28th January, 2013
Muyiwa Ige, son of the late Chief Bola Ige and Osun State Commissioner for Lands, Rural and Urban Renewal, in this interview with JAMIU YISA speaks on the current development projects going on in the state and other issues
Let’s start with the compensation the state government is paying to owners of houses that were demolished for development purpose. What is the situation?
In Osun State, we don’t demolish, the process is separation, and that is better.
How is the compensation programme going?
It is going quite well. It is unprecedented. The manner in which we are going about it is commendable. We realised that the past administration, having been in government illegally for seven years, was not able to pay the compensation due to our people, the claimants. The one paid last year included even East by-pass road – a project that started off early 2000 and the enumeration was done in 2005.
Ogbeni, the governor, mandated that I should look into it, and that is because the outer road, the extension of the West by-pass, which is the East-by-pass, would be built by this administration. But before even commencing any work or even completing the designs, we must ensure that compensation is paid to the affected persons.
Then, there is the compensation on the Ipetu-Ijesha Air Force Base project. Ordinarily, it is the Ministry of Defence, the Federal government, that is supposed to be responsible for the compensation payment to those affected. But Mr. Governor, who is also in support of the initiative started by Air Chief Marshal Petirin, who by the grace of God is from Osun, took up the responsibility.
We have paid over N67 million and there is one model school being built in Oshogbo. In order for us to have a proper development – that is, for our children to have playing facilities, football fields, school farming facilities within an urban centre – we had to acquire some existing structures just to provide those facilities for the children in the public schools. And for overriding public interest, we had to acquire the structures around the school.
If you go to Alekuwodo now, you will see a remarkable improvement on what was there before. We still have four structures that are blocking the school which we still have to remove. So at the end of the day, those children going there, the less privileged, would have a school of international standard to attend.
Are you saying the compensation programme is almost achieved 100 per cent?
We have achieved it. We have even exceeded expectations because the Ipetu-Ijesha Air Force Base project was not the responsibility of the state government, but we paid it. Also when we started the rehabilitation of the train stations, because again, the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, has the responsibility to ensure that they have quality facilities for the passengers.
So, when you alight, you must come to a train station that is of relative standard and because we are a state of Omoluabi (responsible people), we are running a government unsual.
The governor said we should upgrade the station facilities and we approached NRC, telling them there are certain things that are not good enough for what we want to do. We cannot have slums within the corridor of a train station. There is going to be a garden with a nice trail, food court, a plaza, a lovely fountain, and parking space for about 400 cars at the train station. The experience of going to the station will be brought back; where families will come to the station and and have fun. With the Alekuwodo intervention also, at the end of the day the road would be a monumental road.
In other words, you are creating a mega city out of Osogbo?
Osogbo is unique. It was the commercial hub of Western Nigeria then, so we are trying to bring back the feeling of a wonderful environment. There is nothing wrong with doing things properly. With the urban renewal initiative that we are working on in nine cities, our cities will be very different in the next four months. The final plan has been submitted and once the Exco approves it, we are going to act quickly. We have a lot of work to do.
You have talked about capital-intensive projects. How is Osun getting the money?
Creativity! I mentioned what propels this administration – honour, integrity and ensuring that what you do is right for the good people of this state. Look at the O-YES programme, for example. Mr. Governor is paying about N200 million per month. The truth of the matter is its sense of duty and it is service to the people. It is also about leaving a legacy. Mr. Governor is somebody I would describe as having a date with destiny and he is conscious of it.
Let’s talk about you. When you became the commissioner, what was the most challenging issue you had to face in this ministry?
I came from the private sector, being the principal in my own firm. When I was abroad, I worked for a development agency. I was an architect for a transportation company. As a matter of fact, some of the experiences that I have had, I am bringing to bear.
I earlier talked about train stations. I used to design train stations in Chicago. I built, rehabilitated and made accessible 43 train stations. You can google and see some of the train stations. We are bringing some of the experiences to bear.
But the challenge was, how do you work with bureaucracy. We are running fast train and somebody is on ‘Keke NAPEP’! We must work hard, carry ourselves along, share the vision and also let the people know that the train is already out of the station.
Your father was a governor, now you are a commissioner. What are those things you have learnt from your father that prepared you for this office?
What my father had always taught us his children is: work hard, be dutiful, diligent, humble and be respectful. My mum, God bless her soul. Justice of the Court of Appeal. Highest ranking Yoruba woman in the judiciary at a time. The legacies they have left behind by the grace of God, may God be our helper, we will keep the flag flying.
.This article originally appeared in TheNEWS magazine of 04 February 2013