Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun will be 59 years today. In this interview, his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Adejuwon Soyinka, speaks on why the governor has embarked on numerous ambitious projects and how he intends to complete them before leaving office in 2019.
THE Ogun State governor is generally described as a workaholic who hardly rests, how does he manage to keep going without getting tired?Adejuwon Soyinka
Indeed, Senator Ibikunle Amosun will turn 59 on Wednesday, January 25 but in spite of his age, he still operates with such energy and zeal that is difficult to match by many of us, his aides, who are several years younger than he is.
From my interaction with him as a close aide, I can tell you that what keeps the governor going is his passion, his drive to rebuild Ogun State. He has done so much for Ogun State and he still plans to actualise many more projects before the expiration of his tenure on May 29, 2019. So I believe that it is the realisation of the fact that he hasn’t got so much time that keeps him on his toes, day and night.
The governor tells anyone who cares to listen that the day he will be ending his tenure as governor of Ogun State, he wants to ride a train service initiated and built by his administration, as he leaves the state capital.
He says that by the grace of God, the day his tenure ends, he wants to ride on the Ogun State light rail and wave the good people of Ogun State that ‘this your boy came and he is leaving Ogun State better than he met it.’
He is also working very hard to ensure that by the time he is leaving office in May 2019, Ogun State airport would have been reality just as he plans to have completed all ongoing projects in the state including the Sango-Ojodu-Abiodun road, the Ilara-Ijoun road and several other projects in the three senatorial districts of the state. Now, when you have such goals set for yourself, chances are that you will constantly be on your toes. This, I believe, is what keeps the governor going. That is where he derives his energy.
On comments that the governor is stubborn and does not change his mind once he sets his mind on something
I don’t know what you mean by being stubborn. On the contrary, my experience with Governor Amosun has shown me that he is a great team player, who listens to his subordinates and concedes to better logic or idea when presented with one.
Having said that, the governor is however a visionary leader and the problem with such leaders is that they are often misunderstood. For instance, when Pa Obafemi Awolowo decided on the construction of the Cocoa House in Ibadan, some of us who were not around then, at least read in the history books and heard from our parents that, the idea was considered unpopular at that time.
In fact, I understand it was greeted with a street protests. But Pa Awolowo, being a visionary leader who was clear about where he wanted his people to be, remained focused and today, Cocoa house, Ibadan is one of the prides of the Yoruba race.
The same can be said of the Liberty Stadium or even the establishment of the first television station in tropical Africa, then known as the Western Nigerian Government Broadcasting Corporation, WNTV, which began broadcasting on October 31, 1959.
Many of these projects were then considered to be unnecessary and grandiose. But today, they are the pride of the Yoruba nation.
Is that why the governor is proceeding with the 10-lane Sagamu interchange-Abeokuta expressway in spite of disagreement from some quarters?
As far as the Governor is concerned, there is nothing more to that project other than the overriding need to continue to improve the state of infrastructure in the Gateway state as a condition precedent on which investors can be attracted and retained.
Today, Ogun State is the industrial hub of Nigeria and many more international conglomerates have concluded plans to open factories, including in some instances, residential quarters for their staff along that road stretching from Sagamu interchange into Abeokuta, the state capital. Knowing the level of development that will occur on that axis within the next few years, the state government decided that this is the best time to think ahead and put a world class road infrastructure in that corridor rather than wait until these factories are fully built and then there is need to demolish structures for road expansion.
Unknown to many critics of the project is the fact that the size of the road is one of the factors considered by multilateral agencies that have concluded plans to assist Ogun State in financing its construction.
So, what the state government is doing by starting the project is to show commitment by investing its own counterpart funding while the multilateral development partners would take over from there. Funding for the project is going to be released in phases.
While the construction of the road would also be done in phases.
Beyond that, it is important to also note that two lanes on either side of the 10-lane expressway are to be built with concrete.
Those two lanes are dedicated for trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles thereby reducing chances of collision with smaller vehicles. Not only that, the road is also going to host the rail project of the Governor Amosun-led administration, which will run parallel to connect the federal government rail line at Sagamu interchange and greatly reduce the travel time between Abeokuta and Lagos while ensuring that more people can live in Abeokuta or Sagamu area and commute to work on daily basis on the Lagos Island.
The forward thinking involved in the project also account for why many of the housing estate development projects of the state, including the likes of AAK Degun Estate, Orange Valley Estate, HID Awolowo Estate, PMB Estate and the new Makun City, to mention a few, are located along that axis.
On fears that embarking on the new projects may distract the government from completing existing projects
Although these are well-founded concerns, they however did not put into consideration the fact that the Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway was picked by development partners, who are assisting with the financing, based on their independently conducted viability study.
Beyond that, the new project will not in any way prevent the completion of ongoing projects including the Sango-Ojodu road, Agbara-Atan-Lusada road and the Ilara-Ijoun road among others. In fact, in the course of the 2017 Fiscal year, the state government will complete many of the ongoing projects while new ones, especially rural roads that will impact on our agricultural output, will also be constructed.