Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka today at the inauguration of the first phase of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail from Iju Lagos to Abeokuta disclosed that the route of the modern railway project took part of his hunting grounds.
Speaking in Abeokuta, Ogun state during the declaration of a three-month free train service by the Federal Government, Soyinka said he is however content with what his ‘hunting grounds’ has been turned into.
But the literary icon warned against politicizing the project, saying he cares less which political party put up the project.
Dignitaries had earlier embarked on the train ride from Iju in Lagos to Abeokuta which is about 61 kilometers of the entire 156-kilometer stretch of the project. The train took off from Kilometer 21 and stopped at Kilometer 82 in Laderin, Abeokuta.
However the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo who was initially billed to grace the test-run was absent without any reason given for his absence.
In the train were the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state, the paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, Managing Director of the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), Jiang Yigao, Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria, among others.
At the train station in Abeokuta, Soyinka in his goodwill message said, “This is not a political vote gathering occasion but my house is somewhere in that direction not far from here and this used to be part of my hunting grounds and so I came to see for what my hunting grounds were appropriated and so far, so content.
“One of the these days, this Plateau which used to be naturally donated for this kind of enterprise, on this very planet, one of these days a rocket would go to the next planet.
“But for now we are keeping our feet on the ground looking at the opportunities for our small traders, commuters, etcetera, I don’t give a damn who put this one there, it doesn’t matter whatsoever as long as… there’s this saying we have in Yoruba, ‘if you see a serpent, if it is a man who sees the serpent and a woman who kills it, what does it matter?
“This is not a question of killing. I’m being creative. This is not a do-or-die occasion but a do and do occasion. Congratulations everyone involved in this enterprise, let’s turn around and rock it.”
Amaechi declared the occasion was not a commissioning but a test-run of the first phase of the project, saying as from Saturday a three-month free train service would commence.
He said the train would run thrice daily; in the morning, afternoon and evening to enable people go to work in Lagos and return to Ogun state evening.