Recently, the Oyo State Government’s decision to construct the 76.67km Ogbomoso-Fapote-Iseyin road connecting Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun Zones came under criticism by an opposition leader in the state. It was tagged, “a misplaced priority”. The comment seemed to imply that projects outside Ibadan City should not be prioritised. In fact, this same opposition leader also referred to the reconstruction of the 21km Airport-Ajia-New Ife Road with a spur to Amuloko project as a misplaced priority.
This view that the government should focus on Ibadan while other zones in the state are left behind is in direct contrast with the position adopted by the present administration on development in the state. Since May 2019, when the Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration assumed office, developmental projects in the state have been spread across all 5 geographical zones – Ibadan, Ibarapa, Ogbomoso, Oke-Ogun and Oyo.
Armed with the Roadmap to Accelerated Development in Oyo State 2019-2023 – His Excellency had promised two things. Firstly, that all infrastructure projects undertaken by his administration would target the state’s economy, and secondly, that data, science and logic would guide the policies and actions of his administration.
So, the Oyo State Government embarked on major road projects to increase access to all geographical zones in the state. Starting with the reconstruction of the Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin Road which connects the capital Ibadan with the breadbasket of the state, Oke-Ogun. The road has improved access between both zones cutting journey times from about 3 hours to about 45 minutes on the 65km stretch.
And continuing with the reconstruction of Oyo-Iseyin Road (34.85km), a federal road, which connects Oyo and Oke-Ogun Zones. It is also the main artery for accessing the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub. While the reconstruction of the 48km Ido-Eruwa Road will provide easier access between Ibadan and Ibarapa Zones when it recommences later this year.
With businesses springing up on both sides of Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin Road since its reconstruction, it is evident that as Governor Makinde repeatedly states, “where roads go, development follows”. And, following the data, it is logical to construct the major roads connecting the zones in the state which will increase business activities in all zones of the state. This would also mean that revenue generation can be increased in all zones of the state to prevent a situation where there is heavy reliance on what Ibadan alone generates as has been the case in the past.
In healthcare, the plan to have one standard primary healthcare centre (PHC) in each of the 351 wards in Oyo State as contained in the Roadmap to Accelerated Development, is in the latter stages with over 200 PHCs already renovated across the state. The project is a collaboration between the state government and local government authorities to ensure that developmental projects are getting to the grassroots across the state. In addition, the state government also carries out periodic medical health missions across the state which provides free healthcare to residents in the state. The first free health mission was flagged off by Governor Makinde in March 2020 at Kisi, Irepo Local Government Area and since then, over 1,200,000 residents of Oyo State have benefitted from the programme.
In education, the Roadmap to Accelerated Development provides for infrastructure upgrades of state-owned schools in the state with a special focus on underserved areas in the state. Since assuming office in 2019, the Makinde-led administration has constructed 56 model schools and numerous toilets, classroom and office blocks in all 33 local government areas in the state while also renovating classroom and office blocks, providing thousands of desks for students, tables and chairs for teachers as well as sports and science equipment. This has been made possible by the increased budget to education, over 20% of the total budget allocation in 2020 and 2021 and 18% in the 2022 budget.
Furthermore, the Start Them Early Program (STEP), a collaboration between the Oyo State Government and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) teaches secondary school students about agribusiness. The programme is ongoing in 10 secondary schools in all 5 zones of the state. All STEP schools benefit from upgrade of their infrastructure to provide the facilities required for the programme.
In security, the state government is collaborating with the local government authorities to ensure that Oyo Amotekun is equipped to carry out its mandate. Last month, an additional 100 operational vehicles were handed over to Oyo Amotekun by the government funded by both the state government and all 33 local government authorities.
Even in the development of sports infrastructure, the Oyo State Government is ensuring that no zone is left behind. In addition to the remodelling of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba in Ibadan Zone, mini stadiums in all zones of the state are being developed. The construction of a mini stadium in Igbo-Ora, Ibarapa, the reconstruction of the Olubadan Mini Stadium, Ibadan the remodelling of Ebedi Township Stadium, Iseyin and the upgrades of the Durbar Stadium, Oyo the Soun Stadium, Ogbomoso and the Saki Township Stadium.
As announced by His Excellency during his last media chat, the next major project to be undertaken by the administration is a collaboration between the state government and all local government authorities to fix more feeder roads in the state. Slowly but surely, the Oyo State Government is reducing the infrastructure deficit in the state and it is ensuring that no zone is left behind. Not only does this foster a sense of belonging among all parts of the state, it also shows that under the Governor Seyi Makinde-led government, Oyo State transcends Ibadan.
Dr Wasiu Olatubosun is the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Oyo State