How bad road is killing our economy, devt — Onilude, Badagry LG boss

By Esther Onyegbula

Olusegun Onilude is the chairman of Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this interview, Onilude laments the deplorable state of the Badagry Expressway saying it is negatively affecting the economy and development of the area. Excerpts:

When you talk about the infrastructural deficit, for the past three years, what have you done to address some of the deficit?

When we came in, we looked at the area of promoting the economy of our people who are mostly petty traders, so we decided to create a conducive environment for them to do their buying and selling. We partnered with developers who went to the markets and transformed them. When you have a good market, it attracts customers, we have done our bit at Agbalata market in Badagry.

Also, we demolished and built the Ikoga market which was an ancient market. A new market at Ajara is also undergoing a face-lift. When the market becomes better, it brings in a lot of people both indigenes and non-indigenes and when their economy improves, it will automatically rub off on the society and the government.

The Badagry roundabout, which used to be a hideout for hoodlums, has been transformed. In the primary health centres, we also ensured those that weren’t functioning because of their structures, start to function. We renovated some of them. We did Ajara flagship, we went to Topoijale, the structure there was bad so we pulled it down completely and built a new one.

On education, we identified some schools that had acute dilapidated buildings, like in Kikawest LA Primary School, we built a block of six classrooms. We did a similar thing at LA Primary School at Iyaafin. Education is not only about structure alone, we made it a priority, we identified indigent students who come to school tattered and made uniforms for them.

We organised debates for them, we encouraged them in the spelling bee program and we give them exercise books. We replaced the old black chalkboard with flannel boards in all primary schools in Badagry.

How has the state of the Badagry Expressway affected the development of the local government?

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The present condition of the road has done Badagry and her people more harm. It has taken us backward.

It has almost cut us off from the rest of Lagos. It is almost cutting off Nigeria from the rest of West Africa. The expressway is particularly important to Nigeria if we know what we are doing because it is an international route.

It is a route that can lead to three or four West African countries. Some of us live close to the Benin Republic, which is not up to a state in Nigeria, when you go there, it has no pothole. Immediately you step into Nigeria, what welcomes you is the bad road.

The greatest harm it has done us is that development has ceased to come to Badagry. It is so bad that when you tell someone in Ikeja that you live in Badagry, the first thing they tell you is: “How did you come here? That your road!”

You see, important dignitaries in Lagos won’t come to Badagry except they get a chopper.

If individuals can’t come, how will a sensible industrialist come around? So, it is killing our economy, it is killing our development.

Badagry is a tourist destination, there is no place in Lagos State that is richer in tourism than Badagry, and it is a natural endowment. When the road isn’t motorable, how will people patronise our tourism and if people are not coming, how will our economy improve? It is a pain to us in Badagry. People often ask if Badagry is not part of Lagos. But we can only feel a sense of belonging if the Federal Government does the needful.

Those of us that have a business to do in Lagos have to risk everything, we risk our lives, squander the little resources we have fixing our vehicles every day. Some have lost their vehicles, some have lost their breadwinners and loved ones, some have been kidnapped on the road. Such are the hazards the road has brought to the people of Badagry.

I am emotional when I talk about the road because we have been neglected and abused. The Badagry Expressway has impacted negatively on Séme and by extension, Nigeria. Seme border generates so much revenue to Nigeria but go to the place now; it is a ghost of itself. Aside from oil, Séme is supposed to be the economic nerve of Nigeria, but the road has made many of us stop going through this route as their trucks keep falling on the road. It has become a daily occurrence.

I seize this opportunity to call on the powers-that-be in the country that this road should be given attention. It is a road that can speak volumes about Nigeria.

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