How diversion of funds, illegal removal from office stalled Ibadan circular road project —Ladoja

GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Thursday flagged off construction of the Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja Government Reserved Area (GRA) on kilometre 8, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, just as Governor Seyi Makinde also named the Ibadan circular road project after the former governor. 

In his short remarks at the turning of the sod for the Ladoja GRA, Ortom urged Nigerians to continue to pray and support those in governance. 

Giving his remarks, Makinde explained that the circular road was named after Ladoja in recognition of his great contribution to Oyo State, particularly noting that the former governor was the one who came up with the engineering design during his administration as governor. 

Describing the Ibadan circular road as the most ambitious project, Makinde said the road will be tolled and has the prospect to generate N500 billion, when the entire 110 kilometres of the road is completed. 

Though he noted that the project presently has a 7.6 per cent progress rate, Makinde said his administration had identified the challenges that had made it difficult for the previous administration to accomplish the project. 

Specifically flagged off on Thursday was the commencement of the south-east wing of the entire stretch spanning 32.2 kilometres, with other stretches expected to be started upon the completion of the eastern wig. 

The south-east wing of the project will see the construction of two interchanges and four bridges. 

The south-east wing phase one had been concessioned to ENL Consortium Limited on June 16, 2017 by the immediate past governor Abiola Ajimobi administration but was terminated by the Governor Seyi Makinde administration over allegations of non-performance and failure to deliver in three years as promised. Speaking, the honoree, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, bemoaned how diversion of funds by subsequent administration to other projects, his illegal removal from office, failure of subsequent administrations to ask him as envisioner as reasons the project had failed to see the light of the day. 

Ladoja who went historical about the idea of the circular road project said his administration inaugurated the design for the project, paid compensation for the project, concessioned the project to two contractors and earmarked about N5 billion to start the project but his illegal removal from office delayed commencement. 

He bemoaned that the project had also failed to see the light of the day because subsequent administrations after his, failed to consult him about his thinking behind the project. Ladoja praised governor Seyi Makinde for reactivating the project, praying that the present administration accomplishes the project this time. 

Ladoja said, “When I came in, the Baale of Ekotedo told me that there was already a plan for circular road. I said that is a very good idea. I then asked Baale Ekotedo to prepare for me the viability of the project because it was his idea. When they brought, we said we must make it work. 

“We inaugurated the design and in 2003/2004, we paid half a billion for the design. We paid compensation and by 2005, all was ready to start in 2006. We already earmarked about four or five billion to start the project. I knew this was a project spanning 110 kilometres but I said even if it would take more than 10 years, we should start the project. We concluded the design; we acquired the land and we paid compensation. The interruption we had in 2006 was what delayed the project because we would have started it in the first quarter of 2006. 

“The first thing is to start the project, cross Ife road, cross Iwo road and end at Akinyele interchange. We said with that, if we tolled it, and with the money collected from tolling, we would be able to do the other parts. 

“We did contract that stretch to two contractors: KOPEK and CECCC, and we paid N1 billion to each of them, in 2007, when I was returned to office. 

“But, various people come to government for various reasons. Part of it is that they don’t want to talk to those who preceded them. You cannot have everything in the file, however, good you are. And if the person is still alive, the minimum you can do is to ask the person’s thinking about a project. But instead of asking us what method we wanted to use, they simply said since it would cost about N35 billion, and that Oyo State cannot afford it. 

“We are not asking them to do N110 kilometres at a time. And the money was diverted. I was told it was the money that was used to do the Molete to Mokola dualisation and the Mokola to Agodi Gate dualisation. That is how that dream, at that time, ended and nobody talked about it until the next governor came. 

“Governor Seyi Makinde exhumed the project and it was awarded again. But, I hope that this time around, we will get to the end of the project, by the grace of God.”



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