HomeEngineers in PoliticsSeyi Makinde’s Historic Feat in Oyo

    Seyi Makinde’s Historic Feat in Oyo


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    The town hall meeting held by the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, with a cross-section of stakeholders in the state on how to move the state forward was an opportunity for them to table some requests as the governor is seeking a second term in office, Kemi Olaitan writes

    The date was Sunday, January 29 and the venue was the Fresh FM hall, Felele, Ibadan. The hall was filled to the brim by a stellar cast of representatives of various associations, and crowds of supporters and spectators unable to gain entrance staged their own carnival outside the hall.

    From pensioners to teachers unions, members of the business community and the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), members of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA); market women and men, student bodies, the sports community and people living with disabilities, it was a great harvest of exchanges as the Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, took stock of the journey so far and the one ahead, taking on board new tasks as the people dictated. It was a heart-to-heart discussion and so there was no prepared speech, and the man fondly referred to as Seyi held the audience spellbound as he tracked his administration’s strides in infrastructure, health, education, town planning, sports and agriculture with encyclopedic breadth and candour, leaving no doubts about his firm grasp of developments in Oyo State under his leadership, and their ideological, political, economic and social foundation.

    Articulating his philosophy, the governor said: “Oyo is now used to engagement, not constituted authority. We always visit zones, asking people what they want before rolling out the budget…”

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    Remarkably distinguished, the gathering provided clear insights into Makinde’s stellar stewardship without shying away from the daunting challenges yet to be surmounted. Nearly every association lauded the governor’s stride in its own sector, but there was also critique and a wish list, and the governor did not shy away from limiting his promises to the extant realities, and admitting mistakes. To members of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) deeply appreciative of his first term of office but wondering, given the experiences with past governments, if he would still be in stout defence of their case as he has been in the first term, Makinde said he would never stop caring for those who had toiled for years in service of the state. He pointed out that his government had paid all pensioners in Oyo State flat rate of 10,000 as Christmas bonus, and regularised the payment of pensions with salaries, adding: “The opposition can fault us on any other thing but not on welfare for our pensioners, who have served the state. We will improve on engagement with our pensioners and make them happy.”

    On 65 years retirement age, Makinde argued that the federal government’s embrace of a policy does not necessarily make it the best. Increment in pensions, he averred, “is increasingly linked to our capacity to pay, we need proper planning on what increment we can make.”

    The removal of the N3,000 education levy imposed by the immediate past government, he told the audience to roaring applause, was one of the first decisions his government took, “and it brought our children back to school.” The governor, who had also given students in higher education a new lease of life upon assumption of office, also spoke on his strides in higher education.

    Hear him: “Before we came in, Oyo had one and a half universities, namely First Technical University and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, co-owned with Osun State. But now we have three universities. The opaque ownership structure in First Technical University has been removed and it is now fully owned by Oyo State. We’ve brought back LAUTECH and we upgraded Emmanuel Alayande College of Education to a university. The NUT already mentioned that we recruited 5,000 teachers as well as education officers. We have constructed close to 700 classrooms in less than four years. We have employed 5,000 teachers. On recruitment of teachers into primary schools, this administration has been able to remove distraction as against what obtained in the past. We will process the payment of their leave bonus for year 2022 soon.”

    A listening leader, Makinde did not attempt to lecture the FIDA representative who claimed that the association had not enjoyed a robust relationship with his administration. Instead, while acknowledging FIDA’s great work in women and children’s advocacy, he apologised and granted the association’s requests.

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    He said: “This administration gave Oyo State its first female Chief Judge. We appointed her because she was qualified. I am sorry if we haven’t worked as closely as we should. We will make amends. I will take it up with the Attorney General. I am glad you mentioned our renovation of courts. I will add renovation of crèche.” The applause this time was deafening.

    Dr. Wale Lasisi, chair of the NMA, spoke on brain drain and the need for increased allowances for resident doctors, and Governor Makinde couldn’t agree more. Thanking the doctors for their role during the COVID-19 crisis, he acknowledged that even though credit had been given to him for the astute management of the crisis, the doctors had in fact played a key role. He said it was resident doctors who had suggested radical improvement of the state’s health facilities rather than merely converting stadiums to isolation centres, as was being done in many parts of the world. That way, the facilities would still be in use post-COVID.

    “I am so happy I listened to you,” Governor Makinde enthused, adding that another suggestion by the doctors that proved so pivotal was self-isolation. Beginning from himself, he said, many residents of the state who contracted COVID self-isolated, and the Oyo strategy was later adopted by the federal government.

    He said: “I refused to lock down Oyo State and because of our success here, the federal government moved from total to partial lockdown. The opposition candidate came to this very station shouting that Makinde wanted to kill Oyo people. If he had listened to logic and data he would not have made that statement.”

    Mentioning his administration’s building of over 200 primary healthcare centres, Governor Makinde said his government determined that “people must not go beyond one kilometre radius of their residence to access care, adding: “We will continue to provide conducive environment for resident doctors.”

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    On brain drain, he noted that “the key to retaining the stars that we have is to create a far more productive economy that will allow us to pay higher wages.” Again, applause!

    The governor also extended courtesies to members of his base, the Nigerian Society of Engineers whose state chairman, Dr. Adekunle Olaoye, thanked him for the yeoman’s job on flood, and for appointing an engineer into the rural electrification board. Then the governor said: “We are engineering a modern Oyo State. Infrastructure deficit is real for us but we have laid the foundation to bridge that deficit. One way is to link communities. We have linked Ibadan to Oke Ogun zone with the 65-kilometre Moniya-Iseyin road; we have linked Oke Ogun with Ogbomoso zone with the 78-kilometer Iseyin-Ogbomoso road. All other zones have been so similarly linked with quality roads.”

    Challenging critics to “name any government in the history of Oyo State which has started and completed a 65-kilometre road,” Makinde loud on his projects linking Oyo communities, creating estates and undertaking junction improvements to gradually take the state into the first world.

    Hear him: “If you go to those GRAs we have built, you will notice that they are almost a first world environment… Gradually we are changing the face of the state. After Challenge, we’ve done Idi Ape, Agodi Gate and UI junction improvements. We are creating a new town in Akinyele.”

    On the clamour for a new ministry by town planners, Governor Makinde said he was not sure that the creation of a new bureaucracy is the way to go, as each new ministry would come with a bureaucracy. Nevertheless, he said: “If you can convince me with logic and data, I will bow to superior argument.”

    Lauding the governor’s all-encompassing style of leadership shone forth, the representative of People Living with Disabilities, Evangelist Olu Kayode, said: “We thank you for giving us a voice. Today, our people are not only seen but heard across the 33 local governments of Oyo State. We thank you for employment given to 150 people living with disability in TESCOM, the health sector and the judiciary. You have made good your promise to create an agency for people living with disability.”

    Also speaking on the occasion, representatives of religious bodies lauded the governor’s efforts to promote religious harmony in the state. As they spoke, reinforcing statements made by one another, it was clear that the bond among religious leaders in the state is unbreakable. For instance, the representative of the League of Imams and Alfas in the state, in advocating for teachers in religious instruction in primary and secondary schools in the state, called for all religions to be represented, while the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) chairman advocated monthly prayers by Christian and Muslim leaders in the state secretariat.

    Said the Muslim speaker: “We never thought you would be this magnanimous to us. Whoever sees the wonder in the newly-built Adogba mosque will pray for you everyday. We see your impact on the Hajj Commission in Olodo and the office of the Chief Imam. We pray that God will continue to support you as you are about to enter the Omituntun 2.0”.

    Listen to the representative of the traditional religious faith: “Past governments chose special advisers for only one religion, you chose three. Your government was the first to allow us to do Iwure.”

    To traders, Makinde said that paying salaries on the 25th of every month was a deliberate policy to expand the Oyo economy, adding that every year, an additional N4billion enters the economy. On the call for grants, he said the government would assist where it could but that he would rather create a conducive environment. He was also open to the idea of a female football team for Oyo State, and to acceding to various demands by students.

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