Tuesday, May 18, 2021 7:33 pm
By Bolu Adeosun
To say that infrastructure is critical to social growth is to state the obvious. But it is still a fact that key infrastructure is either lacking or wholly inadequate in most of Nigeria’s 36 states. That is why it has been impossible to foster a really productive economy, one in which, for instance, the manufacturing sector enjoys great latitude and patronage. It is significant that not even the challenges lately posed to the finances of states by the Covid-19 pandemic can be overcome without building social infrastructure. Infrastructure does provide key mechanisms to generate wealth, and to off-set economic and other losses, but it does so much more in a democracy. When a government meets the critical needs of the populace, it affirms the raison d’etre of organized societies, acquires legitimacy for itself and, above all, strengthens belief in democracy and enhances pride, self-worth and happiness among the citizenry. It was not for nothing that the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, conceptualized governance as a means of actualizing “life more abundant” for the populace. In that regard, one cannot but acknowledge the strides of the Dapo Abiodun administration in Ogun State in the last two years.
There is sufficient basis for believing that infrastructure has been a core component of governmental activity in the Gateway State since May 29, 2019. Indeed, it is quite evident that being cognizant of the proximity of Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, to Ogun, the Abiodun administration has been able to foster a reasonable degree of economic integration while bringing alive hitherto comatose sectors of the Ogun economy and providing opportunities for businesses to thrive. It has made no secret of its desire to stimulate economic activities, create a safe environment where investment thrives, and ultimately increase the Ogun people’s quality of life. Whether in housing or road networks or security, there is massive cause for cheer. The exponential increase in the state’s IGR is an inevitable corollary of the approach taken in the last two years. The administration is creating an enabling environment for industrialisation to thrive. It has been providing incentives like tax holidays for prospective investors and it is a fact that everywhere you go, you see visible evidence of a working government. But more on that in a later piece.
Let’s provide two quick examples. First, consider, the paradigm shift represented by the ongoing construction of an Agro-Cargo Airport at Illisan-Remo in Ikenne local government area of the state, a project scheduled for completion by May next year. The Abiodun government actually bidded for the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) special agro-processing zone and in the bid document, chose that location to co-locate the special agro-processing zone. Consequently, the AFROEXIM Bank has begun the construction of the first African International Testing Centre in Sagamu. In this centre, items for export would be evaluated and approved for export. With such a centre in place, it is easy to see that the cargo airport is, like Governor Abiodun pointed out, a very convenient and economically sound facility.
Second, consider the Ijebu Ode-Epe Expressway, which is just about completed. The 14-kilometer road which lies at the border areas and connects Ogun to Lagos features a dual carriageway with 10 lanes. Travellers heading to Ikorodu, Epe, Lekki and adjoining areas from Ogun State now have a viable alternative, and the project has continued to open up the areas that it stretches through for investment opportunities. Observers have already noted that motorists intent on circumventing the hassles of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway are taking advantage of the road. There is now a viable alternative for motorists coming to Ogun State from Lagos, and for commercial drivers loading up their vehicles at Lekki and Ajah and heading to different parts of the country. The road is fast opening up access to different communities along the corridor and reducing the burden of vehicular maintenance. That’s what the Abiodun administration is about: better life for the citizenry.
Indeed, to talk about road construction would be a daunting exercise because of the sheer magnitude and number of projects. It is a fact that on assumption of office, Governor Abiodun asked the populace to identify roads across the 236 wards of the state on which they wanted immediate action. As a quick-fix mechanism, he immediately set up the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA), which carried out palliative works on the identified roads. Then the administration commenced the reconstruction of key roads, including federal roads, across the three Senatorial Districts of the state to ensure safe travels for the citizenry. In just one year, a total number of 87.4km of new roads were reconstructed across the three senatorial districts of the state, while a total number of 246.26km of roads were rehabilitated throughout the state. But the administration did not rest on its oars, which is why other road projects have since received attention. Now, the Sagamu -Abeokuta road, Osi-Ota – Awolowo-Navy – Kola road, Fajol-American Junction, Abeokuta, Imowo Eleran road, Asafa eleruku road, Ijebu Ode road, Ojofa/gbelegbuwa road and Degun road have all been completed.
Within Ijebu Ode alone, the following roads have been completed: Abeokuta road, Awujale road, Stadium road and Ogbasoye road. Other completed roads include Igbeba/GRA, Awokoya Junction and Oke-Aje/Yidi. The Oke Ola road in Imeko Afon is ongoing. Instructively, the administration has not shelved inherited projects. Among the abandoned projects of the immediate past administration, the Kuto flyover has been completed, while work is ongoing on the Panseke-Adigbe-Opako road, Ilaro-Owode, Adatan-Asero- Obantoko road, Lafenwa-Rounder road and Oke Lantoro –Elite-Idi-Aba road. Besides, the administration has almost completed work on four new fire stations. And if you were to talk about housing, the story has been simply phenomenal. While the 300 units Affordable Housing Estate, Kobape is nearing completion, the 250 units Low Cost Housing Estate at Kemta, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta (first phase) is ready for allocation. Work has reached advanced stage on 100 of the 200 units Housing Estate in Ilaro, and ditto for the Sagamu Housing Estate.
From the foregoing, it seems sufficiently clear that Prince Dapo Abiodun has his gaze firmly fixed on the reconstruction of Ogun State as a business hub. Business can only thrive with proper linkage between rural and urban communities. That said, however, there is also a need to focus attention on maintenance culture, and to link up communities still in need of road infrastructure. But if the record so far is any indication, the Ogun people can certainly look to the future with confidence.
-Adeosun sent this piece from [email protected]