A Look at Seyi Makinde’s First Month As Oyo State Governor By Lati Abayomi
Exactly one month ago on May 29, 2019, Seyi Makinde was sworn in as Oyo State Governor, in a well-attended inauguration ceremony at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan. In his inauguration speech, he set the tone for governance for the next four years in Oyo State. Makinde had campaigned on a platform of reform in education, agriculture, healthcare, security, infrastructural development and the economy, and his speech reflected a commitment to his electoral promises.
The new governor announced the cancellation of N3,000 school fees for senior secondary school students to loud cheering from the crowd. He stated that his salary would be donated to the Teachers’ Pension Fund throughout his tenure. In keeping with Makinde’s belief that public assets are held in trust for the public, he also stated that the overhead bridge linking the state secretariat would be opened to the public, renaming it the “Freedom Bridge” to signify a new dawn in the state. The bridge was used by the previous governor and his family only, during his eight-year tenure but has since been opened for public use.
Immediately after his inauguration, Makinde announced his first appointment, Chief Bisi Ilaka as his Chief of Staff. Subsequent appointments in his first month in office in chronological order of appointment are:
Prof. Sayed Hamzah Ayantunde Malik, Chairman of Muslim Pilgrims Board on May 30
Hon Busari Olayemi, Director General Oyo States Liaison office, Abuja on May 30
Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Chief Press Secretary on June 3
Ms. Tara Adefope, Director General, Due Process Office on June 7
Pastor Layi Adisa, Chaplain of the Government House on June 17
Pastor Emmanuel Folayemi Akanmu, Deputy Chaplain on June 17
Bishop Ademola Moradeyo, Chairman of the State’s Pilgrims Welfare Board (Christian Wing) on June 17
Miss Ololade Ajibola, Special Assistant on Special Duties on June 17
Mr Akeem Azeez, Personal Assistant I on June 17
Mr Samson Adejumo, Personal Assistant II on June 17
Hon. Olusegun Ogunwuyi, Executive Assistant on Investment on June 24
Dr Nureni Adeniran, Chairman of the State
Universal Basic Education Board, (SUBEB) on June 25
Mr. Aremo John Adeleke, Chairman, State Internal Revenue Board (SIRB) on June 25
Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye, Special Adviser on Political Matters on June 26
Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, Secretary to the State Government on June 28
By far the most controversial action of Governor Makinde since he took over the reins of government is the sacking of all Local Government Chairmen in the state on May 30. The action was rightly criticised as authoritarian and in breach of the constitution. The governor’s argument is that the council chairmen were elected in breach of a subsisting court order, and he was simply reversing an illegality.
The signals from Government House are that breaches of the law will not be tolerated. On May 31, Makinde proscribed the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Oyo State citing threats to the security of lives and property as the reason. There had been unrest caused by NURTW members in Ibadan because of a leadership tussle within the organisation. The ban is still subsisting and has been commended by many as sanity has been temporarily restored in the transportation sector in the state.
By the end of his first full week in office, Makinde had set up a Due Process Office and appointed Ms Tara Adefope as Director General signalling that in Oyo State, it will not be business as usual. At the same time, he was fulfilling a campaign promise to plug leakages in the state’s finances and run an open and transparent government.
Quality education as a priority was a major campaign promise by Makinde, and he has taken steps towards fulfilling his promise of prioritising the education sector in the past one month. In addition to cancelling the N3,000 school fees, he cancelled mid-term break for students in public schools. He did so because as a result of industrial action by teachers, students in public schools had only resumed after he was sworn in. He has also abolished N500 examination fees for all secondary schools in the state and declared education levy illegal.
However, there are reports that public schools are still charging some illegal levies and the government needs to look into these reports and sanction erring school administrators. Additionally, the government has to provide the funds needed to run these schools in a timely manner so that there is no reason for the school administrators to resort to illegal levies.
On June 11, Makinde again reiterated his administration’s readiness to improve the education sector by informing newly inaugurated Oyo State House of Assembly members that the budget for education will be increased to at least ten percent of the annual budget of the state. He also informed them of the first two executive bills from his administration for an anti-graft agency and a state investment promotion agency which would be presented once plenary resumed.
To buttress his readiness to fight corruption, Makinde promised to waive his immunity and submit himself to the state anti-graft agency if he was found wanting. While this is a commendable statement of accountability, it must be noted that immunity against prosecution for Governors as guaranteed by Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot be legally waived.
Although Oyo State had a low-key Democracy Day celebration on June 12, Makinde granted amnesty to thirty five prisoners to mark the day thus demonstrating his democratic credentials and empathy as a leader.
On June 21, Makinde inaugurated the State Advisory Council. Led by Senator Hosea Agboola, former Deputy Chief Whip, the Council is to advise on the implementation of development programmes and policies of the new administration. Other members of the Council are Barr. Sarafadeen Abiodun Alli, Rt. Hon. Mulika Akande Adeola, Chief Jacob Adetoro, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), Mr. Joseph Olaitan, Hon. Kamil Akinlabi, Senator Monsura Sunmonu, Chief Gboyega Laoye and Prof. Kolapo Hamzat. The governor reiterated that this is part of his administration’s plan to run an all-inclusive government across party lines. The move should help calm the roiling political waters in the state, and help soften opposition to Makinde’s more radical reforms.
Regional collaboration is a key component of the governor’s plans to reposition Oyo State as the pacesetter state. On June 25, Makinde hosted a security summit organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigerian (DAWN) Commission. It was attended by all six governors of the South West region and stakeholders. In his speech, Makinde outlined why a regional approach to tackling security issues was necessary and advocated community policing as a solution to the security issues bedevilling the region.
Although Makinde stated in his inauguration speech that the state’s finances could not cover the new minimum wage, he advocated an incremental increase until the state was in a better position financially. He promised that the state would in due course, pay the new minimum wage and even more than that. Civil servants who may have initially complained about the minimum wage issue have been bought over by the prompt payment of salaries by the new administration. In May, salaries were paid on the 30th and 31st and this month, salaries were paid on the 25th in keeping with Makinde’s campaign promise to pay salaries on the 25th of every month.
The announcement of the appointment of Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) on June 28 has been commended by many. Adeosun is the first female SSG in Oyo State. From his appointments, Makinde has already started fulfilling his campaign promises of inclusiveness in governance for youths and women. Unsurprisingly, being a technocrat himself, he has appointed technocrats into important positions.
The early steps of the new administration shows promise but there is a lot to be done in Oyo State for Makinde to fulfil his campaign promises and meet the expectations of the people of Oyo State who voted overwhelmingly for him. The next order of business has to be the constitution of an executive cabinet that will help implement his plans to lift Oyo out of poverty. The task ahead for the new Governor is a huge one, and he can ill afford to waste even a day.