CDCR CHALLENGES OGUN STATE GOVERNMENT TO COMPLETE ABANDONDED IFO ROAD SCHEME
* OGUN STATE GOVERNOR, PRINCE DAPO ABIODUN’S ACCLAIMED ROAD PALLIATIVE WHICH ENTAILS FILLING AN UNTARRED ROAD WITH STONES AND SAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RAINING SEASON IS A SIGN OF GROSS INCOMPETENCE
* NO MORE EMPTY PROMISES!
* CDCR CHALLENGES THE OGUN STATE GOVERNMENT TO ANNOUNCE THE COMMENCEMENT DATE FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE ABANDONED 32 KILOMETRE SANGO/AKUTE/AJUWON/OJODU ABIODUN ROAD PROJECT
The Campaign for Democratic and Community Rights (CDCR) considers the decision of the Ogun State government to commence a so-called palliative on the long abandoned Sango/Akute/Ajuwon/Ojodu-Abiodun road in the middle of a raining season as a sign of incompetence instead of the well-thought out intervention that government apologists are making it out to be. This so-called road palliative which at the end of the day will gulp millions of naira actually involves the filling of some portions of a 32-kilometre stretch of an abandoned, untarred and water-logged road with stones and sand.
This kind of palliative cannot bring any long-lasting relief to the long-suffering residents and commuters of Ifo LGA who undergo immense and unimaginable hardship plying the uncompleted and abandoned road on a daily basis. In fact because it is taking place in the middle of a raining season, this palliative will in the long run compound the woes of residents and commuters. This is because as soon as one or two heavy rain falls, the so-called palliatives will be immediately washed off with the sharp stones exposed and some portion will turn to a sea of mud thus compounding the woes of residents and commuters in the axis.
Instead, we demand a concrete commitment by the state government to complete the construction of the abandoned 32-kilometre road through democratically-controlled public works programmes. The Prince-Dapo Abiodun-led state government which has spent more than a year in office now had the opportunity of resuming the construction of the road project during the dry season last year but did not. This road is too important to be left abandoned. The state of this road coupled with the poor condition of other road and public infrastructures in Ifo LGA and other parts of Ogun state is contributing to an incipient de-industrialisation in the area with investors and businesses unwilling to establish their companies and factories. This is further compounding the problems of unemployment in the area.
We welcome the commitment of the governor and his assurances in a statement posted on his Facebook page that the “the roads will be fully reconstructed in no distant time after what we are currently doing there”. However we disagree with the lack of a concrete date for resumption of the road project. Residents and commuters in the communities located in the Ifo LGA of Ogun state where the road project passes cannot wait for a “no distant time” given the hardship we currently face. Moreso, this is not the first time such promises of no distant time had been made and they were not fulfilled. The immediate past governor of the state, Ibikunle Amosun was known to have made similar promises which did not see the light of the day. We therefore challenge Governor Dapo Abiodun, if he is serious with his promise, to immediately name a date when the road project would be resumed and begin the process of preparation for the commencement of the road project once the rains are over. This is the only way to show to the people that they are not about to be fooled once again.
We reject any attempt by the Ogun state government to use contract system to complete the road project. Instead we call for the mobilisation of the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) with resources and manpower to complete the road project. We believe that such an agency if put under democratic control and management of workers and community people can ensure a more prudent utilisation of resources to complete the road project at a very cheaper cost and also deliver a quality job. The public works programme will also ensure that youth in the communities are employed as skilled and unskilled labour in the road projects.
According to a statement credited to the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, “The Prince Dapo Abiodun-led administration is now engaging contractors, as the government evaluates how to rescope, accelerate and get the contractors back to site” (Guardian newspaper, 15 July 2020). As we have repeatedly argued, contract system is nothing but a conduit pipe for draining government resources to contractors who are often friends and fronts of capitalist politicians under the guise of providing public infrastructures.
As far as we are concerned, it is partly the use of the contract system which contributed to the stalling of the road project in the first place. This is because from all indications, the contract cost of the road project was inflated by the past administration of Ibikunle Amosun to ensure that the members of the state executives, House of Assembly, ruling party leaders and others get their cut. Now according to the Commissioner for Works, aside from an outstanding payment of the sum of N2.83 billion already incurred on the road project from the past administration, the state government now needs to raise another “N26 billion for it to be completed as designed”. By the time the entire amount used to start the project from inception to its current stage in addition to the balance of N26billion is calculated, it is possible that tens of billions may have been spent already for a 32-kilometre road. This is the real character of the contract system – a conduit pipe for the wastage and stealing of public resources under the guise of projects.
Now one does not need a gift of clairvoyance to know that unless the contract system is immediately abolished and replaced by something more prudent, the Governor Dapo Abiodun-led administration will end up using the excuse of difficulty in raising the balance of N26 billion to continue to delay the completion of the road project over the remaining 3 years of his tenure and possibly beyond. The state spending on COVID-19 pandemic and reduced state revenue due to economic crisis will be the immediate excuse. His predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun used similar argument for 8 years while the people suffered!
But even if the state government manages to cough out this inflated amount of N26 billion for the completion of the road project, this will still be to the disadvantage of the interests of the working people of Ogun State. This is because what it would mean at the end of the day is that such an amount which may be adequate to construct three to four different projects in the community would have been wasted on just one road project.
Therefore, on the basis of the contract system, the neglected communities of Ifo LGA and others will never be able to solve the problem and hardship of lack of motorable roads and absence of other basic public amenities. Only a method of constructing road, bridges, housing and other infrastructural projects through democratically-controlled public works programme can begin to address the problems faced by working people in these communities and in the entire Ogun State.
Comrade Khadijat Usman (Mamakofoshi)
Comrade Gbenga Bello