Just as discussion is ongoing within and outside the Oyo State political circle as per his chances in his second term bid come 2023, the governor of the state, Engr. Seyi Makinde has come out to state clearly why he should be given another opportunity to steer the affairs of the pace setter state once more. Of course it is obvious that the election won’t be an easy run for Makinde. Judging by the caliber of people to slug it out with him in the coming election, especially the candidate of the major opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Teslim Folarin. Makinde has the former senate leader and the current senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Teslim Folarin and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bayo Adelabu of the Accord to contend with in the election. Makinde, who is seeking reelection under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party, however, appears to be fully prepared for the battle ahead. Answering questions on a radio program (Political Circuit on Fresh 205.9 FM) recently, the cool, calm and confident Makinde didn’t mince words as he reeled out achievements of his administration in over three and half years since he came on board. Makinde is hinging his confidence in his second term bid on his many achievements, which he said had been captured in his roadmap for accelerated development ‘Omituntun 1.0’. And his plans to work on the areas he may not have done well in the first term in another roadmap, which he called Sustainable Development ‘Omituntun 2.0’. Other areas which he said will be captured in his second term roadmap include but not limited to solid mineral and tourism. The interview session was a no holds barred one, as Makinde was firing from all cylinders. He has probably never been seen in this manner before. He tackled mostly all questions threw at him brilliantly.
According to the governor, “Tourists are coming to Oyo State every week. Why are they coming? And somebody is saying I use diesel to power streetlights. That the light up Oyo project is expensive. Let me say to the people of Oyo State. As an engineer I do know that gas engine doesn’t come off the shelf. It takes close to 18 months. We had COVID-19, add eleven months to 18 months, that is almost two and half years. That is almost the life of this administration. I can’t wait for that long. I had to put that infrastructure there because it has ramification for the security of our state. If people can come here and you have light at night. We can have an economy that won’t shutdown by 7pm. So I decided to power the lights with diesel while we wait for gas and Independent Power Project to come in. The decision we took was to light up the whole place to extend our economy improve our security. Even at a fractional investment cost to start with. Now some of the diesel generators have been changed to gas, the IPP is ongoing too.”
Saying that Ibadan is the dirtiest city in the south west or Nigeria is not a new thing. The thing is that I have been hearing same while growing up. That is our reality. And if the previous administration said they have solved the problem, why are we back to this point? The meaning is that the problem has actually not been solved. The Oyo State waste management authority was not functional at all when we came in. There was no single individual there, no board in place. They have discarded it. We revived it. I went out personally, people may say it is populism or whatever they want to say. But I led by example to create awareness on the fact that we have to keep our environment clean. The reality is that most of those in the waste management sector are crooks. I have brought one task force after the other but people eating and feeding, without value, on the waste management value chain are so many. And if the problem is not solved, it will keep coming back to us. We have to keep pushing untill we evolve an architecture that will be sustainable. When I was running for election in 2018, I brought out a roadmap and I promised that it would be roadmap for accelerated development of Oyo State 2019-2023. Based on what we have experienced we now say look, we are bringing a roadmap again but this time around for sustainable development 2023-2027. Waste management is one them. We have an architecture that we believe will work. We know that we are up against organized crooks. We paid the consultant that the previous administration was owing when we came in. We let them out and revived the Oyo State waste management authority. We put money into fixing some of the compactors that we inherited at the local government level. Now we have gotten to a point where we say okay, this thing has worked here. We aquire almost 100 compactors working on a daily basis. I know of a government who bought one compactor per local government, did it work? No. So, for it to be sustainable we have to get the right people involved. Also, the mindset of our people because when you take your waste from your house and take it to the median and dump it there, you are contravening the environmental law. If you haven’t paid for your waste to be picked by PSP that is supposed to remove the waste from your neighborhood, you are also contravening the law. So we need massive enlightenment for our people because if you want something to be sustainable you have to address it from the root. When I was growing up wherever it rained it felt like it was time to dump our waste inside the flood. As a child I didn’t know where this waste will end up. There are people in the state that still don’t know how the waste management system should work. We have to let them know. We also have to massively deploy environmental health officials to engage with the people. Because when we were growing up we also had the sanitary inspectors. Whenever they were coming everybody will get his or her house clean the day before. It require a lot of money and government doesn’t have the money to face it all alone. So people have to pay and indeed people are paying but there is a mismatch in investment. So it takes time for you to get to the root of the matter. We have been able to identify some couple of honest, genuine people that want to invest in the Oyo State waste management. Awotan and Ajakanga were the main refuse dump sites that we have. Those were supposed to be ground fill. But the first time I visited Awotan water in the whole area is contaminated. We have been able to solve that, and some couple of weeks ago I signed four other dump sites around Ibadan. They are not just dump sites, they will be true landfill investment. Am not the kind of person that will play politics with people in terms of environmental sanitation. Because if we do we will pay dearly for it. People will go more to health centres. If our environment is not clean our people will get sick. We have the architecture, people should bear with us. Yes, we haven’t scored 100% as far as waste management is concerned. I wish we can do a lot better at this point in time but people should not make it difficult. It’s an issue that has been around for a while. The previous administration tried but didn’t not succeed. When you have problem you can decide to paper on it and let it appear that it has been solved. But for this administration if we tell you that a problem is solved then believe it is solved. We have employed about 300 environmental health officers that we believe will engage with the people. So they can have the right type of mindset. It’s not government’s problem alone. It’s not those in government that are putting waste in the median. It’s a problem for all of us. The government is supposed to lead, the people have to change their attitude and once we meet in the middle then our problem will be far reduced.
As promised during the electioneering campaign in 2018 to use agriculture to solve unemployment problem and for the state to be self sustaining when it comes to issue of food. Well, it is not my data, Oyo State had the lowest food inflation in the country for 2021. On the 4 pillars of this administration, expansion of our economy is a major part. And we said we would expand our economy through AgricBusiness. Just few months back I was at Ado-Awaye to commission the sorbitol factory. What do they do? They take cassava and turn it to syrup then to sorbitol. That investment alone is about 15 or 20 billion naira. In terms of the people that are supplying cassava to the plant. You see cassava vehicles coming into the plant from all over; from Osun, Ogun and other places to process it. That is a big win for Oyo State. You must have also heard about our youths that we sent to Nasarawa CSS Farm to learn about modern way of agriculture and Agric Business. We have also collaborated with IITA on stem program. We went to schools to start them early. We have reignited students investment in agriculture and Agric Business. And in terms of physical development, we have converted Fasola from a farm settlement to a farm estate. Eruwa is on the line. We had an agreement with French government to have farmers market at Akufo. Gone are the days when government will own business. That is not the business of government right now. Look at Cocoa House, people say oh! Cocoa House was built with Cocoa money. Yes, at that time businesses being run by government was the in thing. Even the western countries that were practicing that then, that we followed, after some time those companies were privatized. So it’s not Oyo State government to own Agric Business. It’s the business of Oyo State to provide the enabling environment for those businesses to thrive. And where do we have the major agrarian settlement? It’s the Oke-Ogun axis of the state. But by November 2019 what this government did was to award the contract to link the Oke-Ogun area to Ibadan, the urban centre. And why is it now that people from Lagos come to Oyo State, Ibadan precisely, to buy foodstuffs? It’s because we have fresh produce here. Because you can easily move from the production centres to the urban settlement and onward to Lagos. Look at the road from Oyo through Fasola to Iseyin, it’s ongoing right now. It’s a federal road but because it hits at the centre of our Agric Business we are doing it. It took us more that a year to get the approval from the federal government to fix that road. Look at from Saki to Ogbomoso to Igboho, it’s work in progress right now. It’s also to link those agrarian centres. We also decided to fix a brand new road, 78 kilometers from Iseyin to Ogbomoso. Because Ogbomoso axis plus Ilorin, we want to link them to the centre of Agric Business which is Oke-Ogun axis of Oyo State. So how more can you create an enabling environment other than provide these infrastructures. Also if you go to the sorbitol factory at Ado-Awaye, it’s in the middle of nowhere. If you’re not sure of safety and security you won’t do business in there. We have been able to ensure that people are safe and secure in Oyo State. We have linked most parts of Oyo State and we are still linking them. Igangan to Igboora, I have given the local governments in those axis to start fixing those places. They have created the link already. I have been there by myself physically. Sometimes I go in the middle of the night so when I say this is the situation, you should believe that is the actual situation. We are seeing the results. Oyo State has been designated as the special Agro-Processing Zone. We signed the agreement some days ago. Fanmilk is here, British American Tobacco is here, Oriental and all of them. They have been there before we came in but we reignited the secured environment for then to operate.
Also, the first year we came on board they said we should give farmers seeds, fertilizer etc. When I checked the record for the 3 previous farming years I discovered that about 10,000 farmers benefited from the inputs. I said okay, before I start giving you these farm inputs I want to have phone numbers of these 10,000 farmers. Number 2, I want to know the location of their farms and how big are the farms. When they came back they said it wasn’t 10,000 farmers again, that it is 4,000. They gave me data of the 4000 and I asked those in charge of our call centre to call those numbers. To confirm their farm locations and the number indeed further reduced to about 1,800. Before now we based our government on lies and false data. So for this administration it’s almost like being in a hole and finding a way out. In such situation what you do first is to stop digging. So we can’t rely on the previous data, we have to start from the scratch. So the list we were able to establish we took their biometric and took proper accounts of their outputs and all that. So we have laid a foundation for things to move and start running correctly. That is why out of the 6 states that AFDB designated as special Agro-Processing Zone, Oyo State is one of them. When that happens you should know that it is based on a very incontrovertible data. It means we have been able to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that our programs and policies that are yielding results. And which others states in the country have been copying.
DESTITUTE & STREET BEGGING
As government we invested money to relocate these people to Moniya and even put doctors there. We also registered those that were removed from the streets. It cost government a lot of money. Within 3 to 4 weeks we find that they have been leaving one after the other. Despite the fact that we were also giving them food there. But because it has become a way of life for some people they just had to leave. Why is it that if you stand, for instance at Bodija market, you may see beggars in the morning but when you go back there in the night they don’t sleep by the roadside. Who is coming to carry them and to where? Who is bringing them back in the morning? What it means is that we had focused all along on the wrong set of people. Some people are responsible for this trading, the godfathers. There are some people hiding behind in using these people for business. The money they realize on a daily basis is going somewhere. So untill we are able to apprehend those godfathers and prosecute them any money we spend on evacuating people from the streets and all of that will still amount to a waste. We are on the issue. It’s a top security process and we are also looking at Kisi. By the time we apprehend these godfathers, anybody that has been captured in our database and is seen of the street again will be taken to Kisi. Most of these beggars are not from Oyo State mind you. You and I know where most of them are from. We know the economic situation of the country. So it’s a challenge that must be handled with care.
EDUCATION & GRANTS
First, when it is government money there must be accountability. Remember from the previous administration, there is no record of the 3,000 fees paid by students. No record of compliance rate and no record of utilisation. They just collect it at various schools. They utilize it at various schools and no return whatsoever. Maybe you can excuse that but when you are taking money from government coffers to give as grants, there must be return. They must tell us how much they spent and on what. But because the school principals and the school governing board have gotten used to taking this money as part of their emoluments, no accountability. When we came in we gave them the grant and asked them to retire same. It became a big problem. We made then understand the fact that the money is never a free money. It’s government’s money which must be accounted for. We said we will give you half of the grant and give you more time to retire it. And do you know how they calculate it? They take number of students and multiply it by 3,000 and I asked, is it all the students that have been paying the money before we came in? So if it’s 50% and I give you half of the money you should be able to manage. It is the issue of accountability that has been stalling the release of grants timely. You should also know that it is only our government in the history of this state that has refused to play politics with critical areas. Most of the members of the school governing board were card-carrying members of APC. So we scraped the board and reconstituted with people of impeccable characters, lovers of education. With this new reconstituted board, the grant has reduced from 400m naira to about 160m naira. And am still not satisfied that we are giving value for our people.
Did you know how we got to the issue of consultant for tetiary institutions? The Polytechnic of Ibadan governing board came to me that they want more subvention. The subvention we were paying to tetiary institutions is close to 2b naira monthly. I told them that this subvention is to pay salaries and to meet some basic needs, what about your IGR? Are students not paying fees in these schools? Your IGR is to be paid to the government. A middle of the road approach is that am not going to increase the subvention and you also don’t disclose your IGR to us. And for us to strike a balance in all these we put a consultant there. They are not controlling them. Why is it difficult for us to run a system that is transparent? It has enabled us to deploy the resources of the schools correctly.
When we came in we noticed some gaps. And our own idea is not to squeeze ourselves in a small space. The idea is linking the entire state, linking our zones. We have 5 major zones Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun. They all have one unique thing or the other that they are bringing on the table, for the overall development of the state. So we started with the linking of the zones and our roadmap, 2 major pillars of expansion of our economy. We have succeeded in linking Ibadan with Iseyin, 65 kilometers. We are linking Oyo to Iseyin, 34 kilometers. We are linking Ogbomoso to Iseyin, 78 kilometers and we are linking Oke-Ogun, that is Iganna through Igangan to Igboora and then to Eruwa. We are linking Eruwa to Ibadan. The only visible first term achievement of the previous administration was the Mokola bridge, for four years. Then the second term they did the road from Challenge to Tollgate (Arisekola Way) to Lam Adesina Way. Dugbe-Eleyele Road onward Onireke. They also fixed the roundabout at Iseyin. They started Saki township road but it wasn’t completed. So tell me anywhere in Oyo State, of course they claimed they started that Apata-Bembo, where they just demolished houses in 2019. It was when we came in that we did the needful. They started also Ido-Eruwa Road, they took away all the money and the road is in a very bad shape now.
What have we done? All the roads that we are fixing in Oyo State if you put them together they are close to 500 kilometers of roads network. So for us that is massive. Circular road, Apete-Awotan Road, Bus Terminals to boost the economy. For people coming in to spend some time and look at few places. If you want to expand your economy you must be able to attract people. Work on your transportation system.
ON AGBOWO SHOPPING COMPLEX ISSUE
We advertised for people to come and invest in it. It was being managed by government before we came in. It wasn’t producing the desired results rather it was just wasting away. People bided and the file was brought to me. The company that came first was Brent Group and then I said engage him. But it was during COVID-19 pandemic and the people said they won’t put any investment on the project for at least a year. We couldn’t wait for that long so we looked at the next person on the list. While I was still contemplating on who to give the project to, a prominent elder of Ibadan came to me to consider the man that came second. Based on his intervention I instructed those in charge to give it to the man. I don’t know him. I have never met him before. There was this reports I got thereafter that the man probably doesn’t have the money he said he had. That the individual sponsoring him also bided for the project. So that was how we went from number 2 to number 3 but unfortunately we didn’t just get it right.
NURTW issue has always been there and everytime there a change of government, it has always been chaotic. They always kill themselves, they killed Eleweomo. Even in the first term of former Governor Ajimobi, they killed Beyioku. So we decided to change the entire dynamics, to rebrand them. When we came in it was going to be fight between Ejiogbe and Auxiliary. And we said no, we don’t want anything like that. And with the park management system that we have introduced, that was actually the first time in the whole Oyo State that the people in the garages will change their administration without anybody being killed. Apart from the people that want to be mischievous, I had a meeting where all the tendencies were coming together. We were trying to rebrand them because some of them it’s either you look for something to occupy them or they will occupy themselves with things that you don’t even want to hear about. You will agree with me that our policy has really worked and still working as clashes within those people has reduced drastically. We are still in the process of refining them and curtailing their excesses.