Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Thursday recounted some of his successes in 2020 despite the myriad of challenges facing the nation, urging residents to maintain a positive outlook for the new year.
Makinde, in a 2021 New Year address, issued in Ibadan by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said despite various events that set the state back economically, his government was still able to record huge successes.
The governor maintained that his government achieved a success in reducing infrastructural deficit of the state.
He noted that 2020 was characterised by fall in oil prices, which led to a huge drop in revenue from the Federal allocations.
According to the governor, with the attendant economic meltdown, the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests, among other challenges, “yet our administration could still record successes”.
Makinde stated that efforts of his administration in fixing the health, education and security sectors have yielded positive results, while the administration was also able to grow the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state.
“As 2020 closes, I am reminded of the words of the very popular 1897 hymn by Johnson Oatman Jr, ‘Count your Blessings’. This song encourages us to take stock of the good things that happened in our lives. When we do this, we often find that we have overlooked many positives.”
He said “In March 2020, many states in Nigeria had cases of the coronavirus disease. This necessitated an interstate lockdown by the Federal Government; although we did not effect a total lockdown in Oyo State, we were not spared the economic and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A few months later, we faced mass protests by the youth and others who were angry about police brutality. Events after the protests also set us back economically.
The governor, however, said that the year 2020 was not defined by all the events. As the first stanza of the song says: – ‘When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
“So, let me recount some of the blessings that 2020 brought us as a people.
“We continued working with our administration’s blueprint, the Roadmap to Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019-2023. And I am happy to report that we have continued to reduce our infrastructural deficit, slowly but surely.
“As at Sept. 2020, we had recorded an Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N25.6 billion. And using the half-year figures, that represented a 26.4 per cent increase in IGR year on year.
“Moribund industries such as the Pace Setter Quarry and Asphalt Plant, Ijaiye; Agbowo Shopping Complex, Ibadan and Pacesetter Fruit Processing Company, Oko, were handed over to concessionaires, he said.
Makinde said ”All of these will be contributing to the economic development of our state.
“We are confronting the new challenges caused by the influx of people and businesses into Oyo State; more people are being attracted to our dear state because of our good governance initiatives and business-friendly environment.
“We believe that the complaints about the city’s traffic situation will soon be a thing of the past as we vigorously pursue road rehabilitation, expansion and construction.”
He further disclosed that the bus terminals at Iwo road, New Ife road, Challenge and Ojoo will be commissioned in 2021.
“On Education, we have continued our strides with the construction of model schools, blocks of classrooms, perimeter fencing and sinking of boreholes.
“We have also engaged in teachers’ training and completed the recruitment of 5,000 teachers to reduce the student-teacher ratio in our secondary schools.
“We were able to resolve the lingering issue of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), and Oyo State is now the sole owner of the institution.
“On Agriculture, we signed the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) bill into law which provided for the establishment of the agency.
“We began renovating and expanding the headquarters in Saki. We also initiated the Start Them Early Programme (STEP) in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
“This initiative takes agribusiness education to secondary schools; additionally, we started training our youth in agribusiness with the Oyo State Youth in Agribusiness Tomatoes Project.
“The highlight of the past year in security is the commencement of operations of the Oyo State Western Nigeria Security Network; codenamed Amotekun.
“We know there will be teething problems, but rest assured that the corps will be serving the interests of the people of the state.
“We also believe that all well-meaning residents of Oyo State will work with the corps to secure all 351 wards of our state.
“Our healthcare sector witnessed improvements, not only in infrastructure but also in recruitment and training. We took advantage of the pandemic to upgrade and rehabilitate Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) at Igbo Ora and Awe.
“We also renovated and equipped the PHC at Aafin in Oyo Town and ALGON Comprehensive Health Centre at Eyin Grammar, Ibadan.
“We now have one Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo, In Ogbomoso; we renovated one wing of the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital. And at Saki, we took an incomplete project and turned it into a 100-bed specialist hospital.
“Our plan to rehabilitate one primary health centre per ward in Oyo State is in full gear,” Makinde added.
The Governor also said that residents of the state and Nigerians as a whole should be thankful to God for surviving 2020.
He stated that though many would describe the year as a tough one, “God’s grace saw them through the various challenges that characterised the year.”
He, therefore, urged residents to maintain a positive outlook for the New Year, saying Oyo state is open for business and that his government remains committed to its promise to uplift the state.
He vowed never to take the support of the people for granted, nor will we take lightly our promise to serve.
“At the end of the year 2021, May we have even more reasons to look back and be surprised at the many things that the Lord has done.
“The Oyo State Investment and Public-Private Partnership Agency (OYSIPA) is always willing to discuss investment opportunities in the state with both local and international businesses.
“May your year 2021 be better than your year 2020.” the governor added.