Adeleke’s N100bn Infrastructure Fund Raises Hope, Opposition Fears Debt Trap

Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, in his voluminous bright-colour Ankara agbada dress that sits well on his sturdy frame, certainly knew what his audience did not know that Friday evening as he confidently read through his speech.

The governor was exuding so much confidence, beaming with smiles, as he laid bare his infrastructure plan for the state, billed for execution in another 12 months. The administration intended to spend more than N100bn on various infrastructural amenities across the state within a year.

N100bn on infrastructure in one year? The audience, including journalists, royal fathers, government appointees, and other guests, thought out their fears loudly. The fear clearly showing on the faces of the audience seated in the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office listening to the state helmsman that evening was not misplaced.

Osun’s financial situation, visible to them, could worry even the most courageous, more especially now that the same governor that had before complained of inadequate resources to run the government was bringing on the table a proposal to execute several projects within a year with the cost well over N100bn.

But the tension that had hitherto enveloped the venue disappeared when the governor said, “Let me declare here that the infrastructure plan I am about to unveil is purely state-sponsored without any loan from financial institutions. I must also add that we are hitting the ground running immediately after this launch. We are complying with all procurement laws and due process.”

The rapturous applause that followed the declaration could not have been mistaken for only acceptance of the proposed projects. But the elated audience could not hide their excitement that the state would not lose more credit rating through borrowing and would get top-notch amenities in the same breath.

Over the years, successive administrations in the state have struggled to improve the less-than-fanciful infrastructure available to the residents, with little success. This is partly due to low accrual to the government, and mismanagement of the meagre resources on the altar of misplaced priority, as politics and other Jejune reasons often replace considerations of the actual needs of the people at the project conception stage.

But since coming on board, Adeleke has never stopped drumming it into the ears of his admirers, his desire to facelift existing infrastructure and create some new ones that would be of world standard. Laudable as the governor’s dream is, a look at the state’s debt portfolio may not support a huge infrastructure plan at the moment.

Nonetheless, at the presentation of the infrastructure plan, Adeleke, who appeared to have mapped out the plans for the execution of the projects, explained that he ‘used the last 11 months to address the over 90 per cent infrastructure deficit our administration inherited,’ and disclosed desire to move to the next phase of his developmental agenda for the state.

Listed for execution in the plan were projects spread across the three Senatorial Districts in the state and captured under nine segments.

Some of the projects include the rehabilitation of 345 Health Centers in the 332 wards in the state. Also on the list was phase two of portable water provision in 332 wards. On the list, too was phase two of the rehabilitation of 31 schools in the 30 Local Governments and the Area Offices.

Captured in the plan was the construction/rehabilitation of 45 roads with each of the 30 local governments having between one and 1.5 kilometres, making a total of 45 kilometres, dualisation of roads in Osogbo, Ede and Ilesha, construction of five flyovers, two of which are located in Osogbo, one in Ikirun, one in Mayfair, Ile-Ife and the last one in Owode-Ede.

Going into other details of the projects that would be handled by his Ministry, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Mr Basiru Bello, while addressing the gathering, said the proposed OkeFia flyover would be a standard dual carriage bridge.

He added, “Similarly, we will construct a flyover at Lameco Junction, Osogbo. In addition to that, a flyover is being proposed at Mayfair in Ile-Ife.

“Anyone going towards Ilorin, Kwara State, will see that we used to experience a lot of accidents at Alamisi Junction in Ikirun due to the newly completed dual carriage Osogbo/Ikirun/Ila-Odo Kwara State boundary road.

“That is why the governor decided to introduce a flyover at Alamisi junction. So, whoever is moving will not need to wait; they will fly over the bridge and face their destination. In addition, Mr. Governor has approved the construction of three major dual carriageways in the state, and we will put one in each of the Senatorial Districts: no partiality, no political discrimination.

“We will dualise Old Garage to Oke-fia to Lameco Junction in Osogbo and from Akoda Junction, Ede to Oke-Gada. We are not stopping at that end; we will start from the Osogbo end again and bring it to Ido-Osun, Ofatedo and stop at Prime Area, Osogbo.

“We have decided to link the Egbedi/Ifon/Erin-Osun communities. We want to link Otan-Ayegbaju to Imesi. The governor has also approved the dualisation of Owa Palace Road to Brewery in Ilesa to link the Ilesa/Akure expressway. We have completed all the necessary details on the road.

The State Commissioner for Health, Mr Jola Akintola, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr Murtala Jimoh, also explained the projects listed for execution under the Ministries of Health and Education in the infrastructure plan.

Host communities welcome projects

A couple of residents of the communities where the projects would be sited have been speaking on the initiative, commending the governor’s decision.

A resident of Brewery Area in Ilesa, John Daramola, and another community leader in the area, Dr Tope Olaoye, who both spoke on the plan to make the existing single lane in the area a dual carriage road, demanded cooperation from the residents and advised the governor to avoid distraction and press ahead with the project.

Also speaking in a similar vein, a community leader in the Eweta Area of Ikirun, Alhaji Saka Adewale, lauded the decision by the Adeleke administration to give the first flyover outside Osogbo, in Osun Central Senatorial District, which is the most populous in the state, to Ikirun town.

According to him, commuting along the busy Osogbo, Kwara Boundary road would be a lot safer, especially at Alamisi Junction, where road crashes have occurred several times due mainly to impatience by many drivers.

Similarly, a trader in the Mayfair Area of Ile-Ife, Agnes Elusogbon, who was excited about the idea of a flyover at Mayfair Junction, said aside from easing the traffic, the project would also beautify the road.

Opposition parties, and human rights groups are divided over Adeleke’s plan

Even though there was evident acceptance of the projects in the infrastructure plan by the residents of communities where they are located, dissenting views have greeted the idea in the fold of the opposition parties in the state.

The main opposition party in Osun, the All Progressives Congress, had tagged the Infrastructure Plan a “scam skilfully designed to enrich some economic buccaneers close to the government.”

In a statement he signed on behalf of his party, the APC chairman in the state, Tajudeen Lawal, expressed concern about the number of the projects and where funding would come from and warned Adeleke against dragging the state into avoidable debt.

But the National Auditor of All Progressives Grand Alliance, Mr Popoola Olatunji, who is also the immediate past Osun State chairman of APGA, countered the APC and warned the party against working at cross-purposes with the needs of Osun people.

“What kind of party will oppose developmental projects? That is APC for you. They have been there; we saw their best and their worst. Let the man here now develop the state. Don’t listen to APC,” Olatunji said.

As it happened in the fold of the opposition parties, leaders of civil society organisations in the the state have also expressed diverse opinions on the infrastructure plan.

Warning against another venture that could plunge the state into debt, Wole Oladapo, the Nigerian for Good Governance convener, said it was not wrong for Adeleke to be ambitious about developing the state.

But his concern mainly was centred around how the governor would fund N100bn projects within one year without borrowing money.

For Ebenezer Ige, the convener of Grassroots Watch, Osun’s current infrastructure deficit demanded serious attention and saluted the courage of Governor Adeleke for being bold enough to deal with the situation.

How projects will be funded -Adeleke

At the presentation of the infrastructure plan, Adeleke, who must have observed how relieved his audience was after being told the projects would be financed solely with the accrual to the state, specifically mentioned that a project account had been created where funds for the infrastructure plan is being warehoused.

He said after blocking all leakages, the account has been fattened to fund the projects.

Adeleke said, “On where the funds will come from, I told you I have blocked all the leakages. There were so many leakages. Money going to where it was not supposed to go. I assure you, we are saving a lot of money in a special account for projects. Our IGR has also improved. God is blessing the state because we mean well.

“The first fund we received was N7bn. I won’t mention the amount, but the money is going into the project account. I won’t wait until I get N100 billion. What we have in the project account presently is enough to start the implementation of the infrastructure plan. I am monitoring the project account closely. Just be praying for us.”

Source: The PUNCH