“Many roads are competing for limited funds.”- the typical response provided by the Oyo State Feedback Service when the deplorable state of some roads in Oyo State are brought to their attention. Indeed, in recent times, there have beencomplaints about roads in Oyo State, especially in the state capital Ibadan. Roads like Tipper Junction, Elebu Road, Beere/Oja Oba Road, Ojoo Barracks to Igboloyin/ArulogunRoad and Akobo to Olorunda Road need urgent attention.
But while these roads need attention, we should not act like infrastructural deficits are limited to Oyo State. In fact, Nigeria has a massive infrastructural deficit. In June 2021, the Federal Government admitted that they needed 2.3 trillion dollars to clear this deficit. For a country with a total budget of about N15 trillion (about $36 billion) and over 70% of the budget going to recurrent expenditure, you do not need an economist to tell you that the deficit will not be cleared anytime soon.
Therefore, it behoves every state governor to develop strategies to reduce its state’s infrastructural deficit and grow its economy. And so, in his 2021 message to the people of Oyo State, Governor Makinde talked about how his administration is tackling the state’s infrastructural deficit. He mentioned following the plans outlined in the Roadmap to Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019-2023.
When you study that document, you will understand Governor Makinde’s focus on projects that will increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Oyo State. His strategy is: borrow to build infrastructure that will pay for itself and also generate more funds for the state, and then use the funds to build infrastructure that will not pay for itself.
In the short term, there may be gaps. But as Makinde said in that message, Oyo State has “continued to reduce [its] infrastructural deficit, slowly but surely,” while at the same time increasing IGR. Oyo State has gone from an IGR of below two billion Naira a month to about three billion monthly.
More recently, the Federal Government released figures of states contributing the most VAT to the Federal Government. Many were shocked to find that Oyo State ranked third overall. Oyo State’s average monthly contribution of over N8 billion a month is higher than what several states contribute yearly!
Whatever anyone might think about Governor Seyi Makinde, they cannot accuse him of not being a prudent manager and economist. He has brought his private sector experience in growing his own business from scratch into governance, and it is paying off.
Interestingly, some have criticised Governor Seyi Makinde’sinvestment in huge infrastructures like the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba and four bus terminals at Challenge, Ojoo, New Ife Road and Iwo Road. They think the authorities should be picking low hanging fruits and not indulge in “misplaced priorities.” They seem to forget that human wants are insatiable, but the means to satisfy these wants are limited.
However, figures don’t lie. Governor Makinde is reducing the state’s infrastructure deficit without increasing external debt. When he has had to borrow, he has taken Naira denominated loans. A wise choice considering the foreign exchange rates and devaluations of the Naira in the past six years.Interestingly, this has not so far led to an increase in the state’s debt profile. A visit to the Debt Management Office website reveals that Oyo State’s external debt reduced by $24 millionin under two years.
We can have the governor’s well thought out use of the Alternate Project Funding Approach (APFA) to thank for that. The contractor funds the project with their own money, and the state pays back over time. In some cases, such as the remodelling of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, the authorities will still be repaying the loan a year after the facilities have started generating funds. In other words, that project will pay for itself and then pay for other projects.
Also, we cannot ignore the fact that there are over 3,000 roads in Oyo State. It would be dishonest to ignore the good work that has been done so far to focus on the bad. For example, the Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin Road, Akobo Road, Challenge Junction, Airport-Ajia Road, Apete-Akufo-Awotan road, Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho, Gedu-Oroki-Sabo-Asipa Road, Under G-Stadium-LAUTECH 2nd Gate Road and others in terrible conditions have been reconstructed or rehabilitated.
Oyo Affairs’ opinion is that Makinde should never allow himself to be distracted by people who will never key into his vision – the opposers for opposition sake. Instead, he should focus his energy on helping the people at the grassroots to understand what he is doing. Also, he should get the Local Government Chairmen to invest in inner roads to take the pressure off the express lanes. We, the people, should also not forget that there are trunk A, B and C roads and hold the right level of government to account for reconstructions, rehabilitation and repairs.