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Makinde: Keeping to campaign promises

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Seyi Makinde

Governor Seyi Makinde in two months has made it clear that governance under his watch would be about the people’s interest and their wellbeing. For those conversant with Oyo State politics, the emergence of Makinde could not have been possible without the huge support and love demonstrated by the electorate.

Two months down the line, Governor Makinde has surprised many by paying salaries, leaving many to wonder what magic the governor has been performing.

In the same spirit, the governor recently paid N280m to Level 1 to 17 retirees to offset their 2012 pension, a development that pensioners and retirees in the state commended, describing the governor as a man of his words and a humane leader.

Another step taken on workers’ welfare, which residents of Oyo State have continued to commend, is the directive that the case of about 2,000 workers sacked by the previous administration be considered. Already, the governor has set up a committee to review the case and restore those found to have been unjustly retrenched.

One thing that has worked for Governor Makinde has been his commitment to fulfilling his campaign promises. This has shown him as a man whose words could be his bond, as he has not only been fulfilling his electioneering promises, he has had to do so even when some of his supporters opposed such line of action. Interestingly, the governor never misses an opportunity to tell the electorate to hold him to words.

He decided to cancel the N3, 000 Education Development Levy in Secondary schools. Many thought was hasty, suggesting he should not have proclaimed free education without first studying the situation. But in an interview, he said he could not go back on his words, assuring the people that the scrapping of the N3, 000 levy had been well thought out. He followed that proclamation with the cancellation of all fees, including examination fees paid in public schools. Interestingly, it didn’t take up to two months before the fruits of the action started showing as the registration for the placement examination and JSS III examinations increased drastically, proving that the new policy was a step in the right direction for the state.

The same commitment to keeping his promise was demonstrated in the area of assets declaration. Makinde had, in a decision that etched his name on the hearts of Nigerians and especially advocates of open government and transparency, publicly declared his assets. Having satisfied the demands of the Constitution by declaring his assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau, he went a rare step further by making the content of the declaration available for public consumption. That action not only set a great example for others in the, it bested the half-hearted measures employed by past and current public office holders in asset declaration.

Another area where Governor Makinde has shown brilliance is in the management of security. He boldly declared the suspension of the activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state following an outbreak of violence. For someone already portrayed by the opposition as being friends with the union, his action surprised not a few people, as the big stick wielded against the NURTW showed him as a decisive leader who is prepared to do all it takes to secure the state. He declared that he would not spare anyone who threatens the peace of the state and with that declaration, all the parties to the NURTW struggle and indeed, others who might be interested in fomenting trouble, now know that there is a new sheriff in town.

Apart from the NURTW issue, other areas of insecurity in the state have not escaped Governor Makinde’s sight, as he has made intervention visits and commitments to security agencies. At a recent visit to the office of the Oyo State Security Trust Fund, the governor promised to review and unveil new security architecture in the state within the first 100 days in office.
In the area of infrastructure, the governor has made it clear that his government would only embark on projects that have direct bearing on the lives of the people and also ensure that the infrastructure are designed to expand the economy.

The recent visit to the Ibadan Central Abattoir and abandoned silo construction project in Aawe lent credence to this position, while the committee inaugurated to review past projects is also seen as effort by the government to build infrastructure in the state.

In the area of healthcare, the governor has not hidden his resolve to ensure that hospitals work effectively for the health of the people. In fact, it has nearly become a slogan of the governor to say: a healthy population will bring about increased productivity. In order to bring about a total turnaround in the health sector, the governor has paid visits to the State Hospital, Adeoyo, insisting that his government would give full attention to the facility and other hospitals across the state. As a testimonial to this resolve, he told the world that his government would turn the hospital to a medical tourist destination, beginning with the furnishing and commissioning of the Radiology Unit of the hospital in Ring Road.

Clearly, the sustenance of the pro-people policies already embarked upon by the government will depend largely on the economy. The reality of the situation is not lost on the governor, who has made it clear from the outset that one of his greatest missions in the state is to expand its economy. To achieve this, the governor had clearly set his sight on agriculture and improving the ease of doing business. And to achieve the set target, he has gone about the last 60 days assessing the situation and taking practical steps in ensuring that solid foundation is laid for the economic expansion vision. For instance, the governor, within a few days, issued a Certificate of Occupancy to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to build another retail outlet. That feat, according to the NNPC team, had been impossible for months. Similarly, Governor Makinde had embarked on comprehensive visits to the Ajila Value Adding Farms, where he made clear commitment to partnering with investors and encouraging them to grow the economy of the state through agriculture. The visits were in fulfillment of his vision to drive the economy of the state through agriculture and agricultural value chain.

Governor Makinde had also demonstrated his resolve on increasing the state’s IGR by leading a delegation to the abandoned state-owned quarry and asphalt plant, Pace-Setter Quarry. The project, which was put in place by the administration of ex-Governor Rashidi Ladoja, had not got any attention from his successors and has been left in ruins. But Makinde, in his typical nature, insisted that he would not allow the public funds expended on the project rot away. He recognised the benefits the facility, if functional, could generate for the state government while also addressing the challenges of job creation for the people in the state.

With the way the governor has gone about the challenges of generating and increasing the Internally Generated Revenue of the state, as well as how he has administered the state in the last two months, many people have begun to note that the challenges might not be insurmountable after all. They have also begun to express a strong belief in the commitment to restoring the glory of the state and making it a true pace-setter in all regards.

Ajao, an agriculture expert, writes from Oyo


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