L-R: President, Ijebu Waterside Club (IWC), Alhaji Ahmed Tijani, and pioneer President of IWC, Otunba Tayo Yusuf (R) during an emergency visit to Senator Gbenga Daniel in his residence in Ijebu Ode on Tuesday.
Residents of Ogun-Waterside area have sent a save-our-soul (SOS) message to the Ogun State and Federal Government’s over their condition as a result of a blackout in the area in the last seven years.
The residents, under aegis of Ijebu Waterside Club (IWC), rose from a meeting with the former governor of Ogun State and current Senator representing Ijebu East Senatorial Constituency in the National Assembly, Gbenga Daniel, over the deplorable situation, with a call for an urgent intervention.
In a statement on Tuesday, the IWC called on the Ogun State and the Federal Government to heed the SOS call of the Ogun Waterside Local Government Area (OWLGA) over the total collapse of electricity supply that has virtually grounded socio-economic activities in the area in the last seven years.
The President of IWC, Ahmed Tijani, said the 41-year group of accomplished businessmen and professionals of Ogun Waterside extraction, informed Senator Daniel that the electricity crisis has seriously impeded socio-economic development of the critical agro-industrial hub in Ogun State.
Tijani, who said the OWLGA people have continued to suffer neglect as a result of the long power outage, highlighted several abandoned government projects in the area that have been affected, including the OK LNG, the Deep Sea Port, Laogo Resort, Gateway Industrial and Petro-Gas Institute (GIPI) in Oni, the only tertiary educational in the area.
Others include oil & gas related projects that if implemented, would promote job creation, boost government’s revenue earnings and foster overall economic growth across Ogun Waterside, Ogun State and Nigeria, the Iwopin Paper Mill, and a road contract linking Efire and Ayede-Ayila to Ondo State estimated at over N14 billion that was awarded when the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun was in office.
The IWC said the Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NIGEP), a World Bank-backed project in partnership with the Federal Government planned to bring succour to the people has also been abandoned, a development that further worsened the crisis in the Local Government Council.
The Group recalled that in 2010, the NIGEP gave the people a ray of hope when the Federal Government completed works on the Omotosho 2x150MVA, 330kv power plant, in addition to a proposal for the construction of a 2x150MVA, 330/132kv substation at the power plant to utilise the outgoing 132kv lines to feed neighbouring areas of the power plant.
The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the World Bank, the group said subsequently decided that the proposed Omotosho-Agodo substation, a 45 kilometre 132kv double-circuit line project, would be executed to serve the people of the Council.
The IWC President said that the World Bank-backed electricity project has since remained abandoned as funds were not made available to pay compensation to affected stakeholders.
He thanked the Senator for the opportunity to meet with him to share the plight of the people of the area, adding that over the last 41 years of its existence, the Club has always met and interacted with all past Governors of Ogun State to share their ideas of the development issues affecting the interest of the people.
On the neglected GIPI in Oni, the IWC President told the Senator the project’s that would impact the life of the people of the area.
“We have 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,” he said.
Also, he said the Iwopin Paper Mill established by the Federal Government project in the Local Government some 43 years ago has suffered major operational failure, like many projects during the military era.
He said subsequent administrations that ruled the country after, also failed to complete the project,resulting in the Federal Government selling 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.
However, BETCO, after 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,” Tijani said.
The IWC President said “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.”
Responding, Senator Daniel expressed his deepest empathy for the people over their plight, describing the electricity crisis of over seven years as unfortunate.
Lauding the visit by IWC as a patriotic cause, the lawmaker said effort by the group for the welfare of the people of Ogun Waterside, “must be commended.”
“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.”
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.