For years, indigenes of the four local governments in Akoko area of Ondo State and parts of Ondo South Senatorial District were always sceptical about going home for celebrations as there was no good road and no power supply from the National Grid. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has intervened in these two critical areas
For years, the people of Ondo South and North Senatorial districts of Ondo State have been cut off from the National Grid, no thanks to their indebtedness to the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). The company disconnected the two senatorial districts from the grid, thereby putting the people in darkness for years. Despite the intervention of the administration the immediate past Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the BEDC insisted that the communities must pay parts of their debts before they could be reconnected to the National Grid. The communities also said they would not pay unless they were connected to the National Grid.
This led to a stalemate for years. In Ondo South, a group – “Bring back our light” – was formed. Several times, the traditional and political leaders from the zone met with the Minister of Power, Steel and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fasola, all to no avail.
However, the people of Akoko in Ondo North were lucky as the General Overseer of Synagogue Church of All Nations, Temitope Joshua, donated about N31 million for the restoration of electricity in the area. Despite the intervention of the man of God, some communities in Akoko area were yet to be connected to the National Grid while the substantial part of Ondo South still lived in darkness.
This development, coupled with bad roads, made many indigenes of the areas to stay away even during celebrations such as Christmas and New Year. Now that the festive periods are here, families will be travelling from near and far to visit their loved ones in their various communities to celebrate the Christmas and New Year.
To most families, the one-in-a-year festive period presents the real opportunity to be re-united with their people for celebrations. Some others also use the period to attend to some important and demanding family issues. Akeredolu has been making some concrete moves to ensure that the festive period is celebrated with pomp.
His intention is to use the festive period to reiterate to the people that he stands by all his promises to make life more worth living and better for the people across the state. This is the reason many communities in the Akoko and Okitipupa areas of the state will enjoy electricity this December after many years in darkness. Akeredolu recently got the management of BEDC to mobilise its equipment and ensure the return of electricity to the communities.
The latest communities to be reconnected include Ode-Aye, Okitipupa, Ogbagi-Akoko and Irun-Akoko. The BEDC Regional Head, Mrs. Kunbi Labiyi, expressed the company’s readiness to fix the electricity challenges confronting the Ondo communities before Christmas.
She said: “The goal is for Ode-Aye and adjourning communities or those on its path to have electricity before Christmas, regardless of the status of the existing dispute between the communities and our company as a show of goodwill to the governor in accordance with the spirit of this meeting.” The parley also agreed to jointly work together to ensure that power is supplied to Okitipupa, which is the major load centre in the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
The modality to extend the gesture to Okitipupa, according to the meeting, will be firmed up between the management of BEDC and government’s team led by the Special Adviser to the governor on Public Utilities, Tunji Light Ariyomo (an en-gineer).
The feat was achieved following a recent parley between the governor and the management of BEDC in his office in Akure. The parley also agreed to jointly work together to ensure that power is supplied to Okitipupa, which is the major load centre in the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
The affected towns have been in total darkness for the past five years. The management of BEDC told government that the abandoned transmission substation in Oke-Agbe- Akoko had been receiving attention to ensure smooth restoration of power to the affected communities in the Northern Senatorial District.
While addressing journalists after the parley, Ariyomo said government was in negotiation with power service providers to get mini-grids established to serve some of the communities that may be too far away or which might not benefit from the immediate reconnection by the BEDC. Aside embarking on moves to ensure the provision of electricity for the affected communities to enable the residents to celebrate the Christmas and New Year festivals without hitch, the Ondo State governor has also put in place machineries to ensure smooth rides by the people to their various towns and villages across the state. Infrastructural deficit has been identified as one of the challenges inherited by the current administration.
Akeredolu promised during his pre-election campaign that he would start laying the foundation for the economic development of Ondo State by tackling the infrastructural challenges. So, shortly after the inauguration of his government on February 24, he mobilised contractors to some communities considered inhabitable for locals across the three senatorial districts to fix their roads. In what was described as the season the people have been waiting for, Akeredolu has ordered contractors to mobilise their equipment to lay asphalt on Barracks Road in Akure, the state capital, and on Opasorun-Bajare-Apefon Road in Idanre Local Government Area. Across the state, constructions or repairs of roads are ongoing and at different stages of completion.
The roads, to the delight of the benefiting communities, are gradually becoming motorable. Three weeks ago, Akeredolu directed the Direct Labour Unit of the Ministry of Works to fix the collapsed culvert at Power Line in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area.
The construction of the culvert has been completed, while channels and lined drain are under construction. During a visit, the Special Adviser to the governor on Infrastructure, Mr. Aminu Raimi Olayiwola, told the people that the projects would be completed before December 31.
The contractor handling Sabomi Road in Ese-Odo Local Government Area has also mobilised to the site. The earth work on the road has been completed. A progress report obtained from the Commissioner for Works, Taofeek Abdulsalam, indicated that many projects are ongoing all over the state.
The report listed various sites in Ikare-Akoko and Akure among several others where contractors are busy working. Abdulsalam said that some of the projects were at various stages of completion. The commissioner added that government would not relent in its effort to construct roads and provide other necessary infrastructure across the state.
The interest of those willing to travel home by air is also being taken care of. Presently, the administration, in collaboration with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is building an arrival and departure lounge at the Akure Airport to make the facility more business-friendly. Since work began on the project, the airport has attracted more businesses and passengers.
Infrastructure: Ugwuanyi sets example in Enugu
Rapid developmental strides in Enugu State under the administration of Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi have been rated outstanding and have received wide commendation within and outside the state. People from some other states of the federation have had causes to ask their governors to go over to Enugu State and see how Ugwuanyi is carrying out a massive infrastructure development programme across the state.
Enugu State is one of the few states in which the election results that brought him into office were never contested. Ugwuanyi is keen to reciprocate the high level of confidence of the people on his administration with his vision of making the state the economic hub east of the Niger. On his inauguration day as the governor of Enugu State, Ugwuanyi declared that the entire state is his constituency and therefore assured that development would be evenly spread.
So far, he has lived up to his standing commitment that no community will be left out in his administration’s drive for speedy development across the state. While many states were yet reeling in the pain of reduced federal revenue allocations in 2015, Ugwuanyi surprisingly flagged off a number of major development projects towards the end of the year.
These include the inauguration of a 2.5MVA injection sub-station at Ezi-Nze designed to supply electricity to communities in three local government areas, spur business activities there and also power the Adada Dam project as well as the Greater Nsukka Water Scheme. Others were the construction of Amankwo Ngwo through Eke Odudoto Ama Brewery Road, the reconstruction of an erosion devastated road at Abor–Nsukka Road and the repair and resurfacing of portions of Enugu- Ninth Mile Expressway.
Rehabilitation work at Nawfia Street in Independence Layout was also commissioned to ameliorate the suffering of the inhabitants of that area. From where has Ugwuanyi got the financial capacity to do all that he has accomplished in infrastructure development in Enugu State?
He said the secret lies in priority and prudence. He detracted from both federal and other state governments’ culture of pointing accusing fingers. Rather than keep complaining about what he lacks, the Enugu governor has done exploits with what he has. Enugu State is ranked among the few states in the country that promptly pay contractors handling different development projects in their respective domains.
This has made the execution of many development projects in the state largely hitch free. The state has no records of unpaid contractors or of projects abandoned.
After a physical inspection of Federal Government’s roads reconstructed by Ugwuanyi’s government, Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, broke political party lines to shower commendations on the Enugu State government, asking other state governments to follow the example of Ugwuanyi on infrastructure development. Ugwuanyi has explored options for development of electric power projects, including a solar power plant at Udi to boost economic activities.
Development of reliable options for improved electricity supply in the state is a key strategy of his administration for revamping ailing industries. Roads are the principal means of movement of people and goods in Nigeria and therefore road development is of prior importance in the country.
A good road attracts attention because it represents a clear evidence of government’s developmental action. This explains why residents in Enugu State continue to hail Ugwuanyi for a new lease of life brought about by many road construction and other infrastructure development projects. Ugwuanyi seems to be the Moses of our time – a God-sent leader on a worthy mission to take his people to the state of economic development that has eluded the south-easterners for too long. Ikpeama write from Enugu
Celebrating Lagos at 51
Exactly a year ago, Lagos State turned 50. Nigerians came out in larger numbers to participate in the oneyear long celebration of the coming of age of the State of aquatic splendor. The celebrations culminated in a spectacular show on 27 May, 2017 at the grounds of Eko Atlantic. It has been one year now since those celebrations took place.
We look back today, one year after, and see a Lagos that is remarkably different at 51. Infrastructure development continues to be in the front burner of our administration. From Abule Egba to Ajah, from Epe to Badagry; Lagos resounds with an endless run of repaired and newly constructed roads and bridges.
From Alapere to Okokomaiko, Agege to TBS, the city breathes with lay-bys that have drastically whittled hours spent in agonizing traffic jams across the State. From Agege to Yaba, Ojodu Berger to Lekki, Lagos stares with shimmering streetlights that adorn the most populous black city in the world with glee.
The pace of development in Lagos State since last year, and indeed since we came on board, is modestly noticeable. Yet during our campaign, our resonant message was that Lagos must work for all. We said it then and has continued to reiterate it since assuming powers that ours would be government of inclusion; where every hard working Nigerian would have a place to call home. Our message of hope knows no difference between federal and state roads: for the reclusive child of fate there are no federal or State Lagosians.
All roads in Lagos, as with all other infrastructure, belong to the people. Through the years, we have steadily repaired our State, modernizing and retooling things to the point where we now talk about turning Lagos into a Smart City. In every way, our infrastructure is improved.
Our roads are better, our mass transportation has expanded, hospitals give better care to the sick and afflicted, education is improving and more affordable housing is being constructed before our very eyes. The face of Badagry is changing. The makeover of Oshodi will cause you to marvel at the transformation that can take place even in densely populated urban space when there is the political will and determined creativity to give the people the infrastructure they deserve. We are improving and expanding the Airport Road so that a trip to and from the airport no longer takes more time than your flight itself.
The Lekki-Epe axis was once an isolated, inactive tract of land. Now it bustles with energy, activity and prosperity due in large measure to the roads and other infrastructure our State has constructed. We have and will continue to build bridges linking parts of Lagos that have not been linked before so that commerce, transport and communication among Lagosians will be facilitated. We aim to make this state fully integrated so that one part is well connected to any other. All of this work is underpinned by the belief that Lagos belongs to all of us.
Lagos is not an exclusive club. It is an inclusive family. Available statistics from the United Nations confirmed the fact that an average of 86 people enter into Lagos every one hour which is the highest in the world, while the population of the State was now around 24million, with attendant impact on infrastructure and other social amenities.
And the significance of Lagos to the overall economy of Nigeria itself is not what anyone would want to toy with. There is therefore the need for a pragmatic approach by a visionary government to put machinery in place to tackle the future challenges.
That is what our government has been doing in the last three years and the desire destination in the nearest future is to make Lagos the third largest economy in Africa. As a government, we are conscious of the fact that infrastructure, security, stability and partnership with all stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development. We have channeled a lot of resources into creating an enduring infrastructural architecture for the business of tourism to thrive. In order to do this successfully, we must first build a solid infrastructural architecture that will endure.
It must be safe and secure; it must provide functional and diverse venues for the arts, culture, festivals, creative industry, recreation and wildlife; and it must constantly and productively engage with its critical stakeholders.
The Tourism Master Plan is focused on Six key sectors; Culture and Heritage, Film, Art and Entertainment, Business Tourism, Nature and Adventure, Medical and Wellness, Beach and Leisure. Qualitative education is one of the cardinal duties a government must render to its people and the importance our government attaches to education is reflected in the 12.07% of the total 2018 Budget allocated to Education.
This allocation is surpassed by only that of Economic Affairs and General Public Services. Our State has always been a trailblazer in various spheres of life and in order to consolidate on the economic gains made so far, the education of our youth is paramount. We seek the cooperation of all Lagosians to ensure we eradicate illiteracy in the State, groom the next generation of leaders and captains of industry as well as position our State as the standard bearer for the nation in the provision of qualitative tertiary education.
On security, we believe that the continued prosperity of our State can only be achieved under a well-secured and peaceful environment, hence our strong financial investment on security architecture, modern equipment, vehicles and welfare to enhance the fighting capacities of our security agencies. We have inspired Lagosians to pay taxes.
In truth, Nigerians do not like paying taxes, not because they are naturally averse to taxes, but because they have been taken for a ride for too long. We have demonstrated our readiness to judiciously and efficiently manage the state resources for the benefit of the generality of our people.
The positive response of our people has shown that when a government wins the confidence of her people, they will respond with decisive performance of their civil obligations.
This is the essence of the social contract we made with Lagosians when we resumed on 29 May, 2015. The social contract of inclusive governance and purposeful leadership is what we are renewing with our people today that Lagos is 51; and in this month that our governance of Lagos clocks three years. We wish to assure Lagosians that our government is one that listens.
Our administration does not play the Ostrich that buries its head in the sand. Ours is a responsive government that promises and delivers on inclusiveness.
Yes, it’s not a perfect state because we believe there will always be challenges, but with God and all our citizens on our side we would always triumph. I will readily admit that I am not infallible and it is an evident truism that I exhibit a different DNA and leadership style which some might not be alienable to, but we have kept faith with our cardinal principles by consistently delivering the goods/services and making our people happy. The future of Lagos State is bright and secured.
Mr Ambode is the Governor of Lagos State
THE OREKOYA ABDUCTION: My wife gave herself up for me to escape –Suspected kidnapper
After more than three years of running from the law, M.r Waheed Abubakar, an alleged kidnap kingpin finally ended his race in police custody. Abubakar was alleged to be the ringleader of a kidnap gang.
His wife, mother, brother and sister-in-law were alleged to be part of the gang members. The gang specialised in abducting children of rich parents. Abubakar’s wife, Fumilayo Adeyemi, alias Mary Akinloye, was the gang member that used to infiltrate homes of unsuspecting Nigerians, posing as a house help. Once she’s employed she would disappear with the children. The gang would later demand ransom in order to release the children.
The gang came to the attention of the world after Funmilayo, who was recruited through an online portal, OLX, disappeared with the three children of Mr. and Mrs. Leke Orekoya from their Surulere apartment, a day after she was employed. The three children were then 11-month-old Aderomola, Adedamola (four) and Ademola (six).
The distraught parents later received a call, asking them to pay N15million as ransom or they wouldn’t see their children ever again. The gang was also behind the abduction of two brothers, Michael and Rafael Esharegaran, from their home at Magodo, Lagos.
Funmilayo abducted the two boys after she was employed as a maid. The Esharegarans were said to have paid N10million as ransom, although the police denied knowledge of the payment.
Funmilayo was eventually tracked through a bank account where a ransom was deposited and had since been arraigned in court and remanded in prison custody. When the gang was smashed by operatives of the Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), led by Mr Abba Kyari, only Funmilayo was arrested.
Other members escaped and went underground. Since 2015 that the incident happened, Kyari and his men had refused to beat a retreat in the investigations and had continued the hunt for Abubakar and other members of the gang. And just when many thought the trail had gone cold Abubakar was arrested.
A police source said: “It took IRT operatives three years to track down and locate Waheed Abubakar. He was tracked to Ikorodu, where he was operating as a motorcyclist. The IRT operatives followed up the case to know who were behind the kidnapping of babies in Lagos homes.
Immediately the operatives got the information about the suspect, they traced him to Abuja where he had earlier escaped to when the heat was much in Lagos. The suspect disappeared immediately his wife was arrested. He settled at Kubwa area in Abuja, where he worked as a tricycle operator.
When he realised that the police were still after him and were almost about to grab him, he ran back to Lagos and continued with his tricycle business at Ikorodu. “He was later tracked to his house; but the day operatives went to arrest him, they didn’t meet him.
The men left and went back to their station to re-strategize. They went after him again and found him at a motor park in Ikorodu. He confessed to the police that he was running around to avoid being arrested by the police.
He said that he had forgotten that IRT men were everywhere and that nobody could escape from them.” Abubakar was arrested after three years of being on the run and being a fugitive. Abubakar, who introduced himself as a tricycle rider said that he has two children, not four, as claimed by his wife. Indeed, in his confessions, Abubakar punctured many of Funmilayo’s confessions and allegations. One of the lies his wife told was allegation that his mother was involved in kidnapping, said Abubakar.
How my wife and I got involved in abduction
Recollecting how he and his wife got involved in kidnapping, Abubakar said: “I got involved in kidnapping through a friend, Hadiza Olawale. I knew him in Ibadan since 2013. He was living beside our house at Alakia area. We were friends then. After two years of losing contact, I ran into him at Egbeda in 2014.
I was returning from hospital where my wife had just gave birth to a baby. The name of my wife is Olayemi Adeyemi not Funmilayo “I was thinking of how to pay my wife’s medical bill on that day. My wife just had our second baby through a Caesarean Section in a private hospital. He was the first to sight me.
He shouted my name; I didn’t immediately recognize him because he had changed. He looked fresh compared to when he was in Ibadan. He asked me why I looked worried. I opened up to him; I told him what I was going through. I told him how much money I was looking for. He promised to assist me.
He asked me to follow him to his house around Shasha area. To my surprise, he gave me a bulging envelop. It contained money. When I counted it, it was N150, 000. The exact amount I needed to pay for the hospital bill.”According to Abubakar, after the naming ceremony, he and his wife went to Hadiza’s house to thank him. When they got to the Good Samaritan’s house, he told them that he was not happy with their financial situation. He said that he had a job for them.
Abduction of the Orekoya boys
Before Hadiza was through with the details of the job, Funmilayo allegedly jumped on it, saying she and her husband would do it. They were desperate for money. Abubakar recalled: “My wife jumped on the offer. She promised to do it in as much as the business would be yielding money.
We were given details of where my wife would go and work. She was also told how to escape with the abducted children in any home she went to work as nanny. He promised my wife and I that there wouldn’t be any problem and nobody would be arrested. “Unfortunately, when he was talking to my wife and I, we didn’t ask him what would be our own share of the proceeds.
He asked my wife if she could work as a nanny. Hadiza placed the advert on OLX. It was through the advert that the Orekoyas got in touch with us. Hadiza instructed Funmilayo to proceed to Lawanson, Surulere and work as nanny at the Orekoya’s house.
“When the Orekoyas went to work, my wife took the kids away. She put a call through to Hadiza. The man drove straight to where she waited for him. He collected the children from her and drove off. I was not really involved in the kidnapping. I got involved through my wife, who Hadiza was using.”
How my wife was arrested
Abubakar said that he remembered vividly how his wife allowed herself to be arrested by operatives of IRT, just so that he could escape. He said: “On the day my wife was arrested, she and I were together. When police arrested her, she gave me a signal, indicating that I should escape. I understood her reason; she wanted me to stay behind to take care of our children. We have two children; a boy and a girl. The girl, Fatima, is 13 years old, and the second is a boy, Ali. He’s just seven years old.
The policemen didn’t know me, so it was easy for me to escape. I immediately travelled to Abuja from Lagos. I settled at Kubwa where I started riding tricycle. I spent a year and half there. I only came back to Lagos to take care of my aged mother and check on my children. My mother is 62 years old.
She has just two of us; me and my sister. Nobody knows the whereabouts of my sister or if something has happened to her. When my mother heard of the kidnap incident, she insulted and slapped me.
For now, I’m her only child.” Asked to mention other homes that Funmilayo had gone to work as maid and later abducted children, Abubakar said: “I only know that Hadiza took my wife to two places; Surulere and Ikeja to work as a house help.” Abubakar denied that his mother, brother and sister-in-law were part of the kidnapping gang as earlier alleged by Funmilayo in 2015. He said: “It’s not true. I got involved in this problem through Hadiza.
I wanted to return the favour. He assisted me when I was in need and needed help. He was God sent at that time to my wife and I. After the abduction of the Orekoya children, Hadiza gave my wife just N15,000 and N3,000 to buy recharged cards.
He gave her the money after he dropped her off. He left with the children. “I heard in the news the following day that he demanded ransom from the kids’ parents. After the first operation, he called my wife that there was another job. My wife went to Ikeja, but didn’t succeed in the operation. When I saw the Orekoyas crying on television because of the abducted children, I felt bad.”
My wife and prison
Abubakar stated that he felt bad for not going to prison to visit his wife since her arrest. He said: “I can’t go to prison to visit her, but I do send money to her through her people. I also always pray for her. I regret all my actions in this abduction saga.
I pray that God will forgive me. Please also tell the Orekoyas and other families whose babies my wife kidnapped to forgive my wife and I. It was financial challenges that pushed us into such a crime.”
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