Editor's note: Lati Abayomi, a public affairs analyst, in this piece, concludes his two-part series on how Governor Seyi Makinde has fared in the different areas of governance in Oyo state since May 29, 2019. The writer also highlighted what should be improved on as the governor commences his second year in office.
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This is the concluding article of a two-part series looking at how Governor Seyi Makinde has fared in the different areas of governance in Oyo state since May 29, 2019. I also highlighted what he should improve on as he commences his second year in office.
In this part, I will be looking at the other two pillars of the administration – the economy and security.
Regarding the economy of Oyo state, the government has seemingly adopted a multi-pronged approach which includes: driving the economy using agribusiness, creating an environment where businesses can thrive, embarking on public-private partnerships (PPPs) to revive moribund government-owned companies, and lastly, carrying out infrastructural development projects both to inject funds into the economy and provide basic infrastructure for socio-economic activities.
From inception, Makinde’s administration stated that it would take advantage of Oyo state’s comparative advantage in agriculture to drive the economy. This would be achieved by treating agriculture as a business driven by the private sector with the government as important stakeholders. Recognising the importance of rural roads to the business of agriculture, barely two months after assuming office, the government paid a counterpart fund of N350million to enable it access a World Bank matching grant under the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Programme (RAAMP). It also commenced the reconstruction of the strategic Moniya-Iseyin road in November 2019 which links the capital Ibadan with the Oke Ogun zone, that is acknowledged as the food basket of the state, and the Apete-Awotan-Akufo road which leads to the Akufo farm settlement. Another early step which showed promise was the partnership with Farmcrowdy, an agritech company to work with 50,000 small scale farmers over the course of three years to grow their farm businesses.
Despite these promising early steps, not much noticeable difference has been seen in the agricultural sector. The plan to upgrade the farm settlements in Oyo state into farm estates starting with the two in Akufo and Eruwa is yet to commence. The rehabilitation of rural roads under RAAMP has also not yet commenced. Although some of the delays may be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it still doesn’t fully explain it. So, in the agricultural sector, it seems that the past one year was spent planting. We await the harvest.
Regarding PPP to revive moribund government-owned companies, in August 2019, the Oyo state government advertised a batch of seventeen items of the state’s assets in the newspapers and invited private investors for a PPP/Joint Venture/BOT arrangement. Since then, assets such as the Pacesetter Quarry and Asphalt Plant have been revived which will generate funds for the government and create jobs for the people of Oyo state. Furthermore, the government also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with four private real estate companies to develop four of the listed assets. An agreement which will inject about N5Billion in the state’s economy. A reserve bidder has also been confirmed for the Pacesetter Fruit Processing Company according to a speech by Governor Makinde on March 01, 2020.
The Oyo state government has embarked on several infrastructural projects in the past year. One by-product of these projects such as the rehabilitation of the Awotan and Ajakanga dumpsites has been a source of job creation. Last month, Mr Idowu Salawu, the contractor handling the Clean and Green initiative of the government, a waste to wealth community-based waste management system, revealed that 12,000 direct jobs for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled income earners in the state had been created under the initiative. The lack of data on the number of jobs created by other ongoing projects means that one has to rely only on anecdotal evidence.
Critics and supporters alike agree that when it comes to the welfare of civil/public servants and retirees in Oyo State, Makinde’s administration has done very well. It has ensured that salaries and pensions are paid in full every month and is paying the backlog of arrears on gratuity payments owed since 2011. The Oyo state government has also commenced payment of minimum wage from January 2020 and increased housing and car loans payable to civil servants every month. Furthermore, the government is improving the working conditions at the secretariat by renovating it. Renovations were also done at the Sanyo office of the Oyo State Road Traffic Management Authority (OYRTMA) and just commenced at the former Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP) now Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) headquarters at Saki.
Even though, civil/public servants make up just 1.4% of the population in Oyo state, prompt payment of salaries of both state and local government workers injects N11billion into the economy every month and this definitely helps both the formal and informal sectors in the state. Going forward, we want to see the corresponding value from the civil service with increased efficiency. This requires training and retraining of civil servants.
The last sector I will examine is security. The latest ‘Crime Statistics: Reported Offences by Type and State’ published by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics is for 2017. In this report, Oyo state ranked seventh-worst state with the highest number of reported offences of the thirty-six states. Makinde’s administration upon assumption of office promised to implement a new security architecture for the state.
To achieve this, the government operationalised an emergency contact number, 615 which citizens could call to report crimes, fires and medical emergencies. The number is toll-free. The government also purchased 100 vehicles equipped with modern communication gadgets to enable the police respond quickly to crime alerts. The government’s request for an additional mobile police unit, only the second since the creation of the state was granted by the federal government and the unit is operating from Ago Are in Oke Ogun which shares international borders with the Republic of Benin.
Recognising the importance of regional cooperation to ensure safer states, Makinde facilitated regional security meetings with the governors of the five other south-west states in Nigeria: Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Osun to create a regional security outfit called Amotekun Corps. The outfit is to complement the efforts of the federal security agencies in the states. The Amotekun Corps is yet to commence operations in Oyo state.
No major security incident was recorded in the first year of Makinde’s administration. An early security crisis was averted at the beginning of his tenure with the proscription of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state in June 2019. An internal crisis within the NURTW had threatened to descend into chaos in Ibadan but this was thwarted by the new administration. The proscription has not been lifted though critics have stated that the park management system created by the government to replace the NURTW is being operated with the input of one faction of the union.
In conclusion, after a year at the helm of affairs, with increased access to education, improvements in the infrastructure of schools and healthcare facilities, ongoing infrastructural projects and a focus on a private sector driven economy, Governor Seyi Makinde is showing that he understands the steps which need to be taken to deliver the prosperous and secure Oyo state which he promised during his campaign. Yet, he will need to pick up the pace on implementation of his plans if the state will witness the greater heights which his administration hopes to achieve.
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