THE much trampled people of Oyo State woke up on a certain morning to the saddening report that some disgruntled members of the opposition in the state had connived the night before to destroy the precious and (in) famous Mokola flyover.
Naturally, for a city that has been a political capital of the most sophisticated south west of Nigeria for close to a century now, but which was only provided such an architectural feat a few months ago, there was a sense of outrage.
Unfortunately as usual, the government of Alhaji Abiola Ajimobi, once again, seized the opportunity of an unfortunate incident to score cheap political point as well as cover up a shame that will accompany top hierarchy of the regime long after they would have been ignobly kicked out of office.
On that innocent morning, Special Assistant to Governor Ajimobii on Media, Festus Adedayo, through a press statement entitled: “Ibadan Flyover barrier demolished” accused the opposition of having made real, an earlier threat to pull down the barrier. He added that government was in receipt of security report that some political thugs were being commissioned by the opposition to demolish the flyover.
Coming on the heels of frantic demands by some patriotic citizens of the state for the administration to come clean on the apparently over bloated amount being bandied as cost of the flyover, it was easy to decipher where the insinuations were directed at.
Of course, for an administration desperately seeking sympathy as a diversionary strategy for its frivolity, lack of accountability and flagrant disregard for due process and value for money, it was an opportunity to heap the blame for a badly executed job on some phantom opposition members. Since it would be a shame to admit that something slightly bigger than a tricycle (a Tata minibus) was responsible for the shattering of a project that cost a whooping N3 billion, the Alaparutu Peoples’ Convergence (APC) must see the absent finger of its opponents in the destruction, otherwise, tax payers would be outraged.
Well, Adedayo, quoting a certain Kayode Adepoju, Special Adviser on Infrastructure had told the world that the administration was in procession of some security reports, which blamed the opposition for damaging the barrier on the flyover before the minibus hit it.
The question to ask these spin doctors is: who prepared the security reports? Spokesperson of the state command of the Nigeria Police, DSP Bisi Ilobanafor, shortly after, issued a comprehensive report on the damage. According to her, “the barrier over the Mokola, Ibadan Flyover Bridge has been pulled down by a Mini-Tata vehicle which hit the barrier today (Tuesday).
A tricycle branded with NESCAFE advert forced its way while entering the bridge from Adamasingba area but on its way out heading towards Sango area, the height of the barrier was too low, so the driver immediately turned and headed back forcing its way out when the barricade fell on the highway.”
Ilobanafor continued that the Mini-Tata vehicle driver, Olakunle Akanji, had been arrested and detained at Mokola Police Station while further investigation was ongoing. And to prevent other vehicles from being trapped as a result of the damage, the mini-Tata vehicle had been used to barricade the other end of the bridge so that, oncoming vehicle will not collide with the barricade and that the construction firm had also been contacted to ensure that the barricade was immediately replaced.
Diametrically opposed information
Since the police have a diametrically opposing information on the incident to that of the state government, it will be of great interest to discerning members of the public if operatives of the government would disclose the source of their “security reports”. These spin doctors that pretended to be the people’s saviour when they were canvassing for votes in 2007 but have now been exposed for what they are, had insinuated that the barrier was damaged the previous night only for the mini-Tata truck to complete the knocking down in broad day light.
As the man at the saddle, Governor Abiola Ajimobi has the responsibility to steer the ship of the state together with his team. However, the electorate should remain the masters and deserve to be treated with dignity and decorum. It is most unfair for operatives of the government to act as if the citizenry is daft and unable to differentiate between wrong and right. Before Ajimobi emerged as governor of the state, he never spared his predecessor.
At the national level, the APC has been quite strident in its criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan. So, it should normally be expected that such a party will be tolerant of critical appraisal of its activities. Incidentally, this is not the case as the administration is completely paranoid of criticism and intolerant of opposition.
Responding to issues raised by the anchor of Splash FM personality interview programme, former Governor Rasidi Ladoja, had deployed his acumen as an engineer to point at perceived irregularities in the contracting details of the purported N3 billion flyover. A responsible, responsive and transparent administration should have become sobered by the fact that it was caught in the act and not embark on a propaganda trip to try to evade the real issues.
A simple question begging answer that will forever put agitations over the N3 billion flyover contract sum is: why did the 470 metres Mokola Flyover cost N3 billion while 1,056 metre Flyover in Abeokuta in addition to another 2.4 kilometre road cost only N1.5 billion? Why did it become so burdensome for a democratic government to explain the rationale behind the award of any contract?
The State commissioner for Information, Pastor Taiwo Otegbeye, was also a guest of Splash FM where he said compensation was paid to those whose houses were demolished to pave way for the flyover.
Well, the construction was only a recent development and it is also known that no single house was demolished save for the wall fence of the WEMA Bank. In Abeokuta, houses, shops/stalls were pulled down and the cost of compensation was still embedded in the stated contract sum with victims duly relocated. How much did the Oyo State Government pay to WEMA Bank for the fence that will justify this astronomical difference in the two scenarios?
The confusion of Oyo citizens being made hapless by their decision to vote APC was further compounded few weeks after the interview when , Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Survey, Bimbo Kolade declared that compensation was yet to be paid to any displaced person as those affected refused to present their claims. So, how do one now reconcile all the conflicting statements emanating from operatives of the same government?
As law abiding, legitimate and bona fide citizens of Oyo State, we challenge Oyo state government to come out with comprehensive list of those compensated because their properties were destroyed in the process of constructing the Mokola Flyover.
‘LANRE OGUNDIPE is former National