Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, was on the state’s broadcasting corporation recently, where he fielded questions from panelists and residents on the activities of his government in its first 100 days. Below are excerpts from the interview session as monitored by Olaoluwakitan Babatunde
During your campaign, you promised to make life comfortable for all and sundry. How will your government address the issue of employment in the state?
Let me repeat what I said during the electioneering campaign. It is true that I said the youth is central to our government. Oyo State has a comparative advantage over and above its counterparts when it comes to the landmass that God gave to us. We are blessed with many things, including solid minerals. People have been thinking that we should have achieved many things within a short period of time. For someone like me who studied Engineering, I know there are processes towards achieving certain things. In the Engineering field, at times, we complete the process of building a structure on the paper before the actual process begins. Truth is, it might take time to lay foundation that can bring about employment for the teeming youths in the state, though we have started.
About two weeks ago, we launched FarmCrowdy farming initiative with a private company and about 50,000 farmers will benefit from this programme.
Secondly, most of the farm settlements we have will be turned to farm estates, which would not only take care of farmers that will process what we want to plant. We will build schools and some other infrastructural facilities that will make people live comfortably in those places.
Of course, we have given our youths the impression that the future will be bright for them. There are also some of our youths who have been engaging in some unwholesome acts before, but they are now retracing their steps. Some of them have approached us for help. They told us they want to be responsible and stop constituting nuisance to the public and we have been acting on that. I can tell you that three months of this government is too short to fix the rot and bottlenecks created by the past administration. But I know if we are on the right trajectory. Now, everybody knows the path we are moving towards, which is agriculture and its value chain, to attract foreign investors into our state.
One last thing I want to say is, if we fail to do the right thing for the youth, it means that this government has failed already. So, I want this to be in the mind of our youths. They must know that they are our main focus.
What do you want to do differently from what has been done in the past to improve the education sector in the state?
On my way to this studio, I came with a book without even knowing a question like this will come up. I came to show it to the people of Oyo State. The book is a compendium of past questions and answers for students preparing for WAEC and NECO, starting from 2012 through 2018. When I was in the secondary school here in Bishop Philip Academy, Ibadan, a public school, we looked for those who have sat for WAEC around the neighbourhood and requested for their past questions to study. We used that to prepare ourselves ahead for examination. We are publishing this book with the aim of giving them to our students preparing for exams for free. We don’t have a book like this in Oyo State before now and it is the initiative of this government. The books will be distributed freely to those in private schools too.
Similarly, we have put in place free tutorial classes for students that would write the WASSCE exam and we are making it mandatory for them. We are doing this because we know that the evaluation process cuts across students in both private and public schools. The teachers too will be given these books for free to teach the students, particularly Mathematics and English.
We will employ teachers and deploy them to schools entirely different from where they teach such that the students will have different teachers taking them from time to time.
The idea is, from Mondays to Thursdays, teachers will teach from 2 to 4pm and on Saturdays, students will receive lecture from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. With this, we believe that the result of our students who will write the next May/June exam will be better than what we have had in the past.
Therefore, I encourage the parents to cooperate with the government to make this happen. They should make time for their children to participate in this exercise and not give them things to hawk when they are supposed to be receiving lectures. If these children become great in life, they can afford to give to their parents whatever they (parents) need. So, parents should allow their children go for these extra-mural lessons that the government is organising for them for free.
There are many projects scattered around the state, which have been uncompleted or abandoned by previous administrations, what should the people of the state look forward to in this administration?
I actually passed along Iwere-Ile road and noticed that close to the election time, the past administration laid asphalt to a particular point and stopped. I am very sure that where the asphalt covered is not up to one kilometre before the election ended. There are many projects that have been abandoned since 2010 but I have promised the people that good governance supersedes the gimmick of politics. Because of this, I told the contractors who were paid by the immediate past government but abandoned the projects that they should go back to the site and do the work they collected money to execute. If they do well, we will allow them to finish with the work irrespective of the party that gave the project out. As long as it is Oyo State’s money, they can go ahead. This administration always wants to see value for any money spent on whatever project.
When I went to inspect the Silo project in Awe, I understood that the state government had paid over N1billion for the project but zero value is what is on ground for the state. The contractor handling the project said the case was in court because he had not been paid completely but I asked him to withdraw the case from court so that we could sit down one-on-one to discuss and settle the matter once and for all. During our discussion, he said if he could get another N350 million, the job would be completed and I immediately approved the money to be given to the contractor. I learnt that he has gone back to site and he has been an ultimatum of four months to complete the project.
So, for us, it does not matter when a project starts, even if it was awarded during the time of Governors Akala or Ladoja, what is important to us is the value it will add to the state. Our government will continue to show commitment to whatever will add value to the people of this state.
For instance, we have revoked the Moniya-Iseyin road construction project. But right now, we are in the process of re-awarding the road project to a more competent contractor. The last time I also passed along the road from Iseyin that leads to Saki during my campaign, I saw the nature of the road. Perhaps the people working on that road designed it in a way that one part must be tarred and the other should not be tarred. But what is left now is to just tar the remaining part and it is among the project that is surviving.
If you look at it, you will observe that we signed a budget into law. The past government came up with a budget of N280 billion. Meanwhile, all the money that has been realised till this moment is N70 billion. So, how come they have budget of N280 billion? That was why we reduced it because it is completely unrealistic. We thought that we need to cut our clothes according to our material but not to our size, because a small cloth is easy to sew.
What is the key message of your administration ahead of the next four years?
Let me start by saying that I am happy to be serving this state. During the electioneering period, we came up with the roadmap for the accelerated development of Oyo State. Now, what we plan for the state is anchored on four pillars; health, security, education and security. We know if we perform well in these areas, people will enjoy the dividends of democracy.
For you to know that we are making efforts in raising the standard of education, I just came back from Oyo where we went to commission a SUBEB project of 20 blocks of classroom. If we give our children necessary education, exposure, they will succeed. We also know that if we take the issue of health seriously, this will make us productive and make our economy favourable.
For us, once the economy is tackled such that the means of livelihood is considerably improved for all, you will see that standard of living will be okay for everyone and even the government won’t be preoccupied with the expectation of federal allocation. The federal allocation we get is not enough, but if we can expand our own economy, the money government gets from Internally Generated Revenue IGR will equally increase. If we can also utilise most of our infrastructure to target our economy, things will take a good shape for us in the state.
So, we believe education and healthy living of the people will lead to productivity and expansion of our economy.
I must sincerely repeat that all of these cannot be done in an atmosphere that is not safe and secure and that is why the fourth thing we want to do is to enhance security. We want to ensure that everyone goes about his lawful business without hindrance. We want absolute peace and security in the state for the people.
I think we need to always pass our messages across to the people comprehensively. A secure and safe environment is what we cannot compromise. If you look at it very well, investors, investments and foreign money won’t come to an environment that is not safe.
You have also said you will improve on health care delivery. What will your government do on the mortality of pregnant women and children?
The statistics being put out there could be real or not but what is most important for us is to go to our primary health centres and also the state-owned institutions to know what exactly they have there. This is also same with the health family. If I ask for the number of patients being attended to in our hospitals and the number of doctors we have on ground to attend to these patients, you will be surprised that they may not be available. How much do they budget for drugs they get in the hospitals? What we will find out is that the amount that is being released does not tally with the drugs being procured. If you also ask from them how they register patients, you will find out they don’t have. There have not been records and we are starting from the basis. We are looking at how we can capture the data in a reliable manner. No offence to the past administration but it is our responsibility to do the needful as a government. If there was mistake in the past, we don’t have to continue but make some corrections. There is also a programme which the World Bank is supporting on nutrition and to ensure that pregnant women deliver safely. There are many primary health care centres that have no equipments and working facilities.
I can remember that when we got to the Radiology Unit of Adeoyo Hospital, Yemetu. We saw all the facilities inside. But we were told that it has never been used since it was installed. Meanwhile, I saw letters from 2010 that everything was working perfectly there because I went with the contractor that installed the machine in 2010. So, we do have challenges and that is why we have been encouraging people to say something to us when they see something.
This is because if we keep silent about everything, we will continue to go in the same circle. I believe that the Commissioner for Health would perform better in this area, considering his antecedents and wealth of experience. He has been in the system for long and he used to be the Permanent Secretary in the same ministry. So, we were deliberate in looking for hands that can assist us to quickly turn things around. And whatever it is that is required of us to release as resources to get things on track will surely be provided for.
When I got to Adeoyo Hospital, Ring-Road, Oyo State already paid General Electric GE close to N1 billion or thereabout but they said they were yet to get the balance of N200 million before they could come to fix the radiographic equipment. We have done it. We provided the money. We will walk the talk. We are not saying that we are perfect or once we decree something, it will happen immediately. No, we need to follow through the due process and our feedback mechanism will be such that we are not going to be fooled. I am not going to commission a project that will work while I am commissioning it and when I turn my back, it will stop working. Anyone who tries this in Oyo State in the next four years would be dealt with decisively, either big or small scale corporation. The standard is the same. If Oyo State is providing the resources, we have to get back the value for whatever the state is giving out.