Ogun State looms like a gothic platitude of pain and death from its transit townships but the “Gateway State” is Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s bower of bliss. There, in his stately Eden, he lives immune and insensate to the ravages of ill-will and pent-up fury tearing the natives apart from inside out. Governor Amosun must be having a blast inside the Government House at Oke Mosan. He does not have to rise and retire to his bed everyday wondering if he would die along the deadly stretch of Lagos-Abeokuta highway, particularly at the spots where innocent children, mothers, fathers – dependants and breadwinners – die like stray fowls, accidentally or by installments, in his administrative landmine.
Governor Amosun’s loved ones are extremely lucky; unlike the mother who left home with her three children only for them to be brought back as mangled corpses from an accident, caused by bad road, to the deceased’s husband. Amosun is certainly favoured by the ‘gods,’ unlike the bereaved families who sent their wards to school only to receive news that they had been crushed to death by a steel container in a gory accident along the Sagamu-Benin expressway. Is Governor Amosun neglecting that death trap because it is a ‘federal road?’ If that is the case, is Governor Amosun solely remunerated from revenue he makes from Ogun State or from the ‘federal purse?’
Governor Amosun is one lucky dude as he does not have to live up to the promise he made to the poor, hopeless pupils of the Community Primary School, off Agoro road, Owode-Titun, Ota, Ogun State. One year and six months after they lost their classrooms to a violent rain squall, most of the 740 pupils have been learning with tears, under a crooked shed held together by wooden poles and corrugated iron sheets. The school’s Parents Teachers Association (PTA) constructed the shed last year when it was clear that the state government will not come to the children’s rescue. Although Governor Amosun promised to rebuild the school when his campaign train visited the area to seek re-election, he has since forgotten his promise and the area.
Thus through scorching sun blaze and violent rain squalls, the pupils huddle together helplessly, in futile lunges for comfort and cover from the ravages of nature, tearing at their fragile frames. For the only public primary school in the community, the descent into decay started in May last year, when a rainstorm blew off the roof of the block of six classrooms and the staff room. The storm also tore off the entire side of the building. Yet Governor Amosun conveniently forgets the sad fate of the poor pupils of Community Primary School in Owode-Titun, Ota.
Some cratered meters from the school, the stars are still a backdrop for the inhuman condition at Owode junction, just before you get to Ifo. Is Governor Amosun waiting for that expedient moment of disaster or road mishap of immense magnitude to occur before he swoops in with a bereaved mien and overzealous aides, to misappropriate anguish where he feels none?
The natives of Ijoko, Agoro, Ijako, Iyana-Ilogbo, Ilepa, Ijoko, Alade, Oju Ore, Ilo-Awela, Elekunmefa, Imise, Onihale, Singer, Lusada, Ewekoro, Atan-Ota and Igbesa to mention a few, are still dying slowly and accidentally, from the perils of plying their muddy and badly cratered roads and there is still ugliness in Lafenwa, Aiyetoro, Olugbode and various communities along Itele road.
From a distance, the piercing and indiscriminate glare of sunlight and moonshine desecrate these townships like tombs slipshodly carved along the graying highway that leads to Abeokuta, Ogun State’s capital city. Closer, the people and houses in the communities take shape like a stream of accidental shadows, their hard noises striking one’s face and making the senses numb with jarring clarity. It is their noiseless undertones that however, evoke intense feelings of awe and curiosity. Sad desperate glances of the natives inspire a thirst for buried narratives that they miserably learn to endure as unreal jests made by death.
Guess his Excellency in Ogun State, has learnt to glance without flinching at the straggle of human suffering emblematic of the pale ghost of his “Gateway State.” Wonder if he is unaware of the deaths and squalor across the townships; wonder if he knows that there are schools with better structures, histories, progressive and ideological foundations that deserve as much attention and support as he is currently giving his model schools’ phantasm; wonder if he simply chooses to ignore the descent of the tourist tracts where decay and death spit venom at the hapless citizenry, like Siamese cobras every day.
Governor Amosun is probably unmoved to affect heart-felt responses to the malaise. Perhaps he is making spirited gestures even as you read to extend citizenry-centred governance cum democratic dividends to the disillusioned natives of the state. Perhaps he just doesn’t know how to go about it.
Ignorance is not an excuse for denying the citizenry good governance and their fundamental human rights. It is no longer tenable to hoodwink the citizenry by chants of ‘Change’ and platitudinous avowal to abolish squalor and foster general prosperity; time has revealed what section of the citizenry such ideological ‘life boat’ solutions are meant to deceive. It shall no longer be “politically expedient” to neglect a class of the governed just because, by will or circumstance, they inhabit parts of state the ruling class would rather not lose sleep over; except at the time of election or re-election.
Governor Amosun is spending his second term in office which makes it even more dangerous for the APC to maintain dominance in Ogun State if he fails. When the party eventually presents its candidates for public offices in 2019, what glowing achievements will it point to as Amosun’s legacy and reasons why it should be given the people’s mandate again? The oft over-hyped and derided bridges and roads in Abeokuta? Or the equally contentious model school projects? These familiar arguments have gotten too old now and they are infinitely strange to the poor citizenry braving the perils of the state’s townships every day.
Life in Ogun State’s townships is in grave decline. Together, these neglected tracts constitute an ambiguous ‘sick rose’ accentuating Ogun State’s descent into a food for worms even as you read. Though a sick rose, Ogun State is manouvered to mimic a growth cycle in the hands of Amosun and amid the rabid PR blitz launched and managed by Camp Amosun.
That is why the state government will do nothing even if foreign investors cum fortune hunters like cement giant, LafargeWAPCO Plc, subjects its host communities to terminal death, by its dangerous production activities, in desperate pursuit of profit. (It is instructive to note that LafargeWAPCO perpetrates in Ogun State, atrocities it wouldn’t dare commit in France and other European nations but that is a discussion for another day.)
Ogun State’s manifestation as a sick rose satirizes Governor Amosun’s preferred portraits of it as a bower of bliss. It reveals an inner hostility; the governor’s flirtatious art of concealment necessitates that truth’s approach must take the form of a rape. If not, the people of Ogun State will continue to die by the onslaught of the conqueror maggots of hypocrisy, neglect, arrant betrayal and underdevelopment afflicting the state.
Does Governor Amosun, like too many of his peers, consider truth as he hates to see it, as a perverse fetish? Does he believe that any critique or contradiction of his gospel of ‘Change’ is a swerve from goodwill and fruitfulness? If so, his much celebrated ‘Change’ project is diametrically opposed to the APC’s gospel of ‘Change.’
- To be continued…