Thursday, January 13, 2022 11:00 pm
By Funmi Branco
It was excitement galore in Ogun State on Thursday as President Muhammadu Buhari visited the State to commission five transformation projects dotted across the State. To Governor Dapo Aiodun’s detractors, the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari to Ogun state was a big shock. This is because, since the President could not make the trip recently, they expected the same story! Many people from various works of life came out in their thousands to receive the President of the country to the Gateway State. Adorned in different adire outfits, residents filled all the space adjourning various projects singing and dancing to the admiration of President Buhari.
It was a thing of joy to the people of Ijebu Ode Mojoda, and the other 30 communities in the area who saw, for the first time, a promise made and kept.
Their joy was great when they saw President Mohammed Buhari disembark from his official car to commission the 14Km Epe road. The road links Ijebu Ode with Epe of Lagos State.
The road has been a nightmare to motorists for several years until the intervention of Prince Dapo Abiodun. During his electioneering campaign in 2019, he assured the people in the corridor of rehabilitating and reconstruction of the networks of roads when his administration assumed office.
According to him, the road was in a state of disuse when he came to office. Lagos State had already constructed its side of the road, the Ogun State side was left undone by successive administrations.
The road, he said, “was part of my campaign promises to the people living in that corridor. This is a promise made and fulfilled “.
Thursday’s commissioning was a dream come true for the people living on that axis.
The 14Km road has in no small measure removed pressure from the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and has provided motorists alternative to exit Lagos to other parts of South-West, South-East and even Northern Nigeria.
In former times, the single-lane road was in a deplorable condition with traffic. The Ijebu-Mojoda road is now a standard two-lane double carriageway with reinforced concrete lined rail, walkway, street light, bus culvert and a 14 plaza toll gate among other appurtenances.
During the commissioning of the 14Klm road, Governor Dapo Abiodun said the President’s visit to Ogun State today was not just a routine official function. “It is much more. It is a honour done to the good people of the Gateway State. This is your first visit since my assumption of office. And we look forward to many of such. The rousing welcome for Your Excellency and the entourage by our people is an expression of our love for you.”
The Governor added: “All the projects and programmes of our Administration in Ogun State are deliberate and guided by our vision. The vision is to give Ogun State a focused and qualitative governance and create an enabling environment for a Public Private Sector Partnership to thrive. We believe this is fundamental to the socio-economic development of the State and individual prosperity of our people. The choice of the five projects that we are commissioning today from our many landmark projects was a daunting task. These are just a few of our achievements. We have so much more to showcase. These selected few that Your Excellency will commission are however symbolic of the various types of projects across all sectors of our dear State’s economy. And, they are spread all through the THREE Senatorial Districts. Mr. President, I have the honour to report that our Administration in Ogun State has continued to fulfil all its promises to the people within the available means.
It is noteworthy that all our projects have the inputs and are informed by the needs of the people as expressed by them at different engagement fora that we provide. This is because we anchor our “Building our Future Together” Agenda on inclusiveness, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability, justice, and obedience to the rule of law. Under our FIVE Development Pillars with the acronym I.S.E.Y.A; that is I – for Infrastructure, S – for Social Welfare and Wellbeing, E – for Education, Y – for Youth Empowerment, A for Agriculture and Food Security, we based our choices on what the people say they want and we get their buy-in for implementation.”
The President came to Ogun to witness a scenario of developments, stability, peace, probity, accountability and transparency, instituted by Governor Dapo Abiodun. In the last two years, Governor Abiodun has been able to transform the sociopolitical and cultural atmosphere in Ogun State and the people have moved on with their governor. Here is a government that uses technology to enhance people’s living and provide jobs for teeming youths.
Travelling on the 43 km road Abiodun has been able to construct between Sagamu and Abeokuta the President had a feel of the new life in Ogun. Electric polls dot the road from Sagamu to Abeokuta and elsewhere, and driving at night is no longer a death sentence. The 42-km road between Sagamu and Lagos has been adjudged the best in the country given the modern furniture. The Abeokuta- Sagamu Interchange road, the ceremonial route to the Gateway state capital, Ibara, Kuto, MKO Abiola Stadium, Oke Mosan, Laderin, Kobape, Siun to Sagamu interchange, links the Lagos Sagamu expressway to Lagos and the South-East. With the replacement of new asphalt overlay of both binder and wearing course, replacement of cleared road shoulders and median with layby, reconstruction of existing earth drains with adequate turnout where necessary, and provision of new street lights for illumination at nights for safety and security purposes, the road is now a beautiful sight to behold. Industries and housing estate are springing up willy nilly. In Ogun Central, it is roads galore: Panseke – Adigbe road, Lafenwa- Rounder, Elite – Oke- Lantoro road and Fajol- American junction, Obantoko, Kemta- Somorin, Olomore- Sanni road, Adatan- Obantoko road.
The Ogun City Park, the work of a master craftsman, and a symbolic representation of the Gateway State depict peace and tranquility. An iconic monument, the park sits at the Shagamu Interchange, warmly welcoming visitors to the state, with outstretched arms depicting the ethnic groups in the state. The monument made of composite materials towers to a height of 27m, a bridge of unity making for a triumphant entry into the Gateway State. Here is a prime location for fun lovers, a prime spot for relaxation and family picnics.
The President also commissioned the Kobape Housing Estate or the Prince Court Estate at Kemta, Idi-Aba, and Abeokuta, but these projects are a fitting tribute to Abiodun’s genius. Completed within the first 100 days of the governor’s inauguration, Kobape Estate comprises a total of 300 units of one, two and three-bedroom flats described as a “Smart City” where people can live, work and play. Another 300 units are for the next phase. Solar streetlights, sewage system, primary health centre, drainage, water, electricity, tarred road and a police post explain why the Kobape Estate is a fully subscribed piece of architecture. Next, welcome to Kings Court Estate, located in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta. CCTV cameras, perimeter fence gated with security personnel, connected drainage and interlocking complemented by As Buhari visits Ogun, there’s a great story to tell.
Governor Abiodun enthusiastically added: “Beyond these physical projects, we have also embarked on several fiscal and policy reforms to enable the effectiveness and efficiency of Government Some of these are the reinvigoration of the Security Trust Fund; establishment of Public-Private Partnership Office; launch of Ogun Digital Economy Infrastructure Projects; and Ogun State Land Revenue and Management Systems (OLARMS). Others include the establishment of the Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency. The Business Environment council provides a truly one-stop-shop for Big Investors; and business bottlenecks in dealing with the Government establishment of Ogun State Enterprise Development Agency to strengthen the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and boost their capacities; and, All these have led to an increased IGR of about 95B in 2021.”.
He went further: “We have continued to improve on our Ease-of-Doing-Business (EoD). Ogun State now ranks 4th on the scale of Ease-of-Doing-Business in Nigeria. We will continue to improve on that until we become number one! We appreciate that as existing businesses continue to thrive, more investments must also be attracted and start-ups are encouraged. Today, I am pleased to report that Ogun State is ranked the no 1 investment destination of choice, not only in Nigeria but in the entire West-African sub-region.
Indeed, President Buhari was happy about what he saw on the ground. For this, he poured encomiums on Governor Abiodun like confetti. The President, in his speech, described Dapo Abiodun as the performing Governor of Gateway State.
According to the President, “I have heard so much about his effective achiever and deliverer of good Governance. I recall the visit of Governor Dapo Abiodun during the height of the Coronavirus in 2020. During that visit, he presented to me a compendium of achievements of his administration in his first 52 weeks. The compendium contains a good number of projects as encapsulated under the development pillars in the acronym I-S-E-Y-A. We couldn’t be commissioning the projects then, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The compendium surprised me. I wondered how he could deliver all the projects under the then prevailing circumstances.
President Buhari added that he was fully delighted to accept his invitation; it was not to see or inspect but to commission fully completed projects that his administration had delivered to the wellness and wellbeing of the people of Ogun State.
“Today we are here to be part of the development in Ogun State. I am very pleased to be in the Gateway State. This is my first visit to any State in the new year. It is my fervent hope that the year 2022 will bring us good tidings. Today I am here in Ogun State to commission five trailblazing projects.” These are The Gateway City Gate, the 42 km Sagamu- Interchange Abeokuta road, the 14 km Ijebu-Ode- Epe expressway. Also to be commissioned are 2 housing estates for low income and high-income earners at Kobape and Oke mosan in Abeokuta respectively.”
He added: “This is a high number of projects to be commissioned in one day and it is gratifying. I arrived early today and commission the 14Km Ijebu-Ode, Mojoda Epe road which is reconstructed to a modern expressway by your administration. This impressive road will complement the Shagamu Benin expressway that the FG is presently reconstructing which is also due commissioning this year.
Just across the road is the 42-km Shagamu Interchange Abeokuta road which the State government has reconstructed and equipped with street lights and other modern furniture which I will commission shortly.
I am particularly impressed by the quality and standard of the road projects. And the Gateway roads which you have deployed resources to reconstruct and rehabilitate. The two roads projects being commissioned are Federal Government roads. This is an example of constructive engagement cooperation and collaboration between the State and Federal Government. These roads also fit well into our rail transportation masterplan that connects Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital to Kano with Ogun State having more rail stations along the corridor. It is equally heartwarming that your housing programs cut across different social strata. Some are for the medium and high-income earners, while others are essential for the low-income earners and were truly affordable, costing as low as N6m only per unit. This is inclusive at work and very commendable. This Gateway City Gate Project where we are now, it’s not just a park between two projects, it indicates that something new is happening in Ogun State. A welcoming entrance into the chapter to the centre going to Ogun State. It is also an icon depicting the joining of hands for putting the future of Ogun State in togetherness. ..”
The President paused to let the cheering by the crowd subside. He continued: “I am proud of what you have done for your State and your people. You have made our great party APC proud too. You are our example of promises made and promises kept. These lofty projects couldn’t have materialized without your huge investment and commitment to the security of lives and property. This has made Ogun State one of the safest and peaceful states in the country and investors destination of choice. You have justified the mandate of the people of Ogun State and represented our Party very well.
President Buhari assured the people of Ogun State that the Ota – Abeokuta expressway and Ota idi iroko would receive Federal Government’s attention.
In his words: “We considering extending tax credits as expanding option for the reconstruction of these roads as we have done for the 100km in Shagamu Interchange and Papalanto, are roads. I will also consider the approval of the reconstruction of Shagamu Ogijo road to the NNPC under tax credit security. I congratulate the people of Ogun State for having such a focus, deliberate and inclusive administration under the watch of Prince Dapo Abiodun.”
*Branco sent this piece through [email protected]
More photos of the visit: