Ogun State Denies Unfulfilled Promises Allegations, 'Protest Vote' Threat in 2015

AGAINST the background of the mobilization for protest votes in Ogun State against Governor Ibikunle Amosun in the 2015 gubernatorial election, over alleged unfulfilled election promises and frauds being perpetuated in the popular and innovative Ogun Homeowners' Programme, except drastic and positive steps were taken between now and election period to put things in order, the State Government has reacted swiftly to some of the allegations being used to hatch protest vote against it.

Some of the notable unfulfilled promises that are being used for this purpose include the tardy execution of roads, uncompleted water projects, healthcare centres and schools among others.

One of the roads being cited as a glaring evidence of some of the unfulfilled promises, which in fact, is an annoying disappointment, is the 7.5 kilometre roads from the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway into Magboro community.

The road, The Guardian gathered, is supposed to be a Broadway, which, when completed, is expected to serve as a high traffic access road from the Mountain of Fire and Miracles (Prayer City) location on the Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, through Magboro to Abule-Oba and then terminates at Ifo area of the state.

The first phase of the road is the 7.5 kilometre length from Lagos-Ibadan Expressway into Magboro and ends at Obule-Oba. The contract for the construction of the road was awarded by Senator Amosun's government as a fulfillment of his campaign promise, 10 months after he was sworn in as the governor of the state in 2011.

The road, according to one of the aggrieved barristers, was widely announced to be a four-lane broad way and this was publicly declared in a Punch Newspaper advertorial in 2011.

He said the chiefs and Bales in the various settlements that comprised Magboro community were told by the governor at a parley that except the owners of the houses that would be demolished during the construction of the wide road agree to forfeit their compensations, government would not embark on the road because of lack of funds to pay compensations.

The traditional rulers, according to a prominent Alhaji in the area, humbly complied with the governor's request and contacted the owners of the affected houses and they (house owners) accepted to sacrifice the portions of their properties that would be affected if that would be the price they would pay for the laudable project to come to reality.

"But the government disappointed the people when, after the demolition of some houses, it failed to construct the promised four-lane broadway but instead embarked on providing a narrow 7.5 kilometre one-lane road that has not been completed since three years that the project was started," the Alhaji said.

Those threatening to persuade the electorate to cast protest votes, also accused the government of encouraging fraud in the ongoing homeowners' charter programme. They tendered documents and receipts of payments made to Ogun State Government treasury for the procurement of C-of-O, which the government had refused to issue to them and without explanation. They alleged that the homeowners' programme was designed to extort money from the people.

For example, those who earlier made the required payments into the government's treasury with receipts to back up such payments, even before the introduction of Homeowners' Scheme, were being asked to comply with the new payment under the programme. And the people who have got their C-of-Os were being asked to surrender the same because they were issued in error against the law on property within the 2-kilometre corridor acquisition along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, right from Shagamu interchange to the Lagos border of the Expressway.

Letters from the Bureau of Lands and Survey, Office of the Governor, in Abeokuta, the state capital were also being used to garner support for the protest vote movement.

Also being effectively used to convince the people for the protest vote is the government's acquired lands, which former governor Gbenga Daniel's administration rescinded. They claimed that the same lands are now being re-acquired by Senator Amosun's administration after collecting N15,000 each from those who built houses on the lands through the applications forms they obtained under the homeowners programme. The complaints are legion.

Reacting to the allegations, the Special Adviser and Director-General, Lands and Survey, Ogun State, Mr. Adewale Oshinowo told The Guardian on phone that there was no truth on the allegation that C-of-Os that were once issued were being retrieved or seized from people for whatever reasons, even though The Guardian pointed out to him that photocopies of some of such cases were already in circulation.

He said issuance of C-of-O to applicants can be affected by the applicant's failure to produce tax clearance, evidence of payment of stamp duty etc, and that the document can be denied the applicant whose property falls within government's committed acquisition or under high tension electric wires.

On the homeowners' programme, he disclosed that come first week of November 2014, over 1,000 new C-of-Os would be issued to the people whose applications have been processed under the homeowners' scheme. He gave assurance that Governor Amosun would investigate some of the allegations and do something positive about them. He appealed to those with genuine complaints to direct them to him for prompt action.

The Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, who also spoke to The Guardian on phone, explained that the homeowners' programme is meant for people who built their houses illegally without approval of the building plan and also those who built on government's acquired lands.

He said that apart from forming an integral part of the government's mission to rebuild the state, the scheme was designed to provide data for the medium-term planning for provision of roads, schools, hospitals and other essential services.

"The scheme would ensure that all penalties and fines that are normally levied against those who build houses without approvals and Certificates of Occupancy would be waived. It also relaxes the documentation requirements and fees are discounted so that many residents, especially those who would otherwise not be able to afford it, can benefit from the programme," he said.

Properties that are not eligible are those that are built under Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) high-tension cables and those occupying Right-of-way of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline.

Others are those on the 'set-back' of roads, water bodies and gullies, as well as those built on flood plains or areas that are committed acquisitions, or that are substandard or defective.

But in one of the letters from the Bureau of Lands and Survey, Abeokuta, which the protest vote mobilization team tendered titled: "Ratification of title on landed property within 2-kilometre corridor acquisition, along Magboro Road, Magboro, Ogun State," it was stated that, "because the recipient of the letter's property falls within the government committed acquisition of 2KLM CORRIDOR of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, from Shagamu Interchange to Lagos border, further processing of the applicant's application for land title ratification had been suspended."

What this means in effect is that all those houses within 2 kilometres on both sides of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway from Shagamu Interchange to Lagos border are not qualified for C-of-O. But the house owners in these affected places have paid N15, 000 to obtain the homeowners' forms.

Other communities include Sango, Sango-Ota, Magboro, Ifo, Ogijo, Ojodu, Alagbole, Ado Odo Ota, Oke-Odan, Akute, Agbado, Agbara, Ijoko and others.


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