By Moses Alao
“We are gathered here today for the turning of the sod ceremony of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Iseyin Campus. This ceremony marks the beginning of the fulfillment of yet another campaign promise that we made while we were on the campaign trail in 2019.”
These were the words of Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State in Iseyin, on Saturday, 4th December, 2021, at the sod-turning of the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, which his government established in Iseyin a few months ago.
If that event had been a literary work, the thematic preoccupation would have simply been fidelity to keeping promises and how public servants must keep promises made in the heat of campaign. For, on that day, Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, who has demonstrated over time the whole essence of one’s word being his bond, ticked off another box as a ‘talk and do’ leader.
Well-attended by the creme-de-la-creme of Iseyin community, top functionaries of the Oyo State Government, political appointees and traditional rulers from Oke Ogun zone of the state, the event appeared as the appropriate climax in the LAUTECH plot, a plot that centres around promise-making and promise-keeping.
That plot began on the campaign trail, when Governor Makinde, having realised how the former Governors Abiola Ajimobi and the Adebayo Alao-Akala governments failed woefully on the running of LAUTECH, with the shambolic and egregious running of the institution affecting the lives of countless students and workers (and even the Ogbomoso community), promised to take a drastic action by solving the ownership tussle once and for all. Apart from promising to ensure that LAUTECH is solely-owned by Oyo State, Makinde had equally committed to ensuring that the institution becomes multi-campus, with Iseyin targeted as one of the new sites for one of its campuses.
The people of the state trusted Makinde with their votes, perhaps believing that the man could be trusted to keep his words. Resting on that confidence, which the people reposed in him on March 9, 2019, GSM immediately set to work to solve what had become an intractable problem too knotty to be solved for former Governors Alao-Akala and Olagunsoye Oyinlola on one hand, and former Governors Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola on the other.
In what would go down the annals of Oyo State history as the summary of the Makinde government’s triumph on LAUTECH, the governor, at the sod-turning event, said: “Back then, all was not well with tertiary education in Oyo State.
But we knew exactly what we needed to do, to make things right. We talked about what we were going to do and even made some promises that people felt were impossible. But, one after the other we are redeeming all our pledges to the good people of Oyo State.
“For example, on this issue of tertiary education, we promised that we would work towards sole ownership of LAUTECH. We knew that we could not build anything else without that foundation. We kept that promise.
“As a result, the students at LAUTECH no longer have their education disrupted by strikes due to non-payment of staff salaries. Student can register at LAUTECH and be assured that a four-year course will take them four years to complete.
“Also, when we said we would take the multi-campus approach in order to bring educational development and by extension economic development to other zones in Oyo State, some people also thought it was impossible. Today, we can respond to them.”
Not one to pay attention to naysayers, GSM marched on confidently and in the end, achieved the set goal on LAUTECH ownership, the establishment of one of its faculties in Iseyin and has also gone a step ahead with the proposal to make the institution a conventional one.
Known for always matching his words with action, the GSM government has already released a grant of N500 million for the smooth take-off of the Iseyin campus, while it also included the capital expenditure for infrastructure development of LAUTECH in our 2022 budget proposal.
With the establishment of the LAUTECH Faculty in Iseyin, Governor ‘Seyi Makinde’s name has finally been emblazoned on the hearts of Iseyin and, indeed, Oke Ogun people as a ‘Promise Keeper’ and a public servant that can be trusted to keep his words.
At penultimate Saturday’s event, in clear and unmistakable terms, the Iseyin community showed its gratitude to Governor Makinde for matching words with action by delivering on his campaign promise to establish the LAUTECH Faculty in the community.
Leading Iseyin’s charge of decorating of GSM with the literal badge of honour as a Promise-Keeper was one of its most prominent sons, Barr. Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAM, philanthropist and an individual highly revered across the country.
A man of few words, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria who has played the advocate for Iseyin on the issue of establishment of a tertiary institution for years, did not scamper for words to describe his joy; they flowed freely, adulating Governor Makinde for citing the LAUTECH Faculty in Iseyin as he had promised and most importantly for not dashing the hopes of his community like others before him.
Raji chose to focus on the present, praising Makinde for keeping his words and doing so much for Iseyin and, by extension, Oke Ogun, through the establishment of the LAUTECH Faculty, the timely construction of the 65-kilometre Moniya-Iseyin Road, the ongoing construction of Oyo-Iseyin Road and the recent approval for the construction of the 76-kilometre Iseyin-Fapote-Ogbomoso Road.
But Oke Ogun residents, especially those who would be godly not to sacrifice the truth on the altar of politics, know the past and how badly neglected the zone was under the APC government that promised so much but did so little.
Barr. Raji is a man of honour, he would take no prisoner; but in truth, most past leaders of the state, especially those of APC extraction, lacked honour when it came to fulfilling promises made to Iseyin and Oke Ogun in general.
Though the revered lawyer would not point fingers, the previous government of the APC and the one before it as well as a member of the National Assembly fall in the bracket of those Raji said promised so much but did so little. But Barr. was too happy to focus on the disappointing past with the APC, like the entire Iseyin community, he would rather sail with GSM into the future.
Not one for political grandstanding, Barr. Raji had equally declared that Iseyin people want Makinde to continue in office, doing the good works that he has been doing. What could make the non-partisan lawyer and the Iseyin community, which he spoke for at the event, hold that view?
Simple: they have seen in Makinde a man of honour, who keeps his word and is ready to serve his people despite the myriad of attacks on the political front. And that view can as well be termed as being representative of that of hundreds of thousands of Oyo State residents, whose lives the Makinde administration has transformed with policies and programmes that are direct fulfillment of his governance template as contained in the Oyo State Roadmap for Accelerated Development, 2019-2023.