Your Excellency, Engineer Seyi Makinde,
Sir, I may not have the luxury of time and space to react on some intricate decisions you have taken since the inception of your tenure; however, let me go straight to the point, because I know you are very busy to make things work for our dear State. Your Excellency, the Freedom Bridge, as you named it, has a long history, which has become pertinent and expedient to bring to your esteemed attention. In 1976, the Bridge was constructed during the military administration of Col David Jemibewon. In order to ease the attendant traffic bottleneck around the roundabout in front of the Secretariat, whenever the Military Administrator was passing through from the Government House to the Governor’s Office inside the Secretariat, the Flyover was built.
At the inception, the Bridge was specifically built for ease of passage of the Governor from the Government House to his office inside the Secretariat. Meanwhile, as time passed, successive administrations in the State lost sight of the primary thought behind the flyover. It later became free-for-all, where commuters could ply as desired. In those days, while we were young, we used to pass the bridge without hindrance or any security check.
However, in the wake of insurgency in Nigeria, things changed. In 2011, during the administration of former Governor Ajimobi, it was at the instance of the Department of State Services (DSS) that the former Governor acted on security reports that some drastic measures had to be put in place, in order to secure the State. The DSS convened a meeting with all the local government chairmen in Oyo State, where a decision was taken that all abandoned vehicles within the premises of local government secretariats across the State must be removed. This was done to prevent a scenario where a bomb will be placed in any of those abandoned vehicles and detonated.
To prevent any sad occurrence in the State Secretariat, as well, Governor Ajimobi was advised by the DSS to close the said Flyover. Anyone that understands the structure of the Flyover will realise that it breaches security protocol in the Secretariat, except a security post is mounted at the exit and entrance of the Bridge. Unfortunately, it is unethical to mount checkpoints on a bridge; because it would have betrayed its very essence. Thus, a decision was taken to close down the Bridge.
However, in your swearing-in ceremony speech, you declared open the flyover and christened it Freedom Bridge. Many of us, who are aware of the history behind the Bridge and understand the security threats and jeopardy it portends, have raised serious concerns about the sudden reopening of the Bridge. To many of us, it was a hasty decision taken by you without giving a deep thought to the pros and cons of your action. Moreover, I doubt if you ever consulted the security agencies in the State before rushing to take this stance.
A governor is the Chief Executive and Security Officer of the state, and any decision he takes must be well thought-out. As the Chief Security Officer of Oyo State, you don’t take random decisions to pander to any public emotion. Your decision, no matter how popular you think it may appear to the people, must not jeopardise the security architecture of the state you govern. The public are oblivious of many facts. Therefore, as a leader, a governor does not carelessly play to the gallery of public opinion.
Your Excellency, the negative security implications of your decision on the lives of workers in the Secretariat outweigh any underlying political gains therein. The implication is that anything (guns, explosives or bombs) can be smuggled into the Secretariat without any hindrance or passing through any security check. Also, anything (government property) can be taken away from the Secretariat, through the Flyover, with ease. Sir, there is no security check in and out of the State Secretariat. You have exposed yourself and your people to avoidable and preventable danger. This is extremely perilous and risky, especially at a time Nigeria is facing extreme security challenges. Those security guards at the main entrance of the Secretariat have also relaxed. Yes, the reason is that they know they are just wasting their precious time at the main entrance, under the bridge. Criminals are smart and wise. No criminal, who wants to wreak any havoc, will pass through the main entrance, when the flyover has offered a free alternative route in and out of the Secretariat.
Governor Seyi Makinde, my advise is that, kindly reconsider your earlier decision by closing the flyover, once again. Governor Ajimobi did not close the Bridge for self-aggrandizement. He took that brilliant decision in order to secure the lives and property of the people of Oyo State. Your Excellency, Mr Governor, a stitch in time saves nine.
Adejare Ibrahim writes from Oyo Alaafin, Oyo State.