Opinion: The Lesson From Oyetola, Makinde’s Partnership On Joint Road Project

In April this year, Mines and Steel Development Minister, Olamilekan Adegbite dropped a bombshell on the precarious state of road infrastructure in Nigeria. Speaking at a news conference in Abuja, the nation’s capital, the Minister said the country has about 70% of road infrastructure deficit to contend with. He claimed that only 50,000km out of 200,000km of road networks are paved in the vast landmass of the most populous nation in Africa. He then revealed that this challenge ‘’presents an inherent demand for bitumen.’’

Latching on this shortfall, experts say infrastructure deficit is a major factor militating against Nigeria’s development since its independence in 1960. A stakeholder, Onuoha Nnachi, said the problem must be addressed for Nigeria to attain our needed development. He insisted that it is a menace ‘’holding back (Nigeria’s) growth and development.’’ 

Simply, the conclusion from the presentations of these experts is that the state of a country’s road complex, indexes its progress and readiness for the future. You look at its budgetary allocation to roads, and you can determine its seriousness to want a place in the comity of great nations.

A keenly perceptive Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the State of Osun has promptly taken all the concerns of the experts in their strides and moved in to address the challenges posed by the poor road networks. He has engaged in what I call a ‘trans-party political game’ to achieve the grand objective of bridging the road shortfall in Osun.

He has reached out to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to flag off the reconstruction of the 91km Osogbo-Iwo-Ibadan road, which has been in a deplorable condition for years. Oyetola is of the All Progressives Congress,APC, while Makinde is flying the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Their different political leanings notwithstanding, they believe that sinking those differences to serve the interests of those who voted them into power is more compelling than parochial affiliations. The two said they couldn’t look on in the face of the ‘’untold hardship (assaulting)…motorists and other road users.’’

The two chief executives jointly awarded the execution of the project to contractors at the total cost of N24b after due process. The stretch is said to be of economic importance to Osun and Oyo as it links their capitals to different towns, villages and commercial communities. The Osogbo-Iwo section has been in a sordid state, wasting man-hours and constituting a huge challenge to the two states. Countless lives have also been lost in mishaps on the route.

An elated Oyetola has hailed the flag-off of the project, saying the scheme demonstrates his government’s commitment to the infrastructural development of the state and wellbeing of the citizens. The governor of the State of Osun also said this latest action of his administration amounts to ‘’another fulfillment of his electioneering promise to the citizens of Osun particularly Iwo people.’’

Saying that he would commission the project on completion in 18 months, Oyetola added:’’ This road project will no doubt further boost the socioeconomic activities of our dear state, especially because it is an addition to the massive road networks our administration had unleashed on the state. It is our hope that the immediate benefiting towns and other parts of the state will take advantage of the road for personal economic gains.’’

When he spoke, Governor Makinde of Oyo lauded the ‘’collaborative effort’’ of Oyetola in advancing the cause of the state since his assumption of office.

Makinde went on:” I believe strongly that what we are witnessing today is actually a revolution. This is because the road in question was constructed by the Western Region government of late Obafemi Awolowo. We thank God that another history by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and myself…Politics should be put behind while governance and people’s interest must be given priority.’’

As they join Makinde and Oyetola to hail this joint venture between two persons with dissimilar political inclinations, observers are also saluting Oyetola for putting behind him the outcome of the recent governorship ballot. They are describing the governor as a true statesman who, regardless of his own fortunes or otherwise, would remember his Number One duty to the people, namely serving them sacrificially. 

What they mean is leaders not made of a stern stuff would forsake gritty service to the citizens once election was over and it didn’t swing their way. Such leaders can’t make their way into the history books shakers and movers of society. But as Makinde says, Oyetola has already entered the history books with his deft move to tackle Nigeria’s infrastructural deficit.

Oyatomi Esq,  is the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, APC, State of Osun.

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