Governor Seyi Makinde And The 39 Kininhuns By Morohunkola Thomas
Seyi Makinde FNSE emerged as Governor of Oyo State in 2019 against all odds. He had thrown himself into the political space in 2002 as a member of the Fortune Group that joined forces with others to ensure the enthronement of the Rashidi Ladoja governorship in Oyo State in 2003. Between 2002 and 2019, Seyi Makinde had spent 17 solid years in the political wilderness learning to fight for his political survival within the political space where all kinds of dangerous and desperate actors including those that I have christened as the 39 kininhuns (lions) who are basically Machiavellian in their approach to the struggle for political power are operating. In 2007, Makinde sought to run for the Oyo South Senatorial seat on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) same platform where the late erudite Governor Abiola Ajimobi first ran for the governorship seat in the same year.
The intimidation and harassment which Makinde received from his opponents among who were some of the lions was quite high. The opponents had local and federal backing but Makinde stood his ground while the contest for the seat lasted.
The above narrative is an attempt to show that one critical lesson which Governor Makinde learnt early in his political journey is that the struggle for power is not a dinner party. In 2019, he faced the strongest opposition ever in his political career. His major opponent had a very solid structure backed by the power of incumbency at the disposal of the then ruling party, the APC that was spending its 8th year in office. Using evidence-based strategic approach, Makinde was favoured by the electorates over and above the party in government.
I also believe he got one factor which his opponent did not get at that election: God’s grace. Now that Makinde is rounding up his first term in office, the pertinent question to ask is what has he done with the mandate given to him in 2019. Because the powerful political animals never expected Engineer Makinde to win, they quickly put in place the structure that will frustrate him and push for the destabilisation of his government.
As soon as he was sworn in, the 39 Kininhuns started their activities by hiring a gang of politically inexperienced but IT savvy e-rats. Their assignment was to assail Makinde and his government at any given opportunity. These individuals dominated the social media space for quite some time.
The Governor was given several names but two are more prominent: inarobo and voicemail governor. The policies of his administration were severely criticised. At a point in time, it was decided that it would be good to tag Makinde’s administration as incapable of providing security for the state. The desperate lions were alleged to be sponsoring some elements in the inner city to disturb the peace of the area. The efforts of the juvenile writers seemed to have yielded no positive effect as the Governor tactically ignored them and was going on with his programme of action using a populist approach.
Nevertheless, the detractors of the Governor did not give up. They used every available opportunity to bark at the administration and sometimes gnash their teeth at the governor. The issue of the sacked local government chairmen and councillors was taken up to the Supreme Court. One of the kinnihuns who is desperate to unseat Governor Makinde deceived the ex- council helmsmen urging them to go and forcefully take over their former offices after taking them to the Police Headquarters in Abuja.
They also sought to use the transition of some notable traditional rulers as an opportunity to foment trouble. It is interesting that rather than bark back at his detractors, Governor Seyi Makinde handled his opponents’ tantrums with equanimity.It is noteworthy that in his first term in office, Makinde has instituted processes that can guarantee accelerated development in the state.
In the field of education, his ability to make Oyo State the sole owner of LAUTECH and establishing a campus in Oke-Ogun is a monumental achievement. The reduction of tuition fees in all Oyo State tertiary institutions, the cancellation of school fees at the secondary school level leading to an unprecedented surge in students enrolment , the recruitment of several thousands of teaching and non-teaching staff, the prompt payment of teachers salaries and release of promotion letters for teachers coupled with the construction of new classrooms and the provision of furniture as well as the upgrading of the Emmanuel Alayande College to the status of the University of Education have combined to restore the lost glory of education in Oyo State.
In the health sector, Makinde proved his mettle. Apart from the recruitment of hundreds of medical and health care workers, several health missions that brought healthcare services to the doorsteps of the citizens were undertaken. In addition, the government provided primary health care centres to over 200 wards.
These centres were fully equipped and adequately staffed.
The nation will not forget in a hurry the way Governor Makinde handled the response to the Covid19 pandemic. His approach that saved the people from economic strangulation became the model adopted by the Federal Government.
Makinde’s achievements in the area of sports development will remain evergreen in the memory of Oyo State people for decades to come. The complete rehabilitation of the Lekan Salami Stadium, the huge success recorded by the State athletes at the 2022 National Sports Festival and the promotion of the Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) to the elite league are great achievements that are the outcome of hard and painstaking work. The youths are expected to acknowledge these efforts with their votes on 11th March 2023.
Oyo State accelerated development programme was heavily propelled by Governor Makinde’s strategic approach to road construction and rehabilitation. Apart from the massive road construction embarked upon in Ibadanland, his approach was to link all the geo-political zones through the construction of new roads, and reconstruction and rehabilitation of existing ones.
This is promoting economic integration and development in the state. No zone is left untouched in this Makinde Road Revolution.
It is noteworthy that even road contracts awarded to some of the detractors and left undone were eventually undertaken and completed by Makinde. An example is the Moniya – Iseyin Road reconstruction. The junction improvement programme which has been seriously criticised by the opposition represents a great example of the modernisation of road transportation. The work undertaken at the Challenge Ibadan interchange manifests the deployment of accurate engineering knowledge and it is highly commendable.
Similarly, the construction of bus terminals in Challenge, Iwo Road and Ojoo which is a feature of modern transportation system as exemplified by the Victoria Bus Station in London and the Oshodi Bus Terminals in Lagos is a major contribution to the economic development of Oyo State. It is a pity that some of the leading detractors failed to understand the economic decision behind the construction of these bus terminals. Their criticism of these efforts betrayed the jaundiced knowledge they have about the role of efficient road transportation system in economic development.
One noteworthy fact in the execution of the construction projects is the patronage which many local contractors have received bringing an end to the era of faceless Chinese contractors.
What Makinde has achieved with the welfare of civil servants, public servants, teachers and pensioners in the past 44 months is awesome. Regular payment of salaries, pensions, gratuities and leave bonuses as well as the payment of 13th month salaries for 4 years consecutively are remarkable achievements especially in a state where salaries were owed at one time for 8 months and gratuities and pensions unpaid for years in the recent past.
Furthermore, many states of the federation have defaulted in meeting the basic obligation of upholding workers’ welfare. The regular payment of the wage bill has contributed tremendously to the accelerated socio-economic development of the state. In addition, a number of workers who were sacked for one reason or the other in the past years were reabsorbed into the service while no worker has been laid off in the past 44 months.
Governor Seyi Makinde has also done well in some other areas of governance. In the area of security, the establishment of the Amotekun Corps which is contributing to the maintenance of security of lives and property in the state is commendable.
Similarly, the establishment of new Mobile Police Squadron posts, the reinvigoration of the Operation Bursts, the provision of patrol vehicles, the establishment of the Rapid Response Unit of the Police with a special number and the establishment of an efficient CCTV system have all combined to provide a security architecture that makes the state safe in the face of a national security management crisis. The establishment of the farm estate in Fashola and the promotion of agribusiness are quite commendable.
The establishment of various government reservation areas has contributed to the development of real estate business and the provision of modern housing to the population.
Finally, Seyi Makinde’s administration has managed to avoid any major scandal that could jeopardise the chances of the Governor in his bid for a second term in office.
Many observers are of the opinion that based on the excellent performance of Engr Seyi Makinde as Governor of Oyo State he should face no serious opposition in the next governorship election. Some are even expressing the view that his opponents shouldn’t waste their resources contesting against him. These opinions are legitimate but not scientific.
The 39 Kininhuns will not go down without a good fight. I foresee a coalition of smaller political parties made up of politically aggrieved people coming together to fight Makinde at the election.
If the Governor continues to use evidence- based strategies in his campaigns and other preparations for the election, it is certain that he will mercilessly inflict great defeat on his opponents.
The Omituntun Team must see it as a duty to continue to embrace scientific data as they strategically market the Governor to the good people of Oyo State in preparation for the March 11 electoral battle for the Agodi Government House.
It is expected that the people will reciprocate the various lofty policies the Makinde administration has put in place as one good term deserves another.
With the support of the people, the 39 Kininhuns will be led back to the political zoo where they rightly belong.
Morohunkola Thomas, a three-time Commissioner is an Ibadan-based legal practitioner and political consultant.