“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”—Epictetus
The Greek philosopher, Epictetus, lived in the First Century and gave many teachings and philosophies that have not only outlived him, but also remain as poignant as ever. One of such was the quotation above, that “the greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it…,” a sapient statement that speaks to the Oyo State voters, who must overcome the difficulties exemplified by the threats of violence and desperation of internal and external forces, to vote for the candidate after their hearts, Mr Seyi Makinde, the standard-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Saturday’s election.
Already, the voice of the people of Oyo State has been clear, resonating across the state that they will not leave their state at the mercy of external political actors, whose main intention is to win at all cost so that they can use it as bargaining chip for the 2023 presidency. That voice, ringing loud from Ogbomoso to Ibadan, has expressly showed the people’s determination to put an end to a peculiar mess that has been visited upon the state for eight years under the All Progressives Congress (APC) before it becomes a peculiar misery. That voice culminated in the adoption of Makinde as the candidate of the major opposition parties such as the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), among other parties, last Monday.
In a few days, I believe, the people’s will triumph and this will lend credence to the saying that the voice of man is the voice of God. On the side of the people is Makinde, a man whose greatest strengths in the race remain his antecedents as an “Omoluabi” and connection with the electorate, having been a tested promise-keeper with fervid commitment to restoring the glory of Oyo State as a pace-setter.
Clearly, if Oyo State needs anything today, it is restoration; bringing back the glorious days when the state towers above others in human capital development and infrastructure. And if the state needs anyone so desperately who can get the job done, that man is Seyi Makinde. Makinde, despite his age, is the most experienced, in terms of preparation to govern the state, having made several attempts to, traversing the length and breadth of Oyo State as governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 2015 and that of PDP in 2019. His policy document for turning around the state demonstrates his sound reflections on the challenges of the state and how best to surmount them in the shortest time possible.
In the document, entitled “Oyo State Roadmap for Accelerated Development, 2019-2023”, Makinde identified key areas in which the state has retrogressed or where it needs massive turnaround, charting plans to bring back the glorious days and also launch the state into greatness.
On agriculture and food security, Makinde, while addressing a crowd of supporters during the kick-off of his campaign in Ogbomoso, lamented how the state had a world-class potential in agriculture, but how its achievements in that regard had been under par.
For a state that served as the seat of the Western Region, which achieved greatness under its first Premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, through proceeds from agriculture, recording many feats such as the construction of the first Olympic-sized stadium in Africa, the construction of the first skyscraper on the continent, free education and free healthcare, it can only sadden discerning minds that the state is now beggarly and a shadow of itself.
In order to ensure that the state achieves its full potential in agriculture and food security, Makinde, in an interview, stated that if elected, his government would improve the productivity of farmers in Oyo State by strengthening production in areas where the state has comparative advantage for commercial agriculture and link production to markets. It is also a key component of the PDP candidate’s plan to improve agro-processing activities in the state.
As part of the critical interventions to be made in the agriculture sector, if elected on Saturday, Makinde, while expatiating on his programmes for restoring Oyo State’s lost glory in agriculture, promised to open and maintain rural feeder and farm settlement roads in less than nine months of his election. If this is done, not only will the state breathe fresh air economically, the teeming rural dwellers in the state, domiciled in Oke Ogun, Ibarapa, Ogbomoso and other axis, will enjoy better life as their roads will no longer be death traps.
Apart from opening and maintaining roads to boost the transportation of agricultural produce, Makinde stated during a campaign visit to Kajola Local Government Area that he would make the state reach its full potential in agriculture through agro-processing activities, by seeing to the establishment of cottage industries in commodities clustered areas through Public-Private Partnership (PPP). In recognition of the place of importance Oyo State can occupy in cassava and fruit production, Makinde has also promised to see to the establishment of cassava and fruit products processing plants.
In recognition of the popular saying that health is wealth, Makinde, in his template for the reform of the health sector, hinted on how the government will develop the Oyo State Strategic Health Development Plan with constitutional backing and approval, using the National Strategic Health Plan as a template, while also stressing the importance of public-private partnership initiative for the provision of drugs and vital equipment for the sector.
Makinde had, during his speech at the Ogbomoso Declaration, lamented how badly things have gone for Oyo State which hosts the first and best tertiary health facility in Nigeria, the University College Hospital, Ibadan. At the event, he highlighted his plan to urgently intervene to save the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, an edifice that has been abandoned and left to rot by the APC government for eight years, stating that under his supervision, no health facility would be left to rot as they are in the state.
For anyone who has come in close contact with Makinde, one of his greatest sources of pride has been the fact that he was a beneficiary of the late Governor Bola Ige’s free education scheme as a student of Bishop Phillips’ Academy, Ibadan, which he attended between 1980 and 1985, graduating with a School Certificate result that was not bettered for close to 30 years.
Makinde never stopped to talk about how thousands of Oyo State children can be availed of the kind of opportunities he enjoyed, while trying to give back to the society that gave so much to him, building classrooms, giving bursary awards to thousands of students over a period of more than five years and providing assistance to schools. For him, restoring Oyo State’s lost glory in education entails improving the academic performance of students in the state, rebuilding educational infrastructure, improving teacher to students ratio and ensuring better packages for teachers and students in an improved learning environment. As highlighted in the Education Development Plan inculcated in the PDP candidate’s Oyo State Road Map for Accelerated Development, if elected governor, not only would the education system in the state rank among the best in the country, it would also assume its rightful place as the primus inter pares.
Without a doubt, the PDP governorship candidate goes into Saturday’s election with the most concrete plans on how to transform the economy of the state, being an achieved engineer and entrepreneur who started the Makon Group from the scratch and built it to international acclaim. Makinde had wowed his audience few weeks ago when, in response to a question on how much he was worth, at the Splash FM Governorship Debate organised in Ibadan, said he was paying N1.5 billion in taxes to the Federal Government. His opponents, rather than finding answers to the poser about how a better-placed Makinde is to improve the economy of the state, had quickly filed to town with baseless claims and arguments.
In his policy document, Makinde explained how he intends to make Oyo State the hub of economic activities and investors’ preferred destination, highlighting several strategies to ensure that the ease of doing business improves in the state. He had, in recognition of the contributions of market men and women as well as hundreds of individuals whose businesses have been crippled by harsh government policies, to the economy of the state, assured them traders and artisans of better life when he is elected.
The Makinde template for the development of Oyo State, a comprehensive package that addresses all sectors including housing, youth empowerment and social inclusion and security, among others, provides a look-in into the mind of the PDP governorship candidate as the state heads to the poll. But do people need a look-in into the mind of man who has proven himself to be their friend in all weathers? For over 10 years, Makinde has remained in the life of Oyo State and many of its people; helping lives, building structures and giving hope. From an annual bursary award to students across all the 33 local government areas of the state to other forms of empowering people, Makinde has, since 2007, when he first contested election as senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) till date, been building trust and raising an army of supporters who would claim the victory in Saturday’s governorship election. One can only hope that the circling hawks will allow the will of the people to prevail.
Ajao, an agriculture expert, writes from Oyo