By Henry Odeh
The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, said, on Friday, that his administration has completed 307 projects in the education sector, while 236 others are on-going, within its first year in office.
The governor, in a state-wide address aired on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCoS), also expressed the confidence that, going by the performance of his administration in its first year in office, the future is, indeed, bright for the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Engineer Makinde as also appreciating residents of the state for the trust they have reposed in his administration.
He equally urged the people to keep supporting the administration, with view to making the best decisions for their overall good.
He noted that in one year, he has remained focused on the goal of developing the state.
The statement also quoted the governor as saying that in line with his promise to build on the programmes of past administrations that were structured properly, his administration has, so far, completed 239 projects awarded by the previous administration in the education sector as well as 68 others awarded by his government.
Governor Makinde, who maintained that despite the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, the administration has remained focused and that it has leveraged the setback to improve the health care system, implored residents of the state to keep following the directives of the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force on social distancing, wearing of face masks and proper hygiene practices.
He said: “It has been one year since we took over office as administrators of the Oyo State Government. And like every administrator knows, there is a time for acting, and a time for accounting.
Ultimately, we will be rendering a full account of our stewardship by 2023. But before then, it is only fair and just to mark where we are coming from, so we can determine how far we have gone.
As our elders say, when a person embarks on a journey, he should stop from time to time, to ensure he has not strayed from the path.
“But, before I share with you some of our accomplishments in the past year, let me take a moment to thank you.
Yes, I especially thank every one of you good citizens of Oyo State for your trust and support in the past year. I felt your love when I came down with COVID-19. Your private and public messages and prayers were well received. Again, I thank you.
“I have always said that our COVID-19 response in Oyo State will be backed by data, science and logic. So far, these parameters have not failed us.
Indeed, despite the international, national and local setback of this pandemic, we remain focused.
“In fact, instead of seeing COVID-19 as a setback, we chose to leverage it to improve our healthcare system.
Oyo State collaborated with the Virology Department of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, to set up a Diagnostic Centre which was approved by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to test for COVID-19.
“We also upgraded one of our facilities at Olodo to an Infectious Disease Research and Treatment Centre. Instead of spending money on temporary isolation centres that will serve little or no purpose outside this pandemic, we chose to do something permanent.
“We have renovated and equipped General Hospitals and Primary Healthcare facilities. We also implemented a new funding structure for our Primary Healthcare system. The benefits of this new system will be evident in the coming months.
Furthermore, we bought and kitted ambulances to improve our emergency operations.
“We have kept our promise to finish what previous administrations left undone instead of selfishly starting new ones. We looked at the books and found projects from as far back as 2011.
“So far, in the education sector, we have completed two hundred and thirty-nine projects awarded by the previous administration and sixty-eight awarded by our own administration. This year, we started two hundred and thirty-six projects which are currently ongoing.
These projects include construction of schools and classrooms, construction of Early Child Development centres, renovation of schools, installation of boreholes, supply of furniture and sports equipment and other procurements.”
On the economy, Governor Makinde maintained that there had been incremental changes in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, following the introduction of a new IGR framework in November 2019, noting that between December 2019 and February 2020, the state’s IGR figures had been between 2.43 Billion Naira and 2.7 Billion Naira.
He said: “We have started the Park Management System to bring sanity and order to the transportation sector. It also generates funds for the government. We are working towards ensuring that the process runs seamlessly.
“We have renovated and rehabilitated roads and started a Zero Pothole Policy for our roads, first in Ibadan, and this will be expanded to other towns.
“We paid counterpart funding of 350 Million Naira so that we can benefit from the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP). This will enable us to rehabilitate 1,000 kilometres of rural roads.
“In Land and Housing, we built a digitised platform with georeferencing for electronic Certificate of Occupancy. You can now get your C of O within 60 days of payment.
“We have improved in the area of ease of doing business and set up the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency to harness our competitive advantage in agriculture.”
In the area of security, the governor said that the administration is building a security architecture that the people of Oyo State would be proud of, explaining that aside working with federal security agencies by providing equipment and vehicles, the signing of the Oyo State Security Network Agency (Amotekun) Bill 2019 into law to complement the efforts of the federal security agencies was part of the administration’s innovations to ensure adequate security in Oyo State.
“Just two days ago, I commissioned a new mobile police force squadron, Mopol 72 at Ago-Are in Oke Ogun zone. We have provided vehicles and state-of-the-art communication equipment to facilitate their response to crime. We have also operationalized the Emergency Contact Number, 615,” the governor said.
According to the governor, the administration has, in one year, kept up with the promise of prompt payment of salaries and pensions for civil and public servants on the 25th of every month and sometimes, earlier, as well as ensuring the payment of more outstanding gratuities for retired civil servants in the past one year than the previous administration paid in eight years.
He noted that all these were being done to ensure that funds are constantly being injected into the state’s economy, thus benefiting both the formal and informal sectors.
Governor Makinde, however, said that upon the realization that for more capital projects to be realised, the state would need to spend more, it had to take loans, which were strategically thought-out and targeted at capital projects.
He explained that the state only borrowed money for priority projects that would boost the economy, adding that the loans were being taken with “aggressively negotiated terms and conditions” and that the state had only borrowed in Naira, which “means that our loan repayments will not be subject to the fluctuations of foreign exchange.”
He said: “Earlier in our administration, we took a loan of 10 Billion Naira.
This was an infrastructure loan facility and it is being used to facilitate the building of the very strategic Moniya-Iseyin Road. On the 7.6 Billion Naira loan taken by the previous administration for the purchase of agriculture equipment, we approached the CBN to repurpose that loan for upgrading the Akufo and Eruwa farm settlements into farm estates.
“More recently, the legislature gave us their approval to take a 22.5 Billion Naira infrastructural loan. 2.5 Billion Naira will be used to further upgrade healthcare infrastructure and facilitate our COVID-19 response.
While 20 Billion Naira is going to be spent on various infrastructural projects including the Light Up Oyo State Phase II, building of bus terminals, security architecture, junction improvements, road projects and more.
“With the Oyo State Financial Crimes Commission Act 2019 in place, you can be assured of transparency and accountability in all our transactions. You will recall that we initiated and signed that bill into law.”
The governor also took time to explain why the administration has been unable to meet its promise on Ikere Gorge Dam, saying that though the administration had high hopes to boost fishery, the dam has been given to private concessionaires by the Federal Government.
He assured that the state was already in discussions with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to ensure that Oyo State’s interest is factored into the Arrangements.