projects initiated by the administration across the state upon assumption of office were yet to be completed, just as he questioned the rationale behind abandoning them and beginning the construction of such “over ambitious” projects.

In addition to the many uncompleted projects, Ogundele said, there were many other “terrible” roads in many parts of the state, including Abeokuta, which need urgent attention.

So, “It is highly disheartening, highly disappointing and quite unexpected that an elite government should have embarked on projects that are not people-oriented, and have no human face. We have said at so many fora that the government is not responsive to the plight of the people of Ogun State because some of the projects it has embarked upon have no economic impact on the state.”

“These projects do not having direct impact on the local economy of the state because the people that got the job are aliens, and have taken their money out of the state. The local technicians are not given jobs, carpenters, welders are also not given jobs, because the contractors imported some of their workers,” the PDP chief said.

Insisting that the state does not need a 10-lane road at this time, he added that whenever the proposed railway project gets underway, it is going to be to the detriment of the people as the government would start demolishing their houses, and displacing those that do business from where they get their daily income.

“Even Lagos State, as elitist as it is, there is no where you will find a 10-lane road. Before one embarks on such project, the economic factor should have been considered, as well as the volume of traffic in the state, the question now is, ‘do we need a 10-lane road in Ogun state when the existing six-lane are not giving any problems? One would have expected government to just go ahead and complete the abandoned roads. Look at the Egbado/Akute/Ojodu Road, the project has been abandoned and there are some other projects like that which he has started and are yet to be completed.

“Instead of the 10-lane road, one would have expected him to use the money to construct the Ilaro/Owode Road. In fact, there are some roads that are extremely bad in Abeokuta; Kugba/Lafenwa Road is not also not motorable. One has to just investigate the reason why the governor is embarking on 10-lane road, which some people have already gone to court to challenge.”

The PDP chieftain, who alleged that the administration has not blueprint, or a mission statement on how to develop the state added, “We just have a government of tiki-taka. You wake up in the morning and embark on what comes to your head, that’s tiki-taka. We have a government that is not responsive to the plight of the people of Ogun State, and the governor is running the government alone, when governance should be a collective responsibility and not a sole business.

“Considering the height of maladministration; considering the height of insensitivity of the APC’s administration towards the plight of Ogun State
and Nigeria; considering the height of deceit, lies and propaganda that brought the APC government to power, and looking at the economic situation of the country today, no sane person would go and vote for APC in the next election because you hardly deceive Nigerians twice. Nigerians now known that the calibre of people in the APC are those that make promises that they cannot fulfill, so people are now waiting for them in 2019.”

The Labour Party is not only angry about what it refer to as “an ego boosting project,” but also angry that the government has kept the cost of all the projects secret.

That explains why it has filed a suit at an Abeokuta High Court, asking it to force the government to disclose the cost of each project.In the suit, the party chairman, Comrade Arabambi A. Oluwafemi and three others are urging the court to compel Governor Amosun and his Works Commissioner, Lekan Adegbite, to allow them access to all information on all road projects awarded by the government since the inception of office of the administration, including information on costs and contractors that are handling the projects.

But the APC has described the critics as small-minded and “myopic” individuals, who cannot see beyond their noses.An APC chieftain, Chief Doja Adewolu, who spoke to The Guardian, said: “The gigantic projects, which these myopic people are describing as being over ambitious are a confirmation of the fact that Governor Amosun has the same vision like our late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.”

“When Awolowo wanted to construct the Cocoa House in Ibadan, some people and even some members of his cabinet saw it as an over ambitious project and kicked against it ... Amosun is seeing beyond now, he is thinking ahead of time,” adding that history would be kind to the governor.

Adewolu in response, said, “Amosun shares a lot of many things in common with Chief Obafemi Awolowo. What Awolowo was doing in those days is what
Amosun is doing today.”

On the uncompleted roads, Adewolu said, “The governor has explained to some of us whenever this question arises, even at the party level that before he
leaves office, he will complete all these projects. What some people don’t know is that the 10-lane Abeokuta-Sagamu Road is being funded by a special investors’ fund, which is totally different from all other roads. He has made a promise and a commitment that he will finish all these on-going projects. It is just a question of time. When you are a chicken you are different from an eagle, the chicken looks downwards, they have feathers but they cannot fly, while eagles fly right above and Amosun is an eagle.”

The APC chieftain said the governor has not only promised to finish the projects in time, but has also promised not to leave the state in huge debt. He is an accountant and he has made his pledge, he has assured the people that care to listen that he will not leave debt that will be more than what the state can pay.

On the allegation that all the major projects are concentrated in Abeokuta, the state capital where Amosun hails from, Adewolu said: “It is not true that all the major projects are concentrated only in Abeokuta, what about this one he is doing in Olokola. Is Olokola in Abeokuta? The project in Olokola is consuming almost half of the budget for this year. The same thing in the Ipokia area of the state, where a high court and a polytechnic have just been established. In any case, a state capital must have the character of a state capital, but there is no part of Ogun State that Amosun has not touched.



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