What’s Up with President Muhammadu Buhari Estate, Abeokuta?

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Ibikunle Amosun

A white elephant might be the most harmless big thing, but a white elephant certainly causes a lot of harm. Thoughts like these are on the minds of many as they pass through Oke Mosan, Abeokuta and survey with shaking heads the huge landmass which was supposed to have been transformed into a beautiful and sprawling estate.

One of the legacy projects that outgoing Ogun Governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun reportedly boasted would help etch his tenure in the sands of history is President Muhammadu Buhari Estate, Abeokuta. Initially named Three Hills Estate, it was rechristened in honour of the president after he paid a formal visit to the state a few years back. It was expected to be completed in record time with the name alone seen as a magnet that would attract aspiring landowners in huge droves.

Barely three years after, what began as a clever ploy with an obvious happy ending in sight is threatening to turn into a white elephant of tragic proportions. Weeks before Amosun hands over the reins in Ogun, nothing is happening on the site. Rather than the expected edifices rising to kiss the landscape, there is only emptiness. The place has been colonized by all manner of weeds and rodents. The few roads built at the beginning of the project are just lying there, strange emblems of civilization crisscrossing huge undeveloped patches of land.

Even the beautiful signage in the national colours of green-white-green identifying the estate is not spared from the neglect. Some parts of it have fallen, a metaphor for the breakdown in the relationship between the president and the governor. It will not be forgotten in a hurry how Buhari’s campaign rally in Ogun descended into farce as he was repeatedly stoned, all while the governor used the APC rally to campaign for his anointed candidate in APM.
Some people are alleging that the seeming abandonment of the project has something to do with the powers that be frustrating the governor as payback for his recent political antics. There is another camp that swears that the governor never intended to build anything but was using Buhari’s name to score cheap political points. Others claim the governor did not deliberately abandon the project; merely that buyers haven’t been flocking in to buy up the estate which is being sold at a premium. A source close to the situation intimated that it is possible the governor overestimated the president’s popularity in Ogun and the estate’s name might actually have discouraged potential buyers.