By Bolanle Bolawole
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I religiously read Gov. (Engr.) Seyi Makinde’s “100 Days: Restoring glory to Oyo state” published to mark his first 100 days in office, a rite that came with the introduction into Nigeria of the America-styled presidential system of government. Tell the youthful and energetic governor to pardon me if I did not include his other titles; he must be a Chief; so, Gov. Engr. Chief Seyi Makinde and whatever else! Our people, especially so, our leaders, love titles, big, big titles, except Makinde is the different kettle of fish he claims to be. I also read his Chief Press Secretary, my brother and professional colleague, Taiwo Adisa, on the same 100 days.
It is not all the time that a governor writes. Most governors feel too big to write. That is a job for the “press boys” – and they have them aplenty. Virtually all governors are damn too busy to find the time to put pen to paper. The truth, however, is that only a few of them are qualified to write. There is high illiteracy level in the ranks of our leaders, the pomp, colour and razzmatazz around them notwithstanding. So, it is always with pleasure that we see one big man who writes, especially when it is noted that the writing is original and not one of those drab “press statements” or commissioned write-ups by consultants and speech writers. Reading Makinde’s “100 Days”, it appears to me to have been personally scribbled by Makinde, even if anyone else crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s afterwards.
Makinde said he chose to “celebrate” his first 100 days in office not as others do but to see how far he has matched action with words. He made campaign promises and wanted himself and us to see how far he has kept faith with “we the people” In this, he differs dramatically from President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress who made campaign promises which they later denied. Recently, social media was awash with campaign statements and promises made by Buhari, which has been honoured in their breach – all of them without an exception! It is noteworthy that Makinde is a PDP governor, the only one in the South-west. Politicians who make promises but spurn them after winning elections are the ones who give politicians a bad name and politics an ignoble reputation. You must have heard the saying “politics is a dirty game” That Makinde chose to be different is salutary. That Makinde is bold enough to ask us to hold his feet to the fire; that he is holding himself accountable to his campaign promises and is not saying “that was politics”, like the unconscionable others do, is an achievement. I agree with him. Achievement number one!
I remember reading when Makinde publicly declared his assets. I think it was a whopping N48 billion and some shameless APC politicians started asking him to explain how he came into his riches rather than burying their head in shame and shutting up their stinking mouth. Buhari made the promise of public declaration of assets in 2015; he failed to keep the promise. They said all their appointees would declare their assets publicly but they recanted. As they say, if gold rusts, what will silver do? If Buhari will not publicly declare his assets; if his VP, “Man-of-God” Yemi Osinbajo, will not, why should we expect others to do so? A good start by Makinde, no doubt, but he should now take the next step of compelling all his appointees to also publicly declare their own assets. In saner societies, public declaration of assets or unrestrained access to the assets declared by public office holders will be routine but this is Nigeria, a country of the blind leading the blind and where the one-eyed is king! As witnessed in the case of ex-CJN Walter Onnoghen, assets declaration is a vicious weapon in the hands of the powers-that-be against perceived opponents.
Makinde touted the appointments he made as outstanding. We are yet to see that! As they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. People may look good on paper, with all the requisite (paper) qualifications and cognate experience but performing on the job is something else. Has the governor put square pegs in square holes? Performance on the job and delivering the deliverables will show! Action, as they say, speaks louder than words. I am, however, particularly interested in Makinde’s promise that his youthful Commissioner for Youth and Sports would turn around the fortunes of Shooting Stars Sports Club. I was a fan of Shooting Stars, supporting it all the way against the likes of Rangers International. Up Shooting! Sadly, no more! If Shooting Stars can be returned to its glory days, I will lionise Makinde, regardless of the uproar that greeted his nomination of the youthful Commissioner. So, achievements claimed by Gov. Makinde in this category still hang in the balance like an unripe fruit which cannot yet be plucked and eaten – unless Makinde wants to eat unripe bananas! Verdict: Work in progress!
Another achievement claimed by Makinde is in the area of education. All the fees he has cancelled and their salutary effects on the lives of the people were mentioned here; not forgetting to mention his renovation of Adeoyo Hospital, Yemetu; pensions paid; bursary awards, and committees set up to look into this or that. Nigeria is one country where setting up of committees is counted as an achievement. We have seen this, ad nauseam, with the past PDP/Goodluck Jonathan and the sitting Buhari/APC administration where a committee is set up to review the findings of another committee, which then has a committee to review its own findings, ad infinitum! In the end, all the committees’ reports are left on the shelf to gather dust. Was that not the tardiness that got the country having a 9.6billion US dollar judgment-debt hanging around its neck right now? Makinde will be well advised not to fall into same pit. Committees are nothing until their reports – good, excellent reports addressed to issues and solving identified problems – are scrupulously implemented. It is salutary, however, that he has increased education budgetary allocation from a measly three percent to 10 percent. Yet, it is still way below the 26 % (?) threshold recommended by UNICEF. Work in progress!
With corruption a bane and federal EFCC a ruse, I commend Makinde for plans to set up the Oyo State “EFCC” to promote openness, transparency and accountability in government. Ex-Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State acted similarly while in office. With corruption running riot and impunity rife all over the place, we go nowhere as a nation or people. No meaningful development will take place in an atmosphere of unbridled corruption and shameless lawlessness. However, having the law is one thing, its implementation is another. Makinde must lead by examples. The good thing about corruption is that it cannot be perpetrated alone. Governors don’t sign the cheque books of their State; how come they are able to steal billions? They are aided by thieving civil servants, contractors and a coterie of aides and appointees. Those who help our leaders to launder money usually are not government appointees. Therefore, once a governor is caught in the web of corruption, that fact is known and this knowledge soon spreads. It cannot be covered or hidden. And, as they say, a fish gets rotten from the head. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Unless Makinde eschews corruption, he should forget about Oyo EFCC. Mark my words: If Makinde puts his hands into corruption, before his first term ends, it will be public knowledge. And that will ruin whatever good name, reputation, and integrity he has built over the years and which he has now brought to the table. Work in progress!
In the South-west of today, security or, better still, insecurity is a vexed issue. It had not been so in times past. The tardiness of past governments in the zone and the deliberate policies of destabilization propounded, expounded, encouraged, supported and executed outside of the zone have brought insecurity to the region. Therefore, no South-west governor can close his eyes to the insecurity issues that today bedevil the zone. But people want to see results; not endless and fruitless meetings, important and indispensable as these may seem. So, Makinde and the others will have to move real fast and bring the volatile security situation in the zone under control. We have heard again and again of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN). They wine and dine with South-west governors. It would appear that’s all there is to DAWN! So far, at least to the best of my knowledge! I also do not think States should fund the police, a federal agency. Let the FG fund its agency or fold it up and allow the States have their own police. The lie from the pit of hell that States cannot maintain State police is sustained by States who are blackmailed into funding the police. Makinde and other governors who fund the police are shooting themselves in the foot. That way, they help the FG to cover up its inadequacies while yet maintaining that States are not ripe for State police. Bunkum!
The foundation Makinde is erecting for Oyo to become investment destination of choice gladdens my heart. Whereas I live and work in Lagos and am from Ondo state, Oyo also has been home to me. I moved there in 1976, two years after secondary school (when it was still old Oyo state), and lived at Ede, worked at Osogbo, schooled at Ilesa and Ife; did NYSC as well as attended Graduate School at Ibadan, and also worked there briefly before transferring to Lagos. I will never forget that I cut my journalistic teeth at Sketch Press Limited, Ibadan. As they say, the river that forgets its source will dry up! I hope to settle down in the serene atmosphere of Ibadan one day soon. Ibadan as the political capital of the South-west deserves better attention than it had received; since after Awolowo, its fortunes appeared to have dipped. It must be developed into an industrial centre, which, I think, is Makinde’s vision. May he succeed with the vision!
I salute Makinde for making prompt payment of salaries a priority. According to scriptures, not only does a labourer deserve his wages, the employer is also enjoined to pay before the sweat on the labourer’s brow dries. If Makinde keeps his pledge of making salary payments on the 25th of every month, it is an achievement, again, in a country where payment of salaries as and when due has become a serious issue. In saner climes, it is taken as given.
Finally, I am thrilled that Makinde sees his position as a “job” to serve Oyo people. I hope others around him will see theirs as such. People in position often see and use their position as opportunities to enrich themselves, oppress others, and be accountable to no one. Should Makinde keep to his vision and mission and make others do likewise, I dare to say that will be his greatest achievement ever. But writing on the same “100 Days”, Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, described his boss, Makinde, as “hitting peak achievements on all fronts” of education, health, economy and security in just 100 days in office! With that frenetic speed, Makinde will surely break the roof over our head before his second 100 days in office! Dogs don’t eat dogs; so, let me say no more!
LAST WORD: Shall we also expect the report card of the Oyo State First Lady’s first 100 days in office? I fell in love with her name (her name please; I have never met her or her husband!) – even though I can’t pronounce the name!