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Makinde scores self high, reels out infrastructure revolution plan for Oyo

Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde has unveiled action plans for aggressive infrastructure development with a view to restoring the glory of the state.

Despite shrinking federal allocations to states occasioned by the fall in the crude oil price in the international market and the ravaging effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19), Makinde said his administration is steadily committed to delivering its campaign promises.

As part of his programmes for infrastructure development, Makinde said he had kicked off the construction of two ultra-modern bus terminals in Iwo Road, one in Challenge and another bus terminal in Ojoo, which according to him, would position the state as a new choice investment destination. He reeled out his administration’s ambitious programmes and projects in a document, “GSM Infrastructure Revolution Begins,” which outlined his scorecards sector by sector in the last one year and also mapped out priority of the his administration in the next three years.

Until the regional system was dismantled in 1967 with the creation of 12 states, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, was then the seat of political power for the Western Region that witnessed unprecedented transformation in the First Republic, mainly during the administration of Obafemi Awolowo.

Since its creation in 1976, Oyo State, indeed Ibadan, has been a shadow of itself noted for its inefficient public transport system, disused public spaces, overstretched public infrastructure, poor culture of waste management and weak traffic regulation and enforcement regimes, among others.

Confronted with these stark realities, Makinde came up with ‘GSM Infrastructure Revolution’, a policy document that mapped out programmes and projects his administration had already initiated to make Oyo State a choice destination for investments and a true centre of commerce.

Makinde, in his foreword, said the last one year of his administration rehabilitating schools, repositioning public healthcare facilities, maintaining deplorable roads under zero pothole programme and strengthening the broadcasting services through acquisition and upgrading of equipment.

Under the light-up project, he said the state government had lit up roads, palaces, neighborhoods and markets with a view to ensure safety of lives and ease of moving around apart from patrol vehicles procured for the security agencies to make security architecture stronger.

In addition to strengthening the state’s public order and safety, Makinde placed premium the right of every child to receive quality education, a reason he had made public education entirely free; rehabilitated 22 public schools statewide and provided 22,800 school furniture sets.

He explained the significance of clean green initiative designed “to change people’s mindset and make environment pleasant for all and boost public health. Physical well-being is related to community wealth. It is not surprising that community health is tied to how we manage wastes.”

With these achievements in the last one year, Makinde therefore, sought public support for the next phase with plan to execute iconic projects “never seen before in the history of our state under his infrastructure revolution initiative. It is the promise I made, it is the promise I shall fulfil.”

Under the infrastructure revolution initiative, Makinde said he had started implementing an intelligent transport system entailing the construction of two ultra-modern bus terminal in Iwo Road, one in Challenge and another bus terminus in Ojoo carefully designed to serve those commuting within Ibadan, a metropolis of over three million people.

While acknowledging the growing population of Ibadan, about 60 percent of the people living in the state, Makinde said he had resolved to create new town housing development schemes in the state capital and eased procedures for processing Certificate of Occupancy within 60 days.

Already, he disclosed that his administration “has created Ajoda New Town Housing Development, 340-unit medium low-cost houses. Also, in order to reduce the growing deficit in housing and boost the state’s real estate economy, our government has embarked on a massive housing programme to meet the need of the growing urban dwellers.

“With over 70 percent of the people living in the city and Ibadan being a major political, economic and commercial centre in the Southwest, Nigeria, government must ensure that inhabitants and visitors alike enjoy living and touring the city of Ibadan,” the governor said.

He, thus, explained the advantage of housing program structured to position the state for the emerging real estate boom, resulting from the possible migration of urban settlers who will be induced by the completion of the new railway double gauge track linking Ibadan, Abeokuta with Lagos.

With the completion of the railway project, Makinde observed that a good number of people “will relocate to the Ibadan axis in search of affordable housing since the travel time between Ibadan and Lagos will be halved with the introduction of fast trains. For many, working in Lagos but living in Ibadan would be an age-long dream come true.”

He defined his plan for urban renewal around the concept of smart cities, a program that could no longer wait to happen to make major cities in the state centres of attraction for admirers, tourists and visitors alike.

“Ibadan over the decades has been the darling of visitors and admirers who are drawn to her because of her rich repertoire in Nigeria’s modern history, also for her position in the cerebral comity and her strong traditional and historical influence on her geo-political location. But like a giant without defenses she has been left bruised and bleeding.”

He explained the nexus between the infrastructure revolution initiative and his investment drive, noting that the plan to make the state a natural choice for investors was at his aggression for executing strategic infrastructure projects in different parts of the state.

He supported this claim with the plan to create another central business district (CBD) along the Moniya-Lagos-Ibadan Railway Station/Dry Port Site in addition to Dugbe Central Business District, which he said, was currently undergoing renewal.

Apart from creating another central business district, Makinde disclosed that he had already created a vista for private participation, which he said, had birthed the agreement to reactivate Pacesetter Asphalt & Quarry Limited and bring life to Bodija Recreation Centre through concession agreement.

He explained how his administration has revolutionised the state’s agricultural sector by revamping Akufo and Eruwa Farm Settlements, thereby empowering over 30,000 farmers with the mandate to make the state a centre of food production and help it achieve its food security objectives.

He said his administration “has accelerated agriculture and is seeking greater possibility of bringing more into the SME funding net. With its antecedent as an agrarian society, Oyo State will benefit immensely from the government’s scheme to help the farmers increase their productivity.”

Makinde highlighted different programmes his administration had introduced “to reduce the cost of cultivation in the state. This will enhance productivity and ensure higher returns to the farmers; boost in agricultural productivity will induce multiplier effect and help alleviate poverty.

“Since agriculture traditionally employs the greatest portion of the population, many will be pulled out of unemployment net. As farms become more productive, the wages earned by those who work in agriculture will increase. Agriculture would again occupy its pride of place as a major precursor to economic prosperity,” the governor explained.

He explained how he established N1billion fund for boosting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) at the height of COVID-19 battle, noting that tailors benefited from this fund to produce face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical practitioners as parts of COVID-19 preventive measures.

The governor, therefore, pointed out the impact of the fund, noting that it “has helped tackle some socio-economic forces among the artisans and traders. The forces include poverty, either of the mind or material. It may be difficult to eradicate poverty in its entirety. However, according to him, the government can contribute its quota to alleviate this perennial challenge by providing practical assistance; first, by identifying individuals who are hungry for a lift, to energise their pet dreams. This explains the idea behind the N1billion for small businesses.

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