By Akeem Abas and David Adeoye
The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State on Sunday exchanged words over plans by the Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, to spend N8 billion naira on a proposed reconstruction of the popular Iwo Road interchange in Ibadan, the state capital.
The APC in a statement issued by its Assistant Publicity Secretary, Mr Ayobami Adejumo, and made available to newsmen on Sunday in Ibadan, described the planned reconstruction as a misplaced priority and an attempt to squander government resources.
But in its reaction, the PDP countered that the criticism of the planned expansion of Iwo-Road interchange in Ibadan with N8 billion by the APC is a demonstration of the party’s insensitivity to the plight of commuters in the axis.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the governor had, on Friday, announced plans to embark on the project which, he said, would be completed within a year to decongest the area and give it a facelift.
Makinde had, at Adogba Central Mosque where he joined the congregation for the weekly Jumat service, cleared the air on the project, assuring that compensation would be paid for the facilities expected to be demolished for the expansion.
However, the APC, in the statement, said that the present administration was popular for building its castles in the air, in demonstration of its gross incompetence and avowed desire for mismanaging public funds.
“The good people of the state were taken aback by the action of Gov. Makinde last Friday when he chose a mosque as the place to announce the plan to do a multi-billion project.
“Without any record of presentation at the state executive council meeting or consideration and approval by the appropriate organs of government as required by law, the governor reeled out a contract sum for another white elephant project,” it said.
The party wondered how the cost of N8 billion was arrived at, even when no picture of the proposed picture had been shown to the world.
“What is the scope of the project and where are the engineering designs that culminated in the contract sum? Was there any due diligence before the cost was arrived at? When did the consultants carry out the survey of the proposed site?
“Where is the bill of quantity? When did the relevant office advertise for tender?
“Why the desperation on the part of Gov. Makinde to commit such a huge amount of money to any construction work in an area that would be covered by two different projects already awarded by the federal government?,” it queried.
According to the party, there are strong indications that the ongoing reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway would take care of the expansion of the interchange.
It also said that the recently-awarded rehabilitation of the Ibadan-Ife expressway would cover the remaining portion of the axis.
“As it has become the usual practice of the Makinde-led administration to put the cart before the horse, the people of the state cannot just watch while a government without any blueprint or action plan will continue to experiment after five months in office.
“So far, the only achievement of the current administration is the rebranded exercise books distributed recently with pomp and pageantry.
“It would have been better to follow up on the exercise book distribution with provision of pieces of furniture and release of running grants for public primary and secondary schools across the state,” it said.
The party described as gross display of incompetence on the part of the Makinde-led government plan to construct a new Gbagi Market on the popular exhibition ground in Sango, Ibadan.
It expressed the regret that this was coming at a time experts had blamed the traffic challenges bedevilling Ibadan on the some of the existing markets in the heart of the city.
“If not sheer display of incompetence and the unbridled quest to mismanage public funds, there is no reason for this kind of desperation for contract awards by the present administration,” APC stated.
A statement issued on Sunday in Ibadan by Mr Akeem Olatunji, the state PDP Publicity Secretary, accused APC of showing disregard for the state economy which, it said, had been bleeding owing to loss of several man-hours due to perennial traffic congestion at the interchange.
Adetunji said that the immediate response to the criticism by the APC on the project was to educate the party on the forward-looking approach already adopted by Makinde in solving the problem of the interchange.
“Let us place it on record that Iwo Road is not just a segment of a road located within the Oyo state capital; it is an interchange that has become the melting point of all travellers within Nigeria.
“It brings those coming from the North face to face with travellers across the South-West, South-South and South-East as well.
“The criticism by the APC shows a clear insensitivity to the plight of commuters who daily waste lots of man-hours trying to wade through the sea of traffic around the interchange.
“Makinde is not only on point with the decision to reconstruct Iwo Road, but has also shown his humane character by choosing to directly explain the developmental objectives to the people around the area.
“It will shock the APC to note that the people who worship at the Adogba mosque and others who will be affected by the demolition exercise have gladly adopted the governor’s decision, following the interface.
“We are reassured by the fact that the PDP government has, in less than five months, designed and started implementing a holistic solution to the perennial Iwo Road traffic problem,” the party said.