By Bolaji Tunji
By the time the administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State ends on May 29, 2019, one thing would have become clear: Here was a governor that came and made a difference in the lives of the people, in rapid infrastructural renewal; who gave governance a new name and established a legacy of moving Oyo from a traditional society, to a modern one.
Significantly, most of the rapid developments being witnessed in the state are of international standards.
The state, under the watch of Ajimobi, has witnessed unparalleled road construction – moving from the construction of narrow, single carriage roads to well-paved, dual carriage ways. Under the watch of this astute administrator, workers now have cause to smile.
There is no more delay in the payment of salaries. They had received the 13th month salary for three consecutive years, pension arrears were paid, and they were given car loans, which incidentally were increased from N200, 000 to N500, 000. Housing loan was increased from N1m to N2m; civil servants were sponsored for international training, among many other outstanding landmarks. Workers have never had it so good.
But of more impact is the administration’s intervention in areas of urban and infrastructural renewal. Other administrations had come and paid lip-service to the construction of flyovers in strategic locations in the capital city, Ibadan. They never did until Ajimobi became governor. One of the longest overhead bridges was then constructed in the strategic Mokola area, thus reducing traffic lock down in that part of the city. Other major roads constructed under the watch of the man Oyo state people have started calling, ‘The Builder’, ‘Game Changer’, ‘Pathfinder’ include Challenge- Aleshinloye-Dugbe-Eleyele roads.
Still on road construction, the Ajimobi administration also achieved a first. It became the first administration to dualize roads in each of the zones in the state. Major towns and zones like Oyo, Ogbomoso, Iseyin, Ibarapa, Saki, etc are beneficiaries.
To tackle the environment and remove the tag of the dirtiest city in Nigeria from Ibadan, Ajimobi established the Bureau of Physical Planning and Development Control. Refuse Disposal Vehicles were purchased while the Solid Waste Management system was restructured.
Ibadan is today better for the effort. In transportation management, buses were provided for mass transportation at subsidized cost, free bus services were also provided for students and workers. Concerned about access to clean water, the Ajimobi administration embarked upon massive rehabilitation of the state’s water supply scheme. Thus, water works in Eleyele and Asejire in Ibadan, Iganna, Ayete and Ogbomoso became beneficiaries of the rehabilitation.
As part of his transformation strategy, he realized that education and technological developments are important components. This led to the establishment of the Schools Governing Board in all the 628 public secondary schools, cancellation of automatic promotion, introduction of Oyo State Model Education System Intervention (OYOMESI). The massive investment in education paid off. Oyo recorded the best result in 18 years in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Health care equally received a boost with the introduction of N50billion Health Endowment Fund. This was done with the upgrade of health facilities in mind. Health Insurance scheme was introduced and this gives access to health care for all.
The result of these interventions in health care led to reduction in HIV/AIDs prevalence, down to 1.9 percentage from 3.0 percentage and still going lower.
There was massive reduction in maternal mortality while malaria incidence also came down. Desirous of making Oyo the food basket of the nation, Ajimobi established the Oyo State Agriculture Initiatives (OYSAI) with the objectives of providing food security and poverty alleviation.
The Oyo State Pacesetter Integrated Organic Farms known as the Songhai model was established in Awe in Oyo Zone, leading to several hectares of farmlands being allocated to over 1000 youth farmers. Over N1billion soft loans and grants were provided for farmers, in the vision to ensure food security.
For the movement of farm produce, the state embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of access roads across the farming communities in the state. Two fertilizers blending plants were established in Oke ogun and Ibarapa zones.
One can go on and on. But one thing is clear, Ajimobi has clearly made a difference in governance in Oyo and memories of him would linger forever in the minds of the people on whose lives the different programmes have touched. And he is relentless and untiring, second term notwithstanding. “We will work till the last day,” he was fond of telling members of his team.
- Tunji is Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy to Governor Abiola Ajimobi.