At 77, Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja, is a fulfilled and happy man by every standard.
Although, he has quit partisan politics, Ladoja remains an icon in South West politics. Many politicians, young and old, across the country approach him for advice and support.
The elder stateman, without any iota of doubt is now seen as the capo di tutti in South West, particularly in Oyo State politics.
While in the saddle as governor of Oyo State between 2003 and 2007, the focus of the high chief was to industrialise the state and enusure it attains its rightful position as the pacesetter in the country. That is the dream and vision of this uncommon administrator and manager of men that made the residents of Oyo State to continue talking about his administration.
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 while vision without a task is daydreaming. But a task with a vision is the pathway to victory and achievement.
After issecting his interview with some selected journalists at his Bodija, Ibadan residence during his 75th birthday, where he elaborated on his political life and business, I came to a conclusion that the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland has really paid for his dream and vision in life-both private businessman and public life.
During his tenure as governor, Ladoja initiated lots of developmental projects on infrastructure and human capital development. Some of the projects became moribund after he left the Agodi Government House.
Thanks to Governor Seyi Makinde, who had seized the opportunity to revamp some of those projects started by Ladoja.
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 Ibadan circular road network.
The people of Oyo State will forever be grateful to Ladoja for this great project which he 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, the Makinde administration in its strive to remodel and modernise Ibadan city seized the initiative by re-awarding and re-negotiating the scope of the Ibadan Circular Road project.
Another significant feat that would be making Ladoja happy at this time is the revamping of Asphalt Plant in Ijaiye by the administration of Governor Makinde. The project was conceived primarily to produce the asphalt for road projects, boost the economy and create jobs for the teeming population of the state. 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’t care attitude” of the successive administrations. During his tenure, the plant was established to contribute to the economy of the state and help reduce the cost of materials for road construction.
When Makinde visited the site, three months after assumption of office, precisely July 3, 2019, for an on the 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 for road projects.
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.
The former governor said: “It is a dream come true. The work of the governor is to dream, get people around him to execute the dream. We dreamt and it came into fruition in 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 programme of the present administration is the prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ gratuities, earning 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 servants’ since Ladoja left office in 2007 was irregular payment of salaries to workers, thereby leaving backlog of salary arrears. The situation between 2007 and 2019 became deplorable, that at a time we have some local government councils owing as much as 13 months 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 Ladoja brought to governance and started but later jettisoned by successive governments is being resuscitated by the Makinde administration.
Over the years, even after leaving office as the Executive governor of Oyo State, Ladoja has continued to live a moderate life, using his life to engender love and harmony both at the state and national level. He continues to avail successive governments in Oyo State his wise counsel, and demonstrate unwavering faith and willingness to partner with people of like minds to bring about development and stable polity. This, he has been doing in his quest to serve humanity.
Wishing him many happy returns!