Makinde: Our plan is to lift Oyo people out of poverty

Makinde

Mr. Seyi Makinde is the Governor of Oyo State. In this maiden interview with journalists, he talks about the place of accountability in governance and how he hopes to pull Oyo State out of poverty. GBENGA AKINFENWA reports.

Your first decision as governor was to ban the NURTW, whereas it is a registered body under the law. How come? 
As I have said, we are going to take the security of lives and property seriously. Few days after I was sworn in as governor, we proscribed the NURTW. 

I told them that we were not interested in stopping them from running their union, because it is registered under the law. But we cannot allow few people to hold the state to ransom in the name of running a union.

I am talking to the security agencies in the state; we know the flashpoints and we know exactly what needs to be done.

Oyo State has the largest landmass among Southwest states, four times larger than the size of Lagos State, though Lagos has the population. So, I said that security-wise, we would do what we deem best for Oyo State and we intend to make Oyo State one of the safest in the country.  We are still studying the situation with keen interest.

You have launched a four-point agenda; what are your plans on implementation?
We are going to focus on four issues. Number one is the economy. We have to take the state away from waiting on federal allocation. That is a task that has to be done. How do we do it? We are going to have to expand the economy and we are going to leverage the willingness of the private sector to invest in Oyo State.

I just left an investment forum and the responses have been really great, because we have made commitments to run an open and transparent administration. It means that if people can bring their money into Oyo State, they can be sure of return on investments and they can be sure that they have an administration that is pro-business because of my own background.

Number two; we are going to focus on education. We promised to lighten the burden of the parents by scrapping the school fees that they currently pay. We are sure that by the next school year that will kick in. 


Number three is healthcare. We want to really re-energise the system, if I may use that word. We are looking at the Health Management Board, looking at the inefficiencies in there and the inability to attract talents, because doctors, nurses and other health workers, going by the current system, will have to be on the civil service salary scale. Some of them are unwilling to come in and so we will be creative in tackling that.

As I said in my inaugural speech, we are not building any new health centre. We all know that when the immediate past administration came on board, they promised to build primary health centres in all the wards in Oyo State; 361 of such. But it didn’t happen. They built some primary healthcare centres but most of them were just mere buildings and we have to make them functional. I don’t care if the glory goes to the outgone administration as being the ones that built them. I know that government as they say is, ‘soldier goes, soldier comes but the barracks remain.’

So, what is important to us is to make life meaningful for our people. If they already built the health centres, then we will equip them.

These are the things we want to do in the healthcare sector and we will also need to tinker with the Oyo State Health Management Board. We have to explore possibilities to see if we can have a different result. We want to explore the possibility of some of our secondary and tertiary healthcare centres having their own boards; giving them some kind of autonomy such that they can function without so much bureaucracy

Number four is the issue of security. We know that if we are talking about Foreign Direct Investment and investors coming to Oyo State, even the residents going about their lawful businesses, it has to be in a secure atmosphere.

So, we will focus on security. 
These are the major pillars, but it does not mean that we will not pay attention to sports or we won’t pay attention to tourism and things like that. But these four areas are those that will take the chunk of our attention.

The task before us now is to make Oyo State better and I look forward to working together with the legislature. I want us to de-emphasize party affiliations. I want this ninth Assembly to be the best ever in the history of Oyo State. I know we can do it. The Assembly is blessed with a blend of experience, youthful energy and commitment. So, we won’t have any excuse not to deliver.

I told the lawmakers that as soon as they settle in, I will almost immediately bring Executive Bills. We have four major areas that our government will focus on. We want to expand our economy and lift as many of our people as possible out of poverty. We want to use agriculture to expand the economy. It is not by just saying it; we have to see real action and most of our infrastructure will be made to target our economy. We need to work together on this.

You have also spoken about the plan to establish an anti-corruption agency. How do you hope to do that? 

I have told the State Assembly that the first Executive Bill we are bringing is for us to set up an Anti-Corruption Agency for Oyo State. And I will waive my immunity, if I am found not to be above board, to face that agency.
Your pronouncements on education have also been received with mixed reactions, especially the cancelation of the N3,000 levy…

Of course, we have also identified education as another area of focus. I said that the N3, 000 education levy has been scrapped and a lot of people have been condemning the action, saying I should have waited to see the magnitude of the challenges before making that move. We did our calculations and we found out that with the enrolment of students, we only require N1.2 billion yearly to take care of whatever the N3, 000 levy was being charged for.   In any case, I have given the commitment that the state’s annual budget will be jerked up to 10 percent for the education sector. That would help greatly in addressing some of these things. 

To improve the standard of education, we have quite a lot of programmes that we think will help the state in lifting the standard of education.

One of them is that we need the commitment of both the parents and the teachers. We will engage them.

The teachers have to be motivated. They are currently working under very unusual conditions. We have been to some of the schools; basic things like chalk sticks, dusters, chairs and tables are not even available.

I don’t believe in having six or seven mega schools; the outgone government talked about six or seven, though it only built two model schools located on major roads, but the schools must not be mega in structure. They must be functional. You should put things in those little schools and that is what we have done in the past as private individuals and it produced results.

I am a living example of how a functional public school system can turn out productive and successful individuals. I went to Bishop Philips Academy (in Ibadan) and some of my classmates are also doing very well to the glory of God. I believe that if teachers are motivated and rewarded, they will want to do more. 

Is it true you are not going to collect salaries?
Yes, after my victory at the last elections, I became jobless because I had already resigned from my paid job. I was ready to do some jobs pro bono (for Oyo State) but the last administration insisted that they would be in power until the last hour of the last day, which was 11:59 of May 28.

In that period, I actually visited a couple of countries, Botswana being one of them. They are big players in mining; they are the second largest producer of diamonds in the world.

The point I was making goes together with the question of IGR. I think Botswana also has the largest deposit of coal in the world, so the country is very good as far as mining is concerned.

A delegation from the Business community in Botswana actually came for my inauguration. So, we are talking to the mining countries out there. If you recall, in 2015, during our debate at the University of Ibadan, the issue of mining came up and I suggested that area as one the state can explore to boost employment and also to expand our economy.

How do you plan to promote investment?
We will leverage a lot on Public-Private Partnership (PPP). I will give you an example. Let us talk about the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH); government has not been able to put one block on the other in the university in eight years. For us, we have planned to run with the PPP model of BOO. That is Build, Own and Operate.

What we are saying is that we can begin to derive value from those investments from day one. You bring in an investor, allocate a land to them in the school; they build the structure, they own it and they are operating it.

You will look at the sharing formula between them and the government and what that does for us is that government is realising certain revenues from day one. And in keeping with our campaign promise to make Oyo State the preferred investment destination in Nigeria, one of the bills that will get to the State Assembly soon is the Oyo State Investment Promotion Agency (OYSIPA) Bill 2019.

The bill, when it becomes law will birth an agency that will initiate, promote, facilitate and co-ordinate investments in the state through Greenfield, Public Private Partnerships, Privatization, Commercialization of state-owned assets, and transform the economy of the state through strategic Asset Management.

As the only PDP state in the South West, to what do you attribute your victory?
I think basically we have to appreciate the people of Oyo State, because they were resolute in pushing forward their preference.

Four years ago, it was a little bit different, because I ran on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

We moved into the SDP in December 2014 and the general election was to take place in February 2015, so we didn’t have enough time to reach out to the people at the grassroots level.

We managed to let the people know the kind of programmes we intended to pursue if they give us the opportunity to serve the state. They kept it in their hearts. Some of the people told me in 2015 to wait till 2019 and I was angry at that time. But we waited and here we are.

Another major factor that made the 2019 experience different was the fact that, at the last minute, we had a coalition of political parties, with people like Baba (Rashidi) Ladoja, Senator (Olufemi) Lanlehin, Barrister Sarafadeen Alli, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde and a host of other leaders leading different parties, which all came in to team up with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that pushed the game beyond the reach of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

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