Omowaiye: Those Accusing Oyetola Of Rubbishing Aregbesola’s Legacies Are Liars
Engr. Oluremi Omowaiye is the Osun state Commissioner for Works and Transport. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on infrastructural developments in the state under Governor Gboyega Oyetola in the last three years, allegation of rubbishing Rauf Aregbesola’s legacies and the Osun 2022 governorship election. Excerpts:
As the Works Commissioner, could you please highlight some of the infrastructural developments the Oyetola administration has embarked upon in the last three years?
We have done a lot since coming to office three years ago but one thing we must continue to say is that the infrastructural deficit is huge. However, we will continue to meet the yearnings of the people. In the last three years, we have done a lot of projects in spite of the challenges posed by COVID-19 and #EndSARS protests. We have reconstructed over 100 kilometres of roads. We did Ada-Igbajo which has been in a sorry state for about 30 years. It is about 13.15 kilometres. We have also fixed Ede to Ara junction to Ejigbo, which put together, is about 30 kilometres. We completed it within the timeframe we promised it the people of the state. We have also done Moro junction to Yakooyo to Ipetumodu to Ashipa to Akinlalu junction for 8.1km. It is the biggest project that any government in the history of Ife North has undertaken. We have also done Famia road in Modakeke which is about 3km. We have done Ilesha roundabout to Akure expressway which is 4.3km. Iragbiji and Osogbo are neighbours. They are the only two cosmopolitan towns, which before now was not linked by road but today we have put up from Osogbo stadium to Kelebe to Iragbiji town which is about 17 kilometres. It is 90 percent completed now. We are doing Ori-Oke Pure Water, we are completing Ido Osun township road; we are completing Gbongan township road, we are completing Ife- Aganun in Ile-Ife. We are also completing Kuta township road any moment from now. We have completed Ikirun to Ekoinde road. The good thing is that all the major roads that this administration inherited from the last administration are not neglected. We are working on them. Right now, work is still ongoing on Gbogan-Akoda road which we inherited from the last administration. Work is also ongoing on Osogbo-Ilaodo. Also worthy of mention is the popular circular road which is called Ona-Baba-Ona, we have done a single lane which is about 8 kilometres on that road. We have also done a lot of rural roads. The iconic Olaiya flyover is 80 percent completed. We started it in February and we promised the people of Osun that we are going to complete that road in nine months. We are in the sixth month now. We are also doing a lot of road rehabilitation across the state. We are also looking at doing more roads. Just yesterday (Tuesday), the governor approved the immediate reconstruction of Isopako to Ikire Ile junction. It is called Atanda Road. We also approved for immediate construction the Ila-Arandun road. Arandun is Kwara state boundary. We are doing from Ila to the boundary of Kwara state. It is about 9.65km. The completion time for this project is also six months.
How were these roads selected or the government just pick them on a random basis?
We are not just picking the roads just because we want to fix roads. We pick our roads based on people’s needs. We have done our citizens needs assessment. When the governor won his election, he went around on a Thank-You tour and, in the process,, people made him realise the roads they wanted fixed. We have what we call the Thank-You Tour report and the Department for International Development (DFID), an international organization also did an independent citizen needs assessment. From there, we picked citizens request in terms of infrastructures. Apart from that, we have also done a lot in terms of hospital infrastructures. We have done some general hospitals; we have done 323 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) which is unprecedented. We have done a 30-flat doctors’ quarters with 120 bed wards. Any moment from now, we will also start another round of General Hospital project. We are looking at 14 General Hospital projects. On the airport project which we inherited from the last administration, we know we don’t have the capacity to complete it, so we have approached the federal government and it has gotten to advanced stage. The state government is really collaborating with the federal government on this project. So, despite paucity of funds, we have done a lot in the area of infrastructure and yet, we are among the few states that is paying full salary and minimum wage. So, I can say Governor Oyetola’s performance since coming to office has been quite remarkable and the people of Osun are appreciative of what he has achieved in short space of time.
Some chieftains of your party the APC have accused Governor Oyetola of destroying the legacies left by his predecessor and also abandoning projects he couldn’t complete. How will you respond to that?
I just mentioned now that all the major projects inherited from the last administration are ongoing. I gave an example of Gbogan-Akoda. We met it at 29 percent. Today, we have taken it to 36 percent. I told you earlier that the popular Ona-Baba-Ona stopped at Ilesha garage. We have been able to take it from Ilesha garage to link Stadium. We have completed a lane and now we intend to move to the next lane as soon as we have resources. So, it is untrue for anyone to claim we have abandoned any infrastructural projects that we inherited. Ipetu-Ijesha is one of the projects we inherited but we are funding it as well as the Airport project. For us, we believe that government is a continuum. We have paid about N67b as debt refund. We didn’t incur this debt but we believe that government is a continuum and so, we will continue to fund the projects we inherited from the last administration. So, for anybody to say we are rubbishing the legacies of past governments in the state is pure mischief. However, if there are policies of the state government that the people of the state are rejecting, we will listen to them because democracy is the government of the people. We must be responsive to the peoples demands because responsibility is power and as government officials, we are there to serve the people. If the past administration came up with some policies and the people of the state are now saying we don’t want it, we will interact with them and bring in experts to look at it. If indeed such policies or projects are not people-oriented, then the government can cancel it. Just like the educational policy, we did not just wake up one day and reversed it. It was done because there was massive clamour by the people of Osun state that it should be reversed during the ‘Thank You Tour by the governor. The DFID citizens assessment also said the educational policy by the immediate past administration must be reviewed. We then brought in experts to look at it and it was reviewed. If you write a book, you can have a revised or improved edition. So, what Governor Oyetola is doing is to improve on what his predecessors have done. Even the immediate past governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said it clearly when he was leaving office that if there is any policy initiated by his government that the people of Osun want them to change, the leadership of the party and the governor will look at it and do the needful. Today, Osun state has the first Gold refinery in Nigeria. It was Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola that got the licence for exploration. 10 years after, Governor Oyetola has made use of the licence. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has a big vision for the Dagbolu Free Trade Zone which going to be an economic hub in the state. Today, Governor Oyetola has brought an investor that has started building the place. He did not say because it was the idea of Aregbesola, so it should be abandoned. It was Aregbesola’s idea but he could not do anything on the project before he left office. Today, the place earmarked for the dry port is in advanced stage. A lot is happening now in Dagbolu right now. A lot of us were part of the last administration and when we see areas that we need to improve upon in this current administration, we will do exactly so. There is no need deceiving ourselves.