When they received news of President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Kogi State to commission the third phase of Obajana Cement Factory, many residents of Okunland in Kogi-West Senatorial District had expected him to comment on the dilapidated Obajana-Kabba-Egbe-Ilorin Road.
But the President came on Monday, saw and left without any reference to the Federal Government’s plan to fix the road.
Jonathan, who also performed the ground-breaking of another three million metric tonnes line in the factory, referred to it as one of the largest in the world.
If Jonathan was silent on the issue throughout his speech, Governor Idris Wada was not as he urged the President to expedite action on the reconstruction of the road.
Wada said the road was very vital to the plant and other motorists, adding that trucks conveying Dangote cement products also use it daily.
At a crowded reception room for Jonathan where the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; four state governors and others, were present, Wada said the road, which passes through the front of the factory, was an eyesore and expressed the hope that the President would use the occasion to make a commitment on it. His comments drew a resounding applause from the people.
But the President, who spoke immediately after the governor concluded his speech, remained silent on the road matter.
The Okun Youth Initiative (OYI) and Yagba Change Agents Group (YA-CAG) in separate statements yesterday, relayed the disappointment of the people with the President’s action.
OYI, which described that Monday as “indeed a sad day for Okun people”, in the statement signed by its General Secretary, Jude Ogunjobi, noted that “apart from the 20-kilometre stretch, which was reconstructed from Lokoja to Obajana, the 146 kilometre section from Obajana to Kabba, Isanlu and Egbe to Ilorin, Kwara State capital, had been a source of concern to residents and travellers since it was constructed in 1973 and renovated by the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under the late Gen. Sani Abacha regime.
He continued: “What baffles our people is that the road was in last year’s budget, it was in the budget two years ago; the 2011 budget provided for 20 per cent of a part of that road, which is about 46 kilometres from Obajana to Kabba. But the funds earmarked will not even pay for the design of that road. The palliative measure that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) did during former President Olusegun Obasanjo tenure existed only on papers. The problem of the road is not palliative, what is required is total reconstruction, which has to be funded by the Federal Government…”