By Korede Joseph
Imeko, a jewel among the famous towns in Ogun State, is pivotal to the Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun’s developmental strategy. And that’s not difficult to process: Abiodun has a project of linking Ogun communities into a cohesive whole and making business and socioeconomic development to sally forth at will. From Atan to Lusada and from Owode to Ilaro, roads are springing up at will. Typically, Abiodun is not one window-dress the state capital and major towns while treating the rest of the state as mere statistics for pontificating about future plans. And as watchers of the Ogun scenario are beginning to acknowledge, danger lurks when you adopt the strategy of Abiodun’s predecessors and build bridges that lead to nowhere in Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode and Sagamu, while abandoning the vast nexus of people that live in the border communities of the Ogun State to their fate.
The people that live in Imeko, Afon, Ilara, Okeagbede, Moriwi, Owode, Obada, Iwoye-Ketu, Okuta, Atapele, Idofa, among others, deserve to feel government presence just like anyone else. Moreover, even in Abeokuta, life is becoming a thrill as the government opens up communities tactically cut off from the heart of the city through bad roads and failed promises. Go to Kemta, go to Olomore and the message is the same: there must be development beyond major roads, and without needless demolition of properties and heart attacks.
If the Celestial Church of Christ’s (CCC) capital city of Imeko came alive recently, it was by sheer design. Imeko is a tourist destination treated for years like a mere fable, its agricultural potential untapped. Feigning concern for the people, the immediate past administration conducted fanciful ground-breaking ceremonies that raised their hope, then vanished into thin air. Not Dapo Abiodun, who on September 14 inaugurated the 2.4km Oke-Ola road and brought tears of joy to many faces.
Comparatively, the project looks small, but those in the know feel differently. And here’s why: this was the first time asphalt had touched ground in the entire council area in more than 15 years. And guess which government last repaired the road? The Sani Abacha government. Over to the Onimeko of Imeko, Oba Benjamin Olanite: “The road was opened up in 1952. It started from Ilaro and passed through many towns before it got to Imeko and led to Oyo State. Looking at the neglect that we have suffered, it seems glory had departed this area after the exit of the colonial administration. But with Dapo Abiodun, we have seen the signal that the glory is returning and this road project is the beginning of more good things to come. Since the Late General Sani Abacha repaired the road that leads to Imeko, this is the only governor that has constructed any road in Imeko.”
Giving details on the project, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Ade Akinsanya, said it is furnished with lane marking for the users’ safety, with culverts and drainages where necessary for proper discharge of water to avert flooding , and with access slabs at different areas for easy linkage to farms and settlements: “The road is also adorned with streetlights to provide illumination, thus making it safe for night traveling as passengers and travellers are generally protected from the unscrupulous activities of night marauders. With its completion, the road will more than before provide a safe and accessible link for movement of people, goods and materials, especially agricultural produce, to major towns in the state, which will in turn boost trading activities and improve the living standard of the people.”
To the chairman of the Imeko/Afon Local Government, Alhaji Yayaha Fadipe, “though it is a 2.4km road, it’s significance cannot be over emphasised. It is a big project to me. Socio-economically, our people will benefit greatly.” Fadipe’s excitement was partly due to the fact that while campaigning for Abiodun’s election, he had been called a bastard because an indigene of the town was in the race. Like Fadipe, another prominent indigene of the town, Anthony Asiwaju, a Professor Emeritus of History, placed the people’s excitement in context. Hear him: “When the previous administration started Ilara road, I was there with other prominent indigenes of the community. They only received us. It was a promise failed but today, Abiodun has fulfilled one of the promises he made to us. We are happy and we will support him. We are not saying that he should do all what we have requested immediately, but we are happy because we know that he will do more in his second term.” Prince Gboyega Isiaka, the House of Representatives candidate for Imeko Afon/Yewa North Federal Constituency for 2023 Election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), added that the governor had convinced the people that he is a promise keeper: “The governor only needs to come back and say hello to the people be ause we have resolved to support him.”
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Abiodun, declared that his administration has moved from the era of ground breaking to period projects commissioning across the state. The project, he said, was another symbolic demonstration of his administration’s approach to a strategic, methodical and systemic development of Ogun State. He added: “It is a deliberate approach towards providing a smooth interconnection between the food baskets, industrial hubs and the neighbouring states. Ogun State remains the biggest producer of cassava in Nigeria, and one of the largest producers of maize in Nigeria. Imeko/Afon is one of the reasons we take that vantage position. This same Imeko/Afon is also the host of the Oodua Groups Investment Company Limited Cassava Cultivation and Processing Project at Imeko, and some farm settlements.” The governor has already set aside 10,000 hectares for the cultivation of cotton at Iwoye, intending to turn the entire Yewaland into cotton production hub similar to what obtains in Togo.
Indeed, enthralled by his developmental strides across the state, 45 royal majesties in Yewaland under the auspices of Trusted Royals, have formally endorsed the governor’s re-election bid. Speaking at a ceremony held at his Palace, the Ibepa of Joga Orile in Yewa North Local Government Area, Oba Adeyemi Adekeye, said the endorsement was to appreciate the governor for executing development projects in all parts of the State including Yewaland. And hear the Eselu of Iselu, Oba Akintunde Akinyemi: “Our governor, the whole Obas in Yewa and Aworiland have passed a vote of confidence in your government. We are happy with what you are doing in our State. You do not develop some parts to the detriment of others.”
Naturally, the Obas had a wish list: a cement factory to exploit the large deposit of limestone in the area, together with the establishment of the Ogun State College of Agriculture; repair of the Iwoye-Jabata road, and approval for the Imeko Comprehensive College established by the community in 2013. And they have been heard.
Joseph contributes this piece through firstname.lastname@example.org