By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Features Editor
IN a display of his understanding of true greatness, English essayist, and literary critic, William Hazlitt said: “The true test of greatness is the page of history.” Hazlitt, who is adjudged one of the greatest critics in the history of the English language, downplayed the society’s recognition of fame, wealth, and power, as elements of greatness.
There is an agreement between his assertion and the trajectory of the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, since his birth on December 16, 1949. Only those, who are uninformed about him, may disagree with history’s profiling of his 26 years in the private sector, and footprints so far as a public office holder.
It has been a fulfilling ride for Ajimobi, and as well impactful for the society. From Lagelu Grammar School, Abeokuta where he excelled in academics and sports, to the University of New York in Buffalo, the governor’s state university, Park Forest, oil and gas sector, Senate and Oyo State Government House, Ajimobi has been a man of special abilities.
With a B.Sc. in Business Administration and Finance and Master of Business Administration, MBA, in Operations Research and Marketing, Ajimobi began his private sector career in US on a high note. Specifically, he was engaged as the first Nigerian state-certified underwriter by Equitable Life Assurance Corporation, which was the second largest Insurance company in America.
Upon his return to Nigeria, he worked with Management and Industrial Consulting firm, Modulor Group, Nestle Foods PLC, National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company, a subsidiary of Shell Petroleum, from where he retired in 2002 as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer.
At the various places he worked, Ajimobi was known for his brilliance, which was responsible for his meteoric rise above his peers. His stewardship in the Senate was also eventful, as he emerged the Deputy Minority Leader. In that capacity, he made robust contributions to legislative debates as a member of an opposition party.
It was during that period that he established the first and largest Free Vocational Training Centre in Oyo State, offering training in computer engineering, computer operations, telephone engineering, fashion designing, hair dressing as well as tie and dye. Vanguard learned that the centre has turned out over 15,000 students most of whom have gained employment in banks and many industries in Nigeria. After failing in his first attempt to govern Oyo State in 2007, Ajimobi succeeded in 2011. His re-election in 2015, made him the first governor to win a second term ticket in the history of the state.
Some of his landmark achievements as Oyo State governor, include but not limited to:
•Restoration of the peace which had eluded the state in the last five years owing to frequent bloodletting. Before his advent, Oyo State was constantly in a state of war with some factions of road transport workers who were killing one another without let.
•Rehabilitation/reconstruction of over 200 roads across the state.
•Construction of about 10 major bridges demolished by the flood of August 2011, chief among which is the multi-million naira Bodija/Secretariat bridge christened Restoration Bridge.
•Construction of a fly-over at the Mokola Roundabout in Ibadan, the first of such by any civilian governor since the creation of the state, in 1976.
•Dualisation of Ibadan Toll Gate Interchange-Challenge-New Garage-Interchange Road, Onireke-Jericho-Aleshinloye-Dugbe-Agbarigo Road, Oyo Township Road, Ogbomoso Township Road and Iseyin Township Road, while the construction of Saki Township Road is ongoing.
•As the Eleyele-Ologuneru-Eruwa road is nearing completion, the dualisation 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.
•Aside the construction of Mokola flyover, the first to be done by any civilian administration in the state, as part of the Ajimobi administration’s drive towards making Ibadan a mega city, his government has also revived the Ibadan Circular Road
•Rehabilitation of Asejire Waterworks which had been abandoned by past administrations for 17 years.
•Ongoing rehabilitation of Eleyele Dam, which was badly hit by the 2011 flood disaster. On completion, it will permanently end the long-standing history of flooding in Ibadan metropolis.
•Repositioning of Oyo to become the fifth most investment-friendly state, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, rating, with the attraction of more than $61m (N22.4bn) foreign direct investment to the state.
•Acquisition of large expanse of land on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway for the Polaris-Pacesetter Free Trade Zone and an Industrial Park as part of the Ajimobi-led administration’s relentless efforts at industrialising the state.
•Establishment of Bureau of Physical Planning and Development Control with the sole responsibility of checking indiscriminate erection of structures in Ibadan metropolis.
•Payment of arrears of 142 per cent increase to pensioners.
•Provision of 10 56-seater luxury buses for a free transport service for workers and students.
•Aggressive urban renewal exercise in Ibadan and Oyo State in general which has transformed the erstwhile dirtiest city in Nigeria to one of the investor-friendly states in Nigeria.
•Strengthening of agriculture through the employment of agricultural extension officers whose job is to go from farm to farm to educate and assist farmers on the new technology of farming for maximum returns.
•Procurement of 320 tractors for farmers in the state, the largest by any government ever, not only in Oyo State but in Nigeria as a whole. These initiatives are all aimed at empowering farmers to produce bountiful harvests for the sustenance of the populace.
•Floating of N50bn Health Endowment Fund, Health Insurance Scheme, the first of its kind in Nigeria as well as the launch of the Oyo State five-year cancer control strategic plan to reduce cancer-related incidence and mortality in the state.
•Provision of drugs worth over N200 million to hospitals.
•Commencement of rehabilitation of General Hospitals.
•Employment of 1,000 medical personnel to improve healthcare delivery, 300 of whom were medical doctors.
•Floating of Education Trust Fund to enhance collaboration between government and stakeholders to improve service delivery and boost the standard of education in the state.
•The governor also renovated and constructed hostels and classrooms for the five technical colleges in the state under the auspices of the Oyo State Education Trust Fund programme.. The schools are located at Ibadan, Iseyin, Oyo, Ogbomosho and Shaki. This renovation earned the governor accolades and appreciation of both the students and their parents.