When Governor Seyi Makinde (GSM) came on board with what he called his ‘roadmap to accelerated development in Oyo State (2019-2023),’ after the eight tortuous years of his late predecessor, the opposition APC went to town with a kite-like propaganda that the GSM’s government will allegorically be a “government of small things.”
By referring to the GSM administration as government of small things, their intent was de-market the government from afar. As a former Students’ Union leader and disciple of Cicero who was Governor of Cilicia (51–50 BC), I have always argued that it is part of politics to be mischievous deliberately, to occasionally downplay the strides of others and throw mud at them just to appear relevant and this exactly have been the major preoccupation of the idle opposition APC in Oyo State since they left Government House, Agodi with shock in 2019. Biting, like my late Grand Dad will say, is part of fighting and as it is right now, our brothers and sisters in the opposition APC have in acceptance of ‘kadara’ resorted to biting and barking just to distract GSM from serving the masses of our people diligently.
In writing this piece, I am not particularly making reference to Arundhati Roy’s book, “The God of Small Things.” But if for any reason, this GSM is a clear departure from all the inanities associated with his predecessor. His clinical approach to issues of governance is unique and pleasant. He has brought to governance the methodical skills applicable in engineering and the serious mindedness of a businessman.
If for anything, it was the last administration that displayed what one can call intense social and economic injustice inflicted upon marginalized groups including students, petty traders, artisans, civil servants, pensioners and in some instances, our revered monarchs were not spared. The eight years before GSM were years of discrimination, identity politics, social oppression and unbridled economic exploitation. The rest as they say is now history. So, now that the governance narrative have changed in Oyo State, to borrow the very words of Cicero, “They condemn what they do not understand.”
In accessing the Engr. Seyi Makinde administration, this mid term review will take off from the nerve centre of Governance which of course cannot be separated from the morale and performance of the civil workforce. After eight years of suspense, civil servants across Oyo State can today look back and make a sigh of relief. Two years into the first term of GSM, workers are not just getting paid what is due, they get it days before the traditional month end. Gone are the days of workers begging family members and relatives for financial assistance occasioned by the brazen decision of government refusing deliberately to pay wages. Yes, workers now receive their wages in full in Oyo State, and it is unbelievably happening under the ‘Government of Small Things.’
The story of Pensioners in Oyo State have also changed for good under the GSM administration. I was recently moved to tears when I heard gory and heartbreaking stories of the several pensioners who died while waiting on the last administration to give them their token entitlements over a period of eight straight years. The anger, the pain and the sorrows that our retirees suffered in those unending years can only be imagined. Many of these old and retired civil servants became wretched beggars and had resigned to fate until the divine emergence of this one called “Governor of the Mekunnus,” GSM. Today, as it stands, Governor Seyi Makinde has quietly and diligently paid the backlog of pension arrears from 2011 to 2018. Considering the figures in billions of naira, this is unbelievably happening under our ‘Government of Small Things.’
For the major opposition, the immediate past APC government that could not think of conducting something as simple as local government elections in seven out of its eight straight years tenure, the choice and decision of the GSM administration to open up the democratic space by conducting a proper, well organized and popularly accepted local council election within twenty four months came as a rude shock. The shoddy bedroom local government election that they floated at the dying hours of their inglorious tenure became their greatest undoing. For eight years, they shared funds between themselves not envisaging there will be a day of reckoning. There was no Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) to track them. It is this same fund that the GSM administration is using to develop the imposing edifice which will host both the LGSC and a training school in just twenty four months. Today, our loquacious brothers in the former Oyo ALGON who saw nothing wrong in the mismanagement and misappropriation of local government funds by the late emperor are now all-GONE.
With the peaceful and successful conduct of local government elections in Oyo State, and the inauguration of new Chairmen, Chairpersons and Councilors, we can now rest and see proper democracy at work. The expectation is high, and we know these crop of elected local government Chairmen, Chairpersons and Councilors will have no excuse but to replicate the GSM model and proactiveness across board. This 2021 local government election is not synonymous to the one were polling unit figures were cooked and posted from the bedroom of the Governor. GSM has changed the democratic governance narrative in Oyo State with this election, and this is coincidentally is happening under our ‘Government of Small Things.’
In re-engineering the State within the last 2 years, GSM has quietly turned Oyo into a huge construction site with projects dotting all nooks and crannies of the State. The signature of quality on GSM roads and infrastructure is outstanding. Today, within 24 months, the 65km road linking Ibadan the State Capital via Moniya to the Upper Ogun River region at Iseyin is not only completed but already in use. Almost within the same time frame, other roads including the 21km Airport-Ajia-New Ife Express road with spur to Amuloko; 12km Akala Express to Apata road; the 12km Apete to Akufo road (the first of it’s kind concrete road in Oyo State); the 6km Sabo-Gedu-Oroki road; 10km Saki Township road; 45km Saki-Igboho road; and the Lautech Under-G Stadium-Oke Ado Akintola road to mention a few are either completed or almost completed.
The dualization of the 7km Idi Ape-Akobo-Odogbo Barracks road which ought to have an overhead brigde linking Bashorun to Akobo (across the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway) and was less than 30 per cent completed in 2019 but hurriedly commissioned by the last administration is getting the attention of GSM and work is in progress at a steady pace with the possibility of completion by year end.
The Asphalt and Quarry Plant at Ijaiye have been resuscitated. About 65 Housing Units have been completed at Ajoda and Bodija. Our old Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) have also been upgraded. Two fire stations, one each at Oyo and Igbo-Ora are under construction. The new Abuja Liason Office is also under construction.
In the area od Security, the GSM government have invested resources to support the Police and other security agencies. GSM facilitated and equipped a Mobile Police Squadron in the State and also provided operational vehicles and logistics for the Police and other Agencies. The highlight in the last 24 months is the conceptualization, establishment and launch of AMOTEKUN. This has helped the State significantly to check the spate of security challenges across communities especially as regards farmers-herders clashes. While this is an ongoing operation, there is a huge room for improvement. More personnel and equipments will make AMOTEKUN more effective and efficient.
The Light-Up Oyo Project, a novel project using the deployment of smart LED street lighting technology to illuminate over 70 roads covering about 223.42 kilometres across the five geopolitical zones of the State was embarked on by the GSM administration to fight crime, improve the security of lives and position the State for socio-economic expansion. This innovative Statewide lighting project, for those who care to know, is first of its kind in Oyo State in terms of the magnitude of deployment, efficiency and financial commitment.
In the area of urban transport infrastructure, our ‘Government of Small Things’ is building four massive modern transportation terminals across the capital city landscape. These terminals when commissioned will redefine urban transportation in the State Capital. The Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA) Headquarters at Sanyo has also been completed by GSM within two years.
To address the waste management challenge facing the capital city, a new solid waste management architecture was launched by the Governor and within 24 months, two major dumpsites serving the State Capital at Ajakanga, Oluyole Local Government and the second one at Awotan near Apete in Ido Local Government have been rehabilitated and are now accessible to city waste managers.
In the health sector, there has been significant turnaround especially in terms of structures and facilities. This GSM ‘Government of Small Things’ upgraded the Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo; upgraded the Agbami Chest Clinic; upgraded Adeoyo Hospital at Ring Road; upgraded the Jericho Specialist Hospital; upgraded the Orthopedic Hospital at Oranyan; upgraded the Primary Healthcare Centre at Eyin Grammar PHC; upgraded the Alaafin Model Primary Healthcare Centre; upgraded the Model Primary Healthcare Centre at Aawe; upgraded the Model Primary Healthcare Centre at Igbo-Ora; upgraded both the Specialist Hospital and Isolation Centre at Saki; and upgraded a section of the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital at Ogbomoso among several other health facilities under going one form of upgrade or the other. These upgrades and transformation are ongoing under our ‘Government of Small Things.’
There are other projects worthy of mention under this midterm assesment of the GSM administration. The rehabilitated Juice Processing Factory at Oko; the ongoing off-grid Power Plant project at the State Secretariat, Agodi; Two Mini Bus Parks within the city and ofcourse the famous Agbowo Shopping Complex opposite the University of Ibadan which is undergoing rehabilitation. An ICT hub is springing up at Mokola. The first phase of the ancient Akesan Market at Oyo town ravaged by fire which has been remodeled and rebuilt while the redevelopment of the second phase is ongoing.
The Stadium at Adamasingba has also undergone massive transformation, it will soon be ready to host International Competitions. The Saki Township Stadium; the Durbar Stadium at Oyo and the Soun Stadium at Ogbomoso are all undergoing transformation under our ‘Government of Small Things.’
In Agriculture, our GSM ‘Government of Small Things’ have made remarkable progress. This of course is one of my own personal areas of interest as a farmer. One landmark achievement here is the resurrection and overhaul of the former Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP) which we now call Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA). This is happening after almost two decades of neglect. Today, the OYSADA Complex at Saki is back to life and it is now a beehive of transformative Agricultural projects and Agribusiness activities.
The moribund former Rural Community Development Centre (RCDC) at Awe have been transformed into an agribusiness hub called Oyo State-IITA Youth Agribusiness Incubation Park Centre, Awe. The facility at Awe have been rehabilitated and is now the operating base of the Oyo State ‘Youths in Agriculture Initiative’ under OYSADA. The agency have also launched what it calls the “Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project.” OYSADA under the GSM administration in conjunction with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the French Government have also floated what it calls the ‘Start Them Early Program – Oyo (STEP-Oyo Project)’ at Fasola Farms and it is currently being upscaled across 6 schools in Oyo State.
In Education, GSM has raised the bar. Our ‘Government of Small Things’ is perhaps the only one in Nigeria that has aligned with UNESCO’s 26 per cent of budget benchmark for funding of education. Not that alone, within 24 months, more than any other administration, the GSM government has recruited close to 7,000 new staffs into the Oyo State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM). For the eight straight years before GSM, there was embargo on recruitment and tension all over as a result of the decision and style of the past administration to dismiss at will. Within, two years, the former Emmanuel Alayande College of Education at Oyo is now Emmanuel Alayande University of Education, Oyo; tuition in both Primary and Secondary schools in Oyo State are now free and a few other interventions have happened across educational institutions in the State. This according to recent reports have drastically reduced the number of out-of-school children in Oyo State.
The big one for me under education remains the successful take over of our Alma Mata, LAUTECH solely by the GSM administration. Today, our ‘Government of Small Things’ have secured sole ownership of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso. In addendum to this new ownership regime, GSM has graciously adopted the multi-campus system which some of us have championed for years. By September 2021, the first multi-campus of LAUTECH will begin at Iseyin. The choice of Iseyin as the based of the institution’s Agriculture Faculty is occasioned by the immense agricultural potential of the area which serves as a gateway to the region that houses one of the best agroecological zones in Nigeria.
In just two years, LAUTECH is not only back on her feet but edging gradually towards regaining her lost glory and on the path to sustainability. Not many will appreciate or understand the efforts and huge investments GSM have made so far regarding LAUTECH. As citizen Seyi Makinde, I was part of the #fundLAUTECH team that visited GSM in 2017 at the period the University was almost going into extinction. We should not forget in a hurry, that LAUTECH under the immediate past administration was under lock and key for close to 22 months. GSM did not only support our intervention but was also the only individual with the largest single donation to our crowdfunding initiative for the University. In the this two years, GSM have taken over the ownership of LAUTECH; reinstated staffs that were unjustly sacked by the previous administration; settled some backlog of wages and gratuities; inaugurated a new governing council and activated the multi-campus system among several others.
On all fronts, in just two years, especially within the sphere of public governance, our ‘Government of Small Things’ can be rated far above average in providing the basic necessities of life to our people. This Governor have shown uncommon empathy for the masses of our people. He has been youth friendly and have opened up government by engaging several youths for different assignments in different positions of authority.
While there is room for more improvement and accelerated development, especially in the areas of social welfare; women empowerment; community to community engagement; community policing and security; traffic and transportation management; social housing; agriculture; rural infrastructure; tourism development; education; primary healthcare delivery and effective grassroot communication; we can conveniently say GSM has repositioned Oyo on the path of prosperity with a collage of projects connected and driven by the 4 focal areas viz, Security, Education, Economic expansion and Health which he highlighted from the onset.
Our ‘Government of Small Things’ is delivering big things and setting the pace for others to follow.
From: The GSMists