Although there was no official confirmation nor a denial, but eye witnesses said it happened at the foot of Ota Bridge, Lagos-Abeokuta Expresses Way.
It was a reported face-off between the then Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and the the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Honourable Dimeji Saburi Bankole.
We were told that the Speaker got late to the venue for the commissioning of the palliative on the bridge which had become a nightmare to the motorists and residents.
The Speaker had an invite that stipulated a different time for the event, by the time Bankole arrived at the venue, the event was over.
This infuriated Dimeji Bankole who wasted no time in confronting the Governor relying on his US Marine skill.
I got involved in this when Otunba Gbenga Daniel was determined to fix this particular road, his then personal assistant in Government House, Late Taiwo Adefolaju dragged me into the project of Fix Ota Bridge which had long been abandoned.
Anyway, the reason for this my long recap was the brewing face-off between the current Governor of Ogun State and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola over the same road, this time around, the road is worst than it was that time, but the only similarity now is another looming war between the State and the Federal Government.
I remember there was a time Governor Dapo Abiodun and his Lagos counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu made several representations to the Federal Government over the deplorable condition of the road and offered to jointly repair it, but with the condition of erecting a toll-gate, we don’t know what happened to that representation till date, but what we do know is that the road still remain a nightmare.
Anytime motorists ply this route, there is always an argument not to blame Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari, many are quick to ask commentators, “what impact did General Olusegun Obasanjo made on the road as the then President of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria for eight years”?
There was a time the Minister of Works and Housing was also a Yoruba man in person of Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, there was also a time that, the National Vice Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was a Yoruba man from Lagos State in person of Olabode George, (BG) Dimeji Bankole is from Ogun State.
Why am I bringing this to fore? Major-General Buhari sometimes ago was in charge of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, under the dark-goggled General Sani Abacha, we are all aware of the impact of this agency on the Northern region, I served in Sokoto State for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps Programme, NYSC.
I saw the massive infrastructure carried out by the PTF in the North, that cannot be said of the South-West, in particular who had an Obasanjo that ruled for eight years, the Lagos-Ibadan road is a case in point.
Coming back to Lagos-Abeokuta road, Governor Abiodun upon a visit to the road, whether genuinely or because of the forthcoming election and the fear of what happened in Osun State, expressed displeasure over the state of the road and gave the Federal Government a-two week ultimatum to fix the road or else … or else he will deploy the State resources to fix it.
As if waiting for the prompting, the Minister of Works and Housing, super Minister Babatunde Fashola, who is also from Lagos fired another salvo, querying where Dapo Abiodun wish to get the funds to do the project.
Some commuters who felt relieved by Dapo Abiodun’s decision felt highly disappointed over Fashola’s comment, for them what they are interested in is for the road to be motorable, they are not interested in any ungodly politics at the expense of the people.
I won’t hide my feeling that I identified with the people and Governor Abiodun on this, for me, what is important is the well-being of the people.
Then, let me remind Governor Fashola of the face-off the State had with Adeseye Ogunlewe and Bode George over the reclamation of the Bar Beach and the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the last time I checked, is still Federal Road. Just let me remind our Minister as the then super Governor in Lagos, he made a down payment of N10 billion to Julius Berger for the construction of this important road, we all applauded him against the antics of the Federal Government, because what is important to the people is the good condition of the road.
Let me also add that the Ota Idi-Iroko road is still an eyesore save of few palliative measures and the intervention of the Winners Chapel.
In essence, the motorists have a message for the Minister, he should not bother himself about where Governor Abiodun intends to fund the project, he should either fix the road by himself or allow Abiodun to fix it while he concentrate on the ABIKU Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Nigeria to Chad or Niger Republic which is more important to this administration.
In summary, leaders should stop playing politics with the welfare of the citizens… they should put the people first… enough of the ego fight!
Fashola should remember that where two elephants fight, the grasses suffer. The motorists plying Lagos Abeokuta Expressway have suffered enough.
With this attitude to the Federal roads and infrastructure in the South-West, I’m convinced that with the array of bigwigs paraded by the South-West in this Government, the clamour for a leader to come from a particular region is immaterial as they only take care of their families and cronies, but it suit them to stoke this toga of OMO WA NI EJE O SE to suit their personal Interest… it is really BABANLA NONSENSE.
Adewale Busari writes from Lagos