BY the time Governor Seyi Makinde was being inaugurated as the chief executive in Oyo State on May 29, 2019, the stakes were already high. And it was for the obvious reasons. So many things had gone wrong with the administration of the state in the tail end of the then out-going administration. Thus, the coming of Makinde onto the stage was laced with so much expectations from the people. For one thing, there was a general state of anomie in the state and everyone wanted a paradigm shift. For another reason, there were heightened calls for a younger generation of politicians to take over the real of leadership in the state. Although Governor Makinde and his closest rival in the election both have the age advantage, the former had an edge on the account that every segment of the society considered him as having a more likeable character. All the political parameters for Makinde’s election was in a perfect balance for him to emerge victorious at the election.
Even before he was officially sworn-in, expectation was thick in the air that Makinde should be able to match the high tide of political goodwill that brought him in with a commensurate policy wizardry. And in a deft and calculated move, the government launched the fulfillment of his Omi Tuntun policy campaign with an announcement of a free and qualitative education in all public primary and secondary schools in Oyo State. The free education initiative of the Makinde administration is only comparable in scale to what the Bola Ige government implemented throughout the old Oyo State between 1979 and 1983. As a matter of fact, the principal driving force of Governor Makinde is that he, being a beneficiary of the Bola Ige free education policy, owes the current generation of students in Oyo State to re-enact a good-spirited policy of free education in order to widen the space of access to qualitative education and also to lessen the burden on parents and guardians who struggle to keep their children and wards in private schools.
The free education policy of the Makinde government includes the supply of free text books to students, extra coaching classes for students writing the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams. It also includes the rehabilitation of hundreds of education infrastructure across the state and the provision of classroom furniture for schools across the state. The government is also currently undertaking the recruitment of over 10,000 teachers in the first phase of the exercise to employ more hands into the teaching cadre in all public schools. One of the consequences of the innovative education policies of the Makinde administration is the massive withdrawal of pupils and students from private schools to public schools. At least 30 per cent of the student population in the private schools across the state were withdrawn by their parents/guardians and registered in public schools. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant closure of all schools in Oyo State in order to control the spread of the Corona Virus, the state government also kick-started a programme called school-on- air, through which school pupils in Oyo State learn via public communication channels on radio and television. In the area of health, the Makinde administration is focusing its public healthcare campaign with a restructuring of healthcare facilities in Oyo State by making sure that each geo-political zone in the state has at least one functional general hospital.
It is an age-long truism that health is wealth. The healthier a population is, the more productive, this forms the core of Governor Makinde’s belief. The major advantage in the current administration’s public healthcare policy in Oyo State is the confidence that is quietly being restored for the patronage of public healthcare facilities across the state. In order to ensure that the gains currently being made in the health sector is sustainable, the government has introduced a health insurance policy for civil servants and the general public in Oyo State. In responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, the administration took a swift and proactive step in facilitating the establishment of a laboratory facility in Oyo State at the University College Hospital, (UCH), Ibadan. Another laboratory has just been set up to cater to the state’s commitment to ramp up COVID-19 testing. In addition to these laboratories, the Oyo State government, within a short space of time, also converted the pediatrics hospital in Olodo area of Ibadan to a 100-bed isolation facility – not just for treatment of Covid-19 infections, but for other infectious diseases. The facility, when inspected by the leadership of the NCDC and representatives of the World Health Organisation during a visit to Oyo State, was adjudged one of the best in the country. Apart from this centre, the state has also put up other isolation centres like the 10-bed facility at Agbami, Jericho, Ibadan, which has been upgraded and the 100-bed facility in Saki. Other facilities are also being expanded or constructed in places like Igbo-ora, Ogbomoso, and Aawe, near Oyo town.
On security, the state government facilitated the purchase of 100 police patrol vehicles equipped with ultra-modern security and communication gadgets, which were distributed across major police and other security formations across Oyo State. It also sited a new Mobile Police Squadron base in Ago-are, Oke Ogun axis of the state to take care of the security needs of the agriculture base of the state and also the international borders on that axis. Security in the state is also currently being enhanced with increment in police surveillance capacity with security camera and street lights projects. Also, the government purchased operational vehicles for the newly formed security outfit codenamed Amotekun and this is in addition to other essential equipment for use by operatives of the new agency. To ensure that the Amotekun Corps make necessary impacts in the security of Oyo State, the state government has announced the appointment of seasoned security experts as heads of the agency in the state. In the area of public infrastructure, the Oyo State government is currently embarking on the construction of Moniya-Iseyin road; Awotan-Apete-Akufo road and at least 10 others including bridges across the five geopolitical zones.Other public works currently going on in Oyo State include the following: Light Up Oyo State Project, the phase one of which is largely domiciled in Ibadan; the investment in solar energy sources to light up palaces of key traditional rulers and major markets in the state; flag-off of four ultramodern bus terminals and the launching of operation zero-potholes.
The primary objective of the Governor Makinde administration is to stimulate the economy of Oyo State by investing in public facilities that would help the growth of industrial and other semi-industrial activities in Oyo State. The administration is of the absolute belief that a robust industrial economy would not only increase the Internally Generated Revenue of the state, but in addition and more importantly, create massive job opportunity for the people of the state.
Consequently, the government is currently undertaking efforts to turnaround moribund industries and companies such as Pacesetter Asphalt and Quarry company and the rehabilitation of Agbowo Shopping Complex in Ibadan.
The government has also supported farmers through the distribution of improved seedlings to 10,000 farmers in order to ensure Food Security post-Covid-19. The payment of a N350 million counterpart fund for the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), which is sponsored with counterpart funding from the World Bank, French Development Bank and Africa Development Bank will also enable the state to construct over 1000 kilometres of roads.
- Balogun writes in from Ibadan
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