Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday in Ogun State that he had found in Governor Dapo Abiodun a politician who lived by the dictum, promise made and promise kept. Buhari stated this during a visit to the state, where he inaugurated some landmark projects. It was his first official visit to a state in the new year.
Addressing the people during the inauguration of the five strategic projects, Buhari said he was proud of the governor, who also completed two federal roads in his state. He said Abiodun exemplified constructive engagement and collaboration between the federal and state governments.
Buhari said the scenes at the reception ceremony organised for him and the large crowd of residents that came out to welcome him triggered in him a wave of nostalgia for his days as a young infantry officer at the Nigerian Army barracks at Lafenwa in Abeokuta, not long after independence.
He praised Abiodun for delivering visionary projects in the state, even in the midst of challenging circumstances occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Describing Abiodun as the “Performing Governor of Nigeria’s Gateway State,” the president maintained that the governor was a worthy example of promise made, promises kept.
Buhari told Abiodun, “Your Excellency, well done! I am proud of what you have done for your state and your people. You have made our great party, the APC, proud, too.
“You are a worthy example of promises made, promises kept. These lofty projects could not have materialised without your huge investment and commitment to security of lives and property.”
The projects, which the president came to inaugurate, included the Gateway City Gate, the 42-kilometre Sagamu Interchange-Abeokuta Road, 14-kilometre Ijebu-Ode-Epe Expressway, and two housing estates for low, medium and high income earners at Kobape and Oke-Mosan in Abeokuta.
“This has made Ogun State one of the safest and most peaceful states in the country and investors’ destination of choice,” Buhari stated. He also told the governor, “You have justified the mandate of the people of Ogun State. You have represented our party very well.”
Buhari expressed delight that the 14-kilometre Ijebu Ode-Mojoda-Epe Road commissioned by him had been reconstructed into a modern expressway by the state government, stating that the road would complement the Sagamu-Benin Expressway that the federal government is currently reconstructing.
The president said, “Just across the road is the 42-kilometre Sagamu-Interchange-Abeokuta Road, which the state government has reconstructed and equipped with street lights. That road enjoys a direct linkage with the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that the federal government is rebuilding and due for completion later this year.
“I am particularly impressed by the quality and standard of your road projects, and the creative way you have deployed resources to reconstruct and rehabilitate them. It is significant to note that the two road projects being commissioned today are federal roads.
“This is an example of constructive engagement, cooperation and collaboration between the states and federal government. These roads also fit well into our rail transportation masterplan that connects Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, to Kano, with Ogun State, having more rail stations, along the Lagos-Ibadan rail corridor.”
Buhari announced that the federal government would consider extending tax credit as funding option for the reconstruction of these roads, as done for the 100-kilometre Sagamu Interchange-Papalanto-Ilaro Road. He also promised to consider the approval of the reconstruction of Sagamu-Ogijo Road by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited under the tax credit scheme.
On the housing programme of the state government, the president commended its inclusiveness, saying it is equally heart-warming that it cuts across different social strata, capturing the low, medium and high-income earners.
Admiring the Gateway City Gate Project, Buhari said, “It is not just a park beautification project. It depicts that something new is happening in Ogun State, a welcoming entrance into the state capital at the centre point of the state.”
Responding to requests by the governor to give priority to the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta and the Sango Otta-Idiroko roads, the president assured the people of Ogun State that the roads would receive the federal government’s attention.
The federal government had previously approved the reconstruction of the 100 kilometres Sagamu Interchange-Papalanto-Ilaro Road to be handled by the Dangote Group.
The president thanked Ogun residents for the warm reception accorded him and his entourage in the state, which was his first visit to any state in the New Year.
He said, “The traditional hospitality of the people of this state has not waned a bit. Today, I am ‘Omowale’ and very happy at this homecoming to meet my brothers and sisters, whose goodwill I have always enjoyed.”
Buhari said the people of Ogun State were blessed to have such a focused, deliberate and inclusive administration under the watch of Abiodun. The president said, “The reward for success is more hard work to meet the increasing expectations of the people. When state governments deliver impactful projects, in consultations with stakeholders, like we have witnessed in Ogun State, the trajectory of our national development will be enhanced.”
Buhari, who was bestowed with “honourary indigeneship” of the state, said, “It is also with a sense of responsibility that I receive and cherish the honourary indigeneship bestowed on me as symbolised by the presentation of the key to the Gateway State by Governor Abiodun.
“I will leave Ogun State with fond memories and look forward to enjoying the privilege of my honourary indigeneship.”
In his own remarks, the governor noted that the state had the highest number of federal roads in Nigeria. He called for the federal government’s intervention to fix the roads, which he described as strategic.
Earlier, Abiodun had highlighted some of the projects executed by his administration under the acronym “ISEYA” and requested that the president, would before the end of the year, beinvited to the state to inaugurate more projects.
Reiterating that Ogun had highest number of federal roads in the country, Abiodun further requested that the state be accorded a Special Status for Federal Government Infrastructural Funding, especially, on roads.
The president was received by Abiodun and five other governors, namely, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Osun State Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola; Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, and the representative of Oyo State Governor, Mr. Rauf Olaniyan.
At the reception also were Alhaji Aliko Dangote and former governors of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Chief Segun Osoba.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja and James Sowole in Abeokuta