Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
Oyo State governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, has said the state government would move to fix about 100 kilometres of internal roads in Ibadan, the state capital and that once it is able to succeed with that, the effort would be replicated across the state.
He also expressed the readiness of his administration to begin the process for the employment of primary school teachers to fill the gap left by those posted to secondary schools and retirements.
This was as the governor called on residents of Olodo Area of Ibadan to be patient with the government, promising that the collapsed Olodo Bridge would be fixed, but that all the proper things needed would be done so as to have a lasting solution.
Governor Makinde gave these indications while responding to contributions from stakeholders at the Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting on the 2024 Budget, held at the Gamaliel Onosode Hall, International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
The state Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Prof. Musibau Babatunde, had earlier noted that the state government introduced the stakeholders’ engagement with a view to developing budgets that meet the yearning of the people, adding that the initiative had been helpful in producing a bottom-up approach to development in the state.
He equally stated that the inputs of the people of the state captured in the 2023 Budget were being implemented, and that the performance of the 2023 Budget had reached 75 per cent.
While describing the stakeholders’ meeting as very important, Governor Makinde called on residents of the state across the seven zones to come out and tell government representatives the developments they want in their areas.
He said: “I would love to thank everyone here for giving out your time and bringing up issues, whether they are palatable or not. I am already committed to this feedback mechanism and we will make the time and give you that assurance.”
Speaking on education infrastructure, the governor said the administration did an audit and found that it would require close to N46 billion to fix the infrastructure gap in the schools.
He noted that though his government had spent about N10 billion on building school infrastructure in the last four years, it is obvious that the challenges in the sector needed more efforts and that the government would do more, even in the face of limited resources.
“Since this is a stakeholders’ engagement for the 2024 budget, let me say this, for four years that I have been here, we have been paying the SUBEB/UBEC counterpart fund. But all the projects done under SUBEB/UBEC are around N2.5 billion per year. So, quite frankly, within these last four years, maybe we have spent N10 billion on SUBEB.
“We carried out an exercise and found out that we require close to N46 billion to fix our schools. On the repair of the leaking roofs, chairs, and other things, we are looking at solutions but one thing that I will ask the Commissioner for Education to push for in the 2024 budget is extra money over and above what we can get from the SUBEB/UBEC effort. To bridge this gap, we need to spend at least N12 billion every year, and let us see how far we can go so that we can start fixing those schools.”
Governor Makinde, who declared that his government’s renovation of the Primary Health Centres had been successful and that it remained the best in the country, said the government would have completed the renovation of all 351 PHCs by 2024 and that it would also see to the staffing and equipment of the centres.
“On primary health care centres, yes, we had an issue with the implementation of the project because we didn’t achieve what we set out to achieve. It is a difficult venture really. There is no state in Nigeria that has succeeded in tackling this. Actually, the best that anyone has ever achieved in this country is what we have achieved in Oyo State on the issue of PHCs. But, to us, the best outcome is what we will accept.
“So, we will take another stab at it because we have the money. We have been to PHCs about four times and most of the bottlenecks we have will be addressed.
“I think a fully functional, developed category 3 health care centre will happen. Before this exercise next year, by the grace of God, we should have been done with the 351 category 3 PHCs in Oyo State. Equipping and staffing them also will be sorted out. We know it is a big challenge. Though we have done a few things we have not achieved what we planned to achieve. So, it has been noted and I will also advise the Commissioner for Budget to pay special attention to it to ensure much more is added to the budget,” he said.
The governor equally promised to give further attention to youth development, saying the government will continue to remain loyal and committed to its youths.
He said: “From the youth representative, you spoke about employment and skill acquisition. Of course, we did that under Omituntun 1.0 when we sent some of our youths to Nasarawa State to learn modern agri-business techniques.
“Some of them are excelling while some need support to break out and under the SAfER package, we already have N1 billion; N500 million for agripreneurs and N500 million for small scale businesses.
“In the 2024 budget, you will have at least N1bn. It should be something that we will keep moving but you need to encourage yourselves to get organised. The only way you can get benefits from what the government is trying to put on the table is to be prepared to work very hard as there is nothing that is free to get.”
While responding to a contribution from the Civil Coalition for Good Governance about the environment and sanitation, the governor said the sanitation laws will be enforced going forward.
He, however, declared that it is better for residents of the state to do things properly so that the government will not need to spend money that can be put to other use on enforcement of sanitation laws.
“I want to let you know that enforcement also costs money. If I want to arrest those disposing of refuse on the medians of our road, the government needs to fund the process because we will have to pay those who will arrest offenders. So, if our people will do things properly, we will spend less money on enforcement.
“I must also say that I have made up my mind on this. Before this month runs out, all the people at the entry points into this state should be warned not to break the rule on sanitation law. All of that will go and we will put in the resources for the implementation.”
Other issues addressed by the governor included the funding of the agency for people living with disability, infrastructure and other sectors, with the governor insisting that the administration would leave no stone unturned in its bid to make life better for residents of the state.