Politics

Makinde not distracted by APC’s needless criticisms – Olatubosun

Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun is the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Oyo State. In this interview with SOLA ADEYEMO, he speaks on issues of governance in the state, among others. Excerpts:

Seyi Makinde recently said that he has been able to achieve within 16 months what the immediate past All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of late Abiola Ajimobi was able to achieve in eight years. Can you justify the claim?

Well, the opposition has the right to say what it likes because that is why it is called opposition. But to put the record straight and to confirm what Governor Seyi Makinde said, I wish to say that we have done a lot to surpass what the last administration claimed to have done in eight years.

We have four pillars which I will use to corroborate our position and then compare and contrast what we have done in the last 16 months and what they claimed they did. The four pillars are education, health, security and expansion of economy using agriculture and infrastructure. In the area of education, we promised free education up to secondary school, and during campaigns, we promised that the schools infrastructure and grants will not be affected.

We also promised that we will create a conducive environment for pupils and students to learn. And on May 29, 2019, when Governor Seyi Makinde was inaugurated, he proclaimed that all forms of levies should stop, and they stopped immediately. Up till now, no public school in Oyo State is collecting a dime from anybody.

When we started, the opposition said that we wouldn’t be able to sustain it. It is now over a year and we are able to sustain it. They said with the scrapping of fees, we won’t be able to give grants to schools and maintain security. We are proud to say that we pay grants to schools. During their time, even while collecting money, they could not provide infrastructure. If you went to many schools before we came in, you would have seen many schools with dilapidated infrastructure.

We have not done everything but we have started and have covered 1,000 schools, which have been rebuilt and rehabilitated and we have been giving out writing and reading materials. Apart from running free education, which is a populist programme, we also made past question compendiums for SS3 students, who wrote the last WAEC examinations.

We produced and gave it to all final year students in the state, both public and private because we want our rating to improve. To aid this further, we have tried to provide good and qualitative human capacity because we know we don’t have enough teachers. When we came in, we had in some schools, only three or four teachers. That is why we will soon bringing in teachers who have undergone examinations and interviews. The processes will be concluded by November.

Even during their first term, the free education they claimed they did, the state government did not provide any material. The local governments were mandated to provide big notes and exercise books that were distributed. They claimed they wanted to use the N3,000 fees being collected to build infrastructures.

Did you see anything they did to commensurate with that money? For their eight years, Oyo State took 27th position in WAEC and it remained like that till they left. What justification would they say such fees generated was utilised for? In the area of health, for their eight years, the past administration could not buy a single ambulance for our hospitals; but we have bought 10 ambulances within this short period.

Three of them are ICU equipmentcompliant. For eight years, they could not fix our hospitals. Even the equipment they rushed to procure at the twilight of their administration, were not fully paid for. When we stepped in, Governor Makinde agreed and paid the same amount to the contractor handling the Adeoyo State Hospital. Modern equipment was brought in and that place has been transformed.

All the road networks there have been tarred. We bought a brand new standby generator and we plan to replicate same to all our general hospitals. In fact we still have it in mind to pick one general hospital from each senatorial zone to uplift it to high standard. They had their free health issue sponsored by the state and local government, but in our case, the State solely sponsored it and we had got to 8 of 10 local governments before Covid 19 came, and we stopped. But up till now, we are still running free health services at the primary health level.

How about security, which has always been a recurring issue in the state?

On security, which is one thing they lay claim to as what they did, we have built on it and have even surpassed what they did. They are saying that what about the area boys? Throughout their 8 years tenure, the menace of area boys was there. But during this administration, we have been able to contain it. ‘One Million Boys’ group had been there for about 15 years and nothing was done because they believe they were making use of them for their elections. As far as we are concerned, it is the people that matters. We have been able to contain the One Million Boys’ menace.

How about expansion of the state’s economy; what specifically has the Makinde-led PDP administration done?

In the area of expansion of economy, throughout the eight years of the APC, our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) remained N1 billion. How do they now justify the fact that they were able to expand our state’s economy? In 2014, the last administration flagged off the Oluyole Free Trade Zone.

They said they were coning with a Chinese and two other companies. They spent money but what happened? In fact, no single block is on that land. On agriculture, what became of the project they launched in Iseyin? On infrastructure that they were shouting they built 85 to 90 per cent of infrastructure, they were financed by the local governments. If for eight years they dualized Dugbe-Onireke Road; Ayefele-Challenge; and that of Challenge-Orita, and for Oyo Town, Express-Owode; Owode-Aafin; for Iseyin, only the road that passes through Iseyin was done; and about one or two kilometres of road in Ogbomoso, it means those are the only roads completed. If you calculate all together, it is not more than 20 kilometres in eight years. It was during the twilight of the administration that they rushed to give the Iseyin-Moniya road to a contractor. For years, the Saki township dualisation was not completed, yet they paid about N4 billion on that road while the amount spent on the road was less than N1bn and they wanted to give it out for N8 billion. We are now giving it out for lesser the amount they awarded and that is to make sure that Oyo state people have the value for their money.

You can now see the comparison. There are things that are physical and those not. Impacting knowledge is not physical but if it is imparted on your children today, you are building a very strong future.

Governor Makinde has borrowed some funds to execute some physical infrastructural facilities to which the opposition said he is mortgaging the future of Oyo people. How do you react to that?

I have always told them that they do not have to be mischievous in their criticism. We had been in opposition before and I knew how we did it when I was in the forefront of opposition. I criticise constructively. We attach our own bonds to what we are using the bond for.

Are they saying that we do not need a railway corridor to build our economy and bring revenue to the state government? They are saying why are we spending money on the airport if it has been there for donkey years.

In Enugu, when the state waited for the Federal Government for several years and nothing was done, did the government not provide funds and upgraded it ditto for Cross River? If you look at the proximity of Ibadan to Lagos, you will see the comparative advantage of having Ibadan Airport upgraded to an international standard. At times when planes could not land at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport because of lack of space, they divert to Ghana to go and land, claiming that there was no nearby airport as alternative. If Ibadan Airport is upgraded from its local standard, would it not be of very good benefit for the state and even the passengers? When they were there for eight years, why didn’t they influence the Federal Government to do it as they are now criticising? Even, one of them who was a Senate Leader for four years, and is now there again, could not influence anything from the Aso Rock where he was part of the inner caucus.

We felt if we can do it, we will expand our economy; big planes will come there; people will make use of hotels in the state, and so on. And for the hospitals that we want to use the bond for, you will see that all the bonds are attached to the pillars we have set to expand our economy. If they are not being economical with the truth, you will see that the same time we proposed N100bn that their APC State, Ogun, proposed N250bn bond and the opposition did not see anything wrong in that. They could not remove the log in their own eyes while they labour to remove the speck from another person’s eyes.

As far as we are concerned, there is nothing bad in taking bond if it is meant for capital development. What is wrong to do is to get loan for recurrent expenditure to pay salary and all that.

Before the 2019 gubernatorial election, pensioners in the state claimed that the immediate past administration owed them up to about 15 months. Has Governor Makinde improved on this based on his campaign promise?

Yes, I will say. For the eight years of the past administration, they paid N1.7 billion as gratuity of the pensioners. For this period of less than two years of our administration, we have paid N5.6 billion as pension. Haven’t we surpassed them that way? The people we are doing this for are very happy ditto the civil servants who receive their salaries unfailingly on or before 25th of every month. The opposition may not see all these as achievements, but we are not bothered. We shall not be distracted by their needless criticisms.

 

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