By Funmi Branco
It is the consensus of observers of developments in the Gateway State: Ogun is gradually becoming a giant construction site. From Abeokuta to Epe, and from Iperu to Ijebu-Ode, its been a season of sturdy, signal projects all along since the Iperu-born prince mounted the saddle on May 29, 2019. Which is why when, last week, he gave quick timelines for the completion of landmark projects while inspecting the ongoing projects across the state, Governor Dapo Abiodun took no Ogun citizen/resident by surprise. To say the very least, lofty expectations have come to be associated with this administration and the feeling that it is poised to lift the state into a phenomenal level is pervasive. For those who have not heard, the 14-lane, state-of-the-art Ijebu Ode-Epe Expressway will be completed by May 2021, together with the loop being constructed to reduce accidents at the interchange of the road, which is set to be completed by the 3rd quarter of that year of promise.
Confidence is spurred by the rapidity with which, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, testing and treatment centres sprang up almost at the speed of light. That is the Abiodun way, and it is a way we have not quite walked before. Quite simply, it is the hallmark of great administrations to walk the talk, or in our local parlance, to “talk and do’ and Prince Abiodun has in fact assumed the sobriquet of talk-and-do- Governor, a fitting tribute to his genius.
As he toured the state inspecting project after project, Governor Abiodun felt the love and appreciation of a greatful citizenry. Across various communities, there was palpable excitement as numerous individuals exulted in the fact that development had come to their doorsteps. Governor Abiodun and his team were received with pomp. Speaking during an on-the-spot assessment of work done on the loop that would aid the easy movement of road users linking Benin-Ore from the Ijebu Ode-Epe Expressway or linking the Ijebu Ode-Epe Expressway from the Sagamu end, Abiodun averred that the road would further open up the axis to more economic development. His words: “If you are coming from Sagamu-Benin unto Ijebu Ode-Sagamu or Ijebu Ode-Benin and also for those that are coming from Ore and going to Lekki, you won’t have to be crossing the expressway, you will just get on the loop and without obstructing traffic, you are now Epe-bound. The most important thing is that when this road is completed, lots of companies would be opened in this corridor. You will get job opportunities from this road when completed. There will be lots of jobs. The loop will be ready sometime around the third quarter of the year. The road itself will be delivered 100 per cent by the middle of May.”
In another development, the governor assured the people that his administration would continue to do all it can to make movement of people and goods easy across the state. This time around, he was on a visit to Ejinrin Road in Ijebu-Ode to assess the level of work done. The asphalting of the road, he remarked, would make movement easy around the city, calling on the people to continue to support his administrations quest to make movement on roads across the state seamless. And this week, Prince Dapo Abiodun further indicated that his administration would complete the ongoing construction of a flyover across the Sagamu-Ore-Benin Expressway linking Ijebu-Ode to the Epe Road by the third quarter of this year. It is a given that when completed, it would ease vehicular movement and reduce accidents for commuters travelling from the eastern part of the country to Lagos and those transiting to Sagamu and Ijebu-Ode.
Strategically, and as Prince Abiodun himself pointed out, the completion of the flyover would decongest the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. In addition, it is bound to enhance the industrialisation of the state while increasing the commercial value of the area. The governor said: The construction of this road, which started in February last year, ought to have been completed before now, but for the global pandemic and lockdown. I can assure you that with the way contractors handling this project are going, the road will be delivered as scheduled. The road, one of Governor Abioduns legacy projects, will serve as an impetus for Ogun States economic growth as well as industrial cluster equipped with agro, communications and education cities, among others. This is, of course, not the place to dwell on Governor Abioduns road revolution, but it suffices to say that the nooks and crannies are opening up and opportunities springing up for countless numbers of people to advance their economic fortunes.
In this regard, it may be noted that while inspecting the 150-unit housing scheme in the Sagamu Local Government Area, Prince Abiodun reiterated his commitment to providing affordable housing units for the people of the state. As he noted, the government is poised to reduce the accommodation deficit in the state through massive construction of affordable housing units in all its three senatorial districts, and the two and three-bedroom bungalows would be sold at affordable prices to the people of the state, adding that his administration would deliver 2,500 housing units in the next two years.
As a matter of fact, in line with the housing blueprint of his administration, the social housing scheme that took off in separate locations across Abeokuta, the state capital, is now being extended to other locations for equal accessibility. At the moment, land clearing has reached an advanced stage in Ota and Ilaro. The project in Sagamu is scheduled to deliver 200 housing units, with 100 units delivered in the ongoing first phase and the other 100 in the second phase. The Affordable Housing Estate is located opposite the NYSC Camp, Sagamu. On the other hand, the 200-unit Ota estate will also be constructed in two phases of 100 units each inside the existing Government Reservation Area in Ota. That is not all: the Ilaro estate comprises100 housing units to be delivered in two phases, the site being along the General Hospital road.
The projects keep pouring in. For instance, the first phase of the Agro-Cargo Airport at Illisan-Remo in Ikenne local government area of the state will be brought to fruition by May next year. And with it will come efficient and effective connectivity for international, regional and local cargo and scheduled air traffic, especially to the Southern part of Nigeria and the West African cluster. And what is more, it will complement the status of Ogun State as the foremost industrial hub in the country while optimizing the logistics and distribution value chain, improving competitiveness and enabling the state to take full advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) for economic growth and development.
These are not white elephants: they are projects rooted in developmental pragmatics. Much more is ongoing in Ogun State than what has been noted here, but the point cannot be missed that prudent management of resources, insistence of value for money and, above all, vision in governance will guarantee multiple developmental returns and, consequently, life more abundant for the people even in perilous times like the moment when the Covid-19 pandemic is still hobbling the economies and finances of different national and sub-national governments around the globe.
Branco contributes this piece through email@example.com