As Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde settles down to pilot the affairs of the state for the next four years, The NATION’s Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN examines the challenges that will confront the administration and suggests the way forward.
There has been a change of baton in Oyo State. A new sheriff is in town. Governor Seyi Makinde who contested the March 9. election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has taken over the reins of power in the Pace Setter State. Makinde is not new in the politics of Oyo State. He had failed three times in his bid to occupy the coveted seat in the state. In 2007, he contested for Oyo South senatorial seat on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), but lost; in 2011, he sought for the senatorial ticket on the platform of the PDP and lost; in 2015, he contested governorship election on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP), but failed. However, his consistency and doggedness have finally paid off.
Makinde is the only PDP governor in the Southwest. No doubt, his victory calls for celebration, because he had steadily and firmly pursued a conviction which spanned several years of waiting, toiling and carpet-crossing. While it is not out of place to celebrate the hard-won victory, it is appropriate to say the merriment should be done with caution.
Three weeks after his assumption of office, Makinde should settle down for serious business of governance in a complex state like Oyo State. A heavy burden has been placed on his shoulders. So, there is no room for complacency, as the entire people of Oyo State are looking up to his administration with great expectations, hopes and aspirations. Four years may be far, but he made some promises that are expected to be fulfilled within the first 100 days in office.
A political analyst, Dr Foluso Ajetunmobi, said: “No matter the mistakes or sins committed by former Governor Abiola Ajimobi while in office, the truth is that he will be remembered as one of the best governors Oyo State ever had in terms of infrastructural development, peace and security. He did so much for Oyo State in terms of roads construction. Ibadan people will never forget him for upgrading the metropolis drastically.
“Without any iota of doubt, Ajimobi had raised the bar of good governance in Oyo State. The onus rests on Makinde to take Oyo to a greater height. Let Oyo, once again, be a pacesetter to other states in the Southwest and the entire country.”
Ajetunmobi added: “Makinde has everything working for him, unlike in the past when the ruling party did not have two-thirds majority in the House of Assembly. This time around his party, the PDP, has a clear-cut majority with 26 out of 32 lawmakers in the House. This will translate into quick passage of budgets, bills and confirmation of appointments forwarded to the House by the Executive for confirmation.”
There are so many challenges before the Makinde administration. For instance, the issue of security will serve as a litmus test for the new government. One of the major challenges that the Ajimobi-led administration tackled from its inception in 2011 was how to bring the state back to the path of sanity and ensure the security of lives and property. One of the controversial decisions taken by Makinde was the dissolution of the National Union of Road Transporters (NURTW) executive which has given room to speculations that the governor was planning to bring back the former executive led by Mr Lateef Akinsola, popularly known as Tokyo.
Before the advent of the Ajimobi administration, there was total collapse of the security apparatus, culminating in total breakdown of law and order in the state. Then, Oyo State had become a state of bedlam, with stories of wanton bloodshed always in the news. Murder, brigandage, arson, rape, armed robbery, burglary, destruction of property and clashes of miscreants were the order of the day. Ibadan was a fiefdom under the firm control of some political merchants, with motor park touts, political jobbers and unsuspecting youths as willing tools to unleash terror on the residents and visitors to the city.
To reverse the situation, Ajimobi launched a joint security outfit, codenamed ‘Operation Burst’ to tackle the inherited security challenges. He equipped the outfit with the state-of-the-art communication equipment, a fleet of patrol vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers to enhance its operational efficiency. To enhance the restoration of peace, the governor launched Oyo State Security Trust Fund in July 2012. This was how Oyo State has remained one of the peaceful states in the country under the Ajimobi administration.
An Ibadan elder, Pa Ajiboye Olatubosun, faulted Makinde for the dissolution of NURTW. The octogenarian said Ibadan is likely to return to the era of insecurity, if the new governor reinstated Tokyo and his group as leaders of the union. He said: “The speculation is not out place, because the mayhem that the NURTW men perpetrated in Ibadan the day Makinde was inaugurated is fresh in our minds.
“Besides, every public function that Makinde attends, Tokyo and his gang are there. I think for the sake of his integrity, Makinde should steer clear of NURTW politics in Oyo State. He should allow them to handle their affairs in compliance with the rule of law. We don’t pray that anarchy should return to Ibadan under Makinde. God forbid.”
Security is sine qua non to good governance. Indeed, the primary responsibility of government is to ensure security of lives and property as enshrined in the constitution. It is hoped that the Makinde administration would not abandon or dismantle the security apparatus put in place by his predecessor. A relapse to pre-2011 era would be disastrous.
Makinde did not win the election with PDP votes alone. He won with the support of four other political parties, namely the African Democratic Congress (ADC), the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). These parties formed alliance with the PDP and adopted Makinde their consensus governorship candidate. The details of the agreement were not made public. The leaders of the coalition are Chief Rasidi Ladoja (ZLP), Senator Femi Lanlehin (ADC), and Alhaji Kola Balogun (SDP).
Unless there is an agreed sharing formula for spoils of office, the coalition will run into trouble. For instance, how many commissioners, special advisers and board chairmen and members would be appointed from each party? The rancour that would ensue will distract the governor from concentrating on the real business of governance. The ‘god fathers’ would like to influence the government policies in order to accommodate their interest. Even though Makinde said he has no godfather. Can he bluff those that sacrificed their ambitions for his victory at the poll?
Another issue is the future of the coalition. Can it remain intact in 2023, when Makinde will be seeking for re-election? A veteran politician like Senator Lanlehin who wants to be governor may likely pull out to contest the 2023 poll to actualise his political ambition.
The internally generated revenue (IGR) of Oyo State is low. From the paltry N600 million per month in 2011, Ajimobi has increased it to N1.8 billion. He had promised to further increase it to N5 billion before the end of his tenure. The low IGR has been attributed to tax evasion by residents of Oyo State and the drop in amount derived from Pay As You Earn (PAYE), owing to irregular payment of salaries. Makinde has to face the challenge of internal revenue generation. One of his aides has promised at a radio programme that the new administration will increase the state’s IGR to N1O billion per month within the first six months. His administration must resolve to tax all taxable entities in expanding the tax net and thereby increase the state’s IGR. This is became it is necessary, in view of the fact that the monthly federal revenue allocation from Abuja is hardly enough to pay salaries of workers, let alone the pensioners?
The issue of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, which has been adversely affected by under-funding caused by joint ownership of the institution by Oyo and Osun governments will be a litmus test for the Makinde administration. Some students have spent up to seven years in the university without graduating, owing to incessant strikes embarked upon by the lecturers to back up demand for unpaid salaries.
Interestingly, Makinde addressed the LAUTECH students in their campus during the campaign. He promised to find solutions to the problems facing the university within his first 100 days in office. How he would achieve this has not been made public. Can he convince the Osun State government to cede the ownership of the university to Oyo State as a permanent solution, to save the institution from going under?
Again, equal representation of the five zones in Oyo State in the political appointments will determine the commitment of the administration to fairness, equity and justice. It is very important to ensure that all zones are fairly treated in the appointment of commissioners, special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants, boards’ chairmen and members. The essence is that all zones should be equally represented at the level of decision-making. The new administration must put an end to lopsided appointments, which have over the years been generating acrimony and fear of domination.
The rancour that followed the review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration and other related chieftaincy affairs in Ibadan land still persists. The review by the immediate past administration led to the elevation of some chiefs to the position of Oba. Ajimobi said the primary purpose of the review was to facilitate the development, modernisation and effectiveness of the traditional chieftaincy system in the ancient city in particular and across the state in general. But the Osi Olubadan, Chief Ladoja, who is eyeing the throne of Olubadan, said he was the prime target of the review. Ladoja said Ajimobi carried out the review in order to stop him from becoming Olubadan in future. Ladoja is one of the Makinde’s pillars of support.
The exercise has been politicised. It has polarised Ibadan with some indigenes, including elites supporting Ajimobi’s move, while others were against the review. The Olubadan challenged the review exercise in court and won. The court declared it null and void. Oyo State government had appealed the judgment.
The question is, will Makinde continue with the appeal or stop it? If the Appeal Court judgment goes against the coroneted Obas, will he pursue the matter to the Supreme Court? Will he protect the interest of Ladoja who is on the same page with Olubadan on the matter? Both played a major role in the emergence of Makinde as governor.
A political observer, Mr Dapo Oladele, has advised Makinde to see himself as governor of the people of Oyo State, irrespective of party affiliations. He said Makinde as a young man should carve a niche for himself in the administration of the state. He should be pragmatic in tackling issues; he should not allow people to mislead him.
He said: “Election is over, Makinde should face the business of governance, because at the end of four years, people will judge him by his performance. Where it is necessary, he should talk about the past government, but he should not engage in witch-hunting, because such move is not likely to erase the achievements of Ajimobi as governor.