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Wed May 29, 2019 3:21 pm

As the baton changes hands in Oyo State
As from Wednesday, May 29, when Engineer Seyi Makinde, Oyo-State governor-elect, takes the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office as Governor, there may be torrential rains in the state. This is because Makinde has promised to bring down ‘Omi tuntun’, ‘Fresh water’, on the state, so that residents of the state who thirst for the dividends of democracy can drink to their fill. Makinde’s fresh water is expected to fall on critical areas like education, agriculture and food security, health care, infrastructure, youth empowerment, and percolate down through populist policies to the dry mouths of the citizens.

The people are excited and are looking forward to an abundant life, as promised by Makinde. But their excitement is tinged with fear given the notoriety of Nigerian politicians to break the people’s heart. Nevertheless, I think Makinde is different. I have watched him speak at different events and he appeared a man in earnest, like a freshman attending his first lectures. I have also read his campaign manifesto: Oyo State Road Map for Accelerated Development (2019-2023), where he elucidated his eight-point agenda for the state, and it is a thorough document, although it contains some promises that do not square with reality. However, it is a good guide to good governance. And if it is not toss into the trash bin, it can lift Oyo State from the morass of underdevelopment.

Top on Makinde’s agenda is to make Oyo State the centre of agriculture and agro-processing in Nigeria; the hub of investment destination in Nigeria; one of the major contributors of non-oil exports in Nigeria; and to achieve a productive industrial base for Nigeria. These lofty ambitions are commendable. And they are obviously aimed at reclaiming Oyo State’s position as the pacesetter state in Nigeria. But one area where I believe much work is needed is the education sector, which is keeling over in the sweltering heat of neglect. Many public primary and secondary schools are what they were eight years ago, some even worse: no new teachers, classrooms, laboratories or books. That is why Oyo State has fallen precipitously in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) national performance ranking. The ranking is done by the West African Examination Council (WAEC), and it is based on the performance of candidates who passed five subjects in the examination, including Mathematics and English in the 36 states and the FCT. Oyo state ranked 29th in 2017 and 26th in 2018, behind education less developed states like Borno and Adamawa. Agodi was not troubled that Oyo State was no longer setting the pace in education. It was content with trailing behind those it ought to lead.

If Makinde brings the rains and ends the drought in the education sector, perhaps those who should drink first are students of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho (LAUTECH), whom Makinde has promised to resolve the recurrent crises troubling their school. LAUTECH students earned the right to drink before others following their resolute support for Makinde during the governorship election. They ensured Makinde got substantial votes in the Ogbomosho axis of the state, after former governor Alao Akala, a political heavyweight in the axis, sold out. Incidentally, Makinde’s soon-to-be predecessor, Abimbola Ajimobi, began his political descent after his row with LAUTECH students over the crises. The students had gone to Ajimobi’s office to protest against the closure of their school, caused by the crises, but he flippantly dismissed their protest, asking them if their school was the first to be closed because of crises. His facetious remark chaffed the students who booed and heckled him as he tried to address them, but he got more tactless and retorted that he was the constituted authority in the state.

The video of the encounter went viral and aroused public indignation. The public goodwill which earned Ajimobi a second term (the first in the history of the state) began to plummet. And when he sought the mandate of the people to return to the Senate in the general elections, the verdict was clear: the people are the constituted authority. Ajimobi lost the Oyo South senatorial election to little-known Kola Balogun, his protégé, Adebayo Adelabu lost the governorship election to Makinde, and Buhari lost to Atiku in the state. Although much has been said about the outcome of the elections in the state, only few commentators acknowledged the role of the students in the upset. But Makinde knows better.

Another area that urgently needs Makinde’s showers of fresh water to overcome its aridity and revive dehydrated citizens is the health sector. The sector has atrophied due to poor budgetary allocations. I was at the Adeoyo State hospital recently and I couldn’t help shedding tears for the poor state of facilities at the hospital. “If thus are the priests,” I muttered to myself, “God bless the congregation.” “If this is the condition of the state hospital at the heart of Ibadan, the state capital,” I told myself, “God bless those receiving medical care at other state and local government hospitals across the state.” The Adeoyo hospital is obviously the fairest measure of how much the Ajimobi administration cared about the health and well being of the people; and how well it delivered on its promise of free health care for infants and the aged. Res ipsa loquitur, as lawyers will say; the fact speaks for itself.

There is a lot to be done, and Makinde must roll up his sleeves and start work immediately he is sworn-in. As he said in the prologue to his manifesto, “The primary rationale for our decision to seek election to govern Oyo State is to provide solutions to public policy problems that have needlessly bedeviled the state. As a result, we have resolved to intervene in some strategic areas of agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, and security in order to make a meaningful impact in the lives of Oyo State citizens within the shortest possible period. This is because governance, especially in our own society where there is little or no social security must have a human face. Our firm belief is that Oyo State has the opportunity to regain her lost glory in Nigeria over the next four years with your support. Entrusting Seyi Makinde with the mandate of governance in 2019 election will result in a realization of our individual and collective potentials.”

This was what made Mama Bampe and Baba Bambi collect their permanent voter’s card and elect Makinde in the March 9 governorship elections. It’s the terms of the social contract between him and the people. He begged to do the job, and the people obliged him. There must, therefore, be no shirking of duties or denial of campaign promises. As my legal friends will say, pacta sunt servanda; all agreements must be kept.

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