Governor Seyi Makinde has revealed that his administration has spent over N1 billion to provide street lights in various locations in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Makinde, who said his dream for the state has come to pass, disclosed this while speaking at the Executive Retreat organised by the State government for the political office holders in the Executive cadre, entitled ‘Taking Oyo State from Poverty to Prosperity ‘P2P’.
According to him, “We have started a campaign to light up Ibadan. A week ago, we flagged off the installation ofSmart LED street lights across some strategic routes in Ibadan. We spent over One Billion Naira providing the street lights in various locations in Ibadan. I can tell you that this is the first of its kind in magnitude, efficiency and scale. This is one phase in the new security infrastructure we are providing for Oyo State citizens. You will agree with me that one of the deterrents to crime in the metropolis is the existence of lighted streets. One research shows that provision of street lights reduced crime by as much as 21%.”
While preparing this presentation, I took time to reflect on the difference between dreams and visions.
Dreams are of man. Everyone can dream. You may even have had a dream last night. Scientists say dreams are based on our memories, things that we have thought about. Sometimes, we wake up from sleep and we remember our dreams, they may even trouble us so much that we spend time trying to figure out what they mean. In times past, and even today, people made fortunes from being interpreters of dreams.
Visions are different. Visions are divine. When you have a vision, you visualize the future. It is clear like it has already happened. When a company talks about their vision, they imagine where they will be in future. They have to see it clearly to communicate it. If they cannot relate where they are now to where they want to be, then it can be rightly said that they are just dreaming.
Just last week, I had another opportunity to reflect on my vision for Oyo State, during the symbolic celebration of our 100 days in office. The media chat transmitted live on our state-run broadcasting station, BCOS, gave me another opportunity to communicate and reinforce this vision.
Today, I have another chance to share my vision with you. With the number of times I have had to repeat this vision, I would not forget it even if I wanted to. And so today, I am going to be talking about the roadmap to prosperity in Oyo State.
I have chosen to keep in clear focus, the four pillars of development upon which we are building the prosperity of Oyo State: the Economy, Education, Healthcare and Security. Permit me to restate my visions for these areas and to share with you what we have done so far to make these visions a reality. Indeed, visions exist in the realm of imagination. In keying into a vision, we are hoping that what we imagined will come to reality. This is why in expressing visions, people often ask: What will success look like?
So, as I go through this presentation, I will be showing you images that I want to remain etched into your minds. In the next three years, we will compare the picture you see now with what is obtainable in 65% of cases in these subsectors. This is how you will judge whether we have achieved the vision or not. And no, I am not going to talk about what things were like. Our vision is not about the past but a projection into the future.
So, are you ready? Let’s start.
In the Economy, this is what success looks like.
My vision is to make Oyo State the fastest growing economy in Nigeria. To achieve this end, we have to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. That is why one of the two Executive Bills we have so far, transmitted to the Oyo State House of Assembly is the Oyo State Investment Promotion Agency Bill. The bill is to initiate, promote and facilitate investments in the state.
Policies alone cannot drive growth; we need to decide where to direct investment that will stimulate growth. Therefore, one of the sectors we will be leveraging is agriculture. I’m happy our Commissioner for Agriculture, Honourable Muyiwa Jacob Ojekunle, understands this vision and has made it his own. Already, we have entered into a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement with agritech company, Farmcrowdy to commence a three-year plan working with 50,000 farmers to boost agribusiness in Oyo State.
Those who are familiar with the work of this startup will tell you about how they are working with rural farmers and helping the farmers focus on cultivating produces and breeding livestock by sponsoring ‘real/actual’ farmers. When you think about it, the work they are doing is genius. Anyone can be a farmer by investment while the farmers can concentrate on what they know and enjoy without taking on the additional worry of where they will get more money for improved seeds and other inputs.
We have inaugurated and received economic reports from Oyo Ile Investors’ Forum, a non-governmental organization. Our Commissioner for Commerce, Adeniyi Adebisi, is going through their recommendations, and the next steps are the implementation of the recommendations advised by the Forum. I must add that their recommendations are targeted towards growth. We agree that focusing on job creation, the integration of women into the real sector, taking practical steps towards increasing tax revenue and identification of potential investment opportunities will drive the economic development of Oyo State.
Instead of increasing taxes, we will use technology and positive messages to get more people in the informal sectors to pay their taxes. When people see taxes used for their benefit, they are incentivised to pay.
Additionally, we are committed to the vision of re-positioning Oyo State as the centre of innovation and technology within the West African continent. To this end, we cannot de-emphasise the importance of infrastructure like roads. I am aware that people in the metropolis are complaining about how bad the roads are. I am tempted to start with these roads which can easily be seen and counted by the elite. But if we prioritise these roads, our economic growth might be compromised. So, we are working on balanced infrastructural development which targets our economy as a whole.
In Education, this is what success looks like.
The action steps that will lead to achieving this vision include removing the barriers to getting an education, taking action that ensures that the pupils and students stay in school and ensuring that they get an education that equips them for life outside of school.
We have already taken some of these steps. We have removed all school levies. Parents can no longer say their children are not in school because they cannot afford the fees. We are also aware that they can complain that they need their children to stay home and help out with hawking or trading to improve family finances. So, our intervention in this area must have a human face. We will be giving incentives and selling benefits.
One of the incentives we are giving is returning what the parents have already paid for education to the previous administration. N28 Million Naira extorted from parents is to be returned to them. This is a show of goodwill on our part.
We have gone a step further to provide the pupils and students with notebooks and textbooks. About 450,000 pupils and students in Oyo State public schools are getting six notebooks each.
We have arranged for extension classes for those who will be sitting the SSCE exams. We have renovated schools. One hundred schools will be renovated in the immediate. Forty have been completed while sixty are in advanced stages of renovation.
Also, we have taken steps to ensure that parents who are civil servants get paid on time. Economically empowered parents are better able to plan the future of their children.
But this is just the beginning.
We know that a key benefit we can sell to parents is asking that they make sacrifices now so that their children will get jobs in the future. These parents have to see that their children will indeed get these jobs by merit. That is why I am not playing the politics of acrimony. People will get jobs in the civil service because they are qualified not because they belong to my political party or they are from the same senatorial district as I am or they know someone somewhere in government. With the thriving economy we are working to achieve, job creation will also improve in the private sector. The message we want to send to the people of Oyo State is that hard work and dedication pays.
Another very key part of this vision which will determine the core of our actions going forward is teacher training and curriculum development. Professor Shangodoyin is already carrying out adequate consultations in this regard.
We must equip our children for life in the 21st century. We all know what is happening around the world. It would have been cool to have a vision that includes computerised classrooms. But that would only amount to selling you a dream. What we can do is to ensure that teachers are trained and retrained to deliver quality education. We can also ensure that the curriculum they will be working with will reflect the needs of learners in the 21st century in terms of logical thinking. If we can teach our children to be independent thinkers, then we would have given them the foundation they need to make a living.
In Healthcare, this is what success looks like.
Our action steps will revolve around three key areas: providing state of the art medical equipment for use in hospitals and primary healthcare centres, promoting medical tourism in Oyo State and the provision of premium health insurance for the people of Oyo State. We cannot negotiate with the health of the people of Oyo state. How can a community thrive without provision of healthcare infrastructure?
For this reason, we have facilitated the renovation of Adeoyo State Hospital, Ibadan, and upgraded the operating theatre, radiography unit and medical laboratory facilities. We are also renovating and equipping primary healthcare centres across Oyo State.
Nigerians have grown used to travelling outside the country for medicare. But what prevents us from having medical facilities so good that people travel from far and wide to Oyo State to get better? It is my vision that Oyo State but will become the go-to place for medical tourism. We certainly have the personnel to run a modern state of the art operation here.
But what is the use of renovating hospitals if our people cannot pay for their services? Hospitals do not run on charity. Therefore, if we want our people to benefit from the services of these hospitals, we have to subsidise their use. Working with our Commissioner for Health, Dr Bashir Bello, we will improve the Health Insurance scheme for the people of Oyo State. We will start by ensuring all civil servants are under the scheme and then leverage on existing social structures to expand the scheme to other persons. I believe that these two goals are easily achievable.
I believe that these two goals are easily achievable.
In Security, this is what success looks like.
Our vision is to make the streets and communities safer. Neither indigenes nor settlers should be afraid for their lives or their businesses. And to create more citizen awareness to ensure crime is reported promptly.
We have started a campaign to light up Ibadan. A week ago, we flagged off the installation of Smart LED street lights across some strategic routes in Ibadan. We spent over One Billion Naira providing the street lights in various locations in Ibadan. I can tell you that this is the first of its kind in magnitude, efficiency and scale. This is one phase in the new security infrastructure we are providing for Oyo State citizens. You will agree with me that one of the deterrents to crime in the metropolis is the existence of lighted streets. One research shows that provision of street lights reduced crime by as much as 21%.
We have also donated vehicles to the security operatives in the state. One hundred vehicles to improve their response rate to crime. Of course, there are actions we have taken which we cannot discuss openly, for security reasons, but you can rest assured that they have been rolled out and you will begin to see their effects in the shortest possible time.
As I mentioned earlier, the past week has given me so much to meditate on. Visons are spiritual, and they require mindfulness for a person to see them through. As our elders say, a dog does not eat the bone which is hung on its neck. In all my reflections, I remain keenly aware of the magnitude of the responsibility that has been bestowed upon me. I cannot let the people of Oyo State down. So I must take care of this “bone” you have hung around my neck. I will deliver this vision.
I will not end this presentation without acknowledging the feedback I have received from the good people of Oyo State over the past week. I thank those who sent their prayers and commendations. I am grateful for your kind words. Sometimes, we need these words of encouragement to remain focused on the vision.
I also acknowledge those who have sent in criticisms. Criticisms and commendations are like twins. For any meaningful progress to be made, both must exist side by side. Constructive criticism makes a person see where they are going wrong to make necessary adjustments. It helps a discerning mind remain focused on the vision.
I will end this talk by showing you a final image.
What is success?
Success is our students off the streets and in the classroom, getting quality education.
Success is our farmers eating the fruit of their labour while carrying out agriculture as a business.
Success is our streets lighted up and free of crime.
Success is well-equipped hospitals with qualified personnel attending to our medical needs.
Success is that smile of approval on your faces right now.
In three years, we will be here, God sparing our lives to review this image, and what will be our conclusion?
Our conclusion will be this: Seyi Makinde did not have a dream. He had a vision, and the vision has come to pass.