By Adenrele Olajire
It was heartwarming for me when recently I read reports of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State saying he had been in touch with his predecessor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
Makinde also revealed, to the delight of many citizens of the state, that his discussions with Ajimobi had centred on the policies of the previous administration in the interest of the people.
Makinde further exhibited positive leadership traits when he pledged to continue with the education policy of the previous administration. That education policy was, of course, a very outstanding one, especially the much applauded Schools Governing Board, a game-changing initiative that mobilized all stakeholders in the state for the development of the education sector.
Every well-meaning citizen of Oyo who has lived in the state in the last five years or thereabout will attest to the fact that the Ajimobi administration did very well in many sectors particularly in education, infrastructural development as well as peace and security.
A classical example in the area of security is the step the administration took to tame the restive National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, in the state. And even his critics can’t be economical with the truth. Throughout the eight years of the administration, nobody in Oyo State lived under the fear of a possible outbreak of violence orchestrated the members of the trade union.
For a state like ours, which deserves the best any government can offer its citizens in terms of good governance, security, infrastructural development and a whole lot of others, collaboration among the leaders, past and present can only be a way forward. But my joy over what seemed to be a build-up to collaboration among the leaders, which is a radical departure from the usual bickering was short-lived. The future of the state became of utmost concern to me when last Tuesday, the administration of Governor Makinde made good its threat to revoke the much talked about contract for the construction of the Moniya – Iseyin Road.
Contract for the construction of the 65-kilometre road was awarded by the immediate past administration at a contract sum of N7 billion. The contractor was said to have been paid a mobilization fee of N2 billion and was at the verge of commencing site work by the time the last administration’s tenure elapsed.
Soon after the Makinde administration came to power, the Moniya – Iseyin Road project became a subject of controversy. Governor Makinde’s initial utterances about the project and its contractor were, to say the least, unkind. He had alleged that the contractor was “faceless and with no known address.” That was a somewhat needless direct attack on the previous administration; an attempt to cast it in a bad light and to weep-up sentiments. The state does not need that as it can only divide the people along political party lines; and along the lines of supporters of the past and present governors.
Contrary to the governor’s earlier claim that the contractor was unknown, he made yet another shocking revelation following his final decision to revoke the contract. To justify the revocation, the governor through his Chief Press Secretary, said that the contract was awarded to an engineering firm without the requisite capacity to handle the project.
The governor further contradicted himself by declaring that the owner of the contracting firm was known to him but that he wouldn’t want to mix that relationship with governance. That may sound laudable if such a decision was taken in good faith. The revocation of the contract is no doubt, a step in the wrong direction.
Given the economic and social importance of the Moniya – Iseyin Road in the state, there is a need for strong government action to ensure that the purpose of awarding the contract is achieved. Makinde had assured that his administration would re-award the contract to enable it to resolve the problem of moving agricultural produce from the Oke-Ogun area of the state to Ibadan, the state capital. But critical as that may be, any action taken by the present administration that tends to rubbish the achievements of the previous government is certainly not in the interest of the people.
For his boldness in making complimentary remarks about Ajimobi’s policies, Makinde deserves commendation. However, it must be stressed that in pushing for the welfare of the people, Makinde should not throw caution to the wind. Every action he wants to take must be subjected to critical thinking and deep analysis of the pros and cons.
To this end, the termination of the contract shouldn’t have taken place considering the fact that government is a continuum. What would have been more appropriate is perhaps, renegotiation of the contract terms to achieve the same purpose for which it was initially awarded by the Ajimobi administration.
Governor Makinde, no doubt, has good ideas to drive the state but he must, as a matter of necessity, ensure that his decisions and policies are not largely driven by political considerations. He must also ensure that parochial interests and negative advice from his political constituency do not becloud his sense of judgment.
After serving two terms of eight unbroken years in office under this democratic dispensation, former Governor Ajimobi can only play the role of a respectable and respected statesman. That is the position he currently occupies. His wealth of experiences in government, politics and business will be of great value not just to the current governor but also to those that are yet to come. This will be in the interest of the state.
His words of advice to the present administration are still relevant for the development of the state. That is why Governor Makinde’s disclosure that he still speaks with his predecessor makes a lot of sense. His admission of the fact that interaction with his predecessor also enable people in his government to understand the thought process of some of the policies of the previous administration equally deserves commendation.
With the revocation of the contract awarded by the Ajimobi administration, one fears that the much-needed collaboration and good relationship between the past and present administration, which is just building up does not get shattered. Governor Makinde will do well to resist the pressure and temptation to score cheap political points by bringing down the image of the previous administration.
He must realize that campaigns are over, and elections are over. Therefore, many political ideas and decisions have become irrelevant. It is time to face governance in the real sense of it. This can be achieved by doing away with unnecessary bickering. Oyo needs peace and development and not conflict among its leaders.
It may be fashionable in some states for past and present leaders to be at each other’s throat but that is certainly not what we as a people want, at least for now. What matters now, and what should be of utmost importance is the progress of the state and the welfare of the people. This can only be achieved through peaceful coexistence and listening to wise counsel.