Of Abiodun, doubters and Ogun road network

ONE of the cardinal objectives of the present Ogun State government is the provision of infrastructure, under which the rehabilitation and construction of roads across the state fall. The reason for this is glaring enough, even to the uninitiated. Strategically located with proximity to Lagos, Nigeria’s and West Africa’s largest industrial hub, Ogun ought to be an investment and industrial catchment area. However, deplorable infrastructure, especially road network, has over the years worked against the state’s geographical advantage.During the electioneering leading to the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun at the 2019 election (and even after he was sworn-in), the governor was consistent in promising Ogun people better roads. Apart from internal roads in major cities and towns, many dwellers in border communities linking the state with Lagos had endured nightmarish experiences commuting between the two states. Governor Abiodun quite clearly understood that investing in good road network was crucial to harnessing socio-economic opportunities available to the state.

Some of the most important of such roads are the Ijebu Ode-Epe road, Sango-Ota-Ojodu Berger road and the Abeokuta-Sango-Ota-Lagos road. Apart from these roads, the Abiodun administration has also continued to embark on road rehabilitation and construction in inner cities and rural areas. One clear distinction between Governor Abiodun’s administration and the immediate-past government in Ogun State is that interventions in providing infrastructure are based on needs and not wishes. Previously, construction of roads in the state was concentrated on only one urban section and was meant for the cameras. Vanity projects with little or no economic value were commissioned to suit a convenient political narrative. But under Governor Abiodun, provision of infrastructure, such as rehabilitation of roads, is based on importance and impact. Thus, one of the earliest decisions taken by the governor upon taking office was to direct each local government to present one important road in their domains for immediate rehabilitation.  Recently, on the directive of the governor, contractors have returned to site and restarted work on the long-abandoned 32km Ijoko-Agbado-Akute-Alagbole road. Also, work is ongoing on the Epe-Ijebu road, which, when completed through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) will further open up economic activities between Lagos and Ogun in that axis.

As the governor himself said, “Opening up our rural roads, in particular, will boost agriculture and development of micro, small and medium enterprises. We have also identified our industrial hubs – Agbara-Atan-Ota axis, Ewekoro-Ifo axis, Sagamu-Ogijo axis – for special attention. We are as well exploiting our proximity to Lagos.” As a leader who shows compassion and understands the plights of his people, Governor Abiodun certainly knows better than randomly mobilising workers to a road for personal political gains, only to abandon the project midway and subject host communities to further hardship. That was why he said, when announcing the return of contractors to site on one of the border roads connecting Ogun and Oyo states that  “The viable road connecting Abeokuta to Yewa and Oyo State had caused hardship to residents, business owners, residents and road users. So, it became extremely important for our administration to return construction workers to site.”

Governor Abiodun also confirmed that the road was just one of the many economically significant yet neglected roads where work had resumed. “I made a pledge to the Ogun State people to look beyond politics and focus on their welfare, and this informs our readiness to complete all the projects abandoned by the last administration and littered across the state on the mantra, Building Our Future Together,” the governor assured.

Just over one year since he took office, rehabilitation and/or construction work on more than 50 roads across the state have been completed, while work is ongoing on at least 20 others. Crucial to the unprecedented possibility of working simultaneously on multiple road projects is the localisation of aspects of many of the projects. For instance, the Sagamu-Abeokuta road was awarded through direct labour. Also, the Abiodun administration’s establishment of the Ogun State Public Works Agency through the Ogun State Road Management Amendment Law, has since turned out to be a master stroke which has ensured prudent management of resources and a veritable source of generating employment and creating wealth for the people of the state who now play active roles in the construction value chain. Also, the hitherto moribund state-owned construction equipment rental company, Plant Gate, has been revived by Governor Abiodun to generate income for the state which is fast becoming a huge construction site.After many years of neglect by the previous administration which had sunk Ogun into infrastructural decay, Governor Abiodun’s promise to “improve productivity, mobility and connectivity through the provision of adequate physical road infrastructure across the state with particular emphasis on the rural areas” now appears to be gaining momentum and exposing what could be achieved when a leader is focused, selfless and far-sighted. However, this significant effort comes with a caveat against political pessimists and envious underachievers.

Patience is therefore required from the good people of the state and support for an administration which is finally working for all is not asking for too much.

  • Martins writes in via toksmartins@aol.com

 

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