Ex-OPIC MD Decries Trend Of Events At MITROS Residences - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ex-OPIC MD Decries Trend Of Events At MITROS Residences


Barr. Jide Odusolu

...says structure was developed to compete with best hotels in Abeokuta

ABEOKUTA - The immediate past Managing Director of Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), Barr. Jide Odusolu has expressed displeasure over the trend towards poor management of Mitros Residences, formerly Gateway Hotel Annex, Ibara Abeokuta, after leaving office.

Odusolu, while answering questions from members of the Ogun State House of Assembly Committee on Public Account and Anti-Corruption corrected the insinuation that the hotel was developed without appropriarion.

The former MD said OPIC, in it's 2017 budget, had a provision of N2.291 billion for housing, adding that the initial mandate of the Ogun State Government then was for the Corporation to take over the facility and convert it to a VIP housing for dignitaries coming for events in the State Capital. 

Odusolu explained that it was on that basis that the MITROS Residence was developed and the decision to commercialise its operations using professional hotel managers was to avoid the place being locked up under the guise of being  VIP housing.

Odusolu who was grilled by the State House of Assembly for five and half hours on the inflow and outflow of the finances and records of the Corporation during his tenure expressed dismay over the trend towards poor management of the structure since he left office.

It was observed that political appointees of the present administration in the state have taken over the structure as their residence, the same development which ran the hotel aground during the regime of Otunba Gbenga Daniel.

He said, "OPIC 2017 budget has a provision of N2.291 billion for housing, the mandate that was given to us by Ogun State government was to take over gateway hotel annex as VIP housing, we took it over and developed it within a sixty day record period.

"But after completing the project, we realised that we could not just expend such amount of money and lock it up in the guise of executive housing, it didn't make any sense, then we decided to commercialise it as an hotel operated by professional managers.

"It was built to compete with the best hotels in Abeokuta, with that mindset, it was operated as a mini resort and companies were already coming in to use it for retreats because it was exclusive. It successfully hosted meetings of Southwest Governors, meeting of APC Governor's wives, meetings of SSGS, hosted guests for the Ogun State Drum Festival and several private retreats by companies from out of state. Unfortunately, the place is no longer managed with that business focus and if not stemmed very soon, the facility may go back to the way it used to be if care is not taken.

"When Senator Ibikunle Amosun brought someone like me on board, I was the first private sector person that was made the MD of OPIC, it was with a simple mandate "turn the place around and make it profitable" and that was what we did and in order for that to continue, OPIC must be allowed to operate with flexibility as a business. 

"When I was here, we had monthly targets, everybody have targets, my colleagues in OPIC knew that I did not see them as Civil Servants nor treated them as such. I saw them first as history makers and second as business associates and we delivered results. So I'm not happy about the evolving trend at Mitros"

"I am also not happy about a lot of things. Look at Orange Valley, look at Kings Court. Today, Kings Court is valuable and viable, simply because in 2014, 2015, we moved over 16,700 trucks of laterite to fill that swamp to reclaim it and allowed it to settle. We also delivered the first phase which was the first gated community in Ogun State, that is why there's value there. Look at New Makun, we again took an abandoned project, revamped and developed it into one of the most successful new towns in Nigeria and companies are operating there with Family Homes Funds also funding 1,020 housing units in there, at MTR Gardens, we transformed isheri creating arterial roads, good infrastructure and 180 housing units, in Agbara, we resolved the huge security challenges and delivered road infrastructure and housing units, yes the work wasn't completed before our tenure ended but we did the best we could especially in the face of the massive infrastructure problems in the Atan-agbara axis."

Odusolu however, appealed to Governor Abiodun to unshackle OPIC and give unhindered access to the new leadership of the Corporation to maintain the momentum and keep the the agency going on its upward trajectory.

"So, my plea to the current administration is to unshackle OPIC and the leadership that they put in OPIC and allow them to actually run the place effectively."

Odusolu who reeled out the various housing projects carried out by the Corporation under his watch, appreciated the lawmakers for the opportunity to clarify issues and outline his scorecard, positing that the Corporation needed to run like an independent business enterprise which should be devoid of the public service scrutiny, rules and processes.

"Like I told the House itself, it is not every time that you are fortunate to have your stewardship challenged and given a fair opportunity to defend it.

"At the end of the day most of the questions that were asked have been answered and the members themselves have now seen that while OPIC is government owned, OPIC is a business. But when you take a business and you force it into the funnel of the civil service, you will always have conflict and that is were most of this questions that they've asked have come from.

"I am proud to say OPIC is one of the most audited and investigated agency of any government anywhere, not only do we get audited by external auditors, the Auditor General Officer comes to do his own audit, even the ministry of finance comes frequently to audit us. 

"So, throughout my tenure and I think even till date we are proud to say we can defend everything we've done, the work we have done for the good people of Ogun state is everywhere to see all the way from Ipokia through Agbara down to Isheri we've done this work and we did it as a thankless job."

Meanwhile, the House Committee Chairman on Public Account and Anti-corruption, Hon. Musefiu Lamidi said the invitation to appear before the House was not to witch-hunt anyone, but a view to ensure accountability, probity and transparency in line with its constitutional duties. 

Hon. Musefiu therefore requested the Corporation to supply documents in relation to all housing projects built and sold between 2015 and May 28, 2019.


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