CIVIL servants and teachers will form the first line of defence in the impending battle against the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde. His achievements in office are as long as my grandmother’s wrapper. Unparalleled and fairy-tale projects and programmes that have thrown the state into mouth-gaping wonder. I remember once asking where he got the money in these lean times. He refused to surrender civil service recruitment to politicians who had even given themselves alloted shares of the number to be recruited. Merit became the order of the day. It is clear there has been very little room for those who wanted to make easy money on the state. Strident noises of cheating and abandonment and sidelinning grew into a crescendo maturing into the protest convention of aggrieved partymen last Monday. It was a shock to see critics who had advocated merit and probity echoing the voice of the politicians whose major complaint was their not being given positions and contracts.
The cost of taking care of these jobbers was the salaries and pensions Seyi has promptly paid with magical clockwork precision. There is no question they voted Seyi. But so did many others in the state who wanted a change. Unlike APC’s change, Gov Makinde has consistently delivered. He has carried out a massive civil service recruitment based in the main on pure merit. He has rebuilt and innovated several crumbling public infrastructure. From education to sports; from the economy to security; Makinde has stood above many other governors. Programmes are also being executed with such unusual speed and precision. Where was all this money before? He has indeed exceeded the expectations of many. The politicians left out in the scheme of things saw red and have mounted the relentless campaign against Makinde. Unfortunately, however, the real issues are not lost on the politics savvy populace.
Obviously bent on the path he chose for his regime, Gov. Makinde has stood aloof of godfathers and self appointed power centers who wanted to make money and enlarge themselves. They conveniently forget that while they formed the coalition at party level, it is the populace that did the real job of voting him in. Next time out, politicians would think twice before investing resources in the hope that the outcome would give them access to the treasury. PDP is not the aggrieved party or the source of the dissent. Seyi has been a bold lighthouse for the tottering party in the southwest. Wildly popular and people- friendly; he is the only governor who would stand to appease rioters and they listened. The true root of this conflict is the rumbling bellies of professional party men who treat politics as purely business. Their plummage has been ruffled by the stubborn strand called Seyi Makinde. The populace could clearly see that the difference between the failure of the previous dispensation and the new polity is the gaping mouths of political jobbers.
Will the people accept a return to school fees; a return to non payment of salaries, pension and gratuity; return of 3SC to the junior league; recruitment based purely on godfatherism and nepotism? A regime that could satisfy the growling stomachs of idle politicians and ten percenters will definitely pay for it with such critical social services. Civil servants will be forced to accept salaries paid on the 49th day of the month as of old while thousands of school children will be back on the streets for failure to pay school fees. The difference is clear. The battle line is clearly drawn. It is not not an APC/ PDP flare. It is a conflict between deeper forces. A groaning society will rise up against those who pocketed school fees and pensions and collected payment without performing contracts. If their angst and cacophony is the price to pay for what goes on in Oyo today, then it is a price paid. Godfatherism will meet it’s grave in Oyo politics and fail to rise again. In this conflict, I forecast the voting populace will stand resolutely behind Gov. Oluseyi Makinde. It is up to the protesters to embrace the Makinde revolution or accept political extinction.
- Ogunwusi, a legal practitioner, is a former editor of Nigerian Tribune.
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