For Governor Abiola Ajimobi, the passion for the transformation of Oyo State has been the driving force since 2011 when he assumed office. No wonder that he has been able to take the state out of the woods and restore the fading pacesetting glory, which used to be its pride. Even the political adversaries of the governor cannot but agree that he has upped the ante of governance from its hitherto pedestrian level. To the citizens, Oyo State has never had it so good, especially in terms of good governance and infrastructural revolution
Besides, Governor Ajimobi has succeeded in challenging the status quo and put paid to the culture of impunity and entitlement mentality. For him, the meagre resources available to the state should not end up in the pockets of the few parasitic individuals but rather, must be channelled towards the development of the state. The governor has kept faith with this stance and the state has been better for it, notwithstanding the antics of the opposition and the ranting of the mischievous.
No doubt, the road had been tortuous, especially against the backdrop of what Ajimobi inherited on assumption of office in 2011, which was simply a state of anomie. The situation in Oyo State then could be likened to the Hobbesian state of nature where life was brutish, nasty and short. Murder, brigandage, rape, arson and wanton destruction of property were the order of the day and the state then had the unenviable tag of a garrison. Pronto, Ajimobi introduced what he called pyramid of development, the fulcrum of which was peace and security. Through this, normalcy was restored in a state which had hitherto been held hostage by motor park overlords, political jobbers and touts who, at that time, were veritable instruments in the hands of political merchants.
This was quickly followed with the establishment of a joint security outfit codenamed ‘Operation Burst’ which was equipped with state-of-the-art communication equipment, a fleet of patrol vans and armoured personnel carriers to enhance its operational efficiency. The governor moved a step further by floating a Security Trust Fund through which stakeholders were brought in to partner the government in raising fund for the security of life and property of the citizens. These efforts have, no doubt, yielded a result, as no major crime, robbery or brigandage had been recorded in the state in the last seven years. It should be stated here that the speed at which the nefarious activities of a group of outlaws, which styled itself `One million boys,’ was crushed is a further attestation to the effectiveness of the security arrangement put in place by the governor.
Part of what the Ajimobi-led administration inherited in 2011 was a dirty state capital. Indeed, Ibadan had the renown of one of the dirtiest cities in the country owing to indiscriminate dumping of refuse by the residents. Besides, the city lacked a clear-cut solid waste management policy, while it constantly suffered environmental hazard and degradation. Aside from cleaning up the city, the governor embarked on a comprehensive urban renewal and physical infrastructure development programmes. Also, in order to restore sanity to ever-growing Ibadan city and make it truly modern, the governor inaugurated the master plan for the city, in conjunction with the World Bank. This was complemented with the floating of Bureau of Physical Planning and Development Control with the sole responsibility of checking indiscriminate erection of structures in Ibadan metropolis. Part of the urban renewal programme of the Ajimobi-led administration was the construction of two ultra-modern motor parks at Temidire and Podo areas of Ibadan as well as the provision of 100 heavily-subsidized luxury buses for intra-city transport service in Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Iseyin, Saki and Igboora.
piqued by the poor road network in the state, Ajimobi embarked on the dualization of some major roads in Ibadan metropolis, including Challenge-New Garage-Toll Gate Interchange and Onireke-Jericho-Aleshinloye-Dugbe-Agbarigo Road. While the Eleyele-Ologuneru-Eruwa road is nearing completion, the dualization of Idi-Ape-Basorun-Akobo-Odogbo Barracks Junction Road; Gate-Old Ife Road-Alakia, as well as the expansion of Oke Adu-Iwo Road are ongoing. The road dualization projects are not limited to the state capital, as township roads in Oyo, Ogbomoso and Iseyin have also had their first ever dualized roads, while work on the Saki township road dualization has reached an advanced stage. The drive towards making Ibadan a mega city has also made the governor to construct the Mokola flyover, the first to be done by any civilian administration in the state, as well as to revive the Ibadan Circular Road which had, for 15 years, remained a dream under his predecessors. The first phase of the project, awarded to ENL Consortium Limited at the cost of N70bn, under a build-operate-and-transfer arrangement, is moving on steadily. Suffice to add that the project is being financed by the contractor through a facility sourced from the China Exim Bank. When completed, the road will decongest Ibadan city, enhance its aesthetics and commercial value.
Ibadan urban flood management initiative is another programme of the Ajimobi-led administration that has received wide applause. Targeted at forestalling the recurrence of the August 26, 2011 flooding, which consumed many lives and property, the programme has ensured massive dredging of river channels and desilting of drainages. These efforts have since saved Ibadan and its environs from flooding. Similarly, the perennial water shortage, which the residents of Ibadan had been experiencing, triggered the governor to carry out a wholesale rehabilitation of Asejire Waterworks, which had been abandoned by successive administrations for 17 years. Only recently, the governor flagged off the rehabilitation works on the Eleyele Dam, which had been badly hit by the 2011 flood disaster, leading to its overflow as well as degradation of the appurtenant structures. The incident had caused one of the two functional values of the dam, which was meant to curtail flooding during high flow periods through its reservoir holding capacity, to be compromised. The project, which is in conjunction with the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project of the World Bank, will put a permanent paid to the long-standing history of flooding in Ibadan metropolis when completed.
Under the Ajimobi-led administration, Ibadan is now an attractive investors’ destination, judging by the number of blue-chip companies that have berthed in the city Ibadan owing to its ambience and aesthetics, which was made possible by the urban renewal efforts. For emphasis, no fewer than 36 new companies had been attracted to the state in the last seven years, with close to 4,000 direct employees, according to figures obtained from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. Furthermore, the state has been rated as the fifth most investment-friendly state by the National Bureau of Statistics, with Ajimobi being hailed for attracting more than $61m (N22.4bn) foreign direct investment to the state so far. The acquisition of a large expanse of land on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway for the Polaris-Pacesetter Free Trade Zone and an Industrial Park is also a demonstration of the Ajimobi-led administration’s relentless efforts at industrializing the state.
The education sector has also received the desired attention from the governor, particularly with the floating of Education Trust Fund, as a public-private partnership through which stakeholders are expected to collaborate to improve service delivery and boost the standard of education in the state. This is aside the establishment of the Oyo State Model Education System Initiative (OYOMESI) which seeks to inculcate moral values in students, as well as the School Governing Board (SGB) policy, which is a participatory model that brings together all stakeholders in the education system for the management of public secondary schools in the state. Through this policy, more than N2bn had been injected into the state’s education sector in the last one year, leading to improved infrastructure in the schools. The resounding success of the SGB has now made a masterstroke policy that is being studied by other states in the South-West zone as a template for participatory management of public schools.
he health sector is also not neglected in the Ajimobi revolution, with the governor floating a N50bn Health Endowment Fund, as well as the introduction of Health Insurance Scheme, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria. With registration fee pegged at only N200 and a monthly premium fee of N650, participants are guaranteed treatment for any ailment in public health facilities across the state. However, it remains free for children under age 5 and pregnant women. The recent launch of the Oyo State five-year cancer control strategic plan, aimed at reducing cancer-related incidence and mortality, has also attracted plaudits to the Ajimobi-led administration. That the Kaduna State government sent a powerful eight-member delegation to understudy Oyo’s health insurance scheme is enough testament to its novelty and success.
As Ajimobi marks his seventh anniversary of purposeful governance, there is no gainsaying the fact that the governor has etched his name in gold as the father and builder of modern Oyo State. And no doubt, history will be kind to him for being the vanguard of good governance and infrastructural revolution in the state