In response to criticisms from an opposition leader, the Ogun State Government has defended its decision to construct a light rail system in the state.
The government said the light rail project signed with the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company,CCECC, last week was a contractor-finance arrangement using long-term development fund which would open the state’s economy to investments and create employment opportunities for the youth.
The government, in a statement on Sunday by its Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the views expressed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last governorship elections, Gboyega Isiaka, as a reflection of his ignorance and narrow world view about developments, even within Nigeria.
According to the government, any economy where goods and services cannot be easily moved from one point to another is doomed and the rail system has proved to be the best means of mass movement. It said the railway system is equally the easiest way to preserve, safeguard and complement the new road network now emerging in Ogun State.
It added that with the federal and neighbouring Lagos State governments commencing the construction of a light rail network, Ogun State needs to key into it so as not to be deprived of the resultant benefits.
“Ogun State, by signing the contract with CCECC is only joining a network that both the Federal and Lagos Governments are about to create. That is why we are using the same contractor as them. This will save money, time and ensure compatibility,the statement said.
“We are surprised that Mr. Isiaka did not know about the proposed light rail until last week. We publicly signed the Memorandum of Understanding in 2013 so that the contractor could prepare the design for us. The design was in fact featured prominently in the 2014 state calendar and other publications of the State Government”, the government noted.
The government asked Mr. Isiaka to seek information before going public, saying there were minutes of the Executive Council and other records which indicated that the administration had done elaborate preliminary studies and held necessary discussions before embarking on the project.
It said the statement by Mr. Isiaka describing the rail project as a misplaced priority was a reflection of his ‘myopic’ world view.
“We are a forward – looking, progressive administration. Our plans is to create a modern, agro-based, industrialised and developed state. The light rail project is central to achieving this.
“However, we need to remind Mr. Isiaka that constructing a rail project does not disturb investment in other social services. Our Rebuilding Mission in all other areas will not be disturbed in any way. That is why as late as last month, we still commissioned a new block of classrooms in Arepo town, Obafemi Owode Local Government Area.
“We believe the time for campaign is over. The people have made their choice. It is good that Mr. Isiaka has gone to the Election Petition Tribunal. We shall meet him in the court room. Our advice to him is that he should allow the judiciary to do their work while he keeps his cool and stop making prejudicial statements.”