By Judith Ufford
WHEN Mr. Rauf Aregbesola took over the reins of office, he made no bones about his desire to transform Osun State from a cluster of small towns to main cities, while still retaining their distinctive social and architectural character.
Almost three years down the line, Iwo a town with rustic buildings, winding roads and acres of land giving it that country side look, near the state capital Osogbo, is beginning to wear a new look; what with the several roads under construction in the town. The importance of the town cannot be underestimated, for Iwo is just ten minutes drive from Osogbo.
But Iwo is just one of the nine cities the Aregbesola administration hopes to develop within the period of its mandate. Ilesa, another town in the state, is also receiving due attention.
For indigenes of Ilesa, things are looking up and life is just getting better. After several years of neglect, they are just glad to cope with some of the challenges that infrastructural development has brought to the town.
But one is not particularly surprised at what is happening in Osun State when one recalls that Governor Aregbesola, an engineer, was Commissioner for Works during the tenure of former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
During his swearing ceremony he therefore stressed the need for development of the state. Said he then: “I am committed to developing the state, but I cannot do it alone. I need every one of you to achieve my dream for our dear state”.
Thus, an impassable part of Iwo to Osogbo road along the expressway that connects motorists and travellers from Ibadan to Kwara State received a facelift. For many users of this road the effort at revamping cannot be over-emphasised as a particular portion of the road had been responsible for several accidents that either claimed lives or left victims with permanent disabilities.
But all that is now a thing of the past, for if there are accidents on that road today, it would not be as a result of disrepair but over-speeding.
Osun is not an oil producing state, so it does not have huge resources at its disposal. But one sector the Aregbesola administration is looking at to grow the economy is agriculture. So there is this link between road infrastructure and agricultural development. It is against this backdrop that a contract worth N17.8 billion was signed for the dualisation of the 45-kilometre Osogbo-Ikirun-Kwara State boundary road.
The dualisation which has been segmented into three comprises Osogbo-Dagbolu (International Market) to Alamisi Market in Ikirun (9.52 kilometres); Osogbo (Old-garage) to Ikirun junction road (20.5 kilometres) and Ikirun-Ila Odo- Kwara State Boundary road (16.55 kilometres). The project has a two years life span. A contractor financing transaction, the project would be paid for in 36 months after its completion.
A development financial institution, the Infrastructure Bank Plc, TIB, which is the Transaction Advisor, Fund Arranger and Financier of the project, is working in conjunction with the construction company and other stakeholders to fund the project.
Demolition of private buildings
Some of the road infrastructures are made possible as a result of the demolition of some private buildings. The road construction project has received commendation from the residents as they see it as promised fulfilled by the administration.
The administration has equally commended the people of the state for their understanding over the demolition of some buildings along the road, promising to give its best to the people to justify their understanding. Another project that would make life easier and ease economic hardship for indigenes and residents is Osogbo-Ikirun Ila-Odo/Kwara boundary road project.
When completed, it will facilitate transportation of people and goods towards the Northern part of the country and enhance the economy of that area. The Osogbo, Gbongan, Orile-Owu to Ogun State roads is also aimed at easing transportation to Lagos and enhance the capacity of the people to move goods to the most promising markets in the South-West. The government also
awarded the rehabilitation of township roads in the six zones of about 83.66km in length which are 92.5 per cent completed; 26.35km Osogbo township roads rehabilitation which are 42.95 per cent completed and 29.709 km Ilesa township roads rehabilitation which are 45.36 per cent completed.
The quality of the roads being constructed, the administration boasts, is a departure from what used to be the tradition. According to an official, the roads after their completion have minimum of 20 years lifespan.
It is also worth noting that six selected roads measured at 4.2km: Igbajo-Oke-Irun-Iresi road, 44.43km; Gbongan-Odeyinka-Orile-Owu-Araromi-Owu-Ajegunde road, Gbongan-Osogbo Ife-Ibadan Express road Junction, 6.8km; Ijebu Jesa-Iloko-Iwaraja road, 10.2km; Ijebu-Jesa-Ijeda-Ijesa-Iloko Ijesa-Ilesa/Akure Express road and 74.1km; Ijeda-Ijesa-Erinmo Ijesa roads are at different stages of upgrading.
Another characteristic feature of infrastructural revamp in Osun State is in its educational sector. It began the implementation of the summit recommendations which it hosted in 2010 by committing N30 billion to building 170 new model schools across the state equipping it with state-of-the-art facilities. It is believed these would enhance and stimulate teaching-learning environment in order to replace the dilapidated buildings that stand as classrooms. These model classrooms are now springing up across the state.
Twenty of these schools are for the high school senior students. When completed, they will conveniently accommodate 3,000 students on the basis of 40 per class. Each of these structures would cost the state government a whooping sum of N700 million. The school would also have an examination hall that can comfortably seat 1,500 students and two e-libraries; one for sciences and the other for arts and social sciences.
Interest of students
The 50 junior schools with its model in Osogbo, after completion would accommodate 1,250 students and the elementary schools about 100 is spread across the state. This would conveniently accommodate 900 pupils. To further stimulate the in
terest of students to learning, the government is reducing the burden of having to go to school with bags filled with books by replacing books with a computer tablets invented by the state government.
The tablet, designed in form of an iPod called Opon Imo, contains the entire senior school syllabus, including Yoruba traditions. Examination past questions of WAEC, etc, are also part of the software design. The purpose of this is to stimulate students’ interest in learning both at home and in school.
For starters, senior students in public schools targeted for the pilot scheme would be given the computer tablet at no cost. This project will cost the state government about N2 billion. As part of its feature to attract more enrolment of children in public schools, government rejuvenated the school feeding programme and tagged it O’Meal, that is Osun Meal with a high protein content. This according to state officials has increased the enrolment figure in public primary schools by 25 per cent in the last session and government is anticipating an increase in the figure in the coming academic session.