By Tunde Babatunde
There is a reason the party that has ruined our last eight years, making Nigeria the global capital of poverty, talks about rescuing Oyo State from Governor Seyi Makinde: shamelessness laced with arrogance. They don’t have shame. Seized by the spirit of slumber, the same guys who made Christmas and the New Year celebrations such a terrible tale for us all through fuel crisis and pervasive insecurity assume that we shall cast their baggage of stench aside and reward them with our votes while reviving their ghost in Ibadan Government House. The illogic is astounding: they are busy ruining our present, but keep reminding us that destroying our future is in our best interest.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) was in charge of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) for many years but neither staff nor student had any joy: the school was permanently shut, neither that party nor their leaders could be bothered.
If we have started this piece telling the LAUTECH story, it is because under Engineer Makinde’s joyous rule in the Pacesetter State it has become customary to take so many things for granted. LAUTECH, rendered prostrate for years by the APC government, is now fulfilling its mission in history, fully owned by Oyo State and expanding to provide greater opportunities for growth. That’s what good governance is about, isn’t it?
Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration came on board returning millions of primary and secondary school children to school, outlawing the N3,000 tuition fees imposed by his predecessor and which had aborted the dreams of many. Poverty in this clime is such a horrendous tale, and Makinde remembering how the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, re-wrote the history of the Yoruba people and of the present South-South through free education, acted fast to save a generation. He engaged in massive teacher recruitment and made prompt payment of salaries, together with the 13th salary that lubricates December celebrations, just another routine. And, in an unprecedented manner, last month, he paid all pensioners in the state N10,000 each as Christmas bonus. Pensioners trooped to their banks to collect their entitlements, commending and urging God’s blessings upon the man referred to simply as Seyi.
From education to sports, the story is the same. Seyi came into office and pursued the upgrade and construction of sports centres with vigour. The Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, went from poor to excellent, and it has become the darling of Nigeria where major matches now take place. A mini stadium sprung up in Igboora, Ibarapa, while the reconstruction of Olubadan mini stadium, Ibadan and the upgrade of Durbar Stadium, Oyo, the Soun Stadium, Ogbomoso and the Saki Township stadium is stunning naysayers. But Makinde was not done: he remodeled the Ebedi Township Stadium, Iseyin and made the Bodija Recreation Centre, Ibadan, such a beauty to behold. It was no surprise that the 2020 World Boxing Featherweight Championship bout between Rilwan Oyekola (Scorpion) and Argentine Lucas Mattias Montezino was hosted in Oyo State at Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort.
Sports is back in Oyo State, and the Ibadan soccer centre is blazing forth triumph. Everyone knows that. Only last month, the Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC), rendered prostrate for years, took the nation by storm. The Oluyole Warriors won the Nigeria Professional Football League’s Dozy Mmobuosi Super Cup, going home with the N100 million prize money.
This was a team that, pre-Makinde, was merely the stuff of legend. Makinde reawakened the winning spirits of Oyo’s sport teams, taking the 3SC from relegation in 2021 to winning the Super Cup and moving Team Oyo to fourth place on the medal’s table at the 2022 National Sports Festival, a record finish. It is a verity, as the state government itself enthused, that the entirety of Oyo State residents who longed for a return to the pacesetting heights in sports for many years have now got the fulfillment of their aspirations under Governor Makinde. It is not fortuitous that after 21 years of lull, Ibadan hosted an international soccer match last year, its heritage held aloft. Seyi! What joy! What ecstasy! Look out for the new Lawals, Adepojus…Soccer samba is here again, and it’s marvelous in our sight.
Seyi was marking only his third year in office when it emerged that his government had constructed 56 model schools and completed the renovation of 200 primary health care centres in the drive to ensure the existence of at least one functional PHC in each of the 351 Electoral Wards of the state. Increased private sector participation in the agribusiness sector had enabled the state to attract ?23bn in agribusiness investments, as well as securing another $125 million in development partner-blended finance for rural roads, agro logistics, market and industrial hubs. And who can forget that last year, the United Nations rated Ibadan as second fastest growing city in the whole of Africa? Who can forget that just two years into his tenure, Makinde embarked on the beautification of the Oyo environment with the construction of modern bus terminals strategically located at exits and entrance of Ibadan? They are in Iwo Road (ongoing), Challenge (completed) and Ojoo (completed).
Taking the construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges and junction improvement to decongest traffic within major cities as an article of faith, he built the General Gas Flyover, completed the Challenge/Felele junction improvement and ensured the dualisation of the 9.7km Saki township road, including road furniture such as traffic signals, lay byes, road marking and zebra crossing. Then came the construction of the computerized VIS Centre at Idi-Ape, acquisition of 106 buses for mass transit scheme; commencement of ‘Light up Oyo,’ which covers 223.48km of roads across the state.
The more interesting story, namely how the Makinde administration evolved a robust institutional and regulatory framework for the transport sector, inaugurating the Park Management System in February 2020 to manage and control the system for efficient transport service delivery, monitor the IGR and orderliness in parks and regulate the activities of commercial motorcyclists and tricycle operators, is worth telling.
If in Oyo State you are not hearing stories of violence and carnage at motor parks, you have this system, now being handled by local government, to thank for it. According to analysts, the administration has separated policy-making from transport management, which is why Pacesetter Transport Services Ltd, a state-owned company runs the bus transportation as a commercial entity within the framework set by the government.
Inter-township roads have sprung up at will under Makinde’s watch, whether you are talking of the 21km Airport-Ajia-New Ife Express Road with a spur to Amuloko, the 45.3km Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho Road, the 9.7km Saki Township Road, the Idi-Ape-Bashorun-Akobo-Odogbo Barracks road or the 5.2km Gedu-Oroki-Sabo-Asipa road. There is the brand new 70-kilometer Iseyin-Ogbomoso road, which is a revolution in cross-zonal linkage and integration. It provides a convenient alternative to commuters going to the north central part of Nigeria from Oyo State.
The government has been keen to provide adequate transport infrastructure and services for uniform socio-economic development in the state by embarking on reconstruction and rehabilitation of the existing roads and improving rural roads. The story is the same in Ibadan, Ibarapa, Ogbomoso, Iseyin, Oyo or Oke-Ogun. The reconstruction of Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin Road, rehabilitation of the 45.3km Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho road, the Awotan-Apete-Akufo Road – a rigid concrete pavement road and the Akingbile-Lagbeja-Ajibode road, etc, are all part of the road revolution for which millions of Oyo residents have been quite ecstatic.
Let’s not forget our women. The Makinde administration hasn’t forgotten them. Just take a look at its women affairs and social inclusion policies, including the domestication of International Convention on Violence Against Women and the gender balance in all decision-making positions. Consider the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill 2021 and the appointment of women into government positions, a project which ties in with Makinde’s child rights policies. The administration inaugurated the Family Court on July 7, 2020 and complemented this with the appointment of qualified judges, magistrates and assessors for proper and professional adjudication of the family related cases and implementation of the Child Right Law 2006 of Oyo State. Among others, it has sought to provide an enabling environment to survival, protection, development and participation of children, especially vulnerable ones.
It has provided shelter for vulnerable children in the state: the Abiamo Sexually Abused Referral Centre to serves as one-stop spot for handling sexual and gender based violence cases and wholesome treatment of survivors/victims of sexually abused children. The visionary administration has a Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Zero Tolerance to Child Labour, Trafficking, Rape and other forms of children abuse.
Amotekun, of which he is chief visioner, is a story that must be told in another intervention. Seyi has forged an impenetrable coalition with the people of Oyo State. He will definitely be re-elected for another four years.
*Babatunde wrote from Iseyin, Oyo State