Special Adviser on Strategy and Political Matters to Governor Seyi Makinde, Honourable Babatunde Oduyoye, speaks on the first anniversary of the Oyo State governor, political developments in the state and what residents of the state should look forward to in the coming months.
ON May 29, the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde marked its first year in office. For a government that people expected so much from, how well would you say the government has fared?
First, let us define the parameters for our assessment. I think we should base our assessment on the kind of leadership provided by the governor, his character, and how purposeful and visionary the steps he has taken so far are. What do I mean by these? In the last one year, it is evident that Oyo State now has a servant leader, someone with a lot of humility as governor. Governor Makinde has brought into government a sense of direction, humanity and I want to say that in one year, the governor has succeeded in reassuring the people of Oyo State that they did not make a mistake in voting him into power.
Now, let us cross-reference the first year in office of Governor Makinde with the promises he made. With the level of achievements within one year, I want to score Governor Makinde about 75 per cent based on the feats he has achieved within 12 months.
Since you are rating the government’s performance, maybe you should speak to the comparisons being made between the Makinde government and the previous government?
There is no basis for comparison. First, former Governor Abiola Ajimobi was in government for eight years, so if you want to compare, you will have to compare what transpired in the first year of Ajimobi vis-a-vis the first year of Governor Makinde. I have read the speech delivered by Ajimobi at the House of Assembly sometime in June 2012 to mark the government’s first year in office. In that address, he made references largely to things they were going to do and, going through the programmes of event for the celebration of the government’s first anniversary, 85 per cent of the projects Ajimobi commissioned were basically in the local governments.
I found it amusing when I hear and read the lies a lot of people have been telling about the achievements of the Ajimobi government in its first year in office. In fact, a legal luminary joined that bandwagon recently when he tried to compare the Ajimobi government and the Makinde administration. He mentioned the Restoration Bridge on Bodija-Secretariat road and claimed it was completed within Ajimobi’s first year in office. But I am happy that people have put a lie to that claim. We were all in Ibadan; the truth is that nothing substantial was achieved in Ajimobi’s first year in office. The major achievement was the establishment of YES-O, which has proved unsustainable as of now. In Ajimobi’s first year in office, he claimed that his government’s focus was on Circular Road and a 250-bed hotel and a host of other things that did not see the light of the day.
So, I make bold to say that going through the achievements of Governor Makinde and the promises he made to the people, he has done well, if you look at the four pillars of this administration: Education, Health, Security and Economic expansion through agriculture. Right there at the Liberty Stadium, the governor cancelled the N3, 000 education levy and promised that budgetary allocation to education would be increased in line with the UNESCO recommendation. You will recall that the government immediately reviewed the education budget to 10 per cent and in the budget for 2020, the allocation to education is about 22.4 per cent.
Apart from budgetary allocation, the government has embarked on total revamp of education infrastructure, distribution of textbooks, compendiums, notebooks to students and many other investments. The benefits of investment in education are not noticed immediately; they will take time. You will notice the results by the time the results of NECO and WASSCE come out.
In the Health sector, if you want to see how this government has fared, just take a trip to Adeoyo State Hospital, Ring Road and compare what has been done in that place with what it used to be about a year ago. The ongoing remodelling of primary health care facilities and the proactive way the state has managed the COVID-19 pandemic, building health infrastructure that will outlast the pandemic are other strides in the health sector.
On security, do you want to talk about the 100 vehicles procured and distributed to all security agencies or the establishment of Operation Amotekun, the inauguration of 72 Squadron in Ago-Are and others? In just one year, Governor Makinde has brought in reputable people to design the security architecture of the state. So, he has fared well, and relatively, we have peace in Oyo State. People were afraid because of the negative campaign of the opposition that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is known for thuggery. But immediately he came on board, the governor proscribed NURTW and, today, a Park Management System is in place. For the first time in the recent times, the state is benefiting from the massive revenues from the transport sector, which used to be pocketed by some people. So, one way or the other, the governor has curbed thuggery.
In Agriculture, OYSADA is now on board. Oyo Agribusiness and so many counterpart funding and grants are coming on. You have the RAAMP, which is going to help the feeder roads. We have the Eruwa and Akufo farm settlements, which will be upgraded to farm estates from a N7.5 billion loan obtained by the previous government to purchase agricultural equipment.
Let’s talk briefly about the welfare of the workers, there is a new lease of life. It is statutory and we expect every government to pay salaries as and when due. But what was obtainable in the past were workers being owed salaries, pensioners being paid in percentages and workers not being credit-worthy.
Now in Oyo State, at the end of every month, a lot of money is being injected into the economy of the state and our workers are now credit-worthy. Everybody is sure that on the 25th, even sometimes before 25th, workers get paid and it has a good effect on the economy of the state. And our pensioners are happy too. What Governor Makinde has paid in one year in gratuities is more than the cumulative amount which Ajimobi paid in eight years.
So, there is no basis for comparison, in terms of what has been achieved in the first year in office of the previous government and the Makinde administration. But I keep saying that the most important thing is to have a purposeful leadership and one that is transparent, that comes out to admit if anything has been done in error. This rarely happened under previous governments.
In the last one year, the opposition has been very active coming after the government at every given opportunity such that one will think that it is election year already. What is your take on this?
Truth is, there is a grand design by the opposition to ambush the government of Governor Makinde and it can be fully explained. During the electioneering, he was highly underrated, he was not given a chance. APC was in power at the state and at the federal level and nobody thought Makinde had a chance. Even a former governor who is a member of the APC boasted that because Governor Makinde has never been a councillor or held any political posts, then it was not his turn yet. But the moment he won the election, the status quo and the powers that be got offended. It was like Obama winning the presidential election in the USA. With that victory, a lot of people were rested politically, because it was a paradigm shift in the state. It was a dream come true for us to have a generational shift and I have always been an advocate of that.
So, with the emergence of Governor Makinde, a lot of the so-called godfathers are not happy. But that development gives hope to the younger ones. Look at how the development has reshaped the politics of the state? We now have a young speaker and some commissioners such as the Commissioner for Youths and Sports and Commissioner for Energy Resources, who are either less than 30 or in their early 30s. Today, Oyo State became a model for other states across the country and this annoys the APC.
So, for the PDP candidate to win in Oyo State, it brought attention to the state for members of the opposition in Abuja and Lagos. So, there is a grand design, because of 2023, to undermine the government of Governor Makinde at all costs. The opposition in the state want to come back into office in 2023. But what has been their strategy? Their strategy has been to find ways of derailing the administration. It has been that of creating fake news in the media. It has been that of employing and paying e-rats on social media and criticizing without offering any alternative on every single move that the governor has made.
Are you are saying that they are not playing opposition the way it used to play in the progressive fold?
Their style is alien. In fact, I want to even say, without mincing words, that the government of Makinde has been more progressive than the so-called progressives. I maintain that the government of Governor Makinde, judging by the actions taken on Education, Health and welfare, is more progressive than most APC governments. Whichever way you look at it, the way APC in Oyo State is presently constituted, and the way and manner they go about criticising without facts and figures, up to the point of misleading, coming up with frivolous allegations, is alien to progressive politics. It is like there is a change of role. It is like the APC, which claims to be a progressive party, is now doing things more like the conservative party we knew in the past and the PDP, which traditionally should be a conservative party is now a progressive party. In fact, it has been exhibiting the tenets and norms of the progressives.
I was in the minority in the House of Representatives. I worked closely with former Governor Lam Adesina when he was the governor of Oyo state and we know how we played opposition politics when PDP took over in 2003. When Senator Rashidi Ladoja was governor, we did not attack him baselessly or play roforofo politics. If we were going to criticise, we did that constructively and, just like Papa Obafemi Awolowo used to do, we offered an alternative opinion on how the economy should be run. We played opposition as a shadow government, such that on all policies of the government, we had our own paper on the economy; what we thought should happen on agriculture and other areas. But now, you just see people coming up with all manner of things that have nothing to do with development and, most times, not thinking as though they are indigenes of Oyo State. For every government, there is a tenure, and at the expiry of the tenure, unless it is renewed, another person will come on board, but Oyo State will still be Oyo State.
One year after being elected into office by a coalition of parties, the impression out there is that the coalition has broken down. How true is this?
No, the coalition has not broken down in Oyo State. I am a product of the coalition, just like many other people, some commissioners and the rest of them. For every coalition, there are times when the relationship might appear to be shaky outwardly, but there is always a mechanism that is in-built that you use to ensure that there is equilibrium. To date, the father of the coalition, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, has been very supportive and many other people that are in the coalition are equally supportive. Government is an ongoing thing. Appointments cannot be fully done in one year.
It is on record that some past administrations did not even appoint people into Boards and Parastatal Agencies for three and a half years. The appointments made so far in the state are not up to 110 but very soon, the government is going to populate most of the Boards and Parastatals and, at that point, it will provide an opportunity for the governor to ensure that the interest of all coalition partners are protected. We will keep working on it.
At some point, there was an alleged face-off the governor and the deputy governor. What is the situation now?
That face-off was a figment of the imagination of the opposition. I told you earlier that members of the opposition will do anything to ensure that Governor Makinde is distracted. They will do anything to ensure that they derail the government. The opposition wants to go to any length to bully Oyo State into being part of their game plan for 2023. This is the reason the government of Governor Makinde has been facing lots of attacks on social media, and also in a newspaper belonging to an APC chieftain as well as on some sponsored programmes on radio.
The deputy governor came out sometimes last week to disclaim the insinuations of a face-off between him and the governor. He said he has a good working relationship with the governor. But you can imagine how desperate the opposition has become, they are even going to the extent of sponsoring media reports that the deputy governor outsmarted the governor. As the Special Adviser to the Governor on Strategy and Political Matters, I make bold to say without any fear of contradiction that at no point did the governor initiate any move against the deputy governor. He never did. So they are working together and by the grace of God, they will steer the ship of this state to a good landing.