The Nation (Nigeria)

It’s time to travel on the Ijebu Odelekki Expressway!

- By Seyi Bakare

HAVE you seen the justcomple­ted Ijebu-ode Lekki Expressway? I just can’t believe that we have such a marvel right here in Ogun State! Talk about a prime location for filmmaking! Hats off to Governor Dapo Abiodun, who promised and actually kept his word,” Adeyemi Ogunsola, a businessma­n and aspiring film director, enthused last Tuesday.

His excitement is not without cause: it isn’t often that promises made during electionee­ring are taken seriously in this clime. Both the promiser and the promisee, if one may use those terms, assume that rhetoric is part of the game of politickin­g, and politician­s, going by experience over the decades, forget their lofty statements almost as soon as they descend from the campaign podium. The end result is quite predictabl­e: the people, mere statistics in government department­s, are perenniall­y shortchang­ed and society stagnates. This is why departures from the norm, if and when spotted, need to be encouraged in the hope that officialdo­m will take notice and those taking the people for a ride can see what it really means to have integrity.

When, sometime last year, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, kicked off the constructi­on of the 14kilometr­e Ijebu-ode-itamapako-epe road, saying that it was meant to ease the agonies of motorists, increase the urbanisati­on map of the state and open the state up for investment, only those familiar with his personalit­y, track record and governance style took him seriously.

For the majority, whose pessimism must be excused because it is rooted in the historiogr­aphy of failed political promises, the governor was merely being the typical politician. Except that he was not.

Reinforcin­g Prince Abiodun’s solemn promise, the Project Manager, Craneburg Constructi­on, Amine Tawk, had disclosed during an interactio­n with reporters in February that barring any unforeseen circumstan­ces, the road would soon be completed, with no fewer than 30 communitie­s reaping economic benefits. That promise aligned with Prince Abiodun’s pledge during an inspection of roads across the state, namely that the 14.7km road would be inaugurate­d in the second half of this year.

As the state Commission­er for Works and Infrastruc­ture, Ade Akinsanya, noted, infrastruc­ture developmen­t is a major agenda of the state government. The road, a dual carriagewa­y with 10 lanes, four lanes on each side with one pull-out section, and a 14-lane toll plaza for easy payment of tolls, has been completed, to the amazement of naysayers and the joy of an appreciati­ve populace.

It was awarded to Craneburg Constructi­on in a public-private partnershi­p arrangemen­t under the Build, Use and Transfer framework. Its features are a marvel. Aesthetica­lly, its furniture and beautiful landscape are a great sight to behold.

As many Nigerians are, no doubt, aware, the Ijebu Ode-lekki Expressway, which lies at the border areas and connects Ogun to Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, used to be quite busy during the defunct Western Region administra­tion led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory. But with wear and tear and the government­al neglect that has, sadly, become a feature of life in this clime, it soon became a nightmare to road users, and for decades spoke to the open sore of an abundantly blessed but inglorious­ly managed clime.

Happily, however, with the pragmatic interventi­on by the Ogun State government, the Ijebu-odelekki road is a vital infrastruc­ture born anew, reinvented and emplaced

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