By Lanre Oladosu
Whenever the contemporary story of West Africa’s largest and ancient city, Ibadan’s evolution to a modern city is discussed, the name Abiola Ajimobi would easily come to mind as his contributions towards this attainment will continue to occupy a pride of place.
As the chief executive of Oyo State from 2011-2019, Ajimobi not only led a pack of outstanding public-spirited professionals inspired to create value for the common good but demonstrated that with the right leadership capability, the civil service can deliver tremendous results in record time.
At a time when public office holders scarcely match action with words, the strides of this result-driven former governor left us with a lot of lessons to learn.
The change former Governor Ajimobi brought into our infrastructure is a fact that all of us here in Oyo can attest to. From Saki to Iseyi Oyo to Eruwa, Challenge to Odo-ona, Iwo Road and the entire stretch of Oyo, even interstate travellers can attest to the infrastructural development the Ajimobi-led administration brought.
Worthy of note was the construction of the first flyover by a civilian government at Mokola to decongest the gridlock within the Mokola/Sabo/Adamasingba axis and spilt traffic buildup to other parts of the state.
Ajimobi’s touch on major dual carriage road and bridge
Former Governor Ajimobi’s touch on at least a major dual carriage road and bridge in each geopolitical zone of the state has made a lot of difference in the local economy here. Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomosho, Iseyin, Saki and Ibarapa have all joined in this infrastructural resurgence unlike the focus on Ibadan as it had been before he came into the saddle. This single action has led to the democratisation of commercial activities in the state, and a downward trend in rural-urban migration.
One cannot forget the construction of the Ibadan Circular Road in a hurry. It had been 15 years since the idea was conceived and it was already turning into another recurring campaign tool until former Governor Ajimobi came to the rescue. This bye-pass has given a new lease of life to Ibadan residents as inter-city traffic has now been diverted outside the state capital.
The 100 units of 63-seater mass transit buses provided on our metropolis have unarguably eased movement of persons in a seamless manner at subsidised fares, while also helping to keep general transport costs at a minimal level.
It is no news even to non-residents of Oyo that before the Ajimobi administration came to being, hooliganism reigned supreme in the ancient city of Ibadan and other trouble spots in the state.
Former Governor Ajimobi led a series of well-thought-out strategies that banished an era of thuggish violence and its trademarks of sorrow, tears and blood.
Worthy of note are the establishments of a Joint Security Task Force (Operation Burst) with 6 Zonal Commands of Operations in Oyo, Iseyin, Kishi, Ogbomosho, Saki & Eruwa; and the founding of Oyo’s first security trust fund – Oyo State Security Trust Fund (OYSSTF) – a pioneering initiative synergising the promotion of public-private partnership on funding security in the state.
The CCTVs deployed to crime-prone areas, covering the length and breadth of the state, an initiative the administration tagged- Oyo State Safe City Initiative Surveillance Cameras came right on time, and this led to a drastic reduction in crime on our highways and city centres.
While many politicians easily take advantage of our religious and ethnic fault lines, former Governor Ajimobi rather saw the need to tackle this venom that breeds intolerance in the society. This led to the formation of the State Inter-Religious/Inter-Ethnic Committee, (SIREC), which helped to entrench religious, ethnic and communal harmony across the state. This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Today, Oyo is ranked the fifth most peaceful state in the country by the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS), according to its 2018 report. The report also acknowledged a decrease in murder incidents from 94 in 2014 to nil and a huge drop in reported robbery incidents by 97% over the last 8 years – from 61 incidents in 2014 to 5. This has seen the state’s night economy come alive. The growth in the hospitality and tourism sectors is a testament to this peace initiative.
In 2017, when Oyo State made its best WAEC result in 18 years- a 54.4% pass rate, it came with much fanfare but not many understood the groundwork that made that possible. Ajimobi took on a unique path by investing not just in constructing classrooms as is commonplace but also effecting changes into the software that exhibited qualitative education. This, he did, with the deployment of School on Air Video, a digital teaching aid, in 16 subjects in public secondary schools. These aids are then customised with local curriculum to enhance teaching and learning for improved students’ performance in examinations.
The first ever Oyo State Education Trust Fund was also created. Through this initiative, a whopping sum of N2.5bn was injected into 628 secondary schools. Established simultaneously were school governing boards, to ensure active stakeholders’ participation in the administration of public secondary schools.
The construction of three model schools at Oba Akinbiyi High School, Mokola; Islamic High School, Bashorun and Baptist High School, Saki is a beautiful sight to behold, knowing the filth and rot public school buildings are known for.
These initiatives have led to a substantial increase in public school enrolment.
One believes it is the same thinking that led to the establishment of Nigeria’s first technical university- First Technical University, Ibadan. Just one year after, the rewards have started trickling in, with First TechU ranking 43rd out of 252 tertiary institutions in Nigeria on the 2018 webometrics ranking of Nigerian Universities.
Economic indices are not in any way sentimental and when they tilt in favour of the inputs of the former Governor Ajimobi led administration, it must be that something is being done right.
These must have included: the establishment of 10,000Mt Mega Silo in Awe, procurement of twenty (20) mini tractors, acquisition of 538 tractors through LGAs & cooperatives, development of agricultural zones of 250,000 hectares of farmland, enlistment of Oyo State as a solid minerals producing state (thereby qualifying Oyo State for 13% derivative from revenues from solid minerals). PaceSetter Mineral Development Agency was established- with a shored up assets four gold exploration license, two talc quarry leases, four feldspar quarry lease and one granite quarry lease for a quarry and asphalt plant in Ijaye.
Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs), the lifeblood of any local economy, were not left behind. A disbursement of ¦ 2BN was made through the CBN/MSME fund. Also, Economic Growth Models were developed for each of the 33 local government areas.
Economic friendly policies
The OYSG – CBN Entrepreneurship Development Center was established. Over 10, 000 Oyo citizens were imparted with entrepreneurship skills. International Business Complex and Neighborhood Markets at Temidire, Gbagi, Scout Camp, Molete and all the 11 LGAs in Ibadan were constructed and a Raw Materials Display Centre – in collaboration with the Federal Government- was also established for the supply of industrial tools.
With economic friendly policies such as- the Electronic Title Documentation – C of O in 60 days, enactment of Oyo State Property Protection Law 2016 (a law against land grabbing), and the State Planning Commission, providing the backbone for the economic programmes, Oyo State was set for an unimpeded economic growth.
Engineering these strides is a set of highly motivated civil servants. It is on record that in a time when states are finding it hard to pay salaries, former Governor Ajimobi paid 13th-month salary. Another display of his public managerial skill sets.
All of these have culminated in strong economic indices for Oyo State; among which are- growth of the state GDP from a trade volume of N28bn in 2010 to about N128bn in 2018 (ranking 4th in Nigeria), foreign direct investment, FDI, in 2016 worth N22.8bn according to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, establishment of 36 new companies with 3,884 new employees (among which are Friesland Campina Wamco, Sina Farms, Kama Food Industry, Dangote Rice Limited). As they say, facts are sacred.
No doubt, a dissertation can be written on the achievements of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi and it won’t still be enough.
Oladosu wrote in from Awe
As an administrator, he has carried out his beat exceedingly well.
Like has been learnt through the indelible giant strides of Premier of Western Region and Governor of old Oyo State, Pa Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Bola Ige respectively, the best way to leave one’s name immortal, is to work for the people.
When the strides of this administrator in the past eight years are taken into consideration, certainly, the last cannot be said to have been heard about former Governor Abiola Ajimobi. This eagle would still soar higher.
Oladosu wrote in from Awe