Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
For many years, critical stakeholders in Oyo State have been lamenting about many moribund government facilities. The facilities wasting away have potential to provide jobs and generate billions of naira.
The facilities include Agbowo Shopping Complex, opposite the main gate of the University of Ibadan; Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan; Pace Setter Asphalt Plant, Ijaiye, Ibadan; Pace Setter Juice Factory, Oko, Ogbomoso, Cultural Centre, Ibadan and Trans Amusement Park.
Agbowo Shopping Complex
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Agbowo Shopping Complex, built on 25,000 square metres of land, was the biggest shopping mall in the state. Its facilities included massive arts and film theatre hall, department stores, nightclub and several large offices. The aesthetic value the complex added to the main entrance of the University of Ibadan could not be over-emphasised. Then, the mall was beautiful and a cynosure of all eyes. Students and staff of the premier university also loved the mall.
In its heydays, the mall served as a unique economic hub. It generated income for the government, apart from providing thousands of direct jobs. The mall was conceived by the first military governor, the then Col. David Jemibewon, 1976 to 1978. But, it could not be completed before the military returned power to the barracks in 1979. The administration of former governor of old Oyo State, the late Chief Bola Ige, between 1979 and 1983 completed the mall.
As the mall advanced in age, degeneration systematically set in and it became a shadow of itself. The cinema and nightclub became non-functional. The place became hideouts for people with questionable characters. The complex was abandoned for 12 years by successive administrations.
On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, Governor Seyi Makinde flagged off the “renovation and remodelling of the new Agbowo Shopping Complex” towards converting the moribund facility into a premium commercial real estate and a four-star hotel. The governor said:
“Shortly after our inauguration in May 2019, I hosted the council members and management team of the University of Ibadan. One of the issues we discussed was the moribund Agbowo Shopping Complex. I promised them I would make a definitive pronouncement about what we would do with the complex before the end of my 100 days in office.
“In keeping with that promise, within our 100 days in office, we opened a bid for concessionaires giving a four-week window from August 29 to September 26, 2019. And today, we are flagging off the remodelling and renovation of the new Agbowo Shopping Complex.
“Government will work with Whitestone Global. Our collaboration will be in the form of a long lease concession with a capital injection of N4.9billion. Their mandate is to convert this moribund structure into premium commercial real estate and a four-star hotel. The long lease is for 50 years. Our administration understands that the only business that the government should have in business is to create a conducive environment and the needed support for private enterprises to thrive. And this is what we are doing. And so, in 24 months, that is 104 weeks, this complex will be ready for business.”
Managing Director, Whitestone, Mr Woleola Oluwole, said: “This facility will have a time level car park that will double as a drive-in cinema in the evening; a 10-floor first class hotel; 600 capacity 3D cinema in the evening, an underground gaming arcade; what I call the 22nd-Century E-shopping Mall. All of these will be inside 25,000 square metres.”
A chieftain of All Progressives Congress in the state, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), commended Makinde: “It’s not about differences in political affiliations. When he is doing well, we need to commend him. If he is doing otherwise, we will also talk. The only area I have issue on this project is on the long lease of 50 years for the concessionaire to manage the facility to recoup his money. I want his administration to review the long lease. The 50-year period is too long.”
The contract for the construction of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, was flagged off in 1976 and the stadium was commissioned in 1988. It is the home for the Shooting Star Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan. The sports complex has facilities for both outdoor and indoor sporting activities.
The stadium became famous and home to 3SC. Thousands of spectators would storm the stadium anytime the Oluyole Warriors had match to play. Football legends, including Segun Odegbami, Duke Udi, Abiodun Baruwa, Mutiu Adepoju, Mudashiru Lawal and Ajibade Babalade, had good time in the club, and many of them made it to the national football team at different times.
A time came when its facilities began to degenerate, including the main bowl. Former governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, 2007 to 2011, came to its rescue, by fixing the football pitch. The pitch also went bad some years after. The whole complex was soon in shambles, and thriving activities in the stadium became political rallies, religious programmes and parties.
Makinde kicked off the remodelling of the complex on August 13, 2020. The contract was awarded to Peculiar Ultimate Concerns, for N5.6billion, to be completed in 12 months. It would be funded through the Alternate Project Funding Approach (APFA). The contractor will fund the project, while the state will repay the contractor over a period of 29 months.
He said: “Oyo State has had a rich sporting history. Back in 1963, the first world boxing title fight in Africa was held here in Oyo State. We were able to host that fight and benefit from all the tourism revenue because we had the facilities to do so. We are remodelling this sports complex now, so we can reap the benefits in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
“We cannot attract investors without the right infrastructure. If we are telling people to leave wherever they are and come here, we should be able to give them what they are benefiting where they are or even more. If the government can provide facilities comparable to those in any part of the world, then we can be sure that all our talents and youths will have somewhere to come to. And we will discover more talents and we will have more record setters coming out of Oyo State.”
Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Seun Fakorede, said the remodelling of the stadium would attract international focus and change the economic fortune of the state, through hosting of national and international sports tournaments.
Managing Director, Peculiar Concerns, Adeleke Olanrewaju, said: “The hosting of a national sports festival can bring in as much as N7billion, the hosting of a national cup will also bring in as much as N10billion. Some of these funds go directly into the government purse, while a larger percentage goes into the local economy to stimulate it.”
Pace Setter Juice Factory
The Pacesetter Fruit Processing Company was commissioned in 2007 byformer Governor Rashidi Ladoja, 2003 to 2007. But the administrations that came after him abandoned the project. On Thursday, September 24, 2020, Makinde, officially kick-started the process of reviving the moribund company when he handed it over to AGVEST:
“We are bringing to life another company that has been moribund for almost a decade, Pacesetter Fruits Processing Limited. This company was established during the administration of former governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja in 2007. However, it never commenced operation. And as I have always stated, government is a continuum and our administration will ensure that people in Oyo State benefit from abandoned or moribund projects to which the funds of the state have been committed.”
He noted that the investor has promised to inject N350million into the project and that it would be completed within six months: “It will create more job opportunities and the company will produce 2,500 bottles of juice per hour.”
Director-General, Oyo State Investment and Public Private Partnership Agency, Segun Ogunwuyi, said his agency was mandated to revive the company for the socio-economic benefits of the state:
“The revival of the factory will afford the state many benefits, including prevention of post-harvest losses and wastage of fruits produced in the state, apart from helping to improve the economy of the indigenous farmers in the state and create jobs for the youths.”
Managing Director, AGVEST, Mr Olabode George, said: “Our intention is to produce fruit juice for mango, pineapple, orange and fruit cocktail. Because of the abundance of fruits in this locality, we also intend to produce jams that will make it easier. We will generate waste from all the production we are going to be doing. We intend to produce organic fertilizers from the waste that will be generated. And we will push this fertilizer to market. In all, we will be able to add 50-75 direct jobs and put 500-550 indirect jobs out.”
The Oloko of Okoland, Oba Solomon Olagoke, appreciated government for reviving the moribund factory, promising that the community would ensure protection of the facility.
Pace Setter Asphalt Plant
Makinde wrote on his Facebook wall on July 3, 2019: “Yesterday, we visited the state-owned Pace Setter Quarry and Asphalt Plant at Moniya-Iseyin Road, Ijaiye to assess it. Plans are already being made to revive the plant. This will generate income and provide jobs for our people. It will also complement our effort to provide a good road network across the state.”
On Tuesday, May 27, 2020, the governor handed over the plant, established by Ladoja, to a private company in a public-private partnership arrangement. He said Carboncor Road Technology would be in charge as concessionaires, while the partnership generates funds for government, create jobs for the people, and produce the asphalt needed for road projects in the state.
Ogunwuyi stated that with the injection of N750million into it, the production capacity moved from 0 MT to 100MTs within eight weeks, projecting that the production capacity would rise to 300MTs within 12 months calendar year.
Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr Taiwo Adisa, said his principal has been working in line with the “Roadmap to Accelerated Development of Oyo State 2019 to 2023, which is the book of government for every step Makinde has been taken since May 2019.” He assured the people that the governor would deliver more dividends of democracy to them.