Home Opinion Oyo’s War Of Merit | Dapo Ogunwusi

Oyo’s War Of Merit | Dapo Ogunwusi



Since the Oyo State governor announced months ago his plan to recruit more than 10000 teachers and thousands of other cadres of workers, the political terrain has been abuzz with all kinds of permutations and arrangements towards the exercise. Many politicians awarded themselves all kinds of figures as their personal allocations or quotas for recruitment. There were rumours that some politicians had become influence merchants selling their “allocations” of slots into the public service.

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One politician was said to have touted he had 36 slots! It was beginning to look like things were never going to be different. Seyi Makinde, it appeared for a moment, was going to be just one of the usual. A power list of candidates was said to have been assembled by these influential people before the governor for ratification.

Those who reasoned like that knew nothing of the character of the state governor. They were in for a shock. One morning, the governor was said to have torn up the jeunjeun list and insisted first on merit. Not only that, he asked for a computer based test of all the candidates using the standard school cert syllabus! Everybody was stunned. Even people who had contemplated giving out bribes to politicians were beginning to see the end of the road. Obviously the Makinde revolution was not going to be a joke.

The tests in various subjects followed a standard format. The earliest casualties were those who could not use the computer. They were summarily weeded out!

Recruitment into the civil service had for long been a matter of influence peddling even from the days of the military. Even when there were tests and interviews, the most influential candidates always got the slots. And since they were hardly meritorious, public service has consistently become a dumping ground for semi-literate wards of rich and powerful people. The bright ones always ended up as bus conductors and emergency farmers and home lesson teachers.

It’s a long time since the common man had a fair chance at gainful employment in this neighbourhood. It has been the day of the uncommon man for a very long time. Yet we pretended to run an equitable society. Somebody called Oluseyi Makinde is striking an effective blow at the concept of man-knows-man in Oyo State. Once again, our civil servants will be of the finest sort. Our gates will be manned by the finest hands available. Our teachers will be truly knowledgeable people who can confidently be trusted with the training of our children. Good quality education delivered by the finest tutors in adequately equipped schools run by principals who get government subventions and who are motivated to deliver. That is the great vision being put together by the Seyi Makinde government.

Ordinarily a mass recruitment exercise by a government is subject for media circus even when all the lucky candidates will be children of party leaders and their friends. One unique part of this is that the maneuvers are out of the view of the media. It is not the subject of press conferences or a matter for rooftop publicity. In one quiet move, these unique steps are being taken on behalf of good governance and genuine progress in the state.

It takes courage and vision for a governor in these days of depleted incomes and allocations to recruit. These are days when many states are struggling to pay salaries. A governor slashes the wages of his legislators and appointees so he could pay regular wages and recruit teachers.

It is a shock that no other state government especially among the progressives or even the overweight federal government has tried to match or even better Makinde’s sense of sacrifice. They have all held on to their mouth-watering emoluments while the nation reels in agony. At the federal level, it is even more pathetic. The government has insisted “everybody” got palliatives in the war against the effects of COVID! Sometimes you ask yourself if this is a Nigerian government with runaway inflation, high fuel prices and the Naira being deliberately sunk at the forex market. Scandals of various sizes are the order of the day and nobody cares about the plight of the average citizen.

The Seyi Makinde administration has emphatically decried a situation whereby private school teachers who earn pittance without the luxury of a stable career, do far better in producing quality products while public schools are considered second class. The governor has indicated his vision to develop public education and secure better outcomes. With these moves afoot there is no doubt that that goal will be trenchantly accomplished in record time.

The second year of the Makinde administration has been characterised by financial strictures brought about by COVID19. The purse is leaner everywhere. Yet we have an administration which insists on recruiting top quality teachers; a governor who will rather slash the wages of his cabinet than fail in his avowed dream for greater development. That is the kind of leadership in Oyo State. It is the kind of leadership Nigeria so desperately needs at this moment.

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