Opinion:Makinde and the happy union that won’t end– Moses Alao
Sometimes this year, I read an opinion article written by an opposition element in Oyo State with the slant that the honeymoon period is over for Governor SeyiMakinde of Oyo State. My first reaction was to laugh off the write-up, which was to all intents and purposes, bad-intentioned and sponsored to disorient the government.
On a second thought, however, I repressed the laugh and skimmed through the piece, it was one of the scores of frustration-laden write-ups that have emanated from the stables of the All Progressives Congress (APC) setup in Oyo State. The APC loyalists, in their hundreds, have been vicious and volatile attackers of the Governor Makinde administration either on social media or in conventional ones. They have the same goal as their leaders: bring down the GSM government at all costs.
These hatchet writers and Hosanna crowd of the APC had, actually gone into overdrive as the Makinde administration neared its first year in office landmark, trying to draw comparisons between a 96-month administration and one that has only spent 12 months in office.
But having read through the many articles and perused the views on the administration in the last one year, it became imperative to address the fears being raised about the government and especially set the records straight for the teeming people of Oyo State, who boldly waved the “O to gee” signs in the face of the APC after eight years of maladministration.
On May 29, 2020, as GSM, an acronym for Governor SeyiMakinde, read the state broadcast and in that broadcast and the subsequent live interview on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), a clear picture was portrayed about governance in the state in the last one year. It was the picture of a humane leadership, a responsible and responsive leadership that put the people first, felt their pains, worked hard to do the best for them and wherever it erred, accepted responsibility and tried to become better. That picture was different from what Oyo State people had become used to in the last decade.
For one, the first year in office of Governor Makinde was decidedly different from the usual. Rather than engage in needless competition to outshine, the GSM administration chose to “work at a speed of trust” to use the governor’s words, by ensuring that the administration completes abandoned projects left behind by the previous administration.
In all, the government completed 239 educational projects left behind by the Abiola Ajimobi government and only 68 of such projects started by the Makinde administration were completed, while another 236 are ongoing. Through the Ministry of Education, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) office, Oyo State under Governor Makinde has embarked on a massive infrastructure revolution in the education sector.
But the success of the GSM administration in one year, especially in the education sector, which is proving to be the flagship of the administration, lies not in infrastructure but the totality of the unprecedented focus given to thesector. For the first time in the history of Oyo State, the government reviewed education budget from 4 per cent to 10 in 2019 and earmarked 22.4 to education in the 2020 Budget. And this focus is not just in numbers. The administration has seen to the scrapping of the N3,000 education levy, which it replaced with education grants of N1000 per student, per term amounting to N526 million. It has seen to the printing and distribution of textbooks and exercise books to students of the state; it has distributed compendiums to SSSIII students. In the tertiary education sector, it is to the credit of the administration that institutions that did not get subventions for 10 years can now breathe fresh air, with the revelation by the Rector of the Polytechnic Ibadan, which got N300 million from the government for accreditation and capital projects, exposing the lip service which the immediate past government paid to education in the state.
The Makinde administration had also, in the last one year, succeeded in fishing in waters that the previous administration abandoned: bringing back to life important state assets that can turn around its economy. While the previous government spent its first year in office abandoning heritage and landmark assets that could revolutionise the economy of the state, focusing instead on building false 250-room hotels and imaginary circular road that never started, the GSM administration, in one year, designed templates to bring back to life the Pacesetter Asphalt and Quarry Limited, Ijaiye; the Agbowo Shopping Complex; the Akufo and Eruwa Farm Settlements.
Apart from this ongoing revolution to expand the economy, the administration has also demonstrated uncommon commitment to infrastructure development, with the Ibadan-Iseyin Road, Awotan-Akufo Road ongoing, while about eight other roads across all the administrative zones of the state have been marked for rehabilitation.
In a matter of months, the Oyo State economy will begin to reap the benefits of all these interventions in the agriculture and infrastructure sector. But what will be more important is that Governor Makinde deserted the path of seeking instant glory for newly introduced projects and in the process redefined what governance should be.
Indeed, if the Makinde administration’s one year in office is to be judged along the parameters of not seeking self-glory, the impact the administration has made in ensuring that every project to which Oyo State’s money has been committed should be completed to add value to the state is enough to give it a pass mark.
In the health sector, not only did the government speedily complete abandoned projects he met on the ground, he pointedly made it clear that rather than embark on building new health facilities, the administration would rather revitalize the existing ones, which the previous overlooked for eight years. Today, the Adeoyo Ring Road State Hospital, Infectious Disease Centre, Olodo, Ibadan, Oranyan Primary Health Care Centre, Oranyan, Ibadan, ALGON Comprehensive Health Centre, Eyin Grammar, Ibadan, Primary Health Centres in Ayete and Aawe as well as the Primary Health Centre in Aafin Oyo are testimonies to what a purposeful government can do in just 12 months.
Perhaps, the summation of the last 12 months of Governor Makinde’s administration lies in how he has redefined governance in Oyo State, showing to the world through actions that, indeed, governance should be about the well-being of the people. In 12 months, the Makinde administration has paid more gratuities than the previous government paid in 96 months. In 12 months, the Makinde administration has showed true passion at developing the state, with the instant growth in IGR an evidence of this passion. But, sadly, in these 12 months, everything done by the government, which benefited the people of Oyo State, has been criticised by the APC as populism. If populism is what it takes to make Oyo State greater again and to make its people better economically and in other key aspects of human development, shall we then raise a toast to a happy union between Governor Makinde and his people, a happy union that won’t end?
Moses Alao is the Special Assistant (Print Media) to Governor Seyi Makinde