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Seyi Makinde and my conscience at war

Two small sachets of Bournvita and a sachet of Dano milk I had just mixed to regain my weakened self, when an inspiration knocked and directed my right thumb to hit the screen of my phone, incalculably. “Seyi Makinde and my conscience at war,” it first typed.

But beyond the personified expression, what could have really triggered a war between Seyi Makinde and my conscience? Will Seyi Makinde defeat my conscience? Will my conscience rather tremble beneath the crushing weight of Seyi Makinde? Soon, I will avail you of answers to these lingering questions.

Recently, while brooding over the sad situation of things in Nigeria, I sat and opened Nigeria’s Pandora box. Part of what I found in it is “blind support for politicians and blind loyalty to political parties.” If anything has done great harm to the progress of Nigeria, it is the fact that Nigerians blindly support their favourite political parties and candidates, that they refuse to see the good – even the littlest ones – from other candidates and parties.

For Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to become Nigeria’s next president, my support is striking: thanks to his amazing personality and track records which I couldn’t turn blind eyes to. I, however, find it quite unpleasing to my sanity that I would support Teslim Folarin, a ‘celebrated lout’ as the next governor of my state, only because I have declared my support for an APC candidate at the federal level. I find it disturbing to my conscience to support a fruitless senator, when there’s a better candidate that would lift my state with capable hands.

The good works of Engr. Seyi Makinde thus challenged my conscience to a duel, and defeated it. This fueled the need to declare my unwavering support for Seyi Makinde, and restate that: my allegiance is not to any political party, but to capable minds that would deliver the Oyo State and Nigeria of my dream. Like the former governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura would say, “I love my country, not my government”. I also love my country and not any political party.

“I am here as your governor to serve you. I will work tirelessly and take responsibility for the workings of every sector…” in Seyi Makinde’s inaugural speech seemed not to be mere word from a mealy mouth, but word from a sincere heart. For, only a godsend governor would kickstart his administration by declaring his asset – an uncommon act among his peers. That, alone, was a good pointer that we were in a ride with a capable driver, who would drive us to the shore of victory.

Read also: Let’s be thankful to God we survived 2020 – Seyi Makinde

Seyi has made TRANSPARENCY the watchword of his administration, that he bared his daily activities to the knowledge of Oyo citizens and the general public. But I have this opinion of GSM: his experience, his sincerity, the advice he seeks, and divine inspiration would not only have made him an outstanding governor, but the great books and authors he reads too. Some of these authors, whom I have known via his biweekly newsletters, are Akinwumi Adesina, Roberto Kiyasoki, Olaniwun Ajayi, Clayton Christensen, and co. With a careful observation of these authors, their groovy personalities, and how they have managed the leadership positions they once held, you’d agree that Seyi has chosen to tap inspiration from exceptional writers/leaders. Only light, they say, attracts light.

So far, Governor Seyi Makinde has been like the biblical serpent, very wise; the biblical dove, very naive. His leadership style has been a breeze – a breeze that sweeps off maladministration and corrupt government officials. The five-legged seat on which the Omituntun administration reclines: Education, Health, Security, Expanded economy, and Infrastructure were carefully-positioned and well-managed. He had not led selfishly or blotched his campaign promises, for if he had, he would have committed the seventh of the seven social sins of Fredrick Donaldson – politics without principle.

Education wise, Seyi Makinde had taken Oyo from the 26th position to 11th position on the national log. Feyi’s dad had successfully scraped the burdensome ₦3,000 education levy imposed on students in Oyo public schools. Lautech, which was once known for its endless internal strikes, is now a toast of admission seekers, thanks to the timely intervention of the Governor, and the ₦500m he disbursed to clear the institution’s outstanding payments. He would later upgrade Emmanuel Alayande College of Education to University of Education. That, did not even affect the ₦200m he disbursed to Poly Ibadan, which afforded the institution the opportunity to accredit 15 new programmes. Do one mention the special bursary of ₦500,000 each given to over 200 Oyo indigenes at law school, which totaled N116.5 million in 2020? Only a governor who values education would allocate over 20% of the state’s budget to the education sector. Commendably, in the 2021 budget, the education sector’s budget was 21% – which was even above the UNESCO recommended standard of 15-20%.

The health of his people is not something he takes with a levity; he had laudably renovated and remodeled one primary health center in each of the 351 wards across the state. Thousands of Oyo residents are currently benefiting from the Oyo Health Insurance Scheme, which has reduced uncomfortable medical bills. He had also facilitated the capacity building for the quality of care in ANC and PNC, which were conducted for 320 health care providers across 60 facilities. Thanks to his procurement and installation of medical equipments at hospitals like Jericho Nursing Home, Adeoyo Maternity Hospital, and the University College Hospital. The godsend Seyi had also facilitated 244, 073 free medical services, 2,349 free surgical operations, 1,000 free glasses, and 2,458 dental treatments. These are just a few of the health strides Seyi has taken for the benefit of Oyo indigenes and residents.

An administration without its challenge(s) exists nowhere in the world. In the face of security challenges that would have blighted his administration, GSM was quick to nip the unforeseen challenge in the bud. His fatherly role in the Fulani crisis in Ibarapa is one that deserves applause. He swiftly led armed units like the Police, Amotekun, Vigilante, and others to the boiling part of Oyo State and restored peace, while also relieving victims of financial burdens. He even condemned the ultimatum that Sunday Igboho gave to the Fulanis – which sent a clear message that Seyi presides over all the inhabitants of Oyo, and not just Oyo indigenes. An exceptional leader, that is. He was at the forefront of actualization of the regional policing unit, Amotekun. Matter-of-factly, he spearheaded that just a month after resumption to office, while meeting with other Southwest governors and necessary stakeholders. Today, everyone commends the effectiveness of Amotekun, Mr Macaroni also did last week, when he came to Oyo and saw how ultraefficient Amotekun is. Lest I forget to add that the Omituntun administration created an additional security unit, the Police Mobile Force (PMF) and provided it, alongside Amotekun and other armed units, with hundreds of security vans, motorcycles, and Kia Motors. Our Seyi also secured a mobile police base, which is located in Oke-Ogun. Only he, would dissolve NURTW and remodeled it into PMS, so it could be more official, and its members sanitized and less violent. Only a governor who values the security of his people would have taken these laudable strides and more.

Governor Seyi Makinde is indeed an economy expert who has kept our economy humming, even when what he met was huge debts and paucity of fund. He had taken Oyo State IGR from N1.7 billion to N3.3 billion monthly without burdensome taxes or rates, and made Oyo one among the only few states attractive to foreign investors in the first quarter of 2022. Seyi’s economic footprints in Oyo have led United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) research to rank Ibadan as the second fastest growing city in Africa, citing industrialization, urbanization, and economic activities as reasons for the growth. Cutting to the chase, Oyo State has attracted private investments of over N27 billion in agribusiness alone over the past three years. Between 2019-2022, OYSADA achieved international agribusiness funding of over $120 million for Oyo State. How, on earth, would my conscience ignore these?

Seyi had construct mammoth infrastructural projects, that he even constructed some federal roads. He facilitated the construction of rural roads in all 33 local governments of the state, 1000km roads through the Rural Access Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) – the first if its kind. Do one bring to fore, the modern bus terminals strategically located at the exits and entrances of Ibadan; Iwo Road, New Ife Road, Challenge and Ojoo? His ‘Light up Oyo’ projects covered 223.48km of roads across the state. Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Mini Stadium Igboora, Ibarapa, Olubadan Mini Stadium, Ibadan, Durbar Stadium, Oyo, Soun Stadium, Ogbomoso, Saki Township Stadium, and Ebedi Township Stadium, some of which were once eyesores, are now eye-pleasing and entertaining.

Recently, Ibadan hosted an international match, an indelible feat that would linger with us for long. The ‘Zero potholes policy’ of the Omituntun administration across the state is not one, one could turn blind eye to. For over 16 years, the 110 km Lagos-Ibadan to Ibadan has yet to be fully constructed; but in less than 4 years, Seyi Makinde has facilitated the 65km Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin Road, the 76.7km Ogbomoso-Fapote-Iseyin Road, the 34.85km Oyo-Iseyin Road, and the proposed reconstruction of the 48 km Ido-Eruwa Road. I’m even yet to make mention of the acquisition of the Omituntun 106 buses for the mass transit scheme, which has successfully alleviated the transportation challenges of civil servants and Oyo citizens.

Governor Makinde loathes corruption so much that he acted on it by having a bill sponsored in the House of Assembly that later culminated in the establishment of the Oyo State Anti-Corruption Agency (OYACA). One could easily tell that he hates corruption to the barest minimum that he said in a ‘meet the governor, interview, “If anyone is able to steal 20-25million from this administration, he must be a genius”. He has successfully blocked leakages, which has been one of the main reasons behind the grievances of ‘aggrieved OYO PDP members’. GSM exceptional leadership has won him glocal recognitions and awards like the Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria (GCSDN) and many others.

Having known of Seyi’s exceptional delivery across all sectors, my conscience is seriously at war to support and vote Teslim Folarin or any other Oyo gubernatorial candidate. My conscience is more provoked, having known that Seyi’s administration had managed to sail amid the plethora of financial challenges it met. In spite of the huge ₦99.3bn debts his administration inherited from the past administration of the late Abiola Ajumobi, commendably, Seyi has managed to reduce the debt to ₦91.9bn as reported by the statistics made available by the Debt Management Organization, DMO. Seyi had smartly waxed off the challenge of the foreign debt of $200 million for the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project, IUFMP, which the Ajumobi-led administration took, having already spent $54 million of the money and committed about ₦100m as well. So, when naysayers attack Seyi’s administration, saying it also took debts, informed citizens would simply reply, Seyi had lend ₦24billion for infrastructure financing, and only ₦18billion of the amount has been accessed so far. Despite the historical difference in the debts of Seyi’s administration and the previous one, within its first six months in office, the Omituntun administration had paid more than what his predecessor paid in eight years as pensions, workers’ salaries and gratuities. Despite that Makinde met a staggering ₦55.9 billion debt in gratuities, there has been a non-stop payment of ₦535 million to retired state and local government workers on a monthly basis. As I type, the total pension payments are already over ₦13b and still growing. Civil servants still receive their salaries on the 25th of every month since June, 2019 – Seyi is the only governor to have consistently done this. With that, even if he takes a loan, we know it’s not profligate, like the previous administration’s which met Oyo’s debt at less than ₦7 billion and catapulted it to ₦99 billion in eight years.

When political pawns think they can dent the image of Seyi’s administration with the grievances of aggrieved Oyo PDP members, we would tell them Seyi did not burn the ladder that took him up, it rather burnt a ladder with excess thorns that could fall him and his administration, if care is not taken. If Seyi had not broken the acclaimed structures of the aggrieved Oyo PDP members, they would have turned him into a figurehead governor they could control, whose state they would turn to banana republic – where life is meaningless, and its leader, powerless. But God forbid, Paul said.

Thus, I would rather tell Seyi to leave these aggrieved Oyo PDP members, for they’re just like the farm animals in ‘Animal Farm’ by author George Orwell, who rebelled against their leader, the human owner, in their selfish hopes of creating an utopian state where their wishes would supersede that of their owner. Only for a dictator pig to overthrow them and make life worse for them. We’re watching the aggrieved OYO PDP members and would see if their selfishness and aspirations would be better at the parties they ran to, or it would get worse under the leadership of those parties. Then, maybe, Seyi would be vindicated. The grievances of these aggrieved Oyo PDP members will also not forestall the victory of Seyi come 2023, for while they left, more influential politicians like Wole Kanle, Joseph Tegbe and others also made their way to the PDP on a daily basis. So, when we talk about aggrieved Oyo PDP members leaving PDP, it behoves us to talk about aggrieved members of other parties who are joining PDP on a daily basis, too.

Regardless of how naysayers weep like gnomes, brood like partridges, and make noises like misfiring generator, Omituntun 2.0 is a divine project. The good people from across the five regions of Oyo state – Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomosho, Ibarapa, Oke Ogun – would not forget all the good Seyi had done to us. Seyi should be rest assured of our total support and votes, come 2023. He should worry less about the opposition that could not defeat him as a whole in 2019, let alone now that Penkelemesi and other big wigs have swept away a fractional part of them. Seyi’s fiery courage should not diminish because of the cutting tongues of oppositions and aggrieved Oyo PDP members, for he is the player while they are mere pawns on the Oyo political chessboard.

Come 2023, Oyo citizens would cast their votes in support of Engr. Makinde, for we would not want to go back to the times when Oyo was pilloried by corruption, no thanks to maladministration. Come 2023, Oyo civil servants would again entrust Seyi with their votes, for they would not want to go back to the times when hardship bared its murderous fangs at them, no thanks to unpaid salaries and gratuities. Come 2023, Oyo indigenes will not cast their net on the wrong side of the river, for we can not afford to bear the ripple effects of that. Again, we want Seyi Makinde, for we do not want to go back to times when Oyo was wracked and grappled by reckless leaders. Come 2023, it remains our undying wish that Seyi emerges in a landslide victory. We hope that after his re-election, he would continue to be the worthy leader, religious/ethnic tolerant, and lover of masses he has been known for.

In Oluwaseyi Makinde, our hopes are stashed. May Seyi not falter, may our hopes never wane.

Amao, a social commentator, writes from Ibadan

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