The Special Adviser to the Governor of the State of Osun on Environment & Sanitation; Hon Bola Ilori in an interview with our correspondents throws more lights to the motive behind the construction of Olajoku Park in Gbongan and the rationale behind the beautification project embarked upon by the Government of the State of Osun on the median from Asejire (border town of Osun & Oyo) to Owena (border town of Osun & Ondo). Enjoy reading.
What’s the motive behind the Hassan Olajoku Park?
For us, it is about extending the frontiers of development through environment. You know if you want to attract people to develop the economy, you have to attract people to spend in that economy and people don’t go to uninviting places. They want to feel welcome, relax and have a feeling that this is a place they can be.
This is why we are committing ourselves to ensuring that we extend the frontiers of development via environmental improvement which is what we are doing there. The political import of what we are doing there is also historical which is not lost on the people. It was at that particular spot that one of the big supporters of our movement to Osun, Hassan Olajoku was murdered while we were returning from a rally at Ilobu. We have every reason to believe that it was the government of the day then that perpetrated the act. So, the project is to eternally immortalise the Hassan Olajoku and shame those who thought that by killing him, they will kill the effort at taking over governance in the State of Osun. Those are some core reasons that informed the project.
This park was built by the government of the state of Osun for relaxation, pleasure, fun, resort and basically to boost the economy of the state through the environmental improvement.
But above all the park is the symbol of peace, of a new era devoid of violence and political mischief because the very place where this park stands today is the spot where 8 years ago the blood of an innocent man was brutally shed by those who in the name of politics thought they could stop the wind of revolution from blowing, the wind of change, the wind of progress which the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola represents.
Olajoku was a pillar in the original Oranmiyan group, a prominent and proud son of Ilobu land, a doting father and a good friend. It was in the course of pursuing this virile vision of developing the state of Osun in all ramifications that he met his death in a brutal way by unknown gunmen on May 15th 2005 ,at Gbongan Junction, osun state at the age of 58 years.
Olajoku is the reason we would all be gathered on Wednesday 15th May, 2013 exactly 8 years anniversary of his death, to dedicate this park in his Memory at the exact spot he was murdered and show the entire world that the state of Osun is indeed Ipinle Omoluabi.
Don’t forget that Gbongan is a major gateway to the state capital, Osogbo and the park will serve as rest point for people travelling through the road to Ibadan. I mean that people, after such travelling, will want to relax, eat pounded yam, bush meat, drink some palm wine and do whatever they want to do. So we are creating a nice place for people to rest in healthy, nice looking, highly refreshing, inviting and welcoming environment with modern facilities that are comparable to those anywhere in the world.
What will be the major features of the park?
We are going to have joints for local delicacies such as Amala and pounded yam. For the elite, we are having fast food outlets to take care of continental dishes.
It is not only about food. We are having artefact display where people can actually explore and see the relics. So for us, it is also a tourist centre. We also have some playing stuff for children to be able to relax. So, it is both adult and child friendly park.
We also have a police station there for security because if you know the history of the place and what led to the death of somebody at that particular place, then there is need for a proper security to be put in place. We are building a police station that will be well equipped. These are some of the features you will have at the park.
Is project going to be revenue generating? What about the issue of maintenance?
It is for us to push forward to advance the frontiers for the economic development as I have said earlier, which means that we have revenue generation at the back of our minds but I wouldn’t go with that. It is not just about generating money at the park but generating business for the community; that’s the major duty of government; to create wealth for the people and not just create wealth for itself. So it isn’t all about people paying at the park. How much will they pay? They will pay some amount but that’s not even the major benefit to us. We want to see the ability of our people to engage in economic activities. We want to see people doing Adire business which is the major occupation here; we want to see hunters displaying bush meat for people to buy; people coming to eat assorted foods on display, drink pure water, palm wine and juice, eat different kinds of fruits. These are the core things we are promoting, so it is not just about how much they pay at the park. The park is free to enter but when you eat there you will pay, you are not paying to the government you are paying to the people of Osun State which is the concept we are looking at economically.
On issue of maintenance, there will be a facility manager who will be the head of administration in the place. This is a major centre with an event centre for social outings as well as a viewing centre which will display the rich cultural heritage and tourist attractions in Osun State. These will give our visitors deep knowledge of the state. It also have a Conference Room for retreat and so on. These are the key features you will see at Hassan Olajoku Park and a facility manager and other staff will be on ground to ensure that sanity prevails there.
Coming through Ibadan to Osogbo, we noticed that the median is being cleared by O’CLEAN people. What is the motive for this?
We are trying out something that has never been done here in Nigeria, where people can drive through 10 to 30 kilometres properly done highway. That’s all we are trying to do; we wrote and got the approval of the Federal Government that we want to take over the highway.
We are afraid of the safety implication of having bush on the median with vehicles not having proper view of the other side of the road and you know armed robbers can just spring from nowhere and throw something on the road to attack drivers and motorists. This is why we decided to take over the median for the benefit of our people. What you now see is that the bushes on the median are being cleared and beautified with manured flowers and good landscaping all the way from Asejire to Gbongan. Now, there is no place for armed robbers or hoodlums to hide and in few months time, that area will be comparable to anywhere in the world. The most, important thing is that we wrote and got the approval of the Federal Government to avoid any acrimony.
The project has now been extended to other towns like Gbogan and Ikire; which other towns are you extending your projects to?
Let us be through with this. This is taking us to Owena. We are now beyond Gbogan which is Waka-jaye junction and we are going to Owena which is our boundary with Ondo State. This means we are taking it from our boundary with Oyo State to Ondo State boundary; that’s the entire stretch of Osun State on the highway. So, it is not just one, two, three local governments, it is taking the entire stretch which is about 190 kilometres.
Also, we are looking at taking some inner cities of Iwo, Ilesha and Ife. We are still doing more in other areas but you know you can’t finish everything in a day. That’s how we want to be progressive and move on. We are doing a whole lot things in Osogbo now but we don’t want to be like some other state governments that concentrate all their efforts just on the capital city and they will bring camera there and say they are working whereas other parts of the state are not even witnessing anything.
Here, now on this stretch, we are covering Isokan, Oyewole, Aiyedade and Atakumosa; so it isn’t just about one Local Government, it is about so several Local Governments.