Naturally, in all my live endeavors, I have taken great caution against appearing sycophantic or playing the eye-service cards nor do I enjoy the luxury of praise-singing.
As an individual, it is not in my habit to paint black, that which is white. I even rarely air my opinion in the public domain for very personal reasons. Should you term me introvert, I won’t debate!
However, my very recent sojourn into partisan politics cum my privileged appointment by the people-centric Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde, to serve as the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA) coupled with the attendant need for ‘political officeholders,’ particularly in a highly competitive democratic setting as ours, to frequently give stewardship report to the governed, necessitated this piece.
My intension therefore is to bring to fore, in the most modest, non-exaggerative manner, the myriad of achievements so far recorded in the first one year of the Governor Makinde administration in the all-important TRANSPORTATION SECTOR of Oyo State.
Please, follow me.
On the 29th of May, 2019 at the historic Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Liberty Road, Ibadan, Governor Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde was sworn in as the Executive Governor of Oyo State. Right then and there, the ‘Ilufemiloye’ as he was fondly called proclaimed a four cardinal focus for his nascent administration as enshrined in his policy document dubbed “The Oyo State Roadmap to Accelerated Development, 2019-2023”.
This document unambiguously identified Affordable Primary/Tertiary Health Care System, Qualitative, Free and Compulsory Basic and Post-Basic Education, Enhanced Security Architecture and Improved Economy as the administration’s focus.
The goals been set, the Executive Governor was then saddled with the onerous task of appointing reputable, highly qualified technocrats and individuals to man the strategic Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
You may recall that this was a period of incessant industrial actions by Oyo State Workers who were being owed several months of salary arrears, students held ransom by sitting at home and wasting away, State Economy rapidly diving, Collapse of State Security, Increasing Debt Profile, Poor performance in National Examinations, absolute traffic gridlock across the major highways, arrogant leadership structure in the State Government hierarchy among hundreds of other unthinkable misdemeanors.
These, among others, seemed to have further compounded the laborious responsibility of appointing individuals with requisite experience and exposure to man the various battered sectors in the State. We must not forget so quickly how wailers and irredeemable critics began to term the Governor with derogative names describing him as been too slow in making appointments forgetting that anything worth doing at all is worth doing well!
However, on the 28th of August 2019, I received a letter from the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun conveying the approval of the Executive Governor, His Excellency, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde of my appointment as the Executive Chairman, Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA) right under the Office of the Executive Governor of Oyo State.
While I accepted this appointment with both hands and immense gratitude to God and the Executive Governor, I almost immediately, on same day visited the Administrative Headquarter of the Authority situated in the Heart of the State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
What I met in that very large expanse of land shall forever remain indelible in my memory and that of my personal staff that accompanied me.
I saw a barren land. A moribund government agency with highly demotivated, poorly clad and forlorn employees referred to as “Yessoooo” by the people.
First, I took a deep breath, said some prayers to Almighty God for divine guidance and interventions and placed a call to the Governor, thanking him for the great opportunity to serve the State and particularly under his administration and assured him we would be needing his maximum support. Lo and behold, we started the assignment of revamping the ‘dead’ agency one step at a time.
For almost two decades, I had worked as a top regulatory and enforcement officer at the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Abuja and had over the years accumulated a wealth of experience in enforcement operations and leadership of para-military organizations. This came to bear when we started the journey.
On the fleet of operational vehicles of OYRTMA as at the commencement of Governor Seyi Makinde’s regime were seven (7) number of low-capacity towing trucks, eight (8) Patrol Vans, fifteen (15) rickety patrol motorcycles, four (4) Patrol buses and One (1) Hilux Van.
Out of these, only One (1) of the Seven (7) low-capacity towing truck was manageably operational while six (6) others were abandoned, only two (2) of the eight (8) Patrol vans were operational, the entire fifteen (15) patrol motorcycles were rickety, abandoned and therefore condemned, the single hilux van, procured few months before the expiration of the last administration, although ill-maintained was however in good operational condition.
After my first management meeting with senior staff of the Authority on the 2nd of September 2019, without waiting for government funds, we gradually began the process of revitalizing these equipment whose dearth we identified to have significantly zeroed down efficacy of the operations of our men and officers before we then prepared a comprehensive paper containing the state of the Authority’s facilities and equipment for onward transmission to the Executive Governor who almost instantaneously upon receiving our document approved funds which enabled us revamp the near moribund machineries.
As I write this, Governor Makinde under the year in review has not only resuscitated all the abandoned low-capacity towing truck, Patrol buses & vans, motorcycles and Hilux Vans, he has equally procured two (2) additional maximum-duty capacity towing trucks, two (2) brand new security patrol vehicle to replace the operational van burnt down by fifth columnists during one of the Authority’s night operations at Akinyele Local Government Area of the State.
Furthermore, the Administrative as well as the operational headquarters of OYRTMA located at the Secretariat and Sanyo respectively was prior to Governor Makinde’s administration an eyesore, sick buildings and dysfunctional edifices that slowed down tremendously the productivity of staffs and officers.
However, in just one year, Governor Makinde has successfully transformed these structures to magnificent ones that make workers desire to sleep-over at workplace because of the serene, highly comfortable and conducive work environment. The once-upon a time bushy and abandoned operational headquarters at Sanyo is now a beauty to behold, comprising of office spaces that presently accommodates over seventy (70) senior members of staff, twenty-six (26) junior staff, ten (10) adhoc staff as well as sitting space for about One Thousand (1000) offenders who the Authority continues to enlighten/educate as regards highway safety tips, road signs, rules and regulations in order to reduce road crash incidents recorded in the State.
Additional, the operational headquarters, Sanyo, which was graciously approved and renovated completely by Governor Seyi Makinde has the capacity to contain over Two-Hundred and fifty impounded heavy-duty trailers and another One Hundred (100) cars, motorcycles and tricycles impounded for flagrantly violating various road traffic laws of the State. It is worthy to note that similar operational branches have been approved by the Executive Governor for our Akinyele, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Apata, Eleyele and Oke-Ogun Zonal Commands.
Truly, it is no longer business as usual.
The advent of Governor Makinde’s administration birthed the commencement of our Fast-Track Emergency Rescue Operations (FERO) whose goal was to get to any location across the State where there had been an accident (fatal or not) involving casualties that requires emergency medical attention in the shortest possible time. To make this realistic and easy, Governor Makinde procured a well-equipped Ambulance with seasoned medical personnel to oversee the FERO.
In one year, FERO has been able to save the lives of at least four hundred and thirty-six (436) accident victims across the State and re-uniting them with their families who from time to time appreciates the Governor Makinde administration for a job well done. It has contributed in no small means to the overall improved health care system of the State via its rapid and unhindered response.
Other significant Operations ordered by Governor Makinde are the Special Night Operations, Operation-One-Passenger, Stop and Test Operation and Operation No Hold-Up.
The Special Night Operation was aimed at ensuring free human and vehicular movement at some identified spots across the State where traffic loggerheads became rampant particularly during the ember months of 2019 resulting from the massive influx of Oyo State sons and daughters who ab-initio resides in other parts of the country but wishes to spend the yuletide season with their home-based loved ones and families. You would recall that the unprecedented facelift experienced across the State through the provision of ferry-lights by the Governor also led to the influx of hundreds of tourists who came to catch a glimpse of the ‘Makinde Lights’ thereby adding pressure to the roads at the core of night, a development that the Governor proactively engaged OYRTMA to rescue.
To ensure the effectiveness and safety of Officers and men participating in the Special Night Operations, Governor Makinde procured five hundred (500) Electronic Reflective Jackets, Three Hundred Electronic Reflective Batons and commensurately remunerated the Officers for the additional task.
These measures were responsible for the itch-free yuletide season experienced in the State as there were zero cases of serious accident recorded during the period under review.
On the other hand, the Operation-One-Passenger (OOP) policy became imperative as a result of the rising number of road crashes involving commercial motorcycles, tricycles and cabs who had been acclimatized with overloading by carrying passengers more than the original design capacity of their vehicles/machines. The policy mandated commercial cab drivers, especially the ‘Micra’ drivers to desist from carrying more than one (1) passenger in the front seat. It also directed the tricycle operators not to carry any passenger in the front seat as it was originally meant for the rider only. The motorcyclists (Okada riders) were mandated to carry just one passenger, obtain riding permit and ensure their bikes were painted in the state government approved colour for operators of commercial transportation for easy identification and security purposes. The OOP has ensured that the accident index recorded in the State has reduced by 65% and the Governor Makinde’s administration is striving hard to reduce this even further.
Similarly, The Operation Stop and Test was introduced by Governor Seyi Makinde soon after it was discovered that some vehicles involved in various degrees of road crashes had drunken drivers and operators. To nip this trend in the bud, the Governor approved the procurement of twenty-five (25) Modern Alcoholic Breath Tester (ABT) and began the stop and test operation ones a driver has been observed to be driving recklessly at the detriment of other road users. The operation, although continuous, has enabled the Authority discover about Five (5) stolen vehicles and returned to their rightful owners via collaborations with the Nigerian Police Force. This operation has make significant contributions to the overall security architecture of the State and it is partly responsible for the low case of vehicle theft recorded across the State.
The Operation No Hold-Up kick-started by Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration on the other hand is to further materialize the core mandate of the Authority in ensuring free human and vehicular movements across the State. This move was to further entice and encourage investors and tourists to visit the State, make significant investment, create jobs for our teeming youths and help improve our debt-ridden economy. It is still in full force.
The resultant effect of all these operations combined has tremendously reduced the rate of accident on Oyo State Roads, eased traffic congestions and created enabling environments for investors and businesses to thrive. It has seen to a dramatic increase in the State’s Gross Domestic Product. This informed the enhanced synergy and relationship the Authority is enjoying with corporate organizations across the State. In fact, in an unprecedented move, a corporate organization, in recognition of the State Government’s remarkable achievement particularly in the area of traffic management procured and delivered Ten (10) brand new operational power-bikes worth several millions of Naira to further enhance activities of the Authority.
Under the Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration, OYRTMA, like never before has not only quadrupled revenues generated to the State Government coffers but has also began the Community Traffic Management System (CTMS) where leaders of various communities sign-up and trained to become OYRTMA Mayors and respond to the traffic needs of their respective local communities.
To further strengthen this initiative, Governor Makinde approved the temporary re-engagement of OYRTMA Mayors who are individuals fully trained with the State’s Resources by the Governor Alao Akala’s administration in 2009 but unceremoniously disengaged by the immediate past administration for unknown allegations. These Mayors are deployed to compliment the efforts of the Officers and Men of the Authority. Governor Makinde directed that they be given stipend pending when their cases would be completely reviewed by the State Civil Service Commission and a concrete position taken by the State Government.
Additionally, Governor Seyi Makinde, knowing fully well that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, initiated the Junior OYRTMA Clubs in Secondary Schools across the State. The club is aimed at enlightening the youths, particularly students of the traffic rules, safety tips and regulations in order to stay safe while going to or coming from their respective schools. The Bishop Philips Academy, Ibadan, Loyola College, Ibadan, Government Secondary School, Apata and others had begun the clubs fully.
The administration of Governor Seyi Makinde also identified a highly effective communication and feedback mechanism as a strong way to enlighten the people of the dos and don’ts while using the roads to avoid crashes, loss of lives and destruction of valuable properties. This informed the robust use of print (Newspapers, magazines etc.), virtual (BCOS TV, Galaxy TV, Channels TV etc), non-virtual (Radio) and social media platforms like the Facebook (Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority), Twitter (@OYRTMA1), Instagram (@official_oyrtma) and the E-mail ([email protected]).
This is to compliment the everyday advocacy/enlightenment programs embarked upon by the Public Relations Unit of the Authority to sensitize the public, particularly the market men and women, drivers and operators in the commercial transportation sector.
While Governor Makinde always describe the above as a tip of the iceberg, he assures of more achievements to come as the administration continues to deliver the dividends of true democracy to the good and great people of Oyo State.
Please note, that this is an abridged version of this piece, the full shall be contained in a memoir that is on the way. It would be made available to the public upon completion of the Governor Makinde’s tenure as the Executive Governor of Oyo, the Pace Setters State.
Mogaji (Dr.) Akin Fagbemi is the Executive Chairman/CEO,
Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA),
Office of the Executive Governor Of Oyo State.