This year Nigeria celebrated her over 20 years of returning to a democratic system of governance after several years of the military interruptions. From social commentators to public affairs analysts, there are reasons for celebration and reflecting on the socioeconomic and political development that occurred during the years. In this piece, our analyst spoke with Ganiyu Maroof Babatunde (GMB), an Estate Surveyor and Valuer, and a Community Development enthusiast. To him, delivering sustainable projects in villages, towns and cities should not be seen as mere rhetoric during electioneering campaigns. He also believes that political leaders and individuals, who have interest in the growth and development of their communities need to be constantly reminded of the essence of facilitating or initiating projects.
Tekedia: Since the return of Nigeria to democratic governance in 1999, a number of developments have been witnessed across the country’s six geopolitical zones. How would you describe infrastructure development in the South West region so far?
GMB: Before now, we’ve not been fortunate to have a government that’s ready to develop infrastructure in Nigeria and not to talk of South West. Our region was the first to produce the President in 1999 and throughout the 8 years, no meaningful infrastructural development was found in any state in the zone including the National assets that will be beneficial to us. This trend was on till 2015 and not until the government was changed from the previous party, we may not be able to point to any reasonable infrastructure in the South West. In a nutshell, there’s an ongoing development on the level of infrastructure and if this trend continues, we’ll get there as soon as possible.
Tekedia: Would you say the political parties that have governed and still governing Osun state have done well compared to the same parties in other states within the South West region?
GMB: Initially, the party that governed Osun state tried their best but, their best failed to be the best for the state. Throughout their tenure, we hardly seen any meaningful infrastructure in the state and little was also facilitated from the Federal Government. The allocation then only meant for salary payment and no provision for road construction, water supply, and others community projects needed.
Fast-forwarding to the era of another party, we started seeing a few roads construction, renovation of dilapidated structures and initiating of new projects, which the present government is building upon. However, we may not be able to compare some states being ruled by the same party mainly because of their individual peculiarity and political antecedents. Some states have resources than the other which automatically gave them an edge in infrastructural development than others, but all the same, the state is trying its best based on the available resources in their disposal.
Tekedia: Let us examine the development across senatorial districts and federal constituencies in Osun State. What are your views about the development so far?
GMB: There are 3 senatorial districts in every state and Osun state will not be exempted and if go by the present infrastructural development so far, we still have a long way to go. Presently, all the major roads in Osun state yet to meet the require standards and even the inner roads in each district can’t be proud of.
The recent development has shown we’re getting it right and the new Federal College of Education in Iwo, Osun West and the recent Federal University of Health and Science in Ila, Osun Central is clear indication that Osun state are ably represented at the Federal level.
Although, we’ve many Federal projects going on in the state and at the same time expecting many Federal roads to be done in the state, but the bottom line here is that we’re gradually moving towards a better infrastructure in the state, but if truth must be told, it’s not yet enough and we’ll never relent in our efforts to ask for what belong to us.
Tekedia: Does it mean that your views about the delay in bringing rapid developments to towns, cities and villages as expected, despite promises during electioneering campaigns, led to the creation of the Save Iwoland Group (SIG)? What is the strategic mission of the group?
GMB: Actually, the birth of the Save Iwoland Group was formed based on a passion to create a platform to develop the community. From time immemorial, I’ve been thinking of having a forum with a like mind to have impacts on the community and couple with the present condition of the major road networks in our land including many moribund assets unattended to led to this official launching of this group.
Sincerely speaking, many promises were made to us in Iwoland but it’s unfortunate that after 3 years of governance, all the promises made yet to be fulfilled up till now. And, what really baffle me was that nobody is speaking against it and we hope if we refused to speak now, we may not be able to speak again since the time for another electioneering is almost near.
However, the objectives of the group include; identification of possible projects that will be beneficial to the people of Iwoland, calling attention of the relevant stakeholders to moribund assets and projects and facilitating new projects. We hope to achieve these using our home and abroad resources.
Tekedia: Considering that a significant number of socio-political groups are in existence in Iwoland, working towards socioeconomic and political advancements of the region, what are the differentiating factors of your group and how do you want to achieve your aims?
GMB: Yes, we have many groups already existing with a related objective, infant I’ve once launched the Iwoland Development Forum (IDF), through the platform we did Iwoland Political Summit in 2017. Apart from that, I also belong to others which I have been following their activities so far.
But the Save Iwoland Group is unique with a specific task solely for the development of the community and this is one of the areas where the differentiating factor will come in. Our approach will be purely research based with a developmental template to guide us. We’re going to inaugurate Ward Development Ambassadors (WDA) in all the 35 Wards in Iwoland and at the same time inaugurate another set of LG Development Ambassadors in each of the 3 local governments in Iwoland.
Their major roles will be to help us to identify which project needed to be fixed through infrastructure assessment survey to be done in the entire Iwoland and came up with a communique that will be presented to the stakeholders that can help us develop Iwoland. In summary, the Save Iwoland Group will shake Iwoland with his new initiative and the entire Osun state because it’ll be a vehicle to drive developments to our land.