By:- Abd-Lateef Olalekan Odo
I have read the news of Project commissioning by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila in Surulere and several reactions through comments by Kwarans who, in their opinions, feel there is a need for us to set a template for comparison between Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representative.
In one of my comments on a popular WhatsApp platform, I have made an effort to emphasize a correlation between sustainable development approaches and impact assessment standards.
Let me start by congratulating Hon. Femi on his strives to facilitate the enlisted projects to his Surulere Constituency as Speaker of the 9th National Assembly.
While I will not dwell much into the distractions deliberately created by some powers in the APC, who felt Dr. Saraki didn’t deserve to be the 8th Assembly Senate Presiden, thereby initiating different court cases against him, I would wish to talk more on the approaches adopted by Dr. Saraki to address the peculiar needs of communities that constitute Kwara Central Senatorial District. When I do this, I fulfill part of my responsibilities as a staunch follower not to set comparison templates between Dr. Saraki and any NASS member or leader across the country.
It is becoming popular that today, we measure developments by the size and beauty of edifices but not by the extent of the impacts and values of the projects to the people who are targeted as the beneficiaries of the projects.
If we all agreed that the core values of education, as projected by Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all”, more effort should be made to ensure the availability of Classrooms to a pupil whose Basic Education has to be prioritized and developed, especially in the hard to reach rural communities where there is a tendency for increment in the rate of “out-of-school” children because of the levels of access to basic education. As beautiful and commendable as it is to have a Conference Center constructed in a University as part of constituency projects, a generation with conscious awareness would understand that providing and influencing access to Basic education, especially in rural communities has more impacts on the scale of global preference. For us to grow as a people, it is important to equip our orientations with the importance of the exact needs of the people we wish to develop. I remember a lot of people have called my attention to the achievements rolled out by Hon. Femi which included the commissioning of a conference center in a tertiary institution in Lagos. I was quick to say “Facilitation of a conference center in a University wouldn’t appear a matter of much importance to a senator, who as a governor, built a world-class University standard from the first block. It is proof that he has passed certain stages. Dr. Saraki concentrated on the provision of classrooms to Basic Schools in over one hundred and seventeen (117) different schools in rural areas, new settlements, and community extensions as complementary roles to ensure pupils have access to basic education across the board and in resonance with his evergreen “Every Child Count” policy on edication as gavernor. This is more of a concern in the developing world as posited by the SDG than a conference center that can be viewed as having limited impacts spreads and values in a constituency like Kwara Central, eventhough it has its peculiar values in a constituency like Surulere in Lagos state.
As I have established, the central issue here isn’t about setting a template for comparison but opening the minds of the readers to the importance of needs assessments and prioritizing developments that are peculiar to the targeted beneficiaries in a circle. During the same conversation, I also read about the commissioning of the dualization of a road in Lagos by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and again, I commended him for his efforts in representing his people effectively. In a bit to spite by an APC member in Kwara, I was asked to name the roads Dr. Saraki has facilitated in Kwara. Again, in my ways, I do not pride in counting the numbers and length of roads facilitated or constructed, I emphasize more on the conceptual frameworks that drive the projects. All roads are not necessarily to be dual carriage as long as the purpose of the designs is met. When Dr. Ssraki facilitated the dualization of the 3.8km Michael Imodu-Ganmo-Amoyo road with double asphalt layers, he didn’t do it for the physical beauty of it alone, he did it to ease access and traffic issues as one of the major link roads to Ilorin through Kwara South where the community has expanded so much that Ilorin-Ganmo-Amoyo can hardly be separated unlike before. Dr. Saraki equally facilitated the 28.6km Afon-Aboto-Odo Ode-Oyo state boundary Road in Asa where close to 11km was completed with double asphalt layers with a primary intention to create another motorable route to Oyo state from Asa Local Government through Yakoyo. These are peculiarities of our constituency that might not be similar to what is obtainable in the Surulere constituency. However, Dr. Saraki didn’t stop at these major capital projects, he also facilitated the construction of roads of different lengths at:
- Alfa Yahaya/IDIGBA/ Gaa-Aremu Road.
- Pakata/Ubandawaki/GGDSS/Itanma Road.
- Oke-Agodi/Olobo/Olori Road.
- Isale Asa community link Road.
- Baba Soja/Sohibul Bayan Road.
- Balogun Hospital/Surulere Road.
- Sanni Okin/Alalupupu Road.
- Ballah/Otte Etile Road.
- Idigba/Onimajesin/Aromaradu/Apaokagi Road.
- Abata Asunkere/Ode-Okubi Road.
- Afon/Abayawo Road.
It is sufficient to say that Dr. Saraki facilitated projects in Power, Water supply, Health, and other areas in line with the assessed peculiar needs of the people he represented and not to erect cosmetic edifices to score media points.
An assessment of Dr. Saraki’s power project will not only reveal the facilitation of power projects to his constituency, it will also reflect a sequence of approaches built on strategic developmental purposes with clear-cut policy frameworks and sustainable implementation strategies. His tendency to facilitate the Ganmo Power Station when he was governor has been discussed as a major project that has resulted in industrial revolutions where investors have been attracted to invest in Kwara thereby developing the rural communities along Afon Road and suburbs.
Considering city expansion and development of new settlements as a result of his leadership qualities as governor, Dr. Saraki, as Senate President considered it important to work on power stability in the other axis of his constituency where remarkable community extension have been observed. He facilitated three major 15mva Power substations as a relief to existing and overused power stations within the constituency. In this, Dr Saraki facilitated power substations at Okolowo Community where over 139 new communities have sprung up, Kulende community in the other axis where close to 80 new communities have developed, and Ilorin Stadium with a strategy to relieve Sawmil substation which has been under pressure from Ogidi and other axis in the internal part of his constituency. These are power projects with remarkable impacts that are over One Billion naira in total sum. By implication, this means that with power stability in these new settlements, more industries would be attracted and job provision would be in abundance. The case of over 13 new industries that were established along Ganmo/Afon Road after Dr. Saraki facilitated the Ganmo power station is a clear reference point to a sustainable development agenda of Dr. Saraki.
The question of Dr. Saraki’s choice of water projects in Kwara Central as Senate President would come to mind when praying about the projects he facilitated for his constituency. Like in the power project, I will quickly make certain references to his time as governor in Kwara and a build-up on his achievements in the Senate. A quick view into water distribution patterns within the LGs in Kawara Central would show the existence of three major Waterworks which are Asa Dam Waterworks, located in Ilorin West, Agba Dam Waterworks, located in Ilorin South, and Sobi Dam wayerworks located in Ilorin East. As governor in Kwara, Dr. Saraki met Asa Dam Waterworks with a capacity of 12 million gallons per day (12m/g/d). As the major Waterworks and the backbone to other waterworks in Ilorin, Dr. Saraki did the expansion of the Waterworks from 12 m/g/d to 25 m/g/d with an increment of 13 m/g/d which eventually resulted in adequate water supplies in the Ilorin metropolis. He eventually embarked on a reticulation project to ensure new areas were captured into the city’s reticulation water flow.
In 2017, when Dr. Saraki as Senate President, he conducted another assessment on the development of new settlements peculiar to Ilorin South and Ilorin East where the other two Waterworks are situated. He, thereby, facilitated the rehabilitation of Agba Dam to redeem its efficiency that has dropped from its 3m/g/d original design to less than 100,000 m/g/d. He did the same with Sobi Dam back to its original design of 2m/g/d. These were done to stabilize surface water supplies within Ilorin where the 3 waterworks were restored to their full efficiency to complement the reticulation projects carried out within the metropolis.
Dr. Saraki equally ensured that Malete Dam was rehabilitated to ensure adequate water supplies to the State University and the communities around. All these projects are costed at over N3bn. These are projects of impact, designed to address the needs of the people Dr. Saraki represented in the National Assembly as Senate President.
Dr. Saraki has left a legacy of effective legislation in the Nigeria National Assembly such that it has become his tenure has been rated as one of the best things that has happened to this country in recent time.