Completion of airport project in August will make Ekiti an agricultural hub in the southwest — Adunmo, Fayemi’s SA
Special Advisor to the Governor of Ekiti State on Road Infrastructure and Coordinator of the Rural Appraisal and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Mr. Sunday Adunmo in this interview with ‘YOMI AYELESO speaks on the various interventions of the Kayode Fayemi administration on infrastructure and the importance of the ongoing construction of a cargo airport for the State.
Massive road construction and rehabilitation is underway across the state, less than two months from the gubernatorial election. Is the government doing all this because of the upcoming election?
Let me start by saying that when Dr. Kayode Fayemi was sworn in in 2018, one of the things he said was to prioritize certain roads across the state, which he did in taking notice of the roads connecting the local government areas of the state and we chose one in each of the three senatorial districts. There is the Agbado-Ode-Omuo road with a 36 meter bridge at the Egbe dam. Then we chose the Ilupeju-Ire-Igbemo-Ijan route. It is the road connecting the northern quarter to the southern. Also, we chose Ayede-Oye-Isan-Ikun on the border of Kwara State. Also, we chose the Aramoko-Ekit-Erijiyan route. These are the routes that have been selected. You can also see the dualization of Ado-Iyin Road. You know how awful this place was. It cut travel time from 12 kilometers to seven kilometers, cutting around five kilometers. Despite the economy of the country, the governor has always built these seven roads which cost billions of naira at a time in a state like Ekiti. Notice, between the two, the Ado-Iworoko road appeared, which is still going on as we speak with the street lamp in Iworoko. Meanwhile, we have Ikole Township Road coming. So let me tell you, there was never a time when we stopped working, even during Covid-19 which nearly brought the economy to a standstill. We don’t want to give up on any project, hence the continued work across the state.
But despite all these interventions, federal highways across the state, including the Ado-Akure highway, are in a deplorable state. What is the state government doing to get the federal government to look after these roads?
We have defined the federal roads, but we have not been able to define the federal being. You and I are from Ekiti, working and living in the state. We have a few roads that are federally owned but it will be difficult for you to know which are federally owned and which are state owned. But let’s be clear: of nearly 4,000 kilometers of roads in Ekiti, only 137 kilometers belong to the federal government. Questions were raised, suggestions were made, briefs were submitted on what classifies a highway as a federal highway. One of the roads that used to be federal roads is the road from Ipetu-Ijesa to Ogotun to Igbara-Odo to Ado through Ilumoba to Ijan. Also, Ode Agbado to Omuo was a federal road before. The Oye-Ayede-Isan-Ikun road, where we intervened, belongs to the federal government as it connects the border of Kwara State. But as we speak, it was the state government that did the repair and reconstruction. Go to Ilawe-Igbaraodo-Ibuji Road, it is a road connecting Ondo State, which is supposed to be a federal road but is now a national road, on which the state government spends money .
The Ado-Ikere-Akure road is a federal road. We recently had a meeting with the federal Department of Public Works. When Governor Fayemi became concerned, he met his Ondo State counterpart, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, and said that this road belongs to the federal government but we don’t have federal beings here; the people on the road are our people. Due to the lack of funds, the two governors jointly approached the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the president of the bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, graciously agreed to help them facilitate it, but they agreed that they would toll the road as part of the refund. plans. Unfortunately, the federal government declared that the road belonged to them and therefore would not allow the two states to charge for it.
The problem now is that the construction areas are in the Akure section, clearing and the rest will take time before demolition. When these things are finished, I can tell you that construction will begin in full. If you go on the road, the contractors work according to the funds they have, but when the ADB releases the money to the federal government, the works will be massive on the road. Most of these federal roads need total reconstruction, not repairs, because they are terribly bad.
It looks like this year is going to be ambitious for the state government in terms of road projects, but considering that the Governor’s term will end by the second week of October, do you think some of these projects will emerge?
Ordinarily, government is a continuum, regardless of which party comes to power. Like the RAMP project in which we are embarking, we have been working on it for three years. The project became effective this month and we have pilot work underway. We have six projects; two in each of the senatorial constituencies. When the project started, someone signed the agreement. Someone has been working to make it a reality and we are starting full. Will it become an abandoned project? The answer is no because it is funded by the World Bank, AfDB and the state government. Contractors are working and these projects should be completed by October. Look at the Ajebamdele-Omisanjana road which the builders have been calling for for years, it is among the projects that should be done this year. Watch Moferere at agric Olope in Ado-Ekiti; works are also underway on the Ikere-Ilawe road. Nobody prays that they are abandoned because they are projects intended to develop, enhance and promote Ekiti.
One of this year’s ambitious projects is the airport for which the government has given a completion date of August. Is it doable and how will it improve Ekiti’s economy?
I am satisfied with the question. Life is a process and believe me, we are looking at Ekiti of tomorrow, not Ekiti of today. Some people say that we don’t need an airport in Ekiti, but let me start answering them like this: ours is a cargo airport, a 3.2 kilometer runway which is already finished. The stone base is in progress, the asphalt is in progress. Indeed, a massive construction takes place there. The foundations of the terminal are laid and I can tell you that the August date is sacrosanct. We are making this place an agricultural hub, a place of connectivity. Do not forget that we have the emblematic Afe Babalola University very close to the airport, and in front we have the state knowledge area, which we call the city of knowledge where we have an industrial park. Beyond that is where we have the last train stop coming soon, by the grace of God. We regard Ekiti as the agricultural center of Nigeria. Look at the government’s investment in agriculture and that’s why we’re building the airport. We’re looking at how we’re going to get all of our agricultural products out because if we’re investing heavily in agriculture, then you have to wonder how to get these goods out. That’s the point. We want to feed the Southwest and even the nation with our products. We have an airport which will serve its advantages. This is called the agro-allied airport. It is different from the conventional airport we have in Akure. Thanks to the airport, we are making Ekiti the agricultural hub of Nigeria.
Do you think these efforts by the state government are enough to ensure the victory of the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party, Biodun Oyebanji, in the June 18 poll?
Well, let the people of the state decide that. It’s a state that another party had previously ruled, let’s compare that party with the APC for the past three and a half years. Go to every town and village in Ekiti. We are talking about hospitals, new schools, not just renovations. In all sectors, including human development, you will see the impact of the current administration. Ekiti happens to be one of the states with the best road networks. That’s why people are asking for continuity, to improve on what we’ve built. Like you said earlier the routes that are assigned, maybe we couldn’t finish them all until October, due to uncontrollable circumstances, we need someone to finish them and add to them value. We want a friendly government that will attract more intervention to the state. This is why we want APC government. It is very important and thank God for the candidate we have at Biodun Oyebanji, he is a unifier. He is someone who knows what to do at the right time, because he was part of the success story we are talking about in this government. He was part of the creation, of what we do now and what is to come in the future.