On assumption of office, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State promised quality service delivery. AKINWALE ABOLUWADE examines his administration’s activities vis-a-vis opposition’s assessment
Whenever he renders the account of his stewardship so far as the number one man in Oyo State, Governor Abiola Ajimobi often harps on the need for stakeholders to eschew sentiments and unite towards repositioning the state. According to him, the age-long status of Oyo as a pacesetter state has, for long, been battered by bad leadership. He also lamented that the people had been sidelined in the scheme of things as far as governance was concerned.
Now, the governor appears to be canvassing a change in the trend. Just as stated in his inaugural speech, he reiterated that governance in Oyo must be people-centred. “The task of redeeming the state, which had over the years been plundered by poor governance, should be the responsibility and concern of all,” Ajimobi said.
In doing this, he explained, the people must be the focus. The governor stated that irrespective of class, creed or party affiliation, stakeholders in the state must synergise in a bid to realising his administration’s developmental blueprint for the state.
The new initiative and way of doing things, he assured, would help in bailing the state out of decadence and underdevelopment which it allegedly suffered.
At a civic reception held in his honour by the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes recently, Governor Ajimobi, while talking about the challenges of his administration, explained, “The task of development can be accomplished by dint of hard work, courage and commitment. We have to stop the pull-him-down attitude. The opposition must criticise logically and appreciate good and lofty initiatives.”
He stressed further that unless attitudes of discipline and service were brought into the system, the hope of success in governance would be a mirage.
Warning that it was more difficult to build than to destroy, he indicated that the task of building the state could be daunting and time-consuming. However, he assured that his administration, having set its hands on the plough, would not look back. “The rot and effect of poor governance in past years will take time and concerted efforts to clear. But it will not take long. We have laid the foundation for good governance and it is clear that our people will not allow mistake of choice to haunt them. Those who plundered our state and abused the mentality of our people shall not be allowed to rape them once again,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democractic Party in the state has described the present administration as unfocused and insincere. It said that the Action Congress of Nigeria government in the state, apart from being too slow, failed to deliver on its promises. One of such promises, it said, was the reconstruction of the ruins of the August 26, 2011 flood in the state.
Also, a socio-political group called Oyo Parapo has condemned the proposed N1bn beautification project allegedly embarked upon by the Ajimobi government. It described the initiative as a misplacement of priority and insensitivity to the plight of the longsuffering masses of Oyo State.
The group in a statement by its Co-ordinator, Kola Adegoke, recently said it was appalling for government to allocate scarce resources of the state for planting of flowers when there are critical areas of need like roads, education, rural electrification, youth employment and empowerment, industrialisation, transportation and many more.
It read in part, “For a government that had anything to showcase as its achievement after spending one year in office, one expects that the government will wake up from its slumber. However, what the ACN government is interested in is how to whet the appetite of some of its collaborators and benefactors from outside the state.
The governor in his remark during the CCII’s luncheon in his honour, said, “If negative criticism won’t abate, I leave you in the hands of God. Even God was not appreciated and that is the reason we have atheists and free thinkers and yet God has continued to be good to them. I shall continue to do my best for the state, irrespective of the criticism from those who don’t like us.”
The governor said his administration’s achievements in the last one year were youth employment, construction of roads, ongoing construction of Mokola flyover, dredging and construction of canals and drainage, introduction of free health scheme, school agriculture programme, reduction of tuition in tertiary institutions and introduction of free and compulsory education in elementary and secondary schools.
He said, “In not looking back. We spent the last one year of our administration attempting to restore our state to the position it used to occupy. The first we had to address was the sagging morale of our people who, in the previous years, had lost all hope that a government could genuinely intervene in their lives without nepotistic and selfish reasons. In this wise, we have embarked on projects that have mass appeal. Our road and bridge construction was focused specifically on areas of the state where development had taken flight for decades.
“Our goal is to make Oyo State one big construction outfit where infrastructural developments would be taking place on a daily basis. Because of the decades of decadence and neglect that had destroyed our infrastructure, I must confess to you that the challenges are quite daunting. Even though we have, in the last one year, constructed 199 roads throughout the state, decadence, which makes our efforts almost insignificant, still stares us in the face.
“And because of the paucity of funds accruable to our state, we are entering a new level of Public Private Partnership in which we are divested of a great chunk of monetary responsibilities in the development of our state. In this regard, we have spoken with a total of 15 development partners like UNDP, UNICEF, UNIDO aside the World Bank, Bank of Industry and other development agencies.”
But this, he said, did not happen easily. He remarked that “At first, when we made overtures to them, they were pleasantly shocked that we could attempt to leave the turf of an island unto ourselves which the inability of the past government had carved for the people of Oyo State. Our enthusiasm amazes them and has been bringing out the best from them. Our hand of fellowship to investors and partners is yielding results for the state.”
Speaking further on his achievements, he said that his administration turned the sod of 150-room five-star hotel at the Mokola Hills while in partnership with Aso Savings and Loans Plc., it inaugurated the construction of 1,400 housing units along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
He explained that the promises made to the people of the state during electioneering were already being kept. He said, “Our pre-election promise is that the power we sought was the power to do good. The Mokola flyover under construction promises to be one of the best in this part of the world. This N2.1bn project, on one of the busiest roads in the South-West part of Nigeria, will eliminate the bottleneck faced by commuters on the road.
“In the area of health, we have treated over 200,000 of our people free of charge in our Free Health Mission Scheme. We subscribe to the view that a worker’s sweat must not dry before he gets his wage. We even go a step forward by ensuring that he gets paid before he finishes his job. The intangibles are where we have excelled the most. We have done our people proud by running a government that is adjudged as scientific and meticulous. Gone are the days when government was adjudged to be a preoccupation of the worst of us.”
Among others, he said that contrary to violence and insecurity that characterised last administration in the state, government had changed the history of Oyo State from state of pandemonium to home of peace and progress.
“But I must tell you that whatever we have done, we have not begun at all. Our goal is to reshape this state so that we would leave a renown that can only be matched by that of our revered sage, Chief ObafemiAwolowo.”
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