That there is deficiency in infrastructure at all levels of government in the country, federal, states and local governments, is no longer news. What is unfortunate is that the deficiency has impacted negatively on developmental activities. While since the inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, Nigerians have expected the situation to change for the better, the reality on ground in most of the states however do not bring cheers.
For Oyo State, the efforts of successive governments to address the infrastructural challenge in terms of construction of new ones or giving old ones facelift, only succeeded in giving false hope to the people.
However, for the present administration of Governor Seyi Makinde, which came into office May 29, last year, it has decided to confront the challenges frontally and summoning the courage to do what the past governments failed to achieve, thereby changing the fortune of the state for the better.
For instance, within the month of August, Makinde has started the construction of three projects to develop the state’s infrastructure, which some observers believe has turned the pacesetter state to a construction hub. It started with the 21-kilometre Airport-Ajia-New Ife Express Road, with spur to Amuloko, at a total cost of N8,520,919,776.41.
The governor speaking at the kick-off of the construction, gave an assurance that his administration would drastically reduce the infrastructure deficit in the state within the shortest possible time, adding that it is only in doing so that the state can be positioned on the path of economic growth. He stated further that the road construction was a product of the administration’s strategic way of reducing the state’s infrastructure deficit, which is known as the Alternative Project Funding Approach (APFA).
He said, “Our administration means business. We will drastically reduce the infrastructure deficit in Oyo State in the shortest possible time. And this is how economies work: investors will only go where they can be assured of profits. If we do not develop basic infrastructure like roads, it will affect the cost of production which, in turn, means less profit for investors. So, we cannot be seriously discussing attracting investments into Oyo State when a majority of roads and other infrastructure are in a state of disrepair.
“In order to achieve this, we must strategise on how to increase our spending on infrastructure, because what we collect from Abuja every month from federal allocation is not even enough to pay the salaries. So, the new strategies on how to increase our spending on infrastructure is what we are doing here in Oyo State.
While explaining the reason the Airport-Ajia road costs more per kilometre than the 65 kilometre Moniya-Iseyin road which was earler awarded last year, Makinde said there are more hydraulic structures on the road than the Moniya-Iseyin road, and that a lot of expansion and rehabilitation will be done on those bridges.
The governor also used the opportunity to explain the APFA approach through which he said many projects will be executed in the state, stating that it is the administration’s way of funding some infrastructural projects in the state, by having the contractors fund the projects with their own money while the state repays them over a period of time.
“What this entails is that the contractor carries the projects’ risk. At the same time, we get quality delivery and quick completion of projects. They will be bearing the risk of getting this project done in a timely manner, while we pay them over the next 29 months. That comes down to roughly N300 million a month. So, while they will complete the project in one year, we have the option to repay in over twice the time. We will continue to actualise capital projects through budgetary allocations and have the additional option of carrying out other infrastructural projects outside of the budget, using the Alternative Project Funding Approach. So, you can look forward to other projects under this approach.
“Let me state that even when we are forced to look outside Oyo State for persons to execute the projects under APFA, we still put the interests of our people first. For example, Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Ltd has agreed that the construction labour will come from Oyo State, and we are holding them to that agreement. So, for projects under the APFA, because of the nature of spending on the projects, we decided that it would be best to open up the bidding process a little more so that contractors outside of Oyo State can bid as well.
“We reached this decision because we are looking for private entities who have the wherewithal to complete the projects on schedule, while at the same time, passing the tests of quality assurance”, he said.
The second project was the flag off of the reconstruction of the 400-year old Akesan Market Complex, Oyo, which was gutted by fire on January 8, 2020. Speaking at the event, Makinde said his administration would not only upgrade the market complex, it will modernise the fire station there to prevent future occurrence of such incidents. According to him, the first phase of the project, at a cost of N781, 716, 820.15, which is to be completed in six months, will have 352 lock-up shops, one police post, a modern toilet with 12 units for males and females, one administrative block, and a road network, adding that the second phase will consist of 176 lock-up shops, 168 open shops, three warehouses for storage and preservation, as well as modern toilets and road network.
The governor said the government had already made interventions on the market, including giving financial aid to traders who lost goods to the fire disaster and replacing the fire truck burnt by irate youths at the fire station in the market, stating that the flag-off of the reconstruction project was in fulfillment of the promise of his administration to rebuild the market and that the fund for the project is already available.
He said, “On January 8, we visited the Akesan market after the fire incident. We came here that day to assess the damage caused by the shocking fire outbreak and I commiserate with traders who lost goods in the fire. I remember that I told them that I was taking full responsibility for the failure of the Oyo State Fire Service to contain the fire.
“ I also said that we would rebuild this market and compensate them for their losses. We were able to provide our widow’s mite as a government to support the people who lost their livelihoods here and had to start again. Kabiyesi said he had a shop here that was also burnt and I want to assure him that by the time the new shops are being allocated, he would be given priority.
“We have also done a few things, apart from our widow’s mite. You know some hoodlums burnt a fire truck and the office of Oyo State Fire Station. Well, we have replaced the fire truck so that those who are within the neighborhood of Akesan can go to bed and sleep with their two eyes closed. The fire truck is here in case of any eventuality and we will still upgrade the fire station here by the time we are done with this market.
“So, we are here today to fulfill the second part of that promise, to officially flag off the rebuilding of Akesan Market. The fund for this project is already available. We did not borrow it. You must already know that this market had been in existence for 400 years and no one in recent history could have anticipated that something like this would happen. But what that means is, we did not plan for a fire. So, one of the things we are going to do is to put some things in place to make sure that, should there be a fire in the future, it will not be as devastating as this last one was.”
The governor assured that those who had shops in the market before it was gutted would be retained, adding that the new Akesan market would, however, be bigger than the burnt structure. He stated that the existing register for tenants in the market will be strictly followed, adding that those who want spaces in the market as new entrants will also apply for stores and have such allocated to them.
Makinde also stated that the reconstruction project has been divided into two and that upon the completion of the first phase within six months, the government will allocate the shops and trading activities will begin in the market.
“After that, we will begin the second phase that will consist of 176 lock-up shops, 168 open shops, three warehouses for storage and preservation and we will install a cold room for preservation of your fish and all that. There will also be modern toilets as well as a good road network. Other facilities like fire hydrants, water reticulation system, electrification, traffic and erosion control. All of that will be done in both the first and second phases.
“We are spending over 781 Million on the rebuilding. We are revealing this amount because we want everybody to take care of the project. Those who think this government is embezzling the state’s funds should wait till the project is completed and come back to examine if the money spent on it, is worth it or not”, he said.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, in his remarks, called on the government to monitor the project so as to compel the contractor to use quality materials.
He said, “I want to say we are grateful to the governor for deeming it fit to build a new Akesan Market for us. I plead that the governor should ensure that the materials that will be used to build this market must be of standard quality, because they say it is beauty that ends the palace of a king that got burnt. I want a situation whereby when people like us are gone, people will remember us for being part of those who achieved a big project like this in Oyo. We want those that will build it to follow the precise pattern of the building and I pray that God will help them.”
The Iyaloja of Akesan Market, on her part, appreciated the governor for his support and sympathy ever since the fire incident occurred, as well as the financial assistance offered to the market men and women.
“We cannot but also appreciate the governor for today’s flag-off of the construction of the new Akesan Market. We are all deeply grateful for this gesture. I know that he is someone who doesn’t like people to suffer; one who has the interest of the downtrodden at heart. He does not want us to beg before we eat.
“And as he has promised that the market will be open for commercial activities within six months, so shall it be; because we know the voice of God is the voice of a man. We know he will do it because he fulfills any promise he makes and God will always support him”, she said.
The last of the projects was the remodelling of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Ibadan, at a total cost of ₦5,580,001,151:62 which the governor said will be upgraded to a world class standard.
Makinde stated that the project will be funded through the APFA, which entails that the contractor will fund the project, while the state will repay the contractor over a period of 29 months.
He said, “The contractors, Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Ltd, have given us the assurance that the project will be completed in 18 months. By God’s grace, in the next 12 months, coronavirus would have left us, and we will have the opportunity to sit here, in this stadium, fully remodelled and watch my team, the 3SC beat their opponents, live!
“So Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns, 12 months is 12 months. No delays and you have to do a quality job that the people of Oyo State will be proud of. This is another step in the right direction, positioning Oyo State to attract investments. I hear some people are already saying we should slow down but I am here to tell them that this is not the time to even think of slowing down. Our administration is here to grow Oyo State and to make sure everyone in our beloved state feels the real dividends of democracy.
“When the history of this place was being traced just now, they flagged off this facility 44 years ago. It was commissioned 32 years ago; and I came here once to watch a 3SC game and, at half time, I went to the changing room to talk to and encourage the players but I could not believe what I saw: players sat on the bare floor. And I asked myself, is this where we want to mould world-beating athletes? So, I said ‘no’. I felt for both the players and the crew. After that, I decided to, on my own, visit this place and looked at all of the facilities that we have in here. They were all in a state of dilapidation.”
Governor Makinde, who declared that the remodelling project was another step in the direction of positioning the state to attract greater investments, said his administration would not be deterred by criticisms and that it would ensure that every resident of the state feels the real dividends of democracy.
He added that for the state to attract the right investments, it must raise its game in terms of infrastructure and matching what obtains in other places, saying that this is the path his administration has been toeing, which is responsible for its attention to fix roads, install street lights and invest heavily on infrastructure and security.
“Oyo State has had a rich sporting history. Back in 1963, the first World Boxing title fight in Africa was held here in Oyo State. We were able to host that fight and benefit from all the tourism revenue because we had the facilities to do so. And so, we are remodelling this sports complex now, so we can reap the benefits in Internally Generated Revenue, IGR. If there was a call for cities to host a national sporting event today, can Oyo State boast of having the facilities? The answer is no. So, in Oyo State, we cannot attract investors without the right infrastructure. If we are telling people to leave wherever they are and come here, we should be able to give them what they are benefiting where they are or even more.
“If we keep saying Oyo State is ready for business, without the right infrastructure in place, they will tell us they like our policies, but they want to see better facilities. So, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that whenever investors come calling, we are ready to receive them and make them stay. And that means we must match our policies with action.
“We have already told them there will be no multiple taxation and that we will not wake up and impose random taxes on them. They can see that this is true. We have also promised that they will not spend hours in traffic, we are keeping our promise by investing in road construction and rehabilitation. We are putting street lights all over the place. We also have to match the tourism and recreational facilities that they have in other places.
“If the government can provide facilities that are comparable to those those in any part of the world, then we can be sure that all our talents and youths will have somewhere to come to. And we will discover more talents and we will have more record setters coming out of Oyo State. And this is why we are here.”
The state Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Seun Fakorede, in his remarks, said the remodelling is essential for the growth and survival of sports and the engagement of youth productively, noting that the remodelling will attract international focus and change the economic fortune of the state, through hosting of national and international sports tournaments.
The Managing Director of the construction company, Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Limited, Mr. Adeleke Olanrewaju, in his remarks, said the benefit which the stadium will bring to the state will be unquantifiable through talent development and others, adding that the remodeling of the stadium will also boost the IGR, of the state.
“In the present day, stadium facilities can generate incomes; for example, the hosting of a national sports festival can bring in as much as seven billion Naira, the hosting of a national cup will also bring in as much as 10 billion Naira. Some of these funds go directly into the government purse while a larger percentage goes into the local economy to stimulate it”, he said.