It is now one year since Governor Seyi Makinde took over the affairs of Oyo State, with a primary goal of positioning the state for accelerated growth and sustainable development through four cardinal points: Making Oyo the centre of agriculture and agro-processing in Nigeria, making the state the hub of investment destination in Nigeria, making it one of the major contributors of non-oil export and lastly, making Oyo an active productive industrial base for Nigeria.
The objectives are all linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which concern maximising the present-day resources without jeopardising the livelihood of future generations; i.e. development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future to meet their own needs. However, twelve months down the line, how has Oyo fared under Makinde vis-à-vis sustainable development?
First, like is the case in most states across Nigeria and indeed Africa, Oyo still lags behind in socio-economic development with very minimal progress made in the area of sustainable development, worse still with the lack of adequate data to help in policy making and project implementation. However, since the inception of Makinde’s administration, he has taken a number of commendable steps in the areas of agriculture, education, healthcare, infrastructural development and economic prosperity, notwithstanding the aforementioned challenges.
In agriculture, for instance, the upgrade of farm settlements to farm estates is one of his various strides aimed at reducing hunger and achieving food security, likewise the reconstructions of Moniya–Iseyin road as well as other major roads linking the agricultural hub to the markets. The recently inaugurated Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) to improve access and agricultural marketing is equally a good step in the right direction for agricultural transformation and improved food production.
The State government has also shown it is well aware of the role an educated society plays in enhancing overall growth and development especially with regards to human capital development. The attention the educational sector has received in the past one year is laudable; is it the scrapping of school fees, or the distribution of learning aids and construction of twenty-two model schools across the state? What about the massive recruitment of teachers and prompt payment of teachers’ salaries? Makinde continues to show that education is fundamental to the development of the state.
Under Makinde, the health sector has also seen a number of turnarounds as well even as the governor has consistently stressed the commitment of his administration to leave a befitting legacy in healthcare. Only recently, the state government flagged off a state-wide free health mission introduced to improve the quality of healthcare services among the people while also curbing quackery in the medical profession. Perhaps the greatest test for the health sector came with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Although some view the governor’s response to the health crisis as proactive and people-centred, some others have also criticised it in strong terms for various reasons. Whichever be the case, the various measures introduced in responding to the pandemic is commendable as they will go a long way in consolidating on the efforts to revamp the primary health centres across the state.
Security has also not been left out. A number of feats introduced to strengthen Oyo’s security architecture have been commendable, most prominent among which is donating 100 fully equipped and sophisticated security vehicles to the Nigeria Police force. To also enhance community participation in crime prevention, he signed the Amotekun Bill into law, as was being done in other south-west states.
Infrastructural development is also not left out in Makinde’s development plan for Oyo. The state is gradually turning to a construction site with various projects completed and ongoing littered not just in Ibadan but across all the local government areas. No wonder infrastructure alone got an allocation of N35.4Billion in the state’s 2020 budget, the highest percentage allocation at 24 per cent of the entire budget. The Oyo State Road Maintenance Agency has also been restructured with various zonal offices now targeted to help boost the work in the road sector. Apparently, Makinde’s administration is well aware of the fact that with properly constructed roads is a big plus for farmers and other entrepreneurs in rural areas as this will improve access to the market at a reduced cost.
Notwithstanding these aforementioned feats, a lot more still needs to be done in driving the state for sustainable development, beginning with the light-up Oyo state project. The current reality in the state shows this a more or less a hoax because the street lights are still being powered by fossil fuel generators — and it is a piece of common knowledge how fossil fuels release some air pollutants that are harmful to human and environmental health. Other sustainable options could have been explored in terms of reduced running cost and environmental protection in the face of a changing climate.
Perhaps one of the most notorious things about Oyo, particularly the state capital, has been the lingering waste challenge in the city. Although the governor has taken a few steps to address this including the launch of the New Solid Waste Management Architecture tagged “Clean and Green Initiative” which has helped in the gradual adoption of a community-based waste management system, a lot more still needs to be done. And so, it is advisable for the government to adopt the 3Rs of waste management – Reuse, Reduce and Recycle. A circular economy approach to waste management should be embraced too. A circular economy is such that all forms of waste, such as clothes, scrap metal and obsolete electronics are returned to the economy or used more efficiently. This will not only protect the environment but also encourage the efficient use of natural resources, develop new sectors and create jobs. With appropriate substitutes, Oyo State can take the lead in placing a ban on plastic bags and enforce extended producers responsibility on plastic producing companies.
In reaching for economic growth, Seyi Makinde should also explore the chances of eco-industrial parks. An eco-industrial park is a community of businesses located on common property to achieve enhanced environmental, social and economic performance through collaboration in managing environmental and production resources. Eco-industrial park development will enable resource efficiency and circular economy practices. It will also bridge the gap between cities and industries by making significant contributions in making Ibadan a far-reaching sustainable city.
Considering the state’s huge agricultural potentials, the opportunities inherent in sustainable food production and agro ventures should be fully tapped. There is quite a lot to be done through sustainable agriculture to generate employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled workforce and improve competitiveness through various post-harvest activities.
In the health sector, there is a need to carry out an existing healthcare system evaluation and give the highest form of political will and support to the health sector. The government should ensure that the hospitals and health centres are well funded and equipped for an improved and responsive health system. In securing lives and properties, there is a need for collaboration with communities and stakeholders to develop effective strategies for efficient security and safety in the state in addition to community policing through the Amotekun Corps.
Finally, there is a need for projects and policies to be put to sustainability tests; the government should ensure that people-centred initiatives are proficient in meeting the present needs without robbing future generations of resources to meet their own needs. This goes without saying that data is very essential to drive agile, efficient, and evidence-based decision making for sustainable development in the State.
Although sustainable development is everyone‘s responsibility, the Oyo State government must continue to lead in efforts to achieve this as evident in the brilliance, innovative leadership and strong political will of Governor Makinde to fast-track the state’s growth and development. After all, you don’t always get lucky to have a ‘Makinde’ kind of governor.
Gboluwaga Olaomo is a Graduate Student at the Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.firstname.lastname@example.org