Hundreds of residents of Ogun State on Thursday, January 13, trooped out in colourful display to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari to the Gateway State. Buhari was in the state to inaugurate landmark projects undertaken by the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun. The projects commissioned by Buhari included: the 42-km Sagamu Interchange–Abeokuta dual carriageway, which is now renamed as the President Muhammadu Buhari Expressway, the 14- km Ijebu-Ode-Epe Expressway, both Federal roads. Other projects were: King’s Court Estate, Prince Court Estate and the Gateway City Gate Monument.
Buhari arrived the commissioning venue of the 14-kilometre newly constructed Ijebu-Ode – Mojoda- Epe Expressway in company of his host and cut the tape to open the road officially for public use. The President then proceeded to the Sagamu Interchange, venue of the commissioning of the monumental Gateway City Gate, an iconic beautification park at the entrance of Abeokuta city, the state capital. On the entourage of Buhari, were the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Caretaker Chairman and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, among other top personalities, top government functionaries and many others.
The event was attended by top political leaders and captains of industries, including the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote and former CBN Deputy Governor, Mr. Tunde Lemo. The President was received by Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Akeredolu of Osun State and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State. Other dignitaries who attended the event were: former Governors: Daniel Akintonde, Kayode Olofinmoyin, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Buhari, who could not hide his joy for the rousing welcome he received, commended Abiodun for embarking on the lofty projects, describing him as the ‘‘performing Governor of Nigeria’s Gateway State”.
The President stated that: “Abiodun is a worthy example of ‘promises made, promises kept’.’’ He charged other governors to emulate Abiodun, saying “When state governors deliver impactful projects in consultation with stakeholders like we are witnessing in Ogun State, the trajectory of our national development will be enhanced.”
But, the event was not just about merry-making nor was it about praise singing. The President’s visit gave Abiodun the opportunity of expressing his displeasure over the deplorable conditions of federal roads in the state to Buhari and the governor wasted no time in doing this. There is no doubt about the fact that the deplorable conditions of federal roads in the state had been giving Abiodun sleepless nights.
The governor had been calling on the central government to cede the roads to both Lagos and Ogun governments for reconstruction, a request that had not been given any serious thought by the Federal Government. The Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway, Sango Ota-Idi Iroko road and the Sagamu- Ogijo road are among the most deplorable Federal Government roads in the state, which have become users’ nightmare due to its deplorable conditions.
Abiodun at a public function last year had lamented that Ogun State has not had a fair share in the construction and rehabilitation of federal roads, declaring that 90 percent of federal roads in the state were in bad condition. The governor demanded that Ogun should be given special attention in road and infrastructural development by the Federal Government. Abiodun observed that Ogun, because of its strategic location as the industrial capital of Nigeria deserved better attention that it is currently getting from the Federal Government. “We are not getting a fair share of road rehabilitation in this state.
There is a video being circulated on social media showing the bad condition of roads in Ado-Odo/Ota right now. Ado-Odo/Ota harbours the big-gest industries in this country, but regrettably, 90 percent of the federal roads here are in bad shape.
“The Federal Government has so much to do, but Ogun State needs federal attention on road rehabilitation. We deserve a better share of federal attention. I have asked the Federal Government to give Ogun State roads special attention because a lot of its roads are in this state,” the governor had said. Seizing the opportunity of the visit, Abiodun appealed to Buhari to accord the state a special status for Federal Government Infrastructure Funding, especially on roads, saying Ogun State has more federal roads than any other state in the country.
In his response, Buhari assured that all federal roads in the state would begin to receive federal attention, adding that two major federal roads under construction – the Sagamu-Benin Expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, would be commissioned before the end of 2022. The President revealed that the Federal Government was considering funding the reconstruction of some of the roads with a tax credit scheme. Buhari listed the roads being considered for reconstruction under the tax credit scheme to include: the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway, Sango Ota-Idi Iroko Expressway and the Sagamu-Ogijo road.
The President specifically said, the Federal Government is considering giving approval to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) for the reconstruction of the Sagamu-Ogijo road under the tax credit scheme. Buhari said: “I have also listened to your requests to give priority attention to the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta and the Sango Ota- Idi Iroko roads respectively.
Let me assure the people of Ogun State that these roads will receive the Federal Government’s attention. “We are considering extending the tax credit option for the reconstruction of these roads as we did for the 100km Sagamu-Interchange – Papalanto – Ilaro road.
“I will also consider approval of the reconstruction of Sagamu – Ogijo road by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) under the tax credit scheme”. The President expressed delight that the 14-km Ijebu Ode-Mojoda-Epe Road commissioned by him has been reconstructed into a modern expressway by the state government. He noted that the impressive road would complement the Sagamu-Benin Expressway that the Federal Government is currently reconstructing; also due for commissioning this year.
Buhari also noted that the Gateway City Gate; the 42-kilometre Sagamu Interchange- Abeokuta Road; the 14-km Ijebu-Ode-Epe Expressway and two housing estates for low, medium and high income earners at Kobape and Oke-Mosan in Abeokuta, respectively, could not have materialised without the state government’s huge investment and commitment to security of lives and property. ‘‘You (Abiodun) have justified the mandate of the people of Ogun State. You have represented our party very well. Your Excellency, well done!
I am proud of what you have done for your state and your people. ‘‘You have made our great party, the APC, proud too,” the president stated. He added: “Just across the road is the 42-kilometer Sagamu-Interchange-Abeokuta Road which the state government has reconstructed and equipped with street lights.
‘‘I am particularly impressed by the quality and standard of your road projects, and the creative way you have deployed resources to reconstruct and rehabilitate them. “It is significant to note that the two road projects being commissioned today are federal roads.
This is an example of constructive engagement, cooperation and collaboration between the states and Federal Government. ‘‘These roads also fit well into our rail transportation master plan that connects Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital to Kano, with Ogun State having more rail stations, along the Lagos-Ibadan rail corridor,” Buhari said.
Earlier in his speech, Abiodun, saidall the projects and programmes his administration had undertaken are deliberate and guided by a vision to give Ogun focused and qualitative governance and create an enabling environment for a Public Private Sector Partnership to thrive.
He explained that the choice of the five projects being commissioned was, however, symbolic of the various types of projects across all sectors of the state’s economy, spreading through the three senatorial districts. Abiodun further informed the President that all state government projects have the inputs and are informed by the needs of the people as expressed by them at different engagement fora.
The governor later presented Buhari the key of Gateway State while an “Honorary indigeneship’’ status was also bestowed on the President. The President’s visit ended with a closed-door meeting where he interacted with stakeholders and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.