2020: Public expectations and Makinde’s contract with Oyo citizens
As the New Year progresses, residents of Oyo State are anxiously looking forward to the governor of the state, seyi Makinde, on a number of issues, writes KUNLE ODEREMI
THE countdown to the first anniversary of the majority of the state governors will begin in a matter of weeks. With most of them having succeeded in subduing their arch rivals that headed for the election petition tribunals and even to the Supreme Court, in a few instances, there is huge public expectations of the governors from the citizens in 2020.
The compelling reasons behind the pervasive expectations are not far-fetched: the poor living condition of the citizens across the land despite the enormous human and natural resources; pre-election promises by the new governors to make a difference in the lives of the people if elected at the February 2019 general election.
How the state chief executives have so far kept faith with the people based on their promises and overcome certain obvious obstacles and challenges arising from efforts to ensure a paradigm shift in governance is bound to vary from state to state. But beyond that are the expectations of the populace particularly for the ‘brand’ new year.
It will recalled that even before his emergence as the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde set a template for himself. He vowed not to take the confidence of the people for granted. He frequently elucidated the content, direction and goal of his multifaceted blueprint codenamed #OyoState Roadmap for Accelerated Development, 2019-2023. He explained the rationale for him and his team to place the document in the public domain, even before he was elected as governor thus: “Our focus as a government will be to implement policies which will give our people the tools they need to lift themselves out of grinding poverty and lack. We published our Road Map for Accelerated Development, 2019-2023, three months before the elections. We want you to hold us to our promises.” Makinde further listed some of the major areas that will be addressed once he assumed office. “In that document, we set forth our policies for tackling the infrastructure deficits, enabling an efficient health sector, improving security, youth empowerment, social inclusion and protection. Our policies reflect an understanding of the magnitude of problems Oyo State people face and our determination to use the instruments of focused leadership to tackle them.”
With the inner conviction about the potentiality of the documents to herald a new dawn regeneration and renaissance, Makinde promised to walk the talk. From the beginning, he said a dynamic and pragmatic approach to governance by bonding with the citizenry, while at the same time, creating a conducive environment to grow the economy of the state. “I am running to be the people’s governor who represents our entire state and my plans for our economy will reflect this. Our government will invest in infrastructure, education and affordable healthcare. Whilst driving job creation by providing low-interest credit facilities and support for small business to make Oyo State an attractive place to do business, work and live.” he said.
The governor had also promises to touch lives more positively and meaningfully in different ways, and through realistic policies and programmes that would restore public confidence in government so that they sincerely claim ownership. In his words, “Employment is one of the best ways to fight rising crime rates, keep families together and build a stable society. One of the main priorities as your governor will be to provide an enabling environment for business so that more jobs can be created, ensure that workers’ salaries are paid as at when due and their rights are protected….Together, we will build a new Oyo State where everyone is an important stakeholder. Every person in Oyo State has a value and for us to transform our state for better, we must do it together. “It’s time we return Oyo State to a place where we treat each other with humility, dignity,” he said.
Walking the talk
Are there ample evidence indicative of his promise that his words have so far constituted his bond? While eight months out of a four-year tenure may be too short to gauge his activities as governor and rate his performance, do his actions so far hold much promise for 2020 and beyond, since the morning often shows the day?
Some of the key achievements of the administration include road rehabilitation that have brought to succor to both unban rural dwellers; payment of billions as gratuity to teachers, playing leading role by hosting the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission Security Summit to advocate for a regional approach to security challenges in South West Nigeria; procurement of 100 vehicles for use by the security agencies in Oyo State and the inauguration of a state Advisory Council made up of members across party lines to advise the government on the implementation of its development programmes and policies.
In his inaugural address as governor, Makinde had promised an open door policy and lead by example, as well take responsibility for the workings of every sector. “I want you to hold me accountable and I will also hold you accountable as we work as partners to bring Oyo State to glory,” he said. In order to restore the glory of the land, he promised to inject “new ideas and explore new initiatives, while at the same time partnering with local and foreign investors. Emphasising that his sojourn into politics was informed by “the way the wealth meant for everyone was being siphoned by a few to enrich themselves while leaving the masses in desperate poverty and dehumanizing suffering, and our land in ruin, he said, “We have an opportunity to change this and we will.”
Expectations in 2020
The governor has reassured that his administration remained committed to boosting the economic base of the state through diverse strategies, especially in the area of investments. The fresh impetus in that direction will have a positive domino effects, including the fight against poverty, unemployment, rural-urban drift.
A lot of the citizens are also expectant on the aggressive pursuit of revamping the agricultural sector by the administration. With the capacity of the sector to unleash the enormous potentialities on other key areas of the economy, the expectations are not misplaced. The consensus is that all the initiatives already put on ground, among which are bilateral talks with some countries to export maize to them coupled with ending the era of multiple taxations and creating opportunities for credit facilities, the results of these efforts will in doubt manifest more evidently in 2020 in doing business and in the lives of the state. As a matter of fact, a lot of people recall that in his bonding with the citizens, Makinde had various interactions with different stakeholders in the state. He recalled that the experience of the discussions which centred on critical sectors, especially on human capital, further equipped him for the task ahead, apart from reflecting the contents of his roadmap designed to reposition Oyo. He recollected that during the campaign that, “We spoke to farmers in settlements at Ipapo, Ilora, Eruwa, Ogbomosho, Iresaadu, Ijaiye, Akufo and Lalupon who complained about inability to access credit facilities, poor rural infrastructure especially feeder roads, difficulty in processing harvests, and lack of storage facilities. We listened to leaders and members of the Joint Farmers Association and agro-preneurs talk about the challenges in the agriculture sector and proffer solutions which we will implement. Our administration will make providing infrastructure a priority. “We spoke with parents of children in public secondary schools who out of their meager resources still have to scrounge N3,000 per child so that their children can get an education and increase their opportunities. Our region that housed the first university in Nigeria now has a state with the seventh highest number of out-of-school children. Over 400,000 children in Oyo State are out of school.” Today, there is a remarkable improvement in most of those key sectors because of the government intervention based on accountability, prudence and transparency. Aside relieving parents of the burden of paying school fees, the government has succeeded in throwing the school doors wide open because, according to Makinde, “Whoever opens a school door, opens an opportunity.”
The positive impact of the administration is equally discernible as Makinde said access to good healthcare by the people was non-negotiable. While the preponderance of public opinion is that the major turnaround in the health sector is indicative of the sincerity of the administration to restore hope, they believe the whole exercise is work in progress because of the need to make primary healthcare services readily available to rural dwellers where the bulk of the human population resides. However, it cannot go unnoticed the implementation of the health insurance scheme by the government with the participants’ base on a steady rise simply because of the immense benefits.
Being a unit of the whole, the state is bedeviled by grinding poverty among the people. This has been acknowledged by the governor, whose government has embarked on pragmatic measures to tackle what he described as the biggest issue facing the people of Oyo State. To tackle the menace headlong, he said: “We need money to confront poverty. Oyo State needs money. Right now, Oyo State’s income stands at 33% from Internally Generated Revenue and over 60% FAAC allocations. This is why we are constantly in a cycle of debt and liability. This model is unsustainable. It has to change.”
The inherent message in that exhortation will continue to resonate in the minds of both the governor and the governed as the year 2020 progresses. While the citizens will continue to fact-check his sustenance of his capacity to keep faith with them, Makinde is bound to remain on his toes as he marches on as a man that has date with destiny and posterity as the governor of the political headquarters of the Yoruba land.