When Abiola Ajimobi first emerged as governor of Oyo State in 2011, those who knew him were not in any doubt that he had a good understanding of the many problems facing the state and their solutions. He did not disappoint as he quickly got to work with an agenda to give the state a facelift.
By the end of his first term in 2015, those who had little doubt over his capacity to fix the state had become convinced that he was the right person for the job. That earned him another term of four years, which is unprecedented in the history of the state. As Governor Abiola Ajimobi rounds off his second term, his name will go down in history as a man who transformed Oyo to a modern state in terms of infrastructural development. Within the first seven years of his administration, Ajimobi spent N200 billion on construction and rehabilitation of roads in the state. This was borne out of his resolve to create a network of roads not just to ease movement but also to encourage business.
Among his landmark achievements, Ajimobi embarked on the construction of the first flyover by a civilian government at Mokola. Those who knew the state of infrastructural facilities in the state when he became governor admit that the project has enhanced the architectural landscape, improved traffic flow and decongested the grid lock within the Mokola/Sabo/Adamasingba axis.
His administration modernised and dualised entry roads into the major cities and towns in the six geopolitical zones of the state, namely, Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomosho, Iseyin, Saki and Ibarapa. This has in no small measure, improved vehicular movement, access to different parts and enhanced commercial activities in all the geopolitical zones from about 7.8% penetration in the past to about 65% in recent times. Similarly, he constructed road and bridges across the geo-political zones of the state, which has enhanced the modernization and urbanization programme of his administration, resulting in reduction in road accidents by approximately 90% and travel time by 40%.
The Ajimobi administration also embarked on the construction of the Ibadan Circular Road. Upon completion of this project, reduction of travel times by up to 48% will be achieved. And to further ease movement in and around the state, the government provided 100 units of 63-seater mass transit buses at subsidized fares. The impact is improved access and affordability of the transport system in the state particularly for the movement of civil servants and the general public.
In the Environment and Water Resources sector, the Oyo State government under Ajimobi carried out restructuring and re-engineering of solid waste management thereby improving efficiency and effectiveness in waste disposal, collection and evacuation such that there is now an increase in the volume of annual waste collection and evacuation from 42,000 mt in 2011 to 1,893,000 mt in 2018. There is also, a corresponding increase in compliance level in proper waste disposal from 18% in 2014 to 48% in 2018. This also led to the development of waste to wealth ecosystem through Public Private Partnership, wherein two companies have been established to process wastes – Nylon Wastes Recycling Processing Company, which produces Basket Nylon at Oluyole and, a Green House Compost Energy plant at Abaeku Dumpsite, to contribute 14MW to the national grid from May 2019.
The Ajimobi administration is credited with building a modern state despite political and economic challenges. He introduced the Urban Renewal Programme, aimed at beautification, cleaner and aesthetically pleasing environment. The Flood Control and Management project embarked upon by his administration is the first ever rehabilitation of Eleyele Dam since it was constructed in 1942 (over 70 years). The project has drastically reduced flooding in the state and increased water production capacity from 14,219cm cube in 2010 to 93,960cm cube in 2019. The introduction of Oyo State Water Policy and Law by the Ajimobi government is in compliance with federal law, leading to the establishment of governance structure thereby increasing accessibility to local and international grants for the state.
Through its policy on Lands, Housing and Physical Planning, the government of Oyo State under Ajimobi’s watch introduced Master Plans (City, Waste and Sewage). This resulted in the creation and development of modern cities and structured physical development in the state. His government also deployed the Geographical Information System (GIS), which has led to improved data capturing and mapping of spatial features for analysis and management resulting in urban planning and modernization.
Governor Ajimobi will also be remembered for creating new Government Reserved Areas (site and service schemes). These include Ajumose GRA Nitel, Old Ife Road, Ibadan; Ajumose GRA NIHORT, Ibadan; Ajumose GRA Ring Road, Ibadan; Ajumose GRA, Saki; and Omololu Olunloyo GRA, Ring Road, Ibadan. The creation of these new areas has enhanced the landscapes, improved quality of life and increased private land ownership in the state by about 50%.
The creation of new GRAs was complemented by the establishment of electronic Title documentation – Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). This now guarantees Title document security, reduction of processes and delivery time of C of O from 720 day to 60 days. Similarly, the introduction and issuance of Home Owners Charter Certificate of Occupancy has reduced the time frame for the processing and acquisition of C of O resulting in 35% increase in titled home ownership.
To crown it all, his government also enacted the Oyo State Property Protection Law 2016 (A law against land grabbing). The signing into law of the anti-land grabbing bill by governor Abiola Ajimobi, which prescribes a 15-year jail term for offenders, is one of the landmark policies made by his administration. Available records show that the law which seeks to protect the rights of property owners and prohibit forceful entry, illegal occupation, violence and fraudulent conducts, in relation to real property owners in the state, has reduced cases of land dispute and associated violence in the state by about 73 %.
Although the impact of all that Ajimobi has accomplished may not be immediately appreciated, future chroniclers of history will no doubt put his name in a pride of place in the history of Oyo State. This is particularly so when the numerous achievements of the governor are examined against the backdrop of what he met on ground – the level of decay and dilapidation of public infrastructure and the poor standard of living of the people of Oyo State, all of which he has transformed in his eight years of administration.
In the years to come, his achievements would also be used as a yardstick for measuring the performance of governors that will come after him. He has set a standard for development and history will judge him fairly.