On September 6, the Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration hit the first 100 days mark of its second term in office, designated as Omituntun 2.0. In this interview, the governor speaks on the journey so far and his plan for the state in the 1,357 days. Excerpts:
Your second term administration was 100 days in office on Thursday. For someone in his second term, however, the question should not be about the first 100 days but about how well you have served your people and what they should look forward to in the next three years and 252 days.
Four years ago, I made the commitment to serve our people to the best of my ability and upon seeing how well we have done that, they renewed my mandate on March 18, 2023. So, a little over 100 days ago, I stood before them at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Liberty Road, Ibadan, to renew the pledge I made to them in 2019. I said that I would always put their interests first. That is what we have been doing.
For us, it is not about the first 100 days; I have once said that governance is not a sprint but a marathon. We ran the race in the last four years, working hard to steer our state on the path of accelerated development. We prioritised infrastructure development and we were able to complete over 137 kilometres of road projects, taking a top-to-bottom approach to road rehabilitations and reconstructions.
We also focused on interconnecting all the zones, because we knew that therein lies the key to kick-starting our ‘no zone left behind’ policy. We built roads such as the 76.7 km Ogbomoso-Fapote-Iseyin Road – a completely new road construction. No road had ever existed in that place before now. But we knew that this construction would open up the Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun Zones. Already, we have big businesses springing up on that road.
We are also constructing the 110 km Ibadan Circular Road. We plan to complete the construction of this road with all ancillary amenities that will give our people a first-world transport experience on that route within this tenure.
With all these, we were able to build a solid foundation for sustainable development and that is the whole idea of Omituntun 2.0, which we have rightly designated as ‘Oyo State Roadmap for Sustainable Development, 2023-2027.
So, under Omituntun 2.0, our people should look forward to us completing all ongoing road projects and giving priority attention to internal roads in urban areas.
In line with your last statement, has your administration been able to record any success with regards to projects you left off in the first term?
Yes. As I said earlier, under Omituntun 1.0, we built the much important foundation for our sustainable development agenda. One of such foundations was the sole ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), which we secured during the first term. We also built on that foundation with the establishment of the College of Agriculture and Renewable Natural Resources of the University in Iseyin and we committed a lot of resources towards the building of the College. Today, we have completed the building of what will unarguably be the finest University College in the country. It is completed with road infrastructure. Administrative building and lecture theatres, among others.
Shortly after our inauguration, we also inaugurated the 8.3 kilometres Ojurin-Olorunda Abaa Road, which is a continuation of the Akobo-Odogbo Barracks-Ojurin Road that was fixed under our first term. When we were campaigning, I promised that Omituntun 2.0 would be better but our people felt it was just a political talk. But the manifestation is already in place. Under Omituntun 1.0, it took us up until November 2019 to flag off the first project. But under Omituntun 2.0, we flagged off a project in less than two weeks.
Let me also add that on September 15, former President Olusegun Obasanjo will join us to commission the 34.85 kilometres Oyo-Iseyin Road, a federal road, which we started under Omituntun 1.0 but have now completed within our first 100 days in office.
In practical terms, we have started strong and by the grace of God, we will finish strong.
You said your administration will be commissioning the Oyo-Iseyin Road, a federal road fixed by your government. Where do things stand with regards to the warning by the new Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi, that the Federal Government does not have the means to refund states doing federal roads at this period…
He was with us about two weeks ago and he made the same statement. Of course, I also made it clear to him that as an administration, we would continue to do what is in the best interest of our people and if fixing federal roads is what will make life easier for them, we will not be deterred by the fact that the Federal Government cannot refund us immediately. He also said that the Ministry will keep the records for days when things would improve economically.
For us, if a road is important to our economy, we will fix it even if it is a federal road. You know the question I once asked? Oyo-Iseyin is a federal road, but is it federal people that use it? Is it not our people in Oyo State people that use it? The Oyo-Iseyin Road may be a federal road but it is quite important to our economy in Oyo State, as it passes through our agribusiness hub, the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub.
During Omituntun 1.0, I visited the former Minister of Works and we got approval to fix the road and the Ministry even insisted that it must be fixed according to federal standards. So, yes, we are already putting in place development that is sustainable, having laid the foundation in the last four years.
We have also laid the groundwork for ensuring that we have a modern transportation system. We completed two bus terminals and another two have been progressing at a good pace. We also did set up infrastructure that made it possible for our airport to fuel airplanes for the first time since the Ibadan Airport was constructed. We are upgrading this airport to an international airport, which will serve as a viable alternative to the airport in Lagos.
One of the challenges faced by government at all levels in the last 100 and something days is the aftermath of the removal of fuel subsidy, with Nigerians groaning under the effects of the action, while the Federal Government and states have been coming up with palliative measures. How have things been in Oyo with regards to palliatives?
In Oyo State, we made it clear that we are not looking at palliatives. When we were about to launch the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAfER), I checked the dictionary and looked up the meaning of palliative. I saw that palliative is like a half measure; like treating the symptoms instead of addressing the root cause of the issue. So, we decided that is not what we want to do in Oyo State.
Yes, the people are faced with a lot of hardship as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy, but do we just address that hardship through a cosmetic approach or explore far-reaching solutions? In Oyo State, we want to attack the root cause of the hardship. And that is exactly what we are doing. We have introduced the SAfER packages, under which we are addressing the root cause of the poverty and hardship occasioned by the removal of subsidy.
We are saying that yes, it is not out of place to put in place short-term measures to cushion the effects of subsidy removal, but there must be a holistic and solid plan that goes beyond the immediate, which will have a lasting impact on the people.
As part of the temporary measures, we issued a directive that the number of Omituntun Buses on various routes in the state capital should be increased and that commuters should pay reduced fares, while we said that our senior citizens and students should board the buses at half price.
We have since built on that with the Transport section of our SAfER packages catering to residents of the state commuting from all the five zones of the state. Now, we have Omituntun Buses conveying travellers from Ibadan to Oyo, Ogbomoso, Ibarapa and Oke Ogun zones at a greatly reduced price.
But while the transport intervention may look good to some residents, some others may not even have any need to travel for months. So, how have you benefited those people? If you look at palliatives from the perspective of food distribution; there are people who rarely have need for food handouts, for instance farmers in rural centres. If we use this period to share only foodstuff, how have we benefited them? So, we consulted widely and we arrived at decisions that will be of the most benefit to the majority of Oyo State people.
We considered the importance of using these economic packages to stimulate our economy and bring about sustainable development. Through our SAfER package, we hope to ensure a softer landing for the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable through food relief. We have kick-started the distribution of food relief packages to about 200,000 households in the state. We also designed a component to address food security through direct intervention to our farmers, and that goes beyond just the immediate period. The state has distributed farm inputs to farmers across the local governments of the state.
There is another component that touches on health insurance. We are providing health insurance for 100,000 of our most vulnerable citizens. We will be paying the one-year health insurance premium of these people under the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA) scheme, so that they have access to quality healthcare without paying out of pocket. We will also subscribe 50,000 pensioners to the scheme.
We are also setting aside the sum of N500 million as enterprise support fund for youth agropreneurs, who were trained under the Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP) and have established businesses, while Small and Medium Scale Enterprises will also be able to access low-interest-rate loan through another tranche of N500 million. Traders, artisans and other small business operators can apply for these loans.
What should the people of Oyo State look forward to in the next three years and nine months?
We have shared our plans with the people of the state in our Oyo State Roadmap for Sustainable Development 2023-2027. So, they should look forward to four years of sustainable development refocused on the four pillars of Economy, Education, Healthcare and Security. We focused on the same four pillars in the last four years. That is why we have said that Omituntun 2.0 is an upgrade. We have assured our people that Omituntun 2.0 will be better than Omituntun 1.0. Though some people have said that second term administrations are usually very lax because the office holders are not looking for anything, that is not the case with us. We are looking for a strong legacy to bequeath to Oyo State. So, we are not going to let our people down.