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Living Galleries… Motifs of history, culture, education on Ogun streets

By Florence Utor   |   03 February 2016   |   3:23 am

0WITH a huge investment in provision of infrastructure and social amenities, Ogun, a state that was hitherto referenced as semi-rural, has taken on a deserved garb of modernisation. Obviously, the impact of Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s visionary investment in the essential needs of the people has been felt in all the major components of the state.

The Amosun administration has even stretched the vision further, by conceptually linking the massive infrastructural investment to its deep, engaging interest in education, especially cultural and historical. The bridges in Abeokuta and Ijebu-Ode are currently being transformed into ‘Living Art Galleries and Monuments’ that reflect on, and document aspects of the historical, social and cultural landmarks of each of the cities. They are also conceived as educational museums through which people of the state, especially the youth could connect, or reconnect with the cultural resources and knowledge systems of the state.

For some weeks now, over 500 visual artists of divergent talents and skills have been engaged to systematically accomplish the transformation of portions of the bridges to the intended living art museums. The motifs adopted for the projects vary in content and form and are as diverse as the vast material and immaterial resources of the state. They capture the different natural, occupational, cultural resources to each of the different areas of the city.

In Abeokuta, for instance, the designated portions of the bridge — mostly the descending and ascending angles — have been transformed to vast canvasses on which acrylic paintings and murals have been implanted in mixed media format. The colourful works, mostly rendered in abstract forms, impress from the distance, and viewed against the kaleidoscope of daily activities in their surroundings, they exude carnivalesque candour. Mosaic is also adopted as embellishments, but also functional – for instance, to prevent rainwater from destroying the base of the artwork. There is so much excitement in the air-scape of the city in expectation of the anniversary, and the murals and paintings have boosted the mood, even while projecting their testament to the coming of age of the city that was founded “under the rock”.

Watching the many artists at work at their various allotted portions, one could feel their sense of pride and joy at having been privileged to be part of the visual transformation of the state. They have come into some sort of stardom that could have probably eluded them if they were to sit in their individual studios working; or if their works were to sit idle in the various galleries in their respective locations awaiting viewers and patrons to walk in. Now, their works would sit pretty majestically commanding magisterial attention from thousands of people that commute through, and around the various locations of the projects.

But there is also a deeper, and very significant reason for the artists to feel satiated and fulfilled. Economically, the project while it lasts, has blessed those who work at the various locations with revenues, even if temporarily. And with the projections that each artist has an average of 10 dependents, it means thousands of persons have been fed while the project lasted. Local economy around each of the locations must have also benefitted.

Ogun State-based paint manufacturers, which supplied thousands of gallons of paints for painting of the entire stretch of each of the bridges also benefitted, deploying hundreds of artisans to realise the project. These artisans definitely made a living out of the initiative, thus affirming a cardinal objective of the project – to create employment either temporarily or permanently.

It is this holistic approach to development that bedrocks the visionary Amosun administration, and it percolates to all areas of policy initiatives and developmental projections. It is the manifestation of a focused, benevolent, futuristic leadership that works for the common good of the people, and the collective interest of the society — one that ‘bridges’ the usually resistant gulf between and among various stratums of the society.

It is this grandiose vision of transformation that the Special Visitor to the state on occasion of its 40th birthday, President Muhammadu Buhari and the thousands of guests from home and abroad have come to share, commemorate and celebrate. And yet, the Mission to Rebuild Continues…. long after the last beat of celebration would have faded off.

WHEREAS the first term of the administration focused on major cities and towns, the numerous rural towns and villages are focus of the second term, which began last May. This however does not mean attention would drop from already touched components. The ingenuous mantra of Sen. Ibikunle Amosun’s second coming, Mission to Rebuild Continues remains a guiding principle of the administration; and it bedrocks its current engagements.

A remarkable virtue of the infrastructural investment is the scale of vision with which each project is conceived, designed and executed. This deliberate humongous vision has yielded implantation of monstrous size roads, bridges and drainages in the major cities.

Most visitors to the state capital, Abeokuta, in the past five years are often justifiably rendered speechless as they encountered the vast, gigantic road networks that have been constructed, or ongoing in various parts of the once rustic town. The massive road networks and bridges have helped in no small measure to obliterate its once tardy feature, erase traffic congestions, open up the city for greater commercial activities, and generally transform lifestyle of the residents.

In that short space, four 6-laner flyovers complete with street lights have also been installed in the city, and this initiative has earned the administration applause from inhabitants and visitors to the city. Residents of Abeokuta now enjoy free-flowing traffic to their destinations, while impressed visitors can navigate the capital city with ease. Similar projects have been done, or are ongoing in other cities such as Ijebu Ode, Shagamu, Ijoko, and in Yewa.




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