By Babs-Oluribigbe Adeoye
At 77, Rashidi Ladoja, the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland, by every standard is a fulfilled and happy man.
Today in Southwest politics, Ladoja remains an icon, even though he had withdrawn himself from partisan politics, yet many politicians, young and old across the country approach him for advice and support.
The elderstateman, without any iota of doubt is now seen as the capo di tuti in South-west, particularly in Oyo politics.
A major focus of the former governor of Oyo state while in the saddle between 2003 and 2007 was to industrialise the state and made it attains its rightful position among the federating units of Nigeria. That’s just the dream and vision of this uncommon administrator and manager of men that made the people of Oyo state up till today never forget his administration in a hurry.
Going after a dream is like climbing a mountain, according to a prolific writer, Dr. John Maxwell. It is even said a task without a vision is drudgery. A vision without a task is daydreaming. But a task with a vision is the pathway to victory and achievement.
After dissecting his interview with some selected journalists at his Bodija, Ibadan residence during his 75th birthday, where he elaborated on his political life and business sojourn on earth, this writer came to a conclusion that the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland has really paid for his dream and vision in life both as a private businessman and his public life.
During his tenure as the governor, Ladoja instituted lots of developmental projects both in infrastructure and human capital. Some of the projects became moribund after left the government house.
Thanks to His Excellency, the governor of Oyo State, Engr Seyi Makinde who had seized the opportunity to revamp some of those projects started by Ladoja, considered a great boost to the state’s economy.
One of the landmark projects mooted by Ladoja’s administration which supposedly should have benefited and brought about infrastructural transformation in Oyo state is the circular road network.
The people of Oyo state will forever be grateful to Ladoja for this great idea which he mooted and embarked upon before he left government. If not for the unnecessary political instability created by the enemies of progress at the time, which gave no allowance for enough time for his administration, the project would have been completed long time ago.
The reason for conceptualizing this idea by Ladoja’s administration was to improve the public transportation system in the city. Though late Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s administration keyed into it and tried to bring the project back to life, but due to poor monitoring, the project became stagnant, no thanks to the incompetence of the original contractor of the project.
Nevertheless, Makinde administration in its strive to remodel and modernise Ibadan city in seized the initiative by re-awarding work on the Ibadan Circular Road project and re-negotiated the scope of the work and the amount to be spent on it.
Another significant feat that would be making Ladoja happy at this time is the revamping of Asphalt Plant, Ijaiye by the administration of Governor Makinde. The project was conceived primarily to produce the asphalt for road projects in the state, boost the economy and create jobs. So, it is on record that massive road construction began in Oyo state during Ladoja’s tenure.
Ladoja’s administration started the project which later became moribund due to the “I don care attitude” of succeeding administrations. During his tenure, the plant was established to contribute to the economy of the state and helped reduced the cost of materials for road construction.
When Makinde visited the site, three months after assumption of office, precisely July 3, 21019, for an on spot assessment, he clearly saw the need to bring it back to life. Ten months later, a day to his first year in office, the governor handed over the Pacesetter Quarry and Asphalt Plant, to a private company, Carboncor Road Technology Ltd as concessionaires in a public-private partnership arrangement. The arrangement was to generate funds for the state government, create jobs and also, produce the asphalt for road projects in the state.
So, by December 2020, the quarry and asphalt company was revived by the present administration in Oyo state. Today, Pacesetter Quarry and Asphalt Limited Company is contributing to the economy of the State by generating revenue, providing jobs and raw materials needed to construct roads.
One needs to see the joy in Ladoja’s face when he accompanied the governor on assessment visit to the site, commending the governor for ensuring the plant was resuscitated.
Felt fulfilled, the former governor said, ““It is a dream comes true. The work of the Governor is to dream, get people around him to execute the dream. We dreamt and it came into fruition at that tenure and it was working. Now that this administration came in, and they made it work, what do you think I should do? How do you think I will feel? I am very happy that my dream did not die.”
In another development, one of the populist programmes of the present administration is the prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ gratuities, thus earned Makinde the tag workers-friendly governor.
Every civil servant in the state will readily agree that they first enjoyed prompt and timely payment of full salaries to both civil servants and pensioners during the tenure of Ladoja as governor between 2003 and 2007.
The greatest challenge faced by civil servant since Ladoja left office in 2007 was irregular payment of salaries to workers, thus left many backlog of salary arrears. The situation from 2007 till 2019 degenerated into such a deplorable situation, that at a time we have some local government councils owing as much as 13 months backlog of salary arrears. In a situation where salaries are not paid, how can any worker think of getting leave bonus, or housing loan?
So the vision which Ladoja brought to governance and started but later jettisoned by succeeding government are seen to be resuscitated by the current government led by Engr Seyi Makinde.
Over the years, even after leaving office as the Executive governor of Oyo State, Ladoja has continued to live a moderate life, use his life to engender bridges of love and harmony both at the state and national level. He continues to availing successive governments in Oyo state of his wise counsel, and demonstrating unwavering faith and willingness to partner with others of like minds to bring about development and stable polity. This he has been constantly doing in his quest to serve humanity.
Wishing him many happy returns!