By Moses Alao
On October 29, Governor Seyi Makinde ticked off the fifth month on the 48-month calendar of the administration’s term of four years.
On that day, there were no drums or fanfare, as not much attention is given to landmarks like five months in office. But there were songs, even if they were acapella. Yes, there were songs. The teeming people of Oyo State, who have had a new song on their lips since the May 29, 2019 inauguration day of the new administration, which has brought a different approach to governance in the state, continued their songs of adulations for Governor Makinde.
These songs cut across different spheres of Oyo State’s life; they are a medley of inspiring songs about how Governor Makinde is restoring Oyo State, a once-so-glorious state nearly run aground by politicians without foresight. The songs on the lips of Oyo State residents and those outside it continue to commend Governor Makinde’s efforts across different spheres, especially based on the four point of his administration – education, health, expanded economy and security.
But barely less than two weeks after that date, the Court of Appeal gave its judgment on the Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, introducing a strange sound to the medley of songs in the state. The court gave a judgment that legal experts and laymen now consider confusing in that it affirmed the election of Governor Makinde while at the same allowing the appeal against the upholding of same by the Election Petition Tribunal to stand.
Undeterred, however, the residents of the state and lovers of its progress have continued their songs, this time adding songs of solidarity in support of the People’s Governor.
Why the songs? In just five months in office, Governor Makinde has laid a solid foundation for a greater Oyo State, with strategic vision and action plans as well as a style of leadership that puts the people first and at the driving seat of their own affairs.
In five months, GSM, as he is now fondly called, has put Oyo on the trajectory of accelerated development in various sectors, with the latest being the innovative idea on budget planning known as the inclusive budget initiative, which allows citizens engagement and involvement in budgeting and economic planning.
As of 29 October, the government had approved a grant of N526 million to primary and secondary schools in the state in replacement of the N3,000 education levy, which Governor Makinde scrapped five months earlier on assumption of office.
The governor had given the people of the state something to sing about on May 29, when he announced the scrapping of the levy, noting that the decision was in tandem with his agenda to restore Oyo State’s glory through free qualitative education. He had followed that up with the downward review of the 2019 budget in which he increased the budgetary allocation to education to 10 per cent from a paltry 4 per cent. With the introduction of policies such as the distribution of textbooks and exercise books to all Oyo State students in public secondary schools, the immediate turnaround of education infrastructure, organisation of extra-mural classes for SSS III students in the state and the recent approval for the recruitment of teachers for public schools, the Makinde administration had also set the state on the path to greatness in education.
The Makinde administration’s achievements in the education sector, no doubt, gave Oyo State residents a reason to sing. Indeed, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) had recently joined in the singing, in recognition of Makinde’s achievements on free education when he commended the governor for taking up the challenge of free education.
Beyond education, there are other reasons for Oyo State residents’ songs. In five months, Governor Makinde has not missed an opportunity to make pensioners in the state sing to God for giving them a new dawn. By October 29, all the workers in the state had been paid their October salary in full, because the Oyo State governor has brought a tradition of salary payment on the 25th of every month, which the workers have now christened the GSM Day.
In the area of infrastructure, a few days ago, the Oyo State Governor raised the songs of praise for his administration several decibels when he announced the awarding of the contract for the total reconstruction of the 65-kilometre Ibadan-Iseyin Road. The last administration of Abiola Ajimobi awarded a contract for the rehabilitation of the road but that contract turned out to be a sham, as nothing was done on the road since February 2018 when it was first awarded. This was after N2 billion of Oyo State’s resources had found its way into the election expenses of some evil-minded politicians and into the pockets of their selfish accomplices.
But Governor Makinde, who had since his first week in office, made a commitment to fixing that strategic road, came through for the people of Oke-Ogun, when he re-awarded the contract to do a full reconstruction of the all-important road.
Across different sectors, residents of Oyo State are singing in praise of the many policies of the Makinde administration, which are targeted at reviving the economy of Oyo State and making life better for its people. But Governor Makinde himself had recently proven his mettle as a master of songs. He had lyrically fired canon shots into the camps of the detractors when he borrowed the words of the late philosophical musician, Bob Marley: “You can fool some people sometimes, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
The governor, piqued by the daily-unfolding rot left behind by the Abiola Ajimobi administration and the millions of Oyo State people’s money committed to projects that have brought no value, stated this at the Jericho Specialist Hospital, Ibadan.
Of course, those conversant with developments in Oyo State would remember how supporters of Ajimobi’s profligate administration never miss an opportunity to sing like canaries on the policies of the Makinde’s administration. They have continually sung songs of hate and regret that they lost Oyo State, the cow they mercilessly milked for eight years, leaving the people in massive suffering. They had come for the governor on his decision to scrap the N3,000 levy; they attacked him for distributing textbooks; they pilloried him with criticisms for improving the standard of the State Hospital, Ring Road; the attacked him for daring to construct the Iwo Road interchange. They aimed shots at him for insisting on several occasions that Oyo State people must get value for their money on projects instituted by the previous administration. Day in day out, Oyo APC members sang daily in sadness that Governor Makinde was succeeding where they failed.
So, when the Court of Appeal gave its judgment, which the APC members in Oyo State and outside, in their feeble minds, misread for a victory, they thought it was another opportunity for their ludicrous singsong. Their intention, as usual, was to pervert the songs of hope and joy occasioned by the Makinde leadership by confusing the public, but that song of deceit could not last, as the Court of Appeal’s decision was clearly and unmistakably an affirmation of Governor Makinde’s landslide victory in the March 9, 2019 election.
Sadly, the APC managed to forget how it was roundly trounced in the election, with Governor Makinde, backed by the people of Oyo State; polling 515,621 votes while the APC, with federal might and the support of political desperados and political buccaneers in some states of the South-West, only polling 357,982 votes.
They are in town with songs now, they sing about reclaiming a mandate that no one gave them; they sing about Supreme Court giving them a mandate that the people of Oyo State did not give them. They met and are still meeting across the country, planning evil against the God sent, the People’s Governor, but someone has to tell them that their songs will never be heard again. No, the loudness of Oyo State people’s songs of hope and a new beginning; songs of inspiration that Oyo can move from poverty to prosperity and songs of freedom from the ruinous APC government will deaden their voices.
Governor Makinde, like the orchestra leader, had borrowed from Bob Marley’s medley of powerful and philosophical songs, to send a note of warning to the APC in Oyo State and outside it sometimes ago, but before then, the Oyo State people seemed to have been singing another Marley song entitled “Redemption Songs”.
“Old pirates yes they rob I, sold I to the merchant ships minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit. But my hand was made strong by the hand of the almighty. We forward in this generation triumphantly. All I ever had is songs of freedom, won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom. ‘cause all I ever had redemption songs…,” Marley had seemed to be reflecting the situation of Oyo State, where the APC, like the old pirates, robbed the state for eight years and nearly sold it to the merchant ships from Lagos. Thanks to God, the people’s hands were made strong on March 9, 2019 and forward, with Governor Makinde, the state has begun to move triumphantly.
The enthronement of Makinde has brought about the redemption song, which the APC and some spent forces are now struggling to stop through the backdoor, using their best weapon against the people, the judiciary. Tufiakwa! The redemption songs will never stop.
Alao is the Special Assistant (Print Media) to Governor Makinde