Corrupt, Indolent and Profligate Oyo State House of Assembly

by Abiodun Ladepo

It would have been hilarious were it not true that members of the Oyo State House of Assembly took their spouses on a junket through the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (U.S.) on tax payers’ backs. Funnier still would it have been had it not also been true that upon their return, the House adopted a resolution that suggested to the state government that it ought to consider naming and sign-posting streets in major cities, as well as installing cameras on the roads in metropolitan Ibadan. Nothing was said about the roads in Ogbomoso, Oyo, Saki and Lanlate, and so on. It must be that the dishonorable members did not consider other towns and cities worthy of their citizens being watched on “candid camera”.

We must believe that prior to this trip, no member of the House, or their spouses, ever visited Europe, Asia, the Middle East, or North America (or even South Africa, Egypt, and Tunisia), where major streets had been marked by visible sign posts since before Nigeria secured independence. We must also believe that nobody in the Ajimobi administration (forget that the governor himself lived in the U.S. for a while) ever saw a movie made in any of the areas listed above, in which streets were duly labeled and the efficiency of cameras on the streets were extolled.

Say, help me understand why it took millions of tax payers’ money, an unparalleled waste of more time of the already indolent legislators, and an unabashed insult on the rest of us with the announcement that street labeling and cameras are the next most important things the government ought to tackle, before government knew it. I had thought that once that satanically evil and semi-illiterate Adebayo Alao-Akala left office and the angelic and literate Abiola Ajimobi took over, white elephant projects would give way to constructive governance. How wrong was I! We chastised and castigated Alao-Akala for awarding contracts worth billions of naira to the family of the late Lamidi Adedibu for the “renovation” and “beautification” of Mapo Hall in Ibadan – a project that only served to expose Alao-Akala’s capacity for financial depravity. Today, we have Ajimobi beautifying roundabouts (traffic circles, for readers in the U.S.) with flowers and designer bricks when roads leading to those roundabouts are nearly impassable.

Tell me; if we went ahead and installed cameras all around the state capital, how do we intend to keep them working? Batteries? Solar energy? Generators? Kerosene? Diesel? Petrol? Palm oil? Or our patently unreliable PHCN? How do we maintain the recordings provided by those cameras? How do we retrieve the recordings? Don’t get me wrong, I know the benefits accruable to a society that installs a network of functioning cameras on its public roads. One benefit that readily comes to mind is the help that such cameras provide law enforcement agents in investigating crimes. Investigators can quickly identify criminals fleeing from scenes of crimes by viewing the recordings. But in a country where people drive with impunity vehicles whose license plates are expired; where such license plates, when not expired, are probably forged; where if not forged, license plates belong to owners who do not have valid driver’s licenses; where if owners have valid driver’s licenses, their home addresses are usually not traceable; how does a camera help the police? In a country where the police officers are so irredeemably corrupt such that even if the camera catches a criminal red-handedly, he can pay off the police officer, what is the usefulness of the camera?

If Ajimobi buys into this nonsense and awards a contract for the importation of cameras, he will be conniving with brazen vandals festooned in the toga of legislators, who, in their morbid quest to fleece Oyo State to death, will conjure any scheme regardless of its relevance to the lives of ordinary people. And in my humble opinion, Ajimobi will then be no better than Alao-Akala, the man whom former governor Omololu Olunloyo recently (and rightly so) described as having occupied the governorship post that was “several miles above his qualification”.

This is not to say, by any means, that the idea of sign-posting streets and installing cameras are totally insane. They are not. I just know that it should not have taken an entire Legislature and their spouses those trips to the U.K. and the U.S. before spawning such ideas. I also know that good as the ideas may be, they should be further down the list on Ajimobi’s governing Scale of Preference.

It just couldn’t be that cameras and sign posts were the only novelties that caught the eyes of our “legislative ambassadors”. While they cavorted with their spouses and concubines in London, they probably noticed that the highways and roads there were all paved and the lanes well-delineated. They must have noticed that streets had trash cans for the ready use of passers-bys. They must have noticed that the buildings were well-planned out; small as they might be, compared to homes in Nigeria and the U.S., they still were recognizable as homes and duly numbered. They must have noticed the absence of 10-feet high brick fences with concertina wire atop to prevent burglars and armed robbers at those homes. I doubt that they heard the cacophony of electric power generators anywhere they visited. I am sure they noticed that when they turned the faucet, potable water came out. I know that wherever they went, there were public toilets available for them free of charge. And when they got to Atlanta in the U.S., I am sure they witnessed even more orderliness. I am sure they knew that all those “goodies” that made them want to visit London and Atlanta did not just fall from heaven; otherwise they might have fallen on Ibadan, Ogbomoso, Oyo, or Igbeti. I am sure they knew that human beings like them – some older, many younger – sat down to plan how their cities and communities would look. I am sure they knew that legislators in the U.S. and the UK dared not take their spouses on such foolish trips en masse and at the expense of the tax payer. But ours is a society where there is no accountability; where people see public office as an entitlement and an authorized conduit for self-enrichment.

Before they flew out of Nigeria, our “legislative rascals” knew that in Oyo State, we still had leaky roofs above many of our elementary and secondary schools. They knew that we still had whole communities that could only be reached, at best, by Okada. We still had a non-functioning Water Corporation that had not been able to lay new water pipes for over 30 years, and had not been able to figure out how to supply water to Felele and Oluyole Estate areas, among others. (Note that the late Lam Adesina’s personal house is located in Felele and Ajimobi’s is located in Oluyole Estate!) They knew that we had a comatose Works ministry that presided over dilapidated heavy machines collecting dusts all around the state. Yet they took the trip and returned with the lame resolution about cameras and street names.

My angst with a succession of Oyo State governors is that they settle for the small, the minute, the easy, and the mediocre. Our state now shamefully, almost exclusively, relies on subventions from the Federal government in order to carry out basic functions such as payment of salaries and emoluments. Our state, like many other states (with the possible exception of Lagos), now depends on oil money doled out from Abuja. So, the next time the Niger-Delta militants unleash mayhem and hold Nigeria’s crude oil earnings hostage, people in Ibarapa and Lanlate can kiss their salaries goodbye. There is, at best, only a pedestrian attempt to generate revenues from within the state. Is there an “Industrial Estate” anywhere in Oyo State – I mean, a designated locale where plastic is manufactured, aluminum is f

orged, milk is condensed, or juice is bottled? Forget about the old Leyland Motors where trucks used to be assembled. Places as such have left Oyo State and it seems no governor has cared. These are places that ought to provide employment for the thousands of polytechnic and university graduates perennially churned out by the state. What have successive governors of Oyo State learned through their proximity to Lagos State? Nothing. All they have done is fill their respective cabinets with political acolytes or relatives, even if those people were neophytes. All they have done is award spurious contracts for projects that are of little or no benefit to the governed.

Maladministration in all facets of governnance has actually been the bane of Nigeria as a country since the end of the Muritala.Obasanjo military era. Governments no longer do big, innovative things. No new railroad tracks have been laid since before independence. My Ijebu friends, my Ijesa friends, my Ekiti friends, my Ondo friends, and a host of my Igbo friends still cannot take the train home from Lagos because train tracks have not made their way to their towns. As much as we play football in Nigeria, we have not built a single world-class stadium. Our Murtala Muhammed International Airport is worse looking than the Bangkok International Airport in Thailand. We took Nigeria Airways off the air and now travel at the mercy of other countries’ airlines. Even our governors are flown oversees for emergency medical treatments because our hitherto respectable teaching hospitals have become places you go to die.

I fully understand that there are three tiers of government – Executive, Judiciary, and Legislature – and that Ajimobi might not have been able to prevent the Oyo State Speaker from championing that profligate, time and energy-wasting trip. But it is incumbent upon him, as the Chief Executive of the so-called pace-setter state, to wield his moral authority, and indeed his moral obligation, by coming out in the open to condemn such wastage. If he does not have any skeletons in his cupboard, about which the House could blackmail him, he should display the courage expected of a real leader by going on record to lambast the worthless jamboree undertaken by the House. If he couldn’t prevent the trip that has already been taken, he could, at least, prick the conscience of the legislators (if they have any) and cause them to shelve any such fiduciary summersault planned for the future. Courage like this is the stuff of which great leaders are made. Courage like this makes the difference between an Alao-Akala and an Ajimobi. Sadly though, they both now seem to me to be different sides of the same coin.

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1 comment

Aderogba January 28, 2013 - 2:07 pm

Even worse, is a sitaution now where Alao Akala is proving to be more of a leader than Ajimobi. Expecting Ajimobi to ‘prick the conscience’ of the legislooters is like expecting it to snow in Nigeria. He is the head looter of them all.


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