An Open letter to the people of Oyo State

by Adewale T. Akande

Good day and compliment of the season to all my beloved people of Oyo State. If you could remember vividly, the State was formed on 3rd of February in 1976 by General Murtala Mohammed led military government, when old Western State was divided into Ogun, Ondo and Oyo States respectively. There was also a split of Osun State from Oyo State in 1991. The State is noted for its prominent historical and physical landmarks in art, science and culture associated within its jurisdiction. Nobody can match our warriors and forefathers army. Oyo state is the nucleus of all States in the South West zone of Nigeria. Do you want to talk of the first university in Nigeria founded in 1948 (became autonomous in 1962) or the first teaching hospital in Nigeria, or the first television station in Africa ( NTA, Ibadan) , or the first ever sports stadium built in Africa (Liberty) or the first sky-crapper built in Africa (Cocoa-House in Ibadan). The list is endless for the pace-setter of all States. A Yoruba adage says “Ajise bi Oyo la rii, Oyo ki se bi eniko’kan” which means that Oyo always set the pace and never copy others. All these were the foresight and achievements of our patriotic and extraordinarily hardworking founding fathers. Karl Maier also support this in his book “This house has fallen” when he said “There is a sense among the vast majority of Yoruba that they have always represented the progress spearhead in Nigeria society”

Meanwhile, if someone had to critically and objectively examine the activities of administration of Oyo State since 29th of May 1999 till the present regime that culminate to eleven years of democratic governance in the State, two important pressing issues would be noticed. These two issues are; the issue of good governance and problems in picking eligible candidates to contest for State elections within political parties during their primaries. That the truth is bitter is not a new cliché. Our elected leaders in government since last one decade have not been completely rendering their full responsibilities to the people voted them in power. The State is confronted with moral decay and economic paralysis thus making fundamental changes to become imperative. The people are fed up with lies and unfulfilled promises. These leaders are not exemplify the wish of our founding fathers. Our founding fathers want a State where its citizens are more valuable, more worthy of life and more certain of their future; they want our children to have best qualitative and functional education; they do not want us to live in darkness; they do not want us to live without water; they want the great majority to have access to basic health care and family planning services; they are very sensitive to the poductivity and quantity of the goods and services that a civil servant can produce for each hour of work; they believe that human beings have the ability to create ways to live better and even change the environment to suit their needs and wants; they do not want the masses to grow thinner and thinner like broom sticks or our children suffering from kwashiorkor; they do not want leaders who cannot make great sacrifices but prefer to live in opulence and wealth when those people voted them in power are in destitution; they do not want us to live without necessary social infrastructures that will reduce communal hardship on our children and even our rural and urban women making them less vulnerable to disease and squalor; they remembered the sad “wet e” episode and came up with the brightest idea of UPE education so that political thugs and touts would not hijack our society; The past have given us experiences and memories, that, what we are now expecting are set of leaders with ability, integrity and understanding of urgency to solve the social problems of the State. Leaders that will base their greatness on the services they render for good of the citizens than the property accumulated within shortest time. Experiences have shown according to Joseph Folmania that “poor leadership in good times can be hidden, but poor leadership in bad times is a recipe for disaster”.

Firstly, on the issues of good governance and accountability in the State, I have no political affilitation nor writing to criticise or vindicate anybody, but to inform our rulers, elders and those who have had opportunity to be in government of Oyo State before and now should know that the State deserve MORE than what its getting since eleven years ago. A good leader does not need up to three hundred and sixty-five days before starting to perform. The State has been developing at a very slow rate comparing with other neighbouring states (or up-North) in few years considering the fact that we are so blessed with some of the best human and materials resources in the country. The State is now regarded as one the least developed in the country. Less developed society always remain poor. The main advantages of good governance which are free, qualitative and functional education, good health services in all the cities, food security, employment opportunities in well industrialized cities, regular supply of drinking tap-water, good roads network linking all cities with a reliable and effective bus-transit management, adequate security to protect the lives and property of its citizenry, undisrupted electricity supply, low-cost housing estates and housing loans for low-income earners, social security packages for handicapped or person’s with disabilities, street and traffic lights, public libaries, public tap-water, public toilets, public phone boots, information centres, and other social infrastructures are nothing to write home about in the State. All inherited infrastructures are in shambles. Naturally, people will not fail to pay their taxes when they are enjoying these facilities. If all these facilities of good governance are not carried out accordingly due to rulers greediness and incompetency, it will eventually accumulate for succeeding generations and lead to bigger problems down the road. We can never “wipe-out” poverty if those listed above juices of good governance, leadership responsibility and accountability are not available in a society. Democracy is “government of the people, by the people and for the people” according to the great Abraham Lincoln. What we are now witnessing in our society is “government of some people by some people and for some people”.

On the issue of education. Everyone wants youths to make a successful transition from childhood to adulthood but education has not been giving deserved priority. Education has the effect of shortening the effort which a person must expand to catch up on the advancement of civilization. The State education refused to be competitive, qualitative and functional for the past one decade talk less of being in line with the provisions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and tenets of Education For All (CFA). The State educational system is weak and chaotic. Most of our graduates from tertiary institutions are “half-backed” due to the nonchalant attitude of the government to provide formidable educational system that can facilitate national transformation and global competitiveness. There have been persistent poor performances of the State students in WAEC, NECO and JAMB examinations every year because the government have not taken education with much concern it deserves. What is the essence of relieving parents to pay for their children WAEC exams fees, if the end results will not be justified? These parents are to pay more than double money for their children re-taking these same exams even without probability of success as they are out of school. The Voluntary Supervisors Monitoring Scheme is not the only solution to low standard problems.. The solutions are very simple; Since teaching is a commitment to making difference in children’s lives in becoming leaders of tomorrow, therefore all teachers salaries (s

cale) and outstanding welfare packages agreed on should be accepted and be paid promptly on the first day of the new month and not on the forty-two of the following month as usual. Motivated employees are more committed, more productive and more quality oriented to their jobs. The students are to suffer for the teachers strike action in the long run. The State Ministry of Education should make it compulsory for all public and private schools in the State to operate well equipped libraries and must make an “order” to ban pupils roaming on the streets during the school hours. There must be cordial relation between the PTA Associations and the school teachers for effective monitoring of the kids conduct and performances. Personal and current contacts of each parent must be established, reviewed and documented. The must be weekly reports of student’s conduct which have to be sent directly to all parents. All the 33 local governments in the State should have well-equipped public libraries within their compound or to be constructed within its jurisdiction area. The state Ministry of Education and schools in collaboration with notable industries and corporate bodies in the state should be organising quarterly debates, quiz, games and literary competitions which will attract considerable awards, prizes and certificates for those outstanding students and this must be televised and reported on the State television/radio and newspapers. Another best way of learning is for our schools to embark on frequent excursions which have to be subsidized by the government to important places that will help children cognitive development through their interactions with environment according to Piaget theory. I would never forget what an excursion organised by my old public primary school to International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have done to my life. There should be reintroduction of inter-house sports and inter-city sport competitions among schools in the State for extra curricula activities. All these activities develop kids creatively, educationally and socially making them to function very well in a democratic society. Devils seek the idle hands. These kids will fill up the existing posts in the future. We should not forget that poverty leads to corruption, disruption of family relations and social life, causing rising crime rate among other vices. Functional and qualitative education is the only solution to poverty. The more educated people are the less they are prone to illness and squalor.

Modern transportation system conquers distances and natural barriers. Effective, available and accessible transportation is an improvement to the quality of life in any community regardless of size and location. On roads facelift and transportation, kudos have to be given to the present government on the present rehabilitation and construction of roads in the city. I will implore the government to extend this laudable project to all the bad roads in the cities, towns and villages of Oyo State .This project is half-concluded without erecting of more street lights, street naming and roads direction boards, modern bus-stops, footpath (sidewalk) and good drainage system. The government should know that if these roads are not given good and effective maintenance, all the huge investment will be a waste. Believe this, a car can be on the road for fourteen years without changing a tyre where there are good roads. It is very possible. I have seen that in Europe and it can work anywhere. The government should seek for innovative solutions to transportation problems. Without doubt, those taxis cabs bought by the present government cannot serve all the low income earners or alleviate the suffering of our people in the State. I do not remember when last my mother took a taxi cab. The State is growing in population and there is urgent need for new and expanded community transportation alternatives. The best way to touch people lives at the grass-root level in moving from one area to the other is by providing standard public buses services to ply all the cities and villages as low income individuals reside in rural areas. This will render services to students (students in school uniform should be free of charge), peasants, high-low income earners, all government workers as well as person’s with disabilities which cannot be denied full access to public transportation facilities. The Bus-Transit System should be controlled by experienced and effective management board. On March 2-5, this year, I was opportuned to be invited to the first Lagos State Transport Management Conference held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island and when I spoke with the Governor’s Special Adviser on Transportation, and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (who happened to be my hall mate –Mellamby-at the University of Ibadan in the 80s), you will see that these determined young men are bubbling with energy, creative and innovative ideas to rewrite the history of Lagos State. As traffic is another major cause of death and injury in cities and towns,the new Road Traffic Management Authority is another welcome idea if they can embark on road safety enlightement programmes for nursery/primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state, provides courses of instructions, training and public awareness on road safety causes, effects and prevention of road accidents to drivers, provide First-Aid Emergency Units in towns with Ambulances and Emergency phone numbers for all citizens amongst other reasons for its creation. It is high time to resolve the issues of the NURTW imbroglio, taxi cabs (and kabukabu) identity and proper registration and a beffiting State identity colour. Government should provide public parkings for cars and motorcycles to reduce traffic-jam and illegal parking in the cities.

Meanwhile, think of the many comforts and conveniences possible with regular water and electricity supply to satisfy the essence of our living. Electricity use is in nearly every home and all living things depend on water. The average person in the cities may use 200 litres (about 50 gallons) of water or more for their personal needs each day. The result of irregular and epileptic power supply have adverse effect on standard of living and quality of life of the citizens. It is very disheartening not to have a regular clean and safe drinking pipe-born water despite all monies spent on rehabilitations and facelift of existing treatment plants at Eleyele, Asejire and Osegere water works and regular fund given by the African Development Bank (ADB) . Without regular supply of electricity, there can never be meaningful industrialisation. Every sucesisve government keep on promising to find solutions to electricity failure with huge amount of money but nothing came out of it. We are still having undisrupted electricity supply despite the promises to enter agreement with private independent power providers to supply 30 megawatts in addition to PHCN supplies. If two billion naira was budgeted and spent this year on rural electrification, how much is going to be spent on megawatts to have light? Few people now rely on “I better pass my neighbour” electric generating machine that endanger our health with air and noise pollution.

Food, Agriculture and Industries: Agriculture used to be the main occupation of the people of Oyo State. The state is endowed with natural resources in which are not well-tapped. Have we fully utilize our mineral resources such as granite, marble, limestone, talc, red clay, aquamarine, sand, kaolin, gravel ? What are we doing with Cocoa, Cashewnut, Kolanut,Citrus fruits, Palm ,Rubber on the forest zones of Ibadan / Ibarapa, Yam, Cassava, Maize,Rice, Millet on the savannah areas of the state (Oyo, Oyo North and Ogbomoso) and Oranges and Pineapples which are predominantly in Afijio, Ibarapa and Oluyole local governments respectively? The State government can make more revenue in lumbering industry with our God –given quality trees like Iroko, Afara, Mahogany

, Omoh, Ayunre,Melina, Araba, Ita, Opeke, Obeche and so on. A state will remain poor in spite of her resources, if her leaders cannot organize these resources at their disposal for efficient and effective productive purposes. The State is the land of a food basket, but there is no food security, despite all money spent on agricultural tractors and fertilizers every year. Pepper “nigrum” (atarodo) was as expensive as gold in March when distributing lorry drivers from North were on strike. Are we saying a mechanized farming cannot solve this problem? There should be a renewed and integrated effort towards the industrialization of our beloved State if our effort to alleviate poverty is to be realised. We need to create a conducive environment to boost international trade and launch our natural resources to the world. The only things we are seeing here is “buying and selling” . In the last nine years, none of our successive rulers in the State deem it fit to prepare a location and construct one or two very big commercial centres in Ibadan, the State capital and the one of the most urbanized cities in Nigeria. Instead, all the lands have been sold to either an influential traditional or religious leader or shared between themselves. On a rainy day, you dare not to go to Akesan market in Oyo, Oja ‘gbo and Oja Akangbe in Ogbomoso, Sango market in Saki, Anko market in Eruwa, Maya market in Lanlate, Towobowo market in Igbo-ora, Bodija and Sango markets in Ibadan because of the messy ground. The tolls and shops rates collected in a year is enough to make necessary rehabilitation of those mentioned markets if these leaders are sincere and feel for those who voted them in power.

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