Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, led top government functionaries and other stakeholders to host the second edition of the state’s inclusive budget initiative, where he declared that his administration will not relent in its determination to turn the state around through people-centred projects.
Governor Makinde, who spoke at the Budget Consultative Forum ahead of the 2021 Budget of the state, said that in his quest to positively influence the state’s economy and enhance the quality of life, his administration has approved the payment of N1.65 billion for the remodelling of Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) across the 351 electoral wards in the state.
According to Makinde, though the state would need to spend between N7billion and N11 billion to properly remodel all the 351 PHCs, he approved the sum of N1.65 billion in a bold step to ensure the delivery of modern PHCs in all the electoral wards before May 29, 2023.
He also said that he recently approved the release of the sum of N1,080,000,000 (N1.08b) to the Oyo State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) for payment of 2018 leave bonus of the affected Teachers.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor stated these on Thursday while delivering a keynote address at the engagement on the 2021 Budget, held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
He called on residents of the state to get involved in the budget consultative process which, he said, will take place in seven locations across the state.
He declared that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of the 2020 Budget has touched every sector of the state, a development which he attributed to the inclusion of the people in the budgeting process.
He also stated that the execution of ongoing projects, including the 21-km Ajia-Airport Road, with a spur to Amuloko; the remodelling of the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba; the Light-Up Oyo project, as well as the ongoing construction of four Bus Interchanges; OYSADA headquarters and upgrade of health facilities, became possible due to the government’s innovations in financial management and targeted borrowing.
He said: “I have always said that I am in this position today because it is the will of the people and of God. And so, I am determined to continue to pursue and expand policies that will show that I respect the yearnings of the people. One of the ways our administration has done this is by ensuring that our communities are involved in the budgeting process.
“Last year, we produced our first budget, which we tagged, “The People’s Budget,” because we came out and engaged in town hall meetings and sought your input. You spoke, and we listened. You made it clear that you wanted more capital projects and infrastructural development. You indicated that payment of salaries and gratuities was a sore point. As a result, of last year’s budget of N213.8Billion, capital expenditure was pegged at N103.4Billion, while recurrent expenditure had a value of N110.4Billion.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 happened. Additionally, the fall in oil prices affected federal allocations to states. We had to slash the budget. However, we decided that whatever cuts we were making, payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities, and other emoluments to the state workforce will not be affected. After the reductions, recurrent expenditure remained N108.9Billion while capital projects took a 36.9 per cent hit and came down to N65.2Billion.
“Still, we have found ways of ensuring that some planned infrastructure projects could still be carried out. For example, we introduced the Alternative Project Funding Approach (APFA), where the contractors execute the entire project with their own money before the government repays over several budgeting cycles.
“The ongoing reconstruction of the 21km Airport Road-Ajia-New Ife Express Road with a spur to Amuloko and the remodelling of Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, are products of this funding approach.
“We also had the Contractor’s Project Financing Scheme. Through this scheme, Oyo State contributes an initial percentage of the contract sum while the contractor brings the rest. The government then has the grace of paying over several budgeting cycles. The recently flagged off ‘Light Up Oyo State’ (Phase 2) project, is being facilitated using this financing model.
“We also embarked on targeted borrowing. We are grateful to the state legislature, led by Honourable Debo Ogundoyin, for signing off on infrastructural loans. We have begun constructions such as the bus terminals at Iwo Road, New Ife Road, Challenge and Ojoo in Ibadan; the remodelling of OYSADA headquarters at Saki, Oke-Ogun; upgrading of Primary Healthcare Centres and other healthcare facilities. Just last week, we were at Saki to commission the Saki Specialist Hospital.
“Other projects we have embarked on include supply and installation of all-in-one Solar Powered Street Lights for the illumination of some market places, selected hospitals, and quite a few public places across the geo-political zones in the state. We have also embarked on the ‘Operation Zero Potholes’ in Oyo State.
“We also have procured new truck-mounted drilling rigs with a compressor to improve our water supply, five fire-fighting trucks and ten ambulances. The implementation of the 2020 budget has indeed touched every sector of the Oyo State economy that you told us you wanted to see work.
“We were able to carry out these people-centred projects because we started off the budget year by asking you the question: What would you like us to do for you?
“And so, we are back this year on a similar mission. And this time, we are expanding the process and making it even more open and transparent. Last year, town hall meetings were held in the three senatorial districts. This year, we are upping the ante. Town hall meetings will be held in the seven geopolitical zones of the state.”
While responding to views expressed by some of those at the meeting, the governor reiterated the administration’s commitment to youth engagement and employment, noting that the state will continue to seek ways of engaging the youths through the expansion of its economy, while also ensuring that they are prevented from engaging in criminalities.
He, however, clarified that his government would effectively stop street trading only after providing alternative locations for the traders.
He noted that though street trading poses some danger, the government will not go after commoners seeking means of livelihood without first providing alternative markets where they can carry out their trades.
“Furthermore, we want to stop people from selling on the street. We will encourage you and do everything to ensure your commercial activities go smoothly. Let it be on record that until we provide an alternative for traders on the street, we won’t send them away. But when we provide an alternative for them, like Scout Camp, we will make it functional and that’s the way we want it to be done. Some people can go ahead to twist whatever we have said but the truth is always constant, and the people of Oyo State know the truth.
“We will continue to grant special recognition to people living with disabilities. Whatever we need to do to ensure proper regulations will be done. It should not be so difficult. We will continue to encourage people granting building permits to look out for people living with disabilities in the building designs.
“Also, regarding the commission on people living with disabilities and small business grant, it is work in progress. And I believe we will also achieve this before the expiration of this tenure.”
Earlier, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Adeniyi Farinto, said the programme was a further attestation to the all-inclusive nature of governance under the present administration in Oyo State and its resolve to enshrine the principle of equity and participatory approach to governance.
Farinto stated that a stakeholders meeting of such nature was a genuine platform where all opinions would not only be explored but would be critically examined for the growth and development of the state, stressing that having a people-oriented budget has always been the priority of the Makinde administration.
The programme was attended by government officials, the traditional institution, Civil Society Organisations, and stakeholders from all the local governments that make up Ibadan City.