“I know the road to development and modernization is difficult; I know that it is long and I also know that the next stages will be even tougher and longer. But I have faith in God, I believe in my people, in the wisdom of our leadership and the future of our nation. I am confident we will realize our goals. Our vision is clear, our road is paved and the clock is ticking. There is no more time for hesitation and half-baked goals or solutions. Development is an ongoing process and the race for excellence has no finish line”
These above, are the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, culled from his book titled, “My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence”. And, these were the words that came to mind as I drove from the Akobo area of Ibadan, through Bashorun and Idi-ape, and towards Agodi-Gate over the past weekend.
The ongoing road construction and expansion along this whole axis struck a nerve of thought and led me to these pristine words above. I had always known that we needed more than profligate àmàlà politics to make Oyo state tow the path of excellence in all spheres of governance, in this case, in infrastructural development. How right I was!
As a resident Ibadan native and proud Oyo state indigene in his early 50s, I have served the privilege of seeing different administrations come and go with little or nothing to give in terms of infrastructural value into our state. Our state struggled and grappled with infrastructure, we lagged behind and that’s just the blunt truth.
Evidently, driving into Ibadan through our entry roads, or moving around major city centres, one was stung by a capital city gasping for aesthetic breath and an infrastructural upheaval. The infrastructural inertia we suffered became too obvious and it made our state a joke among the comity of states with similar expanse in human and physical resources. To most, Ibadan was the crude version of a mega city. It was an assertion that pained deeply, especially when our erstwhile regional leadership status was put in context.
For years, groups of indigent professionals in Oyo state, some of which I belong to, have silently clamored for a leadership that is a stray from the typical pedestrian one we were used to, all for the sake of getting a kind of developing city and state we can be proud of. We clamored for a leadership, a government, that would possess the parts to understand major elements for a progressive, pragmatic and pioneering approach towards infrastructural development. Well, judging from all that has happened so far till now, I believe we made the best collective decision as change-seeking Oyo state citizens at the polls six (6) years ago.
So far, the road network constructions have not just been beautifying, much more, they have been functional (literally), thus, boosting urban connectivity and creating a leeway for socioeconomic development too. The transformations in Challenge, Aleshinloye, Dugbe – Magazine – Eleyelehere, and the dualisation of entry roads have been impressive, but personally, the transformation of Iwo road and Mokola entered my books as major infrastructural feats of this administration, considering the paramount urban importance of these two spots. The truth is that most of these transformations are best appreciated in hindsight, and I can’t wait to see how this Akobo-Bashorun-Gate axis turns out post-transformation.
Aerial view of the transformed Jericho – Aleshinloye axis, Ibadan, Oyo state. Photo credit: Tolani Alli
It is a known fact that the personal worth of any state government is the attainment of a qualitative level of infrastructural development, as it is a crucial aspect of the drive to self-reliance. The vibrancy and sustentation of growth of any state is directly proportional to its vault of infrastructure. This present state government understands this fact and are working by that standard, and this is why I celebrate.
Far from it, these thoughts of mine aren’t about hailing Governor Abiola Ajimobi at all, in fact, I could care less about that. Rather, my thoughts seek to appreciate the fact that someone we employed by ballot to perform is indeed performing as touching lifting the infrastructural status of our state; but most importantly, my thoughts hone on the plausibility of maintaining this pace after Ajimobi leaves office. It’s not yet Uhuru per se, and there’ll always be more to do. Therefore, what I seek with these words is insurance that we’d employ (elect) another cerebral leader who will understand the need to make Oyo state lead in terms of infrastructural advancement for development and make life much more livable here, come 2019.
That, irrespective of party or platform, we must identify and elect someone who will sustain these major strides of the incumbent administration, someone who will understand truly that indeed, “development is an ongoing process and the race for excellence has no finish line”, as the Dubai Sheikh opined in his book. This is key, and for our good and our children’s, we can’t afford to remain infrastructurally rusty anymore.
As I headed back home on that same road, my mind was cast back to Ajimobi’s inauguration speech 6 years ago, where he clearly identified his agenda as a “restoration, transformation and repositioning” one. It felt as if I heard him say those words again, as I could see what he meant by what I saw around, right there in that moment. Also, I couldn’t be happier to know that my age-long assertion, which says Oyo state would never grow with a leadership heavily skewed in prodigal allocation sharing and àmàlà towób’obè politics, was being confirmed right before my eyes.
‘Lakunmi Ajayi is a Pastor and Real Estate executive. He wrote from Akobo, Ibadan