By Adekola Afolabi & Jimoh Ahmed
Notable indigenes and traditional rulers in Akoko in the Northern Senatorial district of Ondo State have lamented that the terrible state of federal roads in the area have led to the collapse of their economy.
They described the deplorable state of the federal roads in the axis and other cities across the state as very disturbing.
They challenged the Federal Government to be alive to its responsibility of intervening in the deplorable parlous conditions of the area.
They contended that the federal roads in Ondo North District are the major link with the Northern part of Nigeria and the state of the roads are nothing to write home about.
From Itapele junction to Isua, Idoani, Isua and Kabba in Kogi State, the Owo/Benin axis, Owo/Akungba/Ikare/Erusu to Ayere and Akungba to Isua, the roads have become death traps.
A journey through any of these routes is that of lamentation, gnashing of teeth and of course, headache to anyone that ventured to pass there.
A legal practitioner and indigene of Akoko, Dr Tunji Abayomi, described the deplorable state of the Federal roads and other cities across the state as very disturbing.
He challenged the federal government to be alive to its responsibility of meeting the needs of the people.
“There are bad roads everywhere, not only in Akoko. I’m in Abuja now, and I saw a number of bad roads. I think a nation needs to increase its wealth so that it can have more money to meet the needs of the people.
“Our greatest problem is poverty. I’m disturbed. You can’t really blame the Federal lawmakers representing the affected areas. Some of them are trying. Mr Bunmi Tunji Ojo, for instance, is trying everything he can, but they are not in executive position. They can only push, that is the issue,” Abayomi said.
The Akala of Ikaram Akoko, Oba Andrew Momodu while decrying the deplorable condition of all the federal roads network in the Ondo North District, said it has become an embarrassment for the people.
Oba Momodu posited that the bad nature of the roads have also aided the low economic life of the people.
He said those interested in doing business with the people are no longer coming, while most of the residents who usually go to the Northern part of the country to do business are finding it difficult to do so.
The Akala said apart from shutting down the economy of the area, the deplorable condition of the roads have further increased insecurity challenges like kidnapping and armed robbery, all which have created fear in the minds of the people.
The monarch therefore called on the federal government to dualise the Ikare/Owo federal highway, considering the volume of vehicles plying the road and its importance to Northern/Southern trades.
Equally, he described other federal roads in the district like the Orita Ipele to Isua to Akunu and Ayere in kogi state as another abandoned federal road that deserves attention, as the poor condition of the road contributed to the incessant kidnapping and robbery in the area, while a portion of the federal road at Irun Akoko will soon be cut off totally due to neglect of the road linking Akoko with Ekiti state.
The monarch, however, was optimistic that if the roads are rehabilitated, this will go a long way to reduce insecurity and crimes especially, kidnapping, banditry and robbery in the area.
Speaking on the condition of the road, an APC chieftain, Olanrewaju Kazeem, described it as terrible.
Kazeem, a two time Commissioner in Ondo State and a former member of the lower chamber of the National Assembly from Akoko North Federal Constituency, said Akoko has been neglected in the area of infrastructure by the government at the center.
According to him, “despite the fact that Akoko people have been performing their required obligations, they have not been getting the reciprocated benefits”.
He, however, gave kudos to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, for reconstructing the Ikare Akoko section of the Owo/Ikare road despite being a federal road.
“I appreciate Governor Akeredolu for doing the Ikare section of the federal road that passes through Ikare. The governor has shown that he is concerned with the well-being of Akoko people. He shall be well remembered for this”.
Kazeem who is also the chairman, Anti-Doping agency of Nigeria however took a swipe at the federal government for refusing to let state governments repair the federal roads in their states.
“The federal government has not done well by refusing the state governments to rehabilitate the federal roads that fall within their domains. Akeredolu did well in this area. The governor took care of the failed portions of the Owo/Ikare road and we saw what he was able to do”.
“The work he was able to do was excellent before the federal government said state governments should not do it again. Today, you can see what FERMA is doing, a substandard job and they have even made the roads unsafe for navigation by the cutting of bad sections and leaving them unattended to”.
Obaja of Ijaja, Arigidi Akoko, Oba Mallam Gani Asiru also described federal roads in Akoko as eyesore.
Mallam Asiru who is also a legal practitioner said the roads are so bad that they have crippled its economy and cause the people pains and agony as they pass through.
According to the monarch, the roads have nearly shut down the economy of the area.
He appealed to the federal government to do something as a matter of urgency to address the issue.
He advised the federal government to allow state governments repair the federal roads in their area but with supervision and monitoring.