In a critical meeting with Senator Gbenga Daniel on Monday, the Ijebu Waterside Club (IWC) issued a compelling plea to the Federal Government to respond urgently to the Save Our Soul (SOS) call of the Ogun Waterside Local Government Area (OWLGA), which has endured a crippling electricity outage for the past seven years.
The President of IWC, Alhaji Ahmed Tijani, representing a group of accomplished businessmen and professionals from Ogun Waterside, expressed their deep concerns to Senator Daniel, who represents the Ijebu East Senatorial Constituency, encompassing OWLGA.
The prolonged electricity crisis has gravely hindered the socio-economic development of this vital agro-industrial region in Ogun State.
During the meeting, Alhaji Tijani highlighted a multitude of abandoned government projects in the area, including the OK LNG, Deep Sea Port, Laogo Resort, Gateway Industrial and Petro-Gas Institute (GIPI), Iwopin Paper Mill, and a significant road contract linking Efire and Ayede-Ayila to Ondo State. These projects, if completed, have the potential to generate jobs, boost government revenue, and stimulate economic growth not only in Ogun Waterside but also in Ogun State and Nigeria at large.
The IWC also pointed out that the Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NIGEP), a World Bank-backed initiative in collaboration with the Federal Government, which was intended to alleviate the electricity crisis, has been left in a state of abandonment. This neglect has exacerbated the dire situation in OWLGA.
According to IWC, the Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NIGEP), a World Bank-backed project in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, that was planned to bring succour to the people has also been abandoned, a development that further worsened the crisis in OWLGA.
In 2010, the NIGEP offered a big ray of hope when the Federal Government completed works on the Omotosho 2x150MVA, 330kv power plant, and a proposal was made to construct a 2x150MVA, 330/132kv substation at the power plant and utilise the outgoing 132kv lines to feed neighbouring areas of the power plant.
The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the World Bank, subsequently decided that the proposed Omotosho-Agodo substation, a 45 kilometre 132kv double-circuit line project, would be executed to serve the people of OWLGA.
The IWC President said that the World Bank-backed electricity project has remained abandoned as funds were not made available to pay compensation to affected stakeholders.
“I also want to thank you for giving us this unique opportunity to meet with you at a very short notice. IWC cherish your simplicity, humility, tenacity and open door policies, a complete Omoluabi virtue,” Alhaji Tijani told Senator Daniel.
“Over the last 41 years of the existence of IWC”, the Club’s President told Senator Daniel, “we have met and interacted with all past Governors of Ogun State right from the time of late Lt. Col. Oladipo Diya (General Diya), except your successor who failed to meet with us throughout his eight years, and of course all our efforts to also meet with the incumbent in the last four years have also not yielded any result.”
While speaking on the neglected GIPI in Oni, he told the Senator that, “we had always advocated for the establishment of a higher institution in our Local Government. We were therefore happy when you established during your tenure as our Governor the Gateway Industrial and Petro-Gas Institute (GIPI) to produce middle level manpower for anticipated projects in the OK FTZ and other Free Trade Zones in Ogun State. But today, the Institute needs help. It is your baby and we trust you will not allow it to die.”
The Iwopin Paper Mill, Alhaji Tijani further stated, “was a Federal Government project established in our Local Government some 43 years ago that suffered major operational failure like many projects during the military era. The subsequent administrations that ruled this country after, also failed to complete the project. Consequently, the Federal Government sold the Mill at a ridiculously low amount to the late Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Chairman of BETCO, who promised to get investors to join him and get the project back on track. BETCO, instead of bringing the company back on track, went ahead to scrap it. All the machinery including the buildings were sold as scraps. Today, Iwopin Paper Mill is totally empty and overgrown with weeds.”
According to the IWC President, “information available to us is that when the location suitable for Deep Sea Port operations was discovered after the geophysical-cum-topographical studies were undertaken many years ago, the physical stretch involved showed that 15% of it belongs to Lagos State, 50% falls within Ogun Waterside seashore in Ogun State, and 35% falls within Ondo State from Ogun State border. Unfortunately, nothing has been done and Lagos State, whose portion is marginal, is already working on her Deep Sea Port project. All these projects are capable of generating thousands of jobs and contributing in no small way to the revenue of the State.”
While responding to the IWC delegation, Senator Daniel, a former Governor of Ogun State, expressed his deepest empathy for the people noting that the electricity crisis of over seven years was unfortunate.
While lauding the visit by IWC as a patriotic cause, he also added that effort being made by the group for the welfare of the people of Ogun Waterside, “must be commended.”
According to him, “don’t get tired or frustrated because all you are doing, and what all of us are doing, are for the benefit of our children.”
Senator Daniel, who received detailed briefing documents from the IWC delegation, promised to personally work with stakeholders across all the tiers of the Nigerian Government to bring the plight of Ijebu Waterside region to the relevant authorities for prompt action.