By Wasiu Olatunbosun
That sunny afternoon of May 29, 2019, after Governor Seyi Makinde was sworn into office, he mounted the podium, leaned into the microphone and announced that the focus of his administration was to turn around the economic fortunes of Oyo State and restore it to its position as the Pacesetter State.
For many, this was merely a speech – the usual speech by a newbie. Oyo State was trapped in a declining economy at the national level, how could he guarantee prosperity to the people? As Governor Seyi Makinde, The Phenomenon, turns 54, let us take a closer look at how two years and seven months down the line, he has shown that he came prepared to “transform Oyo State into a top economy in Nigeria to reflect a state where government works for the welfare of its citizens and residents.”
Transforming the Oyo State Economy Through Agribusiness and Infrastructure Development
Oyo State has displaced two states to occupy the slot as #7 in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) ranking of states in Nigeria for 2021. This represents an increase of about N15 billion without increasing the burden of taxes on citizens.
Governor Seyi Makinde achieved this growth by seeing the future. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) GDP Report for Q3 2021 shows the two sectors contributing the highest to Nigeria’s economy are Agriculture (29.9%) and trade (14.2%). From the get-go, Governor Makinde strategically positioned Oyo State as Nigeria’s agribusiness and trade hubs.
The novelty of this approach lay in creating the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) with a mandate to attract investment opportunities into Oyo State. As of the last count, OYSADA has attracted funding of over $72 Million into the Oyo State economy.
To further stimulate the economy and position Oyo State as a trading hub, Governor Makinde ensures the prompt payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions. In fact, this year, for the 3rd year running, Oyo State civil servants have received the “13th month” salary. The resultant cash liquidity keeps the economy running smoothly and enhances trade.
High profile infrastructural projects are being executed in Oyo State without increasing the state’s external debt. Despite propaganda tales by the opposition, Oyo State still does not feature in the list of top 10 States in Nigeria with the highest debts as of September 2021.
How has he accomplished this? At a recent event, Governor Makinde stated that the secret is the Alternative Project Funding Approach. With APFA, the state has funded projects such as the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, 21km Airport-Ajia-New-Ife Road with a Spur to Amuloko, 45.3km Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho Road, 34.85 km Oyo-Iseyin Road and the upgrade of 299 Primary Healthcare Centres among others.
Outside of roads, Governor Seyi Makinde has in the last year alone completed over 500 projects. These projects cover various sectors of the economy. For example, the Akesan Market in Oyo that was gutted by a fire and razed to the ground has since been rebuilt into a modern market with complete facilities installed in it. The reconstruction of Sasa Market is also underway!
The list of infrastructural development going on in the State is massive. Over the last two years, 334km of road constructions, reconstructions or rehabilitations are either ongoing or have been completed in Oyo State. Completed road projects include the 65km Moniya-Iseyin Road, the 9.7km Saki Township Road, Junction improvement works and traffic management system installation at Challenge and Felele Junctions and the 3km Under G-Stadium-LAUTECH-2nd Gate road, Ogbomoso.
In fact, the transformation of Oyo State into a transportation hub of the South West is on. The airport is being upgraded and four major bus terminals are being built simultaneously at Challenge, New Ife Road, Iwo Road, and Ojoo. They will serve as interchange points for commuters in and out of Oyo State. Also, the Agbowo Shopping Complex which fell into disrepair for decades is currently being remodelled into premium commercial real estate and a 4-star hotel.
Other moribund facilities such as the Pacesetter Quarry and Asphalt Plant, Ijaiye, the former OYSADEP Headquarters at Saki, the former Rural Community Development Centre, Awe and the Fasola Farm Estate are all being rehabilitated and reconstructed.
Giving Education in Oyo State a New Look
Toeing the lines of the greats such as Obafemi Awolowo, Bola Ige, Alhaji Lam Adesina, Makinde declared education in public primary and secondary schools free in Oyo State. His administration paid the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) counterpart funding for 2019 and 2020 which allowed the state to access matching grants to carry out infrastructural projects in the basic education sector.
In the past two years alone, Governor Makinde has completed the building of 48 model schools and multiple classroom projects because Oyo State has consistently paid the UBEC counterpart funds.
The budgetary allocation for education has increased from a meagre 3% to over 20% in the last two years. This was done to buttress His Excellency’s commitment to education in the State.
Governor Seyi Makinde promised to solve the perennial crisis of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, if elected. True to his words, Oyo State got sole ownership of LAUTECH in November 2020. Last week, LAUTECH was rated as the best state-owned university in Nigeria and the 4th best university in Nigeria for the second year running, moving up ten places in the space of one year.
Changing the Face of Healthcare in Oyo State
Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration has focused on completing, renovating, upgrading and equipping healthcare facilities in Oyo State. As a people-oriented leader, his first intervention in the healthcare sector was in the healthcare services closest to citizens – the Primary Health Centres (PHCs). In accordance with his campaign promise to have at least one standard primary health care (PHC) facility in each of the 351 wards in Oyo State, the contract for the renovation and upgrade of 299 PHCs across the state has been awarded.
Secondary healthcare facilities in the State have also witnessed huge transformations in the last two years of this administration. The Adeoyo Maternity Teaching Hospital, Yemetu and Ring Road Hospital, Adeoyo, were upgraded and equipped, the General Hospital, Aremo and General Hospital Tede are being renovated and equipped. Also, the laboratory at General Hospital Eruwa, Ibarapa was upgraded.
The Staff Clinic at the Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan was also upgraded and fully equipped using capitations accruing to the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA). The Jericho Nursing Home, Ibadan has been renovated, upgraded and converted to a geriatric centre and finally, the Oni Memorial Children’s Hospital has been equipped.
To complement the efforts at providing affordable healthcare for Oyo State residents, Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration also carried out the Free Health Missions in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, 244,073 have been able to access medical treatment, there have been 2,349 surgical interventions, 120 free cataract operations, 1,000 free glasses issued out and 2,458 dental care patients were attended to.
Makinde’s administration also provided renewable energy solutions to 21 healthcare facilities in Oyo State by installing solar power. The intervention will ensure that equipment such as ultrasound machines, vaccine fridges and delivery rooms have a continuous power supply.
Prioritising the Security of the Good People of Oyo State
Governor Seyi Makinde has taken an integrated approach to secure Oyo State. Everyone is involved. Everyone knows that if you See Something, Say Something and the Authorities will do Something.
For this reason, in his first year in office, the Oyo State Government operationalised the 615 citizens call centre number. The calls to the toll-free line are directly connected to the State Security Control Room for immediate response to any security threat. The State Security Control Room and City Watch facilities were also expanded and upgraded.
Makinde has not stopped providing crucial support to strengthen the state’s security architecture. His administration has acquired vehicles for different security agencies in the state. Starting from his first 100 days in office, Governor Makinde procured and distributed 100 Kia Rio vehicles fully equipped with modern security communication gadgets to the police. Since then there have been multiple injections of JAC and Toyota Pickup Vans as well as motorcycles to ensure that the security agencies are able to respond swiftly to security threats. Monthly running costs and allowances of security personnel in the state are paid timeously. Patrol vehicles of security agencies are serviced monthly.
To take care of personnel shortfalls as well as bring security close to the people, Governor Makinde was at the forefront of the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network code named Amotekun. Makinde recruited 1,500 corps members – the highest in the southwest- to complement the efforts of the federal security agencies in the state.
The ‘Light Up Oyo’ project was also envisioned to light up roads in major cities in Oyo State and this is underway. So far, over 50km of road has been lit up by this administration. The people at the toll-gate, Ibadan, were excited to see street lights come on for the first time in over 20 years.
As Governor Makinde would say, the authorities will never go to sleep unless the people of Oyo State can go to bed with both eyes closed. The results of the various interventions by the State Government is clearly seen in the influx of investors into Oyo State. Even the Federal Government chose Oyo State as a site for one of its agricultural interventions because of the relative security in the state.
Governor Seyi Makinde: A Flame Cast on Dry Leaves in the Peak of Harmattan
Governor Seyi Makinde remains committed to becoming the benchmark for good governance in Oyo State and Nigeria. As stated on his website About page, “like a flame cast on dry leaves in the peak of harmattan, he ignited a political consciousness that spread hope and a renewed belief in good governance in the minds of the people.”
Political actors who were dismissive of the governor who mounted the podium that sunny day in May 2019, are suddenly sitting up and realising that Makinde is neither politically naive nor a pushover. Fired by a passion for excellence and sustainable development, he has inspired loyal followership.
As Governor Seyi Makinde turns 54, all Nigerians who love good governance join in saying Happy 54th birthday to the phenomenon political actors never saw coming.