Millions of Nigerians have become weary and very sceptical of the political class in Nigeria because they have been disappointed severally by their lack of performance and failure to keep promises made during electioneering campaigns. Gone with the winds were the days of courageous bold moves by politicians transforming societies with visionary projects and initiatives
Millions of Nigerians have become weary and very sceptical of the political class in Nigeria because they have been disappointed severally by their lack of performance and failure to keep promises made during electioneering campaigns. Gone with the winds were the days of courageous bold moves by politicians transforming societies with visionary projects and initiatives that have changed landscapes of communities.
All hope is not lost, as there are still some shining stars in the cloudy sky. There is, still a short list of exceptional members of the political class who behave like statesmen, cherish their integrity, and are visionary and genuinely desirous of making a difference by leaving legacies worthy of reference and emulation. They are interested in creating enduring projects by being creative in governance and getting things done despite worsening economic situation in the country.
It was, therefore, an eye-opening experience, when the Nigeria Guild of Editors at the weekend held its standing committee meeting in Ibadan, Oyo state capital and the opportunity arose the state government to seize the occasion to showcase some of its projects to members of the Guild of Editors executive and a few other editors invited to come along.
Ibadan is a city of great significance to the Yoruba people of Southwest, Nigeria. It served as the capital of the old Western Region and some of the relics of the colonial masters still dot its landscape here and there. Its government secretariat is one of the largest in the country and its civil service has produced some of the best technocrats in bureaucracy in Nigeria. Ibadan is the most populous city in Oyo state and ranked the third largest in Nigeria after Lagos and Kano.
Despite its size and significance in the comity of states, Oyo state has not been able to deliver over the years an economically prosperous environment to its citizens largely because of unclear and uncoordinated vision that can galvanise the people into entrepreneurial action. But that seems to be shoved to the past with the assumption of Governor Seyi Makinde as Governor. As his political sobriquet goes “Omi titun” literarily translated to mean fresh water and fresh thinking.
Governor Seyi Makinde has brought fresh thinking into governance with creative ideas to do so much in the face of a decline in national and state economies. Evidence for this was presented to the editors in the one-day tour of some projects being worked upon by his administration. The Governor provided a background to the vision behind some of the projects to the editors in a pre-departure briefing in the transformed Executive Council chamber where he explained the concept of his Omituntun 2.0 is to move the state from accelerated development to sustainable development.
The overall objective is to reposition the state as a hub for accelerated growth and development. Through this, he believes citizens of the state will tap into the development and be lifted from poverty to prosperity. The import of this became clearer as his entourage drove from one project to another.
The first port of call was the Methodist Primary school, a model school located in Bodija but financed by Oyo SUBEB. Seyi Makinde’s administration had embarked on 56 of such model schools across the state. The well-constructed building also has a pre-school section. The Governor used the opportunity to explain to the editors how upon his assumption he abolished school fees of 3k per session and now education is free in Oyo state.
From there, the entourage moved to the Amotekun headquarters along Moniya Road. Amotekun is the state security agency established by states in the southwest geo-political zone. They were told by the Amotekun Commander, Col Olayinka Olayanju retired, how the security outfit has been able to rid the state of criminals and maintain harmonious living among different ethnic groups in the state. Very fascinating is the security’s outfit ingenuity in amicable settlement of what could have triggered farmers/herders’ clashes in the state. He told the editors how they have brokered amicable settlement where compensations were paid, and peace restored to all parties. Editors were shown the preparedness of Amotekun, with guns and protective gears on display. Also on display were different charms used for spiritual warfare.
The Governor explained that a would-be investor will only invest money where there is peace. Without peace investment will take a flight. Giving more insight on this, the State Security Adviser to the Governor, Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni retired explained the concept of the security control room which has the presence of all security agencies in the state. This not only makes cooperation and collaboration seamless, but it also makes acting swift.
From there the entouraged travelled on the 65-kilometer Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin road reconstructed by his administration. Good construction with drainages on the two sides of the road. Iseyin is the State NYSC camp-town and before now several lives have been lost through accidents on the road. It was a road dreaded by many who had business to transact along that axis. Iseyin town is reputed for its production of Aso-Oke, a traditional Yoruba textile used for important occasions (cotton spinning and dyeing). Before the entourage departed, the Governor had challenged everybody to look out if they would find a single pothole on the road. He ensured that it was constructed to the highest industry standard with quality materials. And indeed, it was a smooth drive and there wasn’t any pothole.
The Governor then shocked the editors when he disclosed that the road reconstruction from the scratch was done at a cost of N156 million per kilometre. This is a far cry from the federal government average price of N1 billion per kilometre. In fact, the rate would appear to be the lowest even by other states with the same terrain.The Governor said he has a guarantee from the contractors that there wouldn’t be a pothole on that road in the next 20 years
At Iseyin, the entourage also visited the recently upgraded Iseyin Primary Healthcare Centre. Hitherto, the facilities for the Primary Healthcare Centre were in shambles. They used to exist in 774 PHC in the state. But Governor Makinde evolved a pragmatic approach to reclaim and bring the centres up to standard to be able to serve the local populace. He decided to do one PHC per ward to standard and to date about 200 wards have been touched out of 351 wards that exist in the state. They are at different stages of completion. The upgrading was done down to the provision of generating sets and there is also provision for emergency holding areas.
From there, the entourage proceeded to the ongoing 76.67km Iseyin-Fapote-Ogbomoso Road project, a brand-new road being constructed by the Engr Seyi Makinde’s administration. The Governor was able to showcase about 17 kilometers of the road from the Iseyin end while another contractor is handling the road from the Ogbomoso end. The interesting thing is that this is a brand-new road and several houses had to be demolished to give birth with compensations paid promptly.
The entourage returned to Ibadan and visited the Engr Lere Adigun GRA, one of the new GRAs being constructed by his administration. The creativity here is the conversion of a vast land on which the Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria was located was converted into a more productive and income yielding housing estate. The government only exchanged its land ownership for a partnership with a private developer who is responsible for providing all the infrastructure and amenities such as road, power, water, and electricity. Already, about 124 dwelling units have emerged from the hitherto idle land where each plot was selling for N15 million at inception but has shot up to N50-N55m in just one year.
The government has not invested a kobo of its scarce resources but would be boosting its revenue when allotees pay for their plots. Additionally, the state would be earning Internally Generated Revenue from the estate subsequently. About 10 owners are already developing their plots to their standard. The unique things are nobody would be able to build individual fences and no generating sets. Everything is centrally provided and maintained by the realtors in charge. The Governor said that the concept would be replicated all over the state where government is not required to put in its scarce resources.
The most bullish of the projects visited was to Ibadan airport, where the road leading to the airport is being dualized as a precursor for making the airport commercially viable. The Government then took his guests to view the 500,000 litres fuel tank farm being installed by his administration in conjunction with a petroleum marketing company. Airport is on the exclusive list but that has not deterred the Government from transforming the Ibadan to international standard.
“We feel Ibadan deserves to have one flight per day; we want flights to be arriving and leaving the airport every 15 minutes. We want the Ibadan route to be commercially viable and profitable for the airlines. That is why we are fixing all the factors necessary to make this possible. The fuel tank farm has just been completed and the road leading to the airport will be completed soon. Then, we would proceed to improve on the runway. This will boost investment and expand the economy of the state when completed.”
To further ease travel in and around the state the entourage visited the greater Ibadan Circular Road project, started by former Governor Rasheed Ladoja, worked upon marginally by Late Governor Alao Akala but abandoned since 2011. Because of the impact the road would have on easing traffic congestion in the state, the Makinde administration has re-awarded the 110-kilometer road which will have bridges and interchanges. The first phase covers 32 kilometers and was recently flagged off by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State. The road encircles the urban area of Ibadan metropolis and will provide a strategic link between different parts of the ancient city. Without doubt, upon completion, this would transform the face of the city.
Overlooking the Ibadan Circular Road is the Senator Rasheed Ladoja GRA. According to Governor Makinde, “as our city continues to grow and our economy expands, there will be a constant need for housing needs to be met across income groups. Under its Public Private Partnerships, the government provides the land while the private developers come in and develop it.
The Governor also visited Government College, Ibadan, where he went to commission some projects worked upon by the Old Boys Association led by its President, Dr. Wale Babalakin. The Governor a brand-new constructed Lawn Tennis Court constructed by the 67/72 set of the Old Boys Association. The government has just handed over the school to the old boys for its management. The Governor explained his government’s willingness to hand over schools to the Alumni bodies who can meet the criteria that would be set for that purpose. Ge said the Government College experiment is a pilot-scheme to test-run the policy over the next two years after which others could apply to come on board.
Though the editors didn’t interface directly with the people on the streets to ask questions about their perception of the Governor and his performance so far. But if street jubilations are anything to go by everywhere visited, it could be safely inferred that his activities may be pleasing to the people. In some other environments, the people will give him a cold reception or be non-challant to his visit to their environment.
As recorded in the book of Proverbs in the Bible, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. But, when the ungodly rule the people mourn. In Oyo state the people seem to be at ease with Governor Seyi Makinde as he seems to have put the state on the path of increased prosperity and new entrepreneurial opportunities and the rich to thrive on. The Governor’s theme for his retreat this year is: “From poverty to prosperity”. Without doubt, the State appears set on a trajectory of growth. The Seyi Makinde’s example is what it takes to rekindle hope in democratic governance. If sustained, the electorate will start trusting their leaders once again.