The True Business of Governance By Senator Abiola Ajimobi

Of all the humbling moments I have had in life, the
most outstanding one was earlier this year upon being
re-elected Governor by the good people of Oyo State.
It was all the validation I needed, as the people of this
state are known for their political watchfulness. If I
wasn’t doing something right – whether it was or
wasn’t so in the eyes of political rabble-rousers –I
would not be entrusted, for the second time, with the
task of leading our state to further glory.
I have always been one to admit that Oyo State has a
long way to go. It was one of the reasons I opted to
serve the state in the first place. However, four years
alone would’ve been an unrealistic timeline for the
actualization of all the policies and roadmaps we
created and which we have been implementing.
Governing a state and turning it around has not and
will never be a magic show. It takes patience, research,
hard work, insight, and surrounding oneself with the
right people. Most of all, it takes an element out of the
control of man – Time. During the first four years of
serving the people of Oyo, my administration decided
to pursue the tripod approach of restoration,
transformation and repositioning of all sectors of the
economy.
With great intensity, we focused on the education
sector, because we know that the foundation that
children get determines if they will be productive
members of the society in decades to come. It is only
quality education that can bring about the kind of
manpower that will eventually contribute to the
progress that we started in 2011 in Oyo State.
I have always taken to heart the words of the great
Awolowo, when he said: “In order to attain to the goals
of economic freedom and prosperity, Nigeria must do
certain things as a matter of urgency and priority. It
must provide free education.” That is why education at
basic and secondary school levels was pronounced
free; we wanted to encourage more people to educate
themselves and their children. It is also why we
reduced fees in tertiary institutions and established
more of such institutions to cater for the increasing
number of secondary school leavers who had, hitherto,
been spending years waiting to fill the meagre
admission slots available. And when they graduate
from these institutions, our youth are being equipped
with soft loans and entrepreneurial skills through our
youth empowerment scheme, YES-O.
Truth be told, we had our test run by implementing
these facets whilst using the old governing structures
that were already in place.And despite our tentative
steps towards curing the rot that plague our
educational system, the saying: “you can’t put old
wine in new skin”, rings true.
While some complain that the public school classes are
overpopulated and the teachers are few, others
remember that Government has a limit to its resources,
regardless of its good intentions and policies. I thank
the PTA in Oyo for the constant support that is being
extended to our public schools. Only recently, we broke
ground for the construction of two hundred new
classrooms, as part of our efforts to improve the
conditions under which our children learn. These new
classrooms are being built in partnership with the
Japan International Cooperation Agency.
It is easy to forget that governance, especially a
democratic one, is not the sole responsibility of the
government in power but also the people it governs.
‘Ajumose’ should be the order of the day. We are
already doing a lot; we intend to do a lot more. I ask
that more Oyo residents recognise this and extend their
hands of collaboration.
As policies are being implemented by the government,
adjustments must constantly be made by the workforce
and general citizenry and belts tightened. We have
tried hard to plug the areas where there was excess
spending of government funds by reducing the number
of Ministries in the State, because it is the Oyo
people’s money and it is in their best interest that we
make necessary cuts and be fiscally responsible.
Nevertheless,we are mindful of the need to put in place
an environment that ensures our policies do not hurt
the people we seek to protect – the people of Oyo. We
are mindful of the contribution of Civil Servants to the
State over the decades and their continued efforts, and
so we are working to make their lives better.
To ensure that the State grows to the point where it
can afford to better the lives of all residents, we are
currently working towards enhancing the fiscal status
of the state through internally generated revenue. To
this end, we have partnered with sister States,
especially Lagos, to adopt best practices.
In Oyo, we believe that an agricultural revolution is one
of the failsafe ways of achieving that. Already, plans
have been set in motion to revive and upgrade existing
farm settlements, mechanized farm equipment are
being procured to make the process easier and
seedlings and loans are being handed out to old time
farmers as well as new ones.
We are encouraging more people to take up farming
either for subsistence or commercial value. Oyo has
vast arable land and the cost of living here is
affordable. We are on a drive to become the agriculture
capital of Nigeria by making it easy for both local
farmers and investors in agriculture to do business
here. We will produce good food that will keep our
people healthy, and we will sell to the world too.
Also importantly, in the area of health, we set up an
all-inclusive health insurance scheme that will capture
workers in the public and private sectors. Nobody
prays to get sick but alas it is just one more part of
life. The insurance scheme is our way of ensuring that
whatever the financial circumstances of a resident,
they have an easy way to pay for their health needs.
Provisions and purchases are also being made to see
to it that our hospitals and health centres are equipped
with state of the art apparatus and our health
standards meet the requirements of international best
practices. In all of this, we recognise the delicate
nature of the work healthcare providers do and that is
why our recent approval of the 100 percent
implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary
Scale, (CONMESS) and Consolidated Health Salary
Structure CONHESS. No longer will doctors in this state
complain about being short-changed as this new
structure will see to it that their earnings will be at par
with the best paid in the service.
True progress must encompass all facets of life. That is
why environmental modifications are also top on our
list. We are opting for an integrated approach to solid
waste management as we go into open ended
partnerships with international agencies. We are
adopting diverse methods of converting waste into
energy in ways that will be sustainable in this clime.
Only recently, we commenced the Waste to Wealth
program that will see waste used to generate
electricity, in partnership with Highland Energy Services
Solutions Limited (HESSL).
We are building Oyo to become one of the top liveable
cities in Africa, one that prioritises food, shelter and
social security. We are restructuring our MDAs to
ensure world-class service delivery to residents and
investors.
Our ultimate goal is to make Oyo state as self-
sufficient as possible. We cannot be distracted from
the business of taking Oyo to the zenith. I do not
believe in trying to use talk to convince naysayers who
clearly have ulterior motives. The real business of
governing is not about politics, it is about service to
the people. And that is why I will run a knowledge-
driven Government and, as it did during my first term, I
will continue to let the progress of Oyo speak to the
residents of the State and speak to investors in
Nigeria, Africa and beyond.
*Senator Abiola Ajimobi, The Executive Governor of
Oyo State

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