As a delegate to the first Media Conference/Summit organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ogun State, James Sowole reports that revelations from delegates who toured some projects of the state government showed that the rebuilding process is on course
Considering huge infrastructure development and the modernization of many towns in Ogun State, it would not be an overstatement for anyone, who knew what the state looked like about seven years ago and what it is now to conclude that things are changing positively and rapidly too, in the state otherwise called the Gateway State.
Revelations from a day tour by journalists, who were delegates to the just concluded Media Conference/Summit held in Abeokuta, the state capital and sponsored by the Ogun State Government, were testimonial to the fact that the state is undergoing a total rebirth.
For four days, the state government hosted more than 400 delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), including National Officers of the union under in environment conducive for such an event. The tremendous transformation that has taken place in various sectors of the state were appreciated better by those who had at one time or the other lived in the state and had left for one reasons or the other but now have the opportunity to visit after again.
During the tour, which took delegates from various councils of the NUJ and national officers to the three senatorial districts of the state, delegates were amazed at the impressive improvement in infrastructure with new road network, housing estates of different categories, health facilities, education infrastructure and construction of bridges and flyovers at strategic places.
The story of some of the delegates that went on tour of Ogun West, Ogun East and Ogun Central pointed to the same direction that the present administration was seriously pursuing the rebuilding mission with vigour. Delegates were taken to some of the government projects by the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Lekan Adegbite, who is an architect by profession and some by the governor’s media aides, including Mr Jide Fadairo.
For the housing projects, the commissioner said three categories were embarked upon. The three categories are the one built directly by the government as welfare package for workers, the one built by the State Housing Corporation for interested members of the public and third one was the one built by the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC).
At the Workers’ Estate, Laderin, by the Secretariat, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, delegates were conducted round the estate built directly by the government as welfare package for public servants, which comprises the workers in the core civil service and others in corporation and agencies.
The commissioner said though the target of the government was to build 1,000 units of the houses, 160 units had been completed and ready for allocation, adding that each unit costs N2.5 million. He said an alotee only needed to pay 10 per cent of the cost of the building while the rest would be paid by installment through mortgage arrangement.
The commissioner said the government embarked on the housing project because what the current administration inherited as workers’ estate were grossly inadequate, considering the number of workers in the employment of the government.
When asked that buildings in the estate that had been inaugurated were yet to be occupied, the commissioner said the delay was due to the pressure from workers as requests were far more than what was on the ground. He said in order to ensure that the houses get to the targeted beneficiaries, the process of allocation would be handled by the office of the Head of Service.
The second housing estate toured by NUJ delegates was the one named after the late Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, popularly called HID Estate. In this estate with modern housing infrastructure like tarred road, water supply, electricity and in a secure environment, there are three and two bedroom flats detached and semi-detached buildings.
The commissioner disclosed that a three bedroom flat costs N4.5 million while the two bedroom flat costN4 million to whoever can pay for any of the houses.
The third estate was the high-brow Orange Estate. The houses in this estate are duplexes with one bedroom boy’s quarters each. That the estate is a high brow was not an understatement because apart from the ambience, the estate has a central power generating supply apart from electricity from the public power supply and also has a club with swimming pool and other indoor game facilities.
Other projects inspected by the delegates were roads and three flyovers constructed at strategic locations in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Mr Adewale Adewunmi, who had experienced traffic gridlock at the popular Mortuary Junction during peak hours while going to the Federal Secretariat, Oke-Mosan from his Asero Estate residence before he was transferred to Ondo State was marveled at the sight of the flyover that now connects the dualised Abiola Way with the road that goes to Leme and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mega Station.
“I must confess, this project is unique and appropriate. People had suffered a lot at this junction when going to work in the morning and while coming in the afternoon because this is a cross road. Sometimes, I used to pity traffic policemen that were posted to this junction. With the construction of this bridge, relief has definitely come to the people that ply this road,” Adewunmi stated.
Adewunmi, who claimed he had been reading of the rebuilding mission of the current administration in newspapers and watching same on television, was the more convinced that the Ibikunle Amosun administration was actualising the rebuilding mission, when the delegates train arrived at the starting point of Oke-Ijehun-Sapon-Kenta Oloko-Itoku-Odo-Oyo dualised roads and a flyover bridge.
“With these new road networks and link flyover bridges, modern shopping complexes and school buildings that I have seen today, I am now convinced that Amosun is working to change Abeokuta the state capital status from the ancient look to a modern city. Things have really changed for better,” he said.
Expectedly, projects like these did not come cheap, particularly on those whose properties were demolished for road dualisation and building of modern shopping complexes. The Works and Infrastructure Commissioner said many issues were raised on the payment of compensation to families of the affected property, but many had been resolved while some are still pending due to internal crisis among owners.
He said since most of the affected properties were ancient buildings inherited by offspring of the original owners, issues of whose names should be written on cheques delayed payment of compensation to many families, adding that those who agreed on what to do had been compensated.
There side comments from some residents, who though commended the government for various modern projects, however appealed for help to repair many access roads in the metropolis.
A resident, Mr. Rasheed Sonoiki appealed to the Ondo State Government to help motorists and residents of Obantoko, Camp area, who spend hours in traffic whenever they are coming to the main town either to work or to their business places and when going back home.
Sonoiki said though the road is federal government-owned, the state should intervene in view of the large population of residents in the area and the presence of two federal high institutions – the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAB) and the Federal College of Education (FCE) Osiele on Abeokuta-Ibadan Road.
Responding, Adegbite stated that the current administration is humane and has plans for feeder roads and other infrastructure but has been constrained by dwindling revenue. The commissioner specifically stated that the current administration has the plan to intervene on the Adatan-Asero-Obantoko-Camp-Osiele Road but was hampered by inadequate financing, saying the government would move in as soon as the finance of the state improves.
The arrival of the delegates at the Itoku market popularly known for the local fabric “Adire” tie and die was greeted by market women, who trooped out with their fabrics for sale.
The traders were however disappointed as delegates not only admired and bought some of the fabric, but also interacted with some of the women, who explained to the visitors certain things about adire and why Itoku is synonymous with adire.
From the tie and die market, the visitors were moved to the historical Olumo Rock Tourist site. It was fun time as delegates alighted from their buses and went up the ancient rock, taking photographs with their phones and other gadgets.
Narrating his experience, Eze Nwachukwu from Anambra State, described the tour as worthy, going by what he saw during physical inspection of some of the projects.
“Truly, the rebuilding mission is on. I am more convinced now that work is actually on. I had watched a lot about Amosun’s administration but as the popular saying, “seeing is believing” goes, I believe in what I have seen on television about this current administration,” he said.