AJIMOBI'S INFRASTRUCTURAL REVOLUTION IN OYO STATE
The last colonial Governor in the Western Region prior to Nigeria’s independent in 1960 was Sir John Rankine. He was Governor between 1951 and 1959 during which time Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo was the Head of Government and the Premier of the region.
It was during that time that the Western Region, the headquarters of which is Ibadan, the capital of the present Oyo State, recorded monumental achievements in many sectors of the economy, particularly in infrastructural development which led to the establishment of monuments like the nation’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, the first stadium in Africa, the Liberty Stadium (now Obafemi Awolowo Stadium) and the first television station in Africa, now Nigeria Television Authority, both of which were established in 1959.
Besides, some of the structures put in place at that time which still dot the city of Ibadan, the political headquarters of the region till today are: the first General Hospital in Nigeria, Adeoyo General Hospital, (now Adeoyo State Hospital, Ibadan), the first Teaching Hospital in Nigeria, the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, the first high-rise in Nigeria and the 25-storey Cocoa House Building, Ibadan, to mention but a few.
However, since these golden years, development seems to have been stifled while the region had retrogressed in infrastructure and other variants of development. This had been the situation until the emergence of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the current Executive Governor of Oyo State.
In his inaugural address after being sworn-in as the 27th Governor of Oyo State at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan on 29th May, 2011, Senator Ajimobi promised that his administration would pursue aggressive infrastructural development programmes as was witnessed during the Awolowo era. But for some doubting Thomases, this was a mere empty promise as was made by some past administrations but which remained a pipe-dream till their last days.
And taking a cursory look at the governors, both military and civilian, who had ruled Oyo State from 1951 to date, one would recall that the regime of Major-General (Rtd.) David Medaiyese Jemibewon between 1975 and 1978 that constructed two flyover bridges situated at Molete and Secretariat.
Therefore, what Oyo State had witnessed during the Jemibewon administration is now being repeated by the Ajimobi administration. Also, the asphalt tarring of the roads and the construction of bridges are as strong and durable as they were during the Awolowo era in the 1950s, while the on-going construction of public buildings are a replica of the colonial buildings at the Government Secretariat.
And true to Governor Ajimobi’s promise, a colossal sum of money had been expended on the construction, and re-construction of roads and bridges within the first two years of his administration.
During the electioneering campaign, Senator Abiola Ajimobi promised that one of the cardinal programmes of his administration, if voted into office, would be to renovate, construct and re-construct road networks across the state and to improve on the aesthetics of the state through beautification of the environment. The belief was that if all these are put in place, the state would become attractive to foreign investors, thus making it the first destination of choice for both local and foreign investors.
True to his promise, Governor Ajimobin has constructed and/or rehabilitated more than 200 roads all over the state, and they were strategically selected in order to ease transportation within the state.
Also, the state government has re-constructed some bridges which collapsed during August 26th, 2011 flood disaster. One of the reconstructed bridges which had since been inaugurated and christened Restoration Bridge is the Awolowo/Bodija/Secretariat Bridge. The expectation of government is that the bridges and the roads rehabilitated/ constructed are expected to reduce traffic congestion and enhance safety of motorists and pedestrians.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the success of any government is measured by its performance vis-à-vis provision of social infrastructure to the citizenry. And some of the few areas where Governor Ajimobi has touched the lives of the people are: construction of Flyover Bridge at Mokola, Ibadan, construction of motor garage at Temidire on Ibadan-Ife Road and Podo; construction of 110-kilometre Ibadan Circular Road, employment of 20,000 Youth under the Youth Employment Scheme of Oyo State (YES-O), payment of 13th month salary in 2011 and 2012, provision of free health services to more than 300,000 people through the free health mission programme, the purchase and distribution of 1,000 units of tricycles christened “Keke Ajumose”, purchase of “Ajumose” Buses to transport workers to and fro their offices free of charge and of course, the payment of N19,000 minimum wage to workers in the state among several others.
To enhance safe driving culture, orderliness and reduce carnage on our roads, the state government has re-designed the traffic light at Challenge Roundabout, M. K. O. Abiola Junction, Premier Hotel/Oyo Road (Oremeji) Junction; Oyo Road/Awolowo Bodija (Elewure); Parliament/ Premier Hotel Junction and Sango-Polytechnic Junction.
Government has also carried out routine maintenance of street lights and their power sources along Iwo-Road to Challenge; Monatan–Olodo; Mokola-Ojoo and Mokola-Parliament-U.I Road.
The Ajimobi administration is at present dualising two major roads in Ibadan, that is, the Ibadan Interchange-Challenge-New Garage-Interchange Road and Onireke-Jericho-Eleiyele-Dugbe Road with spurs to Aleshinloye as well as entry roads to Oyo, Ogbomoso and Iseyin. These are aside the Ijokodo to Apete and associated bridge works; Ikoyi Express Junction to Taki Palace to Ogbomoso Grammar School Roads.
Governor Ajimobi has also approved the construction of bridges and road repairs across the 33 Local Governments in the state.
History, it is said, does not repeat itself but only a similar event in history re-occurs. What the Governor Ajimobi administration is doing right now in Oyo State, through its urban renewal programme, construction and reconstruction of roads and bridges ought to have been done in 1950, that is, since the time of the Western Region going by the Daily Times Newspaper report of April 14, 1950 with its caption “Work in Ibadan £30,000 road scheme begins”.
Part of the report as reported by the newspaper at that time read: “the implementation of the 30,000 pounds road development scheme in Ibadan town, N/W, involves the demolition of many houses that came within the road limits……..” And there had been no governor since that time who did not, one way or the other, tried to instill discipline and sanity into the recalcitrant traders who erected shops by the road side but the political will to sustain the driving force had been completed lacking. But the emergence of Senator Ajimobi as the Governor of Oyo State was like a prophesy coming to pass. Fifty-four years after the then government demolished houses built within the road limits but could not sustain the demolition exercise in Ibadan, the Capital of the then Western Region, the Aare Atunluse of Ibadanland, a visionary and indefatigable leader, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has removed illegal structures, thus turning Ibadan to a modern state capital. Ajimobi could be said to have done what Napoleon Bonaparte of France could not do.
Life depends on the amount of risk a leader, a policy maker or a decision maker is ready to take. And the universal belief is that, the right thinking members of the society will always understand the policies of government but oftentimes, it is the right thinking members of the society who will not understand government decisions. For instance, if a government decides to evacuate people living near the river beds for their own safety, the right thinking members of the society should give their unalloyed support. However, the irony is that it is some of these so-called right thinking members of the society who will either pretend or exhibit undue sentiment and oppose such rational policies. But for good governance to thrive, the government in power will take decision in the overall interest of the masses who voted it into power, no matter whose ox is gored.
Written By Fatai Ogundairo