By Rotimi Oyewole
During his inauguration on May 29 as Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde made it clear that his administration will put smiles on the faces of civil servants and pensioners by ensuring prompt payment of salaries and pensions, however, pointing out that they should not expect immediate payment of the new N30,000 minimum wage due to the financial realities of the state.
He said, “I know how access to this type of money will improve the lives of many of the families that I have had direct contact with, but with the way the Oyo state account currently stands, I will be deceiving you if I said we are capable of taking on this burden.”
He further pledged his four-year salaries to the Teachers’ Pension Fund while promising that salaries will be paid on the 25th of every month. Without delays, salaries and pensions for the month of May were paid between the 30th and 31st, and on Tuesday June 25, salaries and pensions for the month of June were paid, lending credence to the fulfilment of his promise.
This has no doubt boosted the confidence the people of the state have in him as evident in a letter of commendation by the Oyo State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, signed by its secretary, Comrade Olusegun Abatan. According to the pensioners, “Oyo state pensioners are highly delighted with His Excellency, the Executive Governor of the State, Mr. Seyi Makinde on his giant strides since he assumed the mantle of governance in Oyo state.
“For the first time in the history of Oyo state pensioners and workers, June 2019 pensions and salaries were paid on June 25, 2019, lending credence to His Excellency’s promise that salaries and pensions would be paid on the 25th of every month.”
The statement further revealed that the governor has put a stop to the payment of retired primary school teachers and local government pensioners in percentages as they now receive their pensions in full since the governor assumed office.
Indeed, only people-oriented leaders could recognise the need to encourage their workforce by paying salaries as and when due. Of course, this will boost the performance of the civil service in achieving set goals.
Also, in line with his electoral promise of recovering misappropriated funds by any government official which in some quarters has been described as a way of witch-hunting the previous administration in the state, Governor Seyi Makinde recently inaugurated a seven-man committee led by Justice Laoye Popoola to probe the accounts of the 33 local government areas and the 35 local council development areas of the state from January 2018 to May 2019.
According to Gov. Makinde, “Let me reassure you that this government is not in any way going after the past administration. We are only setting the stage for our government to take off and deliver the dividends of democracy to the entire citizenry.
“In fact, I must state that the committee we are inaugurating today is pursuant to the Public Property and Funds (Investigation and Recovery) Panel Law, Cap 138, Vol. 4 of the Oyo State Law 2000.”
Though he has been criticized for sacking all the local government chairman, but he has argued that the chairman were elected in breach of a subsisting court order, thus he was only reversing illegality.
Truthfully, the governor has equally done no wrong by asking for a probe of the local government and local council development areas, because the assignment of this seven-man committee is backed by law, it is not the first time such committee has been set up by a state government in our political history as a nation, and it is also in consonance with the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari. Besides, it is not aimed at prospering Gov. Makinde, but to restore to the treasury of the state government monies that are meant to improve the lives of the people.
Therefore, the committee should go about this assignment having in mind that they are on a service for the people of Oyo State and as it investigates the councils’ financial dealings in those 18 months, they should exercise no fear or favour in identifying those who misappropriated funds. Not only that, they should ensure total recovery of monies illegally taken by those involved and as well impound any properties or equipment acquired with stolen funds.
In doing this, they should be mindful that all eyes are on them and their integrity is also at stake, so they should do well to defend the confidence His Excellency, Gov. Seyi Makinde has reposed in them as men who stand for justice and equity.
While we await the full formation of his cabinet, Gov. Makinde should be commended with the few appointments he has announced so far. Most especially, the recent appointment of Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun as the Secretary to the State Government. Just like the other appointees, Adeosun is a proven technocrat whose ingenuity comes in handy in executing the governor’s agenda for the state.
Her appointment sees her join the rank of few women to have graced the office of the SSG in Nigeria, more importantly, the 43 years old becomes the first female in the history of Oyo State to occupy the office. Her appointment vividly reflects the governor’s firm belief in women’s inclusiveness and diversity in government, and it is hoped that more women will be appointed to the governor’s cabinet.
As the governor matches on in this four year journey of ensuring sustainable development in Oyo State through viable reforms in education, agriculture, healthcare, security and infrastructural development, he should be applauded for starting on an excellent note, which signals his good intentions for the state.
*Oyewole is resident in Ibadan.