Tuesday, June 15, 2021 4:42 pm
Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State fields questions from journalists in Ibadan as part of activities marking his second year in office.
He addresses issues of infrastructure, economy, whether he would decamp to the All Progressives Congress and future plans.
You marked your second year in office on May 29. How far will you say you have gone regarding the mandate given to you by the people of the state and what have been the constraints?
I really appreciate you for coming to be with us. From day one, even during the electioneering, we brought out a document, which is our Roadmap for the Accelerated Development of Oyo State, 2019 to 2023, and we focused on four major areas: Education, Health, Expansion of our economy through where we think we have the comparative advantage, these are agriculture, agribusiness, agro-processing; and the fourth pillar is Security.
Last week, I visited the Ikere Gorge Dam, because I wanted the focus to shift to what we are trying to do with tourism and solid mineral development. I can tell you boldly that we are stabilising with some of our programmes.
Before I came in, Oyo State was already doing well with cassava, for instance. We had a retreat and I learnt that Oyo State was the second largest producer of cassava in Nigeria at that point. So, I asked how many tonnes of cassava are we producing per annum? And the next question was, how did we get to this point; was it just happenstance or through deliberate action. I asked for an explanation on those actions that we took that got us to that point but I was told the farmers were just cultivating on their own. So, I said I was not sure the government did anything deliberately to encourage the farmers. I said, now, we have to be deliberate on how we approach things. Now, I feel we have stabilised with some of the deliberate actions that we took after coming into government.
What are those deliberate actions you’ve taken?
What did we do? We got the best agribusiness practitioner on this continent to come into this government and got engaged with all the research institutes around here. In Ibadan, we have the FRIN, CRIN, IITA, and all others. We have people doing research here and what have we done with their research outcomes to lift our agricultural output? We started approaching them one after the other and we got IITA to sign an MoU with us and it gave us one of its best brains in agribusiness and, from that point, we started the STEP for the young ones out there. We reorganized what they used to call OYSADEP, which was just a drain pipe, established the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) and moved the headquarters to Saki. We did the commissioning of the OYSADA Complex as part of the activities marking the second anniversary of the government.
The Rural Community Development Centre at Awe was turned into an incubation centre for agribusiness. Of course, not up to six months in office, COVID-19 hit everywhere and we were faced with different kinds of issues. What we tried to do was to turn this into opportunities. We gave inputs and fertilisers to farmers and assisted them with a lot of other things. So, we believe we have stabilized in that area too.
What is next? We have to keep expanding our economy and the next thing for us is solid mineral development, because we are blessed with the deposits all over the place. They already discovered lithium in certain parts of Oyo State and while the world is looking for 40 per cent purity of lithium, what we have found and tested is around 75 per cent purity.
Also, the tourism potential of Oyo State. For us, we are thinking about our nearness to Lagos and how we can exploit that to boost our own tourism earnings. We may say the world is in the throes of COVID-19 and travels around the world for tourism have been hampered but how about internal tourism?
Let us even say Nigeria is not such a fantastic place for anyone from around the world to visit at this period, but internally, rather than people going to Dubai or Ghana, can we have people coming internally and our natural target will be Lagos. So, if people want to come from Lagos and other places as internal tourists, what are the things to put in place for them? We need to address infrastructure deficit and security. And with the rail line coming, people can come in. It is 145 rail kilometres between Moniya-Ibadan and the Yard at Lagos. They are moving at 70 kilometres per hour now. But when they are modulating, they will get to 90 kilometres per hour. That means you can leave Moniya and be at Yaba within one and a half hours. So, for us, to harvest all of those people, we have to deal with our infrastructure deficit, which is why we invested money on Moniya-Iseyin road. That is also the reason I wanted to take you to Ikere-Gorge Dam, because within the next year, that road will also be fixed and our vision is that the place becomes the equivalent of our own Sun City in South Africa.
By our calculation, if you are leaving Moniya for Iseyin, it is about 40 minutes and from Iseyin to the Ikere Dam, it should be around 20 minutes. So, within one hour, you land at the train station here and you are out there to enjoy your life. So, we believe we have been a little bit successful with the expansion of our economy.
The last leg of our major pillars is security. Yes, it has been quite challenging for us as a state, even country-wise but people easily forget the fact that Amotekun was not in existence before this administration came in. We looked at the control of the federal agencies. They may call me the Chief Security Officer of Oyo State but in reality, I am actually the Chief Logistics officer. I can only give them logistics. If I call the Commissioner of Police to carry out an assignment, she will have to call her Inspector General of Police in Abuja for further instructions. For instance, when we got to Ikere, which is still under Ogun/Osun River Basin Authority, we sent a message to a guy that we were coming and he also sent a message to Abeokuta where the Headquarters is located. And because he did not get any response, he refused to open the gate. And we said, okay if you are not opening the gate, we have a part of the fence that is broken anyway. We are going to walk in and go check what we want to check. So, those are the challenges you have with the federal arrangement and that is what we saw with the issue of security and we decided to operationalise Amotekun.
At this point, I don’t think anybody in Oyo State can imagine the state without Amotekun. That is how much impact Amotekun has been able to make within this very short period of time. So, on those four pillars, I think we have made good progress.
The last bit on the expansion of our economy has to do with the engagement of our youths. A lot of them are out there on the street and not able to engage in productive ventures or do much. Some of them are real talents as far as sports is concerned, and that was why we went to Lekan Salami Sport Complex and worldwide, sports is a 6 Billion Dollar industry. But here in Oyo State, we have not been able to get a fair slice of the money. This is another area where the issue of being deliberate in what you want to do comes in. Before now, Lagos used to be number one at any National Sports Festival, but this last one, Lagos beat Oyo State on the last day by one gold medal. They came 5th and we came 6th. So, we are remodeling the Lekan Salami Sport Complex and we are putting an Olympic-sized swimming pool, the gym, tennis court and the rest so that we can bring in talents here and also see if we can get a small slice of the sport industry deliberately.
Speaking about bridging the infrastructure gap, you commissioned the 65-kilometre Moniya-Iseyin Road with pomp and fanfare, with a lot of people commending the administration for such a laudable project. But knowing how vast Oyo State is, isn’t the Moniya-Iseyin Road just like scratching the surface?
What you saw during the trip between Moniya to Iseyin is almost very similar to most of the things we are doing in every zone of the state. If you move further up, there is Saki Township road, which we are almost done with. We will commission it shortly. We also flagged off, a few days ago, the Saki-Igboho-Ogboro road. It is about 45 kilometres. In Oyo, we have also commissioned Akesan Market, which got burnt about 10 months ago, and it is fully reconstructed now. We have inspected the Township road we are fixing and we have also gone to Fashola to launch the farm estate.
Once you get to the Iseyin junction and make the next turn, that is the road that will take you to Oyo. We have got approval from the Federal Government to repair it but they said we won’t get any refund. But I believe it is the people of Oyo State that are passing through the road, and it is of economic benefit to us all. Once Fashola is fixed on the right, on the left side, you see an expanse of land that goes all the way to Ikere-Gorge Dam. Those are places where we can do irrigation and have production around. That axis is extremely important to us and I said that our infrastructure will target our economy. We would not just go and build something that we won’t see economic benefits coming out of it. So, that is where we are.
In Ibadan, we have the Ajia-Airport Road with a spur to Amuloko ongoing; that is about 21 kilometres and it also sits well with our focus to build infrastructure that targets the economy. There is the Apete-Awotan Road, which we are constructing with concrete. We also have the Akobo-Ojurin Road, which we have re-awarded as well as many others’.
On a general level, we have the second phase of the Light-Up Oyo State project going on, covering 70 roads and 223.42kms across the state. We are installing LED-technology streetlights and the focus is to enhance the security of the state and to also enable owners of businesses and services in the state to operate freely without fear of night-time or darkness. That project was initiated when we took over in 2019 and the first phase has been delivered. The second phase has also been progressing and all these are parts of our deliberate efforts to address the infrastructure challenge of the state.
So, what have been the challenges or the constraints so far?
Now, in terms of the challenges, this is two years, but we should be celebrating six months, because we came in May 2019 and by January 2020, COVID-19 came up, which is still with us till now and throughout the world. That basically triggered an economic meltdown. But the smart countries are managing themselves. At the national level, we have not been able to manage things well and that has impacted negatively on the states.
Also, a big challenge for us has been the kind of federalism that we are operating. I signed an anti-open grazing law in November 2019 and we could not implement it because you talk to the Police and they are not willing. They are watching the body language of their folks in Abuja; the IGP and the rest. So, that has been a very big challenge to us.
Then, when Amotekun came, we were in total control of their operation and that was why when I operationalized them, I said I should be held accountable for their conduct. But when they tried to implement the anti-open grazing law they were being arrested, I went to the then Commissioner of Police and asked why Amotekun operatives were being arrested even when the Police were supposed to collaborate with them to make the state safer for us. And he said if people write petitions against them that they killed someone or carried illegal firearms, the Police were the only organization authorized in Nigeria to investigate those cases. So, if you look through, they are telling us it is almost like the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau. They didn’t want Amotekun to succeed in the first instance. So, we had to pull back and re-engage to let them know that we are actually pushing towards the same objective, which is to make this place safe. You have inter and intra-agency rivalry. People will want to protect themselves or their agency in an advantageous position. So, that was what we have seen and those are the major challenges we have faced, which have slowed us down. We had COVID-19, economic meltdown, security challenges and all that but we are dealing with them.
For all these projects listed, how have you been able to source for the funds to finance them or, as it is being insinuated, you are doing all these by embarking on a borrowing spree?
Well, you definitely must have seen the release from the Debt Management Office. At this stage, I think Oyo state is probably owing about 90 Billion Naira and about 200 Million US Dollars, and since we came in, we took N24 Billion for contract financing and we have not accessed everything.
We are probably still around 18 Billion Naira.
The 200 Million US Dollars was taken by the previous administration for the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (IUFMP). Before I came in, they already spent about 54 Million Dollars of that money and they had committed about 100 Million Dollars as well. For the award packages, they have done the evaluation, selected contractors and it was remaining the final sign-off. I was going to cancel it when I came in because I did not see any need for that but the World Bank came and said it will affect the relationship with Oyo State. So, I said they should go ahead with the commitment and I am the one spending the over 40 Million Dollars remaining right now. But I have changed the work plan. For instance, I thought the Agodi Gardens Lake was the major source of flood in Ibadan, and it should have been part of the programme to start with. So, I asked them to change some of the programmes and put in the gardens to desilt that lake so that water can flow freely, and also desilt some of the major streams in Ibadan.
So, that insinuation of a borrowing spree is not correct. These two are the major chunk of money Oyo State is owing. Our government took 24 Billion Naira because when we came in, it was almost like we did not meet anything in the treasury, and what was coming from the federation account could not even cover the salary bills. So, what we did basically was to try to increase the IGR, which we have been very successful in doing. We have increased our IGR from less than 2 Billion Naira to over 3 Billion Naira now, which means monthly, we have N 1 Billion available, which was not there before now. The N1 Billion in a year means I can do 12 Billion Naira worth of projects and the target for us is to push that IGR to about N7 Billion per month, and we think Oyo State has the potential to quickly get to that. Take, for instance, we changed the waste management architecture and now have the Land Use Tax. I know they have sent bills out to people worth about N20 Billion. Even if we have half or 60 per cent of that, say N12 Billion, that is additional N1 Billion aggregate monthly. So, that will immediately take our IGR to about N4.3 Billion. And you also remember that for this increase, we did not increase the taxes people are paying but all we have done is to just expand the base because when I came in, I told them that nobody has ever given me a bill in my own house here. Everywhere in the world, you pay property tax, which is supposed to be utilized to ensure that you have security, evacuation of thrash, provision of water and electricity, and other infrastructural facilities but here, people just feel you build houses and don’t have responsibilities for the common areas. So, what we have done was to move in there, enumerate the houses in Oyo State, and try to bring out a bill commensurate with the type of houses that we have seen. This will be our first year of enforcing that and if we are successful, 60 per cent, it will push our IGR by another N1 Billion and I think we are on that path. So, I have not borrowed anything compared to the previous administration.
Another thing we are doing is being creative with the way we handle our projects. The Moniya-Iseyin project was given out through a contract. We gave the contract out to KOPEK and we paid them based on that contract. But on most of the other projects, we are exploring the Alternative Project Funding Approach.
For Moniya-Iseyin, we paid 60 per cent upfront. We went outside of the procurement law to give special approval because that road was in a very deplorable state when we came in and we thought if we want to start repairing the economy of Oyo State, that is the first road we have to fix, because it is the link between Ibadan, the major consumption area to where we are producing our food in Oyo State. So, I did not want any delay and wanted the project done within 12 -18 months and it was delivered in 18 months. I was actually pushing for 12 months but COVID-19 came and they had to slow down. When we paid the 60 per cent, we told them not to come back to us until they have attained 75 per cent of the project and that worked out in the end because they did not come back to us not even with N1 variation on the project.
When we were discussing the 60 per cent payment upfront, we agreed on it based on the fact that they should go out to buy anything and everything that may have inflationary pressure. We told them that once they were able to buy everything that may have inflationary pressure, it means they would be talking about their staff and a few other things, so we should be home and dry and that was why the project was completed on budget and almost on schedule, if we take COVID-19 out. So, we have been creative.
APFA in other areas like Saki-Ogbooro, we paid 10 per cent commitment but before we start making the monthly payment, they must have at least 30 per cent of their scope. So, for most of the APFA projects, by the time they are handing it over to us, the payment that must have gone out from the government purse is probably between 40 and 45 per cent. So, they have 55 per cent still hanging with us. Therefore, they had better do a very good job. Nobody in his right mind will do a project like that that will fail after two or three months, because they still have 45 per cent of their money here and those monthly payments are tied to the satisfactory performance of the project.
I will also say we have blocked a lot of loopholes and reduced the cost of running the government here. Remember that for one year, everybody in the cabinet was using their vehicles and the ones we met here. I was using my own car. So, we prioritized project delivery for the people as opposed to taking care of ourselves first.
There was a report that you recently reduced the tuition fee for students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso by 25 percent. What are your achievements in the area of education?
In the area of education, for the primary up to the junior secondary, they are under SUBEB. When we came in, we discovered that the challenges they were faced with were two or three at most. One is inadequate infrastructure. We saw some of them learning on the bare floor and the buildings were nothing to write home about. The teachers were not motivated and the education levy for some of them also was burdensome to the extent that Oyo State had the highest out-of-school children in the entire South-West. Students were not just going to school because their parents could not afford the education levy.
So, after I was sworn in, that particular moment, I scrapped the education levy and it has paid off. We have been able to take over 50,000 students off the streets back into class. We also procured notebooks and textbooks for all public secondary school students. For the ones in Senior Secondary School, we arranged special coaching for them, especially in English and Mathematics and we saw the results with our WAEC and NECO. I have seen people complain about the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA), because when things got so bad, the PTA employed some teachers to put in those schools and they were collecting money from students to pay those teachers and all. But we scrapped all forms of payments. We found out that it was just one giant corruption scheme because I called the people from SUBEB, TESCOM, and the Ministry of Education to give me the record of how much was collected from the children last year. And that N3,000 education levy, how much did it generate? They could not give me a proper answer, because there was no data and records, as it was the schools that were collecting the levies and they were not remitted to the central purse. So, there was no way to account for it. The schools would only say they have done this and that from the money they have collected. So, there was no accountability. But I said no.
Now, we have employed 5,000 teachers for those schools. We are employing 2,000 non-teaching staff also. The process is at a very advanced stage, they may resume any moment from now. At the primary and secondary school level, I believe with the teachers employed, with all the programmes that have worked so far, we just need to consolidate on that and the result has been coming. Our students performed better in WAEC, which took a lot of students off the streets, and we have been paying our UBEC matching grants. We did over 300 projects in the education sector, so we think we are doing okay there.
At the tertiary level, when we came in, the subventions being paid to state-owned tertiary institutions was in percentages but they made the announcement in early May, just before we took over, saying they have moved the subventions to 100 per cent. They thought we would not be able to pay, but we just continued with the 100 per cent subventions, as it was something that we already planned for. When we had few issues to address like the Oyo State College of Agriculture at Igbo-Ora OYSCATECH. They came to me that they had about a 10 Million Naira gap between their subvention and their actual needs and when I went there recently, I approved it. I already approved it anyway, maybe the ministry hasn’t written to them officially. So, I believe that we are also moving in the right direction.
Of course, we have also gotten a consultant to effectively sanitize their financial transactions and I said to them that, look, if you Polytechnic Ibadan would be coming to us for subvention, we also have the right to know your IGR. Your IGR should not be opaque while you’re asking me for more money. No. If we both can agree that there is a genuine gap, we can address it. But you can’t keep your IGR at the back so I won’t see it and you are just coming to request for money. Of course, people will try to blackmail the government but I think we stood our ground and we are moving in the right direction.
And for LAUTECH, this was a problem that has been there for more than 12 years. There had been PDP governments in both Oyo and Osun states, but they could not solve it. There was a time when the governors of both states were APC, but they still could not solve it. But when we came in, we said, look, this is so important to us. It used to be the best state-owned University and they lost all of that. We were single-minded in what we thought we wanted out of LAUTECH and with our negotiations with Osun State, we were also single-minded. There was no ego involved. I said to my colleague in Osun State, Governor Gboyega Oyetola, though we belong to different political parties, that we should establish the fact that this joint ownership has not worked. So, if we agree, let us work out the details. We brought in Deloitte, NUC and others. They worked out the details and it was signed off.
Again, we made a decision here based on data and logic. So, if it was logical for Osun State to own LAUTECH, which is physically located here in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, if it made sense, then we said they should own it. I said that what we should be talking about should be how to get value for our interest? If you are riding on logic, it is a lot easier to get alignment and that is what we have done.
Well, I slashed the school fees because we have been getting requests and we have also been looking at their books. You know this is part of cutting the cost of governance, because it is the same template we gave to them: How much are you collecting from these people? How much are we giving you? What is the actual request? And if we are making savings by doing things right, we can pass it on to the students and their parents and that is what we have done in LAUTECH.
Many states have been banning the activities of commercial motorcycle riders. Going by the nefarious activities of some Okada riders in the state, especially in Ibadan, when is Oyo State going to take action?
I have been asked this question many times and my standard response is, for you to have a supply, there must be demand. If no one is boarding okada, they will be out of business. So, if they are filling a gap, it is a different kind of discussion that you need to have. Though we have security issues, unruliness in the behaviour of some okada riders, and all of that, what we need to do is to regulate them. For us to regulate them and one thing that is foundational for us is identity management. We want to know who are those riding? They must get a permit. We must know who they are, where they are and the areas they are operating in. We are in the process of doing that. I don’t think we should just ban okada or restrict them to certain areas.
I took people to Ojoo to see how many people were boarding okada. From Ojoo to Iwo road, go and check the number of people that take okadas on that Express road; the number is few and I have tried it more than three times just to convince myself. So, why are people not taking okada on that axis? It is because you have enough Micra cars out there and the road is such that people are moving at a fast pace, and the road is not that great.
We went to the old Toll Gate and I asked them to tell me how many people they see boarding okada from there to, say Ogunmakin, the border community between Oyo State and Ogun states. Why are they not doing that? We should create superhighways. How come when I go to my Estate at Kolapo Ishola, we don’t have okadas in there? If you go inside the IITA, you don’t have okadas in there, and few estates like that.
Yes, you can see them in some general areas where people going short distances use them. I liken the ban on okada to a Police officer chasing after prostitutes. Yes, it is fine to see them stand by the roadside and you go and arrest them. But that is the supply side, what about the demand side? What have you done to the people demanding the services of those prostitutes? So, the okada is like that. If the transportation system is such that they are filling a gap, it is okay. And for many of them, that is the only legitimate thing they are doing for a living. So, do you want to turn them into armed robbers? I have been to China and I don’t see those okadas on the major highways but I see them on streets all over. So, if you have demand, you would also have supply and if you try to suppress the process, they will go underground.
In 1980/1981, Nigeria was going through economic hardship then and that was when we started seeing civil servants using their vehicles as cabs. So, if we have to address a problem, we must go to the roots of the problem. If we say we don’t want Okada after 8 p.m., how do we enforce it? To make an announcement is the easiest thing. So, in Oyo State, we would allow them to keep operating but we will regulate them through identity management and engagements as much as they are filling a gap.
Go to Kigali, Rwanda. We have okadas out there but they are well-organized. They wear vests and behave well on the roads and the authorities know who they are. So, for us, we will carry out the identity management on them and give them those trackable vests. Yes, we can track okada riders and people stepping out of line will be made to face the music for their transgressions. And when new people come in, you identify them almost immediately, because it is either they register or they go out there without their identity being known. And for those ones, it would be easier to track them and take them off the streets. It is a work in progress and their engagements are ongoing.
How soon should people expect these regulations?
Actually, it is a work in progress. The engagement is ongoing. We have the buy-in of the operators themselves and their unions. I believe in a few months, we should have gotten there because we have to issue physical ID cards to them and we have to give them jackets that are trackable. They pay N100 every day. Let me tell you some of the challenges that we have there. When they came to me, I asked how many are you guys even? They said they could bring out from their register about 50,000 operators. I said if you are 50,000 and you pay N100 every day, that is N5 Million and, in a month, it is N150 Million but the government is getting only N10 Million. So, some people are getting N140 Million and they have vested interests. Whether they are civil servants or park managers, some people are getting that money monthly. So, you have to try and pull everybody in, even if the government is saying, ‘look guys, we are losing, you are gaining. We can get to a lose-lose situation, because the populace is crying because of security issues, they say you okada riders are unruly, that they are banning you everywhere but I don’t want to ban you; I want us to work together.
I said ‘instead of you guys getting N140 Million through the back door, let us say you get N70 Million but that 70 million would have to pass through a proper channel, I can sign off on it and so, whatever we collect daily, they take 50 percent of it. The government will take 50 percent of it but it has to be taken through a proper POS, I can account for it.’ So, there are still some engagements to be done further down the line.
Please, take me up on this, we can go to Kigali and check out what they have done. This is a place where they were at war 20-something years ago, but now the current French President bypassed Nigeria, visited them and stayed there for two days. If we solve that problem, it is solved. When others are coming in, you don’t know them, you ask questions. We want to be able to get on the street, flag an okada down, and say, you, where is your ID card? They must carry it on them. Though here in Nigeria, we cannot manage an ordinary national ID card properly, that is federal. For Oyo State, we should be able to do things right and if we are successful, others can replicate. But I don’t think and mark it, in all the places okadas were banned, give them six months, they will be back there because they are filling a gap.
Having talked about how far you have gone in just two years, what are your goals for the next two years?
Yes, we will continue to look at those four pillars. On education, we have to consolidate. On health, we said we must have in every ward in Oyo State, a functional primary health centre that will have solid buildings, equipment and be well-staffed. That was part of the reasons I went to NYSC Orientation Camp at Iseyin last week, because I wanted to know the number of medical doctors and other health workers that they have as corps members. And just like we signed an MoU with IITA on Agriculture, we signed an MoU with UCH on the consultants and health care personnel. Yes, I want to sign an MoU with NYSC.
We have 33 local governments in Oyo State and 351 wards. For each of those local governments, some have 10 wards, some 11, some 12 and the highest being 14. So, to start with, the Primary Health Care Board only has 17 doctors for the entire state. So, I said I want one doctor in every local government, which should be 33. Then, let us use NYSC doctors to back them up. So, if we sign the MoU with NYSC, they know that they must get 33 doctors for us in every batch, and we also have to make the atmosphere conducive for them. At Igbo-Ora General Hospital Annex, which we recently renovated, you see the Doctor’s quarters. So, in every local government, they must have Doctors’ quarters. Those people are there and they manage the PHCs at the ward level.
We have had to be deliberate about what we do and we are coming from inside a hole that the state was dug into by past administrators. Now, I believe we have stopped digging in Oyo State but we are yet to climb out. So, over the next two years, we need to climb out, we need to continue to expand our economy.
Like I said, we have stabilised as far as agribusiness is concerned. We believe we have made our position known to the entire world. In terms of infrastructure, targeting our economy, we are also making progress out there.
So, what are the next quick wins for us? Tourism, internal tourism to attract people, which is already happening. Two weeks ago, I had folks from Lagos that came to Ibadan to play golf with us. Every Friday, Ibadan is always locked up because a lot of people are coming from Lagos, Abeokuta to come to Ibadan and enjoy themselves. We have the Dry Port, which I believe we can achieve within a year. We have the rail corridor to develop and a new business district is coming up there. So, the next two years we are also going to be as exciting as these previous two years. We have quite a bit still to do. We have the expansion of our Airport. We want to bring more airlines in here. We want all our people, rather than go to NAHCO Shed in Lagos to clear their goods, we want them to do that here in Ibadan and just turn back and go wherever they want to go. For cargoes meant for Lagos, NAHCO Shed is meant for them but if it is going to Ogun State, maybe Abeokuta, Ijebu ode, Benin to the South East or Ilorin, Osun, Ondo, Ibadan is far better than Lagos, because you have 120 kilometres that you don’t need to drive through if you clear your goods in Ibadan and turn back. Even those 120 kilometres take you only to the Old Toll Gate in Lagos. If you are going to NAHCO Shed, you still have almost two hours of serious traffic through Oshodi and all of those places. So, I want those headaches that Lagos is having if they will translate to more revenues for us and that is why we are building the infrastructure to ensure that the head does not ache that much.
What are your thoughts on restructuring and true federalism and would you say the current constitution is a waste of time? Also, when are you going to pay the sacked local government chairmen, who won at the Supreme Court?
Did they win? There is a process. Why did we dissolve them in the first instance? They held elections into 68 local governments and LCDAs and we said, look, the Nigerian Constitution only recognises 33 local government areas of Oyo State.
Okay, what the Supreme Court basically said with their judgment is that they are not even going to look at why we dissolved them; that it is their policy that governors should not dissolve local governments but the Court can dissolve them. So, they expected that I should have gone to Court, and then, they would look at the case and dissolve them. But, I know if I had gone to Court, it would have taken them much time to come to judgement, they would have used their entire term. As a result, that would have become an academic exercise. Now, they will still need to go to Court to interpret the constitution and say, okay, we have 68 chairmen but only 33 are recognised by the Constitution of Nigeria. Which ones do we pay? So, it is still a long process.
On the issue of restructuring, before now, if you want to apply to University, you apply to that University, you do their exam. If they think you are a good student, they admit you. Then some people were not getting into the University that way. So, they created JAMB, and then with JAMB, we started hearing of educationally-disadvantaged states and all that. What that has done is to drag everybody down to the same level and that is what some of us are fighting against, asking for true federalism and restructuring.
What we are saying is, look, don’t level down everything for everybody. Some of us may want to develop at our own pace. We set the standard for ourselves in Oyo State. For instance, we have set the standard of the road from Moniya to Iseyin as the state’s standard. If that is the state’s standard, I don’t want you to go to Ologuneru and Eruwa and see something different or go to Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho Road and see something of a lower standard. Anywhere we are fixing state roads, that is the standard.
So, restructuring, fiscal federalism go just beyond state police or federal allocations and all of that. I mean it is striking at the fundamentals of how do we progress as a people? The country must allow the state or people to develop at their own pace. We shouldn’t say because some people are backward, then everybody should be brought to the same starting line.
There was this speculation that you wanted to defect to the APC at some point. What is the true situation of things?
Is APC a party that anybody will want to cross to? It can never happen. Here, when we came in, they were saying the previous administration was the architect of modern Oyo State; they said they constructed roads and I asked them to tell me the roads they constructed and calculate the kilometres of the road. We listed all of them and discovered that, for eight years, they did not do up to 40 kilometres of road and you can investigate that. I can list those roads they started and completed for eight years.
If you are coming to Ibadan from that Toll Gate interchange, they came down to Challenge, went to Orita, and that is just for that axis. When you get to Dugbe through Eleyele, Jericho, they got a spur to Aleshiloye, that rail line, and then to after Police Headquarters, and they came towards the Pension House. That is for that axis too. They did 6 kilometres from the first roundabout in Iseyin to somewhere within the town. They completed that. They did the overhead bridge at Mokola. And that was all. If you see any other one anywhere else, please tell me.
They started the Saki Township road but didn’t finish it. We took it up, and at their own cost, we saved N1.5billion through Alternative Project Funding Approach. The Idi-Ape to Iwo road interchange, we finished it. We are doing the road all the way from Idi-Ape to Akobo-Ojurin.
The issue is I am not in politics because I am desperate for any position, I was looking for an opportunity to serve. But APC? No. That is not a platform that anyone will even be interested in. If they have done well for Nigeria at least from 2015 till now, they are in the best position to judge. They can set an agenda for all of us and tell us those things that they have done. The PDP governors go everywhere, commissioning major infrastructure projects, how come APC governors are not doing that? I have been to Adamawa to commission projects. I have been to Rivers. They are more than us and how come they are not going to commission projects in their different states? So, the APC defection rumour is a lie from the pit of hell and it is not going to happen.