In his inaugural speech on November 27th, 2018, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola pledged inter alia;” our administration recognizes the importance of intra city and inter-city roads to facilitate movement of goods and people. We will muster resources to build strategic roads across the state”.
Mr Governor’s pledge, briefly captured above is predicated on the realization that creating an all inclusive economic growth and development is essentially dependent on movement of people, goods and services from one point to the other. Notwithstanding the advancement in Information Communication Technology which has reduced human physical commercial interactions, most businesses can never take place in the absence of convergence of the necessary parties.
No critical observers of the Osun Politics and polity took Mr Oyetola serious with his ambitious declaration considering the humongous debt hanging on the neck of the state arriving from the spent thrift of the immediate past administration. Not only the debt burden, another unresolved burden was the modulated salary arrangement called half salary which had become a tradition as at the time he took over power. It then sounded as the usual vituperation of a politician when the Governor articulated his programmes at the Osogbo city stadium.
As a commitment to walk his talk and daze the doubting Thomases,who unarguably appeared realistic given what was on ground then, the Governor swung into action and within two years of his emergence, 21 roads totaling over 71 kilometers had either been reconstructed or rehabilitated. About 10 other new roads were approved and work ongoing, while the three inherited federal roads are nearing completion. It is also important to add that the administration has sustained the concepts of rural road construction,rehabilitation,construction of river crossing and their mechanized maintenance under the Osun Rural Access and Mobility Project (O’RAMP). Under this commitment to open up the hinterland and tame the urban-rural migration, 33 rural roads are currently under construction across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Unarguably, building roads and providing other critical infrastructure is one of the fundamental mandates of government, hence that a government is constructing road is not the issue here, but the peculiarity of the roads considered by the administration and the modus of financing such project are noble and legendary in this clime.
Under the Adegboyega Oyetola’s administration, the massive road projects referred above are being funded through a new scheme called “Alternative Project Funding Approach” (APFA) or rather known as the “Contractor Financing Scheme”. Under this noble template, the contractors solely fund the projects and later get refunded through a schedule that does not subject the meager resources of the state to undue pressure. Notably, the premier (Osun) Olaiya Flyover is being financed through this scheme. I wish to register without fear of being contradicted that only a prudent, frugal,credible and sober character like Governor Oyetola could drive such a process. The reason is simple, in a clime like ours with weak Justice and poorly regulated Arbitration system, it would take the intervention of heavenly host for the wealthiest contractor (Business man) to trust any individual in government to the extent of funding projects on the basis on “Pay at a later date”. This explains why this is the first administration that achieved such a feet in Osun State.
The value of this legendary road construction scheme is numerous. It saves government huge amount of money as the avoidable fund that goes to consultancy and other sundry finances are practically eliminated. Adopting this new scheme also ensures that projects are done in record time. The contractor is not vulnerable to seeking fund approvals from different government parastatals where it takes months to pull through the necessary files, thereby wasting times. The concept also promotes local content and manpower. An average contractor is conscious of the cost implications of importing manpower and fetching materials outside the state. In a bid to save cost, his patronage of local manpower,expertise and materials increases, thereby halting the likelihood of capital flight and providing jobs for the citizenry.
Hitherto, road construction in Nigeria has always been based on a contract system whereby contractors bid and government picks the most favoured among them, awards the projects, pays mobilization fee and make other payment as the case maybe. Under this tradition, instances abound where contractors were fully paid,but failed to complete project, while in other instances contractors abandoned projects on the ground of no payment. This fate befell the Gbongan-Akoda and other dual carriage roads initiated by the immediate past administration while Mr Aregbesola was still in office. Thank God, those projects have received life under the Oyetola patriotic and frugal administration.
It is worth of mention that the contractors handling these massive projects are indigenous personalities. It is also iconic to note that 95% of these roads are those that had not been visited in the last 30 years by any government both in the old Oyo and now Osun States.
For instance, the road linking Origbomeje in Ife North Local Government was last touched in 1976 according Hon Lekan Olatunji who represents the area in the House of Assembly. He confirmed this during the flag off of the construction. Similarly, the Alekuwodo roads were lasts rehabilitated in 1991 when Osogbo was still under Oyo state. Users of the Ada-Igbajo road confirmed that it was 33 years ago that any earth moving equipment was sighted on the road, ditto the Osogbo-Iragbiji , Ara-Ejigbo, Apomu-Ikire, Igbajo township roads and Gbongan township roads among others.
Its also pertinent to acknowledge that choices of road that attract the administration’s priority are determined by need of the people on the spread of equity, fairness and justice and not by partisan affiliation. For instance, despite that the APC suffered huge loss in Ede during the 2018 governorship election, the first major road rehabilitation began from Ede. So far, Ede South and North Local governments have received considerable attention in the road projects with the reconstruction of Okegada,Ede to Army barrack Junction and the rehabilitation of Cottage to Okegada Ede township road.
Without sounding immodest the leadership of Mr Oyetola deserves commendation. To say the road intervention project is miraculous is apt, miraculous indeed for a state hugely indebted, with such debts deducted from source on its monthly allocation. To compound the challenge of the administration, COVID-19 and its debilitating effect hit hard barely a year in office, while this was followed by the social unrest of the #ENDSARS protest. It is only an ingenious, frugal, fiscally disciplined and sober personality like Governor Oyetola that create such a miracle on the roads road.
Akinola writes from Osogbo.
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