James Sowole who attended the first media summit organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Ogun State, reports that delegates who toured some projects started by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, were impressed at the level of development in the state
Considering tremendous infrastructural development and the modern look of many towns in Ogun State, it would not be an overstatement for a person, 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 in the state otherwise called 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, showed that the state is undergoing rapid rebuilding process.
For four days, the state government hosted more than 400 delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and national officers for four days under a conducive environment.
The tremendous transformation that had taken place in various sectors in the state were appreciated better by those who had at one time or the other lived in the state and had left for one reason or the other but now have the opportunity of visiting after some years.
During the tour, which took delegates from various councils of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and national officers to the three senatorial districts of the state, delegates were amazed seeing considerable improvement in infrastructure as new road networks, housing estates of different categories, health facilities, education infrastructure and construction of bridges and flyovers at strategic places.
The story of 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 that toured Ogun Central 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 governor’s media aide 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 Investment and Property Corporation (OPIC).
At the Workers’ Estate Laderin the State Government 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 is 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.
Adegbite said an allotee only need to pay 10 per cent of the cost of the building while the rest would be paid by whoever gets 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 state government.
When asked that buildings in the estate that had been inaugurated were yet to be occupied, the commissioner told visitors that the delay was due to the pressure from workers as requests were far more than what was on ground.
Adegbite said to ensure that the houses get to the targeted beneficiaries; Adegbite said the process of allocation would be handled by the office of the Head of Service.
The second housing estate toured by NUJ conference delegates was the one named after the Late Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, popularly called HID Estate.
In this estate that has modern housing infrastructure like tarred road, water supply, electricity and in a secured 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 cost N4 million to whoever can pay for any of the houses.
The third category of estate, which the commissioner took delegates round was the high-brow Orange Estate. The houses in this estate are duplexes with one bedroom boy’s quarters.
That the estate is a high brow was not an understatement because apart from the cosy ambience, the estate has a central power generating supply apart from electricity from the public power supply, the estate has a club with swimming pool and other indoor game facilities.
Other projects inspected by delegates are road projects 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 Federal Secretariat, Oke-Mosan from his Asero Estate residence before he was transferred to Ondo State, was marveled seeing the flyover that connected the dualised Abiola Way with the road that goes to Leme and the Nigerian 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 crossroad. Sometimes I used to pity traffic policemen that are posted to take control at this junction. With the construction of this bridge, relief has definitely come to the people that ply this road,” Adewunmi stated.
Adewunmi who said he had been reading of the rebuilding mission of the current administration in newspapers and watching same on television, was more convinced that the Amosun administration was actualising the rebuilding mission when delegates’ train arrived at the starting point of Oke-Ijehun-Sapon-Kenta Oloko-Itoku-Odo-Oyo dualised and 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.
As expected, projects like these were not without costs, particularly on those whose properties were demolished for road dualisation and building of modern shopping complexes.
The Works and Infrastructure Commissioner said several issues were raised on payment of compensation to families of the affected properties, but many had been resolved while some were 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.
Also fringe comments were heard from some residents, who though commended the government for various modern projects, but appealed to Governor Ibikunle Amosun to help repair many access roads in the metropolis.
A resident, Mr. Rasheed Sonoiki appealed to the Ogun 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 to work.
Sonoiki said though the road is a federal government road, but 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 on the request by the people, Adegbite stated that the current administration is humane and had plans for feeder roads and other infrastructure but was 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 finances, saying that the government would move in as soon as finances 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 in order to take the advantage of the visit to sell some of their stocks.
The traders were never disappointed as delegates trooped out not only to have a look and buy the fabric, but to interact with the women who explained to the visitors some points about adire. And the Itoku that they had been hearing off as synonymous with adire.
From the tie and die market, the visitors were moved to the historical Olumo Rock Tourists site. It was a fun time as delegates alighted from buses and climbed the ancient rock taking snaps of photographs particularly with their hand held phones and other gadgets.
Narrating his experience, Eze Nwachukwu from Anambra State, described the tour as a worthwhile experience going by what he saw during a physical inspection of some of the projects of the Senator Amosun administration.
“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 of ‘seeing is believing’, I believe in what I had seen on television about this current administration,” he said.