A 40-year-old farmer, Dosumu Kazeem, has singlehandedly constructed a link bridge worth N12.8 million in a community in Abeokuta, Ogun State, bringing succour to the residents, commuters and most especially students who are distraught by lack of access road and bridge in the area, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
For Samuel Ayomide, an SS2 student of Reverend Kuti Memorial Grammar School, Abeokuta, hundreds of other pupils, teachers and commuters, lack of access road and bridge in Itesiwaju community, an alternative route to connect their schools and workplaces, was a battle and it lingered for many years.
Located behind the Olusegun Obasanjo Hilltop, the community serves as a link to the Olokuta end of Idi-Aba, Laderin extension, Ewang Extension, Abule-Ake, all in Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State. It serves as a ‘short cut’ for students, residents and commuters to reach their destination.
However, the community had been plagued by the lack of bridge; and navigating through a river that passes through the community had been a nightmare for the users, especially during the wet season. It’s a sloppy and slippery location.
“Crossing to the other side of the road was always a nightmare. A plank was laid across the two sides and we walked on it to cross daily. When it rains, we dare not pass through this place,” Ayomide told Daily Trust Saturday.
Last year, a student of Victoroti Secondary School, Olokuta, was caught up by the flood while crossing the make-shift bridge, but he was lucky to find help.
“Once it rains, this place becomes a no-go-area,” Ademuyiwa Oluwakemisola, a teacher at Futuristic Nursery and Primary School, located in the community, said.
But Dosumu Kazeem, a 40-year-old cocoa farmer, felt things could get worse if nothing was done. He took up the challenge in 2020 to construct the bridge to save lives, especially that of students who navigate the slippery path every day.
“I thought about it and concluded I could do it and not wait until there’s a major calamity. I do not have a car or motorcycle of my own,” he said.
After three years of committing personal resources with little or nothing from members of the community, Kazeem has erected a bridge worth about N13m.
The donor, who is a student of Madrasatul Da’Watul Haqq, Leme, Abeokuta, said he undertook the project with support from his aged parents in order to ameliorate the suffering of school children and other members of the community.
This project, he explained, was prioritised at the expense of his personal housing project, just as he shelved his first lesser hajj (Umrah) to Saudi Arabia to complete the bridge.
He said “N12.8m can do a lot of things for me personally, including a befitting car; but I wanted people to benefit from me through the project.
“If you have an opportunity to do something and you refuse to do it and people eventually suffer due to your neglect, your conscience will continue to judge you. What’s the essence of a beautiful car when there’s no access road?
“I have not completed my house in the community which I started in 2017, in fact, I was about buying tiles for the house. The last slab I did cost over N3m, even when I was discouraged, I insisted on going ahead with the slab and not the tiles.
“When I mentioned the project to my parents, my father who is above 90 years lent me some money, my mother also encouraged me by lending me some money so that the project would not be abandoned. They are also farmers in Asu village along the Abeokuta Sagamu Road.”
Kazeem said he didn’t wait for the community because there are several such projects within the community which it cannot finance.
“There are several such projects neglected within the community, at least, I can show you three of such roads which the community has no financial muscle to fix. When we were given a transformer, it took over three years before it was powered with just about N1m,” he said.
When asked if the gesture was for political reasons, the donor said, “I am not into politics, if it was for political reasons, I will just dig boreholes in Olokuta, Abule Ake, Ewang Extension and grade some roads.”
When reminded that the N12m project isn’t a child’s play in Nigeria’s current economy, he said “the will to make a difference was the driving force and having started, I said there’s no going back.”
What is your source of income? Our correspondent inquired. He said “I inherited the cocoa farming business from my father who is now 90 years old. I also engage in project management. That’s all I do.”
He added “I also know the project is unbelievable, a lot of people have said that to me. They wondered why I did that as a farmer and not as a politician. But I can tell you I do not have any other source of income except farming, but I am contented once the people are benefitting.”
Speaking during a visit to the project, his Arabic and Islamic studies teacher and the Chief Imam of Da’Watul Haqq Mosque Leme, Imam Ishaq Muhammadul Awwal, said the gesture was a demonstration of the beauty and teachings of Islam.
According to Imam Ishaq, Kazeem still attends classes despite his age.
Imam Ishaq, while speaking with members of the community, revealed that he was carried along at every stage of the project, adding that he also encouraged the donor to suspend a proposed lesser hajj trip to Saudi Arabia during the just concluded Ramadan period, for the project to be delivered to time.
According to him, the donor is worthy of emulation by both the poor and wealthy, especially government officials who hold positions in trust for the people.
“This is to show the beauty of Islam, only one person started this project and completed it without waiting for the government and community. This is someone that does not even have a car of his own, but he demonstrated a good intention as taught by Islam,” he said.
“We can all recall many government officials who have short-changed the people with the trust placed in their care. This brother is a record breaker and a good example to the people. What we are used to is community efforts, not individual effort of this magnitude.
“Government should encourage people like him. If someone could spend this huge amount of money without any political undertone, such a person would be sincere should any trust be placed in his care. This is the type of people that should qualify for political offices, not ballot box snatchers.”
“Now, we can pass here with ease even when it rains,” he said, applauding the donor popularly known as “Alfa” in the area.
On her part, Oluwakemisola said “When we discovered this, I was amazed because I never expected this. I am very grateful to him because the bridge is very helpful. Before, whenever it rains heavily, this place becomes impassable. It is now very easy for me and the students to pass here.
“I’m very happy and I think people should learn from this. He is not the only one benefitting from this as everyone who passes here would pray for him.”
Speaking with our correspondent, the Vice Chairman of the Itesiwaju Community Association, Oderinde Akintunde, said “We are blessed to have someone like him in the community because there are people who are richer than him but less concerned about the plight of the community.”
“He knows the capacity of the community association and that’s why he did not bother us.”
Akintunde described Kazeem as a religious and prayerful person, saying “I am very sure that God is involved in the project and that is why he was able to complete it.”
“He did not give up. Even till now, he is still working on some roads linking the bridge so that they will be passable,” he said.
Akintunde called on the state government to give Kazeem well deserved recognition and to show interest in the project and also provide needed amenities in the community.