From the Utilitarian standpoint, the actions of a government should be judged by the extent it contributes to overall utility in maximizing happiness or pleasure as summed among all people. It is, then, the total utility of individuals which is important here, “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people”. Most truly democratic societies are constructed on this philosophical plank. Any government that deviates from performing its primary task of providing for its citizens, whose authority it holds in trust, renders itself illegitimate-unworthy of their mandate to continue managing their affairs.
Nigeria has been battling the scourge of bad leadership with its concomitant negative multiplier effects – corruption, poverty, insecurity, conflicts, joblessness, instability etc. – since independence. At all levels (Federal, State and Local) and arms (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) of government, patriotic, purposeful, productive and altruistic leadership has remained an elusive utopia. Bad leadership has become the country’s Albatross. For a country that was expected to spearhead an African renaissance, Nigeria has largely underperformed, thanks to a series of avoidable blunders by a succession of seemingly clueless, visionless, impassive and unpatriotic leaders whose infamies have thrown the country back to the dark ages. Twenty years since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, the story remains the same.
On September 6th, 2019, the President and most of the elected governors, who took oaths of office on May 29, 2019, marked their 100 days in office. But apart from a few of these constituent heads, who have hit the ground running, others, by their body languages, are still wallowing in the frenzy of their election victories, oblivious of the huge responsibilities placed on their shoulders by the electorate. As has been the tradition in these parts, the popular sovereigns are resigned to waiting in apprehension for their leaders to kickstart the processes of practicalizing their pre-election promises.
However, in the midst of the uncertainties that have so far trailed the onset of the new phase of the country’s democracy, especially as it concerns altruistic, productive and objective leadership that has the common good at heart, there is a glimpse of hope that all is not yet lost. Seyi Makinde, the incumbent Oyo State Governor is the new symbol of hope who is speedily carving a niche for himself and setting precedents on good leadership. No sooner had he received the gubernatorial gauntlet on May 29th, 2019, following his victory at the polls, that he quickly hit the ground running with the sole motive of restoring Oyo State to its former place of pride as the Pacesetter State.
Governor Makinde’s first move in public office was to publicly declare his assets, in line with the Guidelines of the Code of Conduct Bureau, which was in fulfilment of his pre-election promise, unlike most of his counterparts in other constituencies who refused to make their assets known to the public after securing their victories at the polls, despite pre-election promises to do so.
Recognizing education as the bedrock of development, the governor embarked on a radical review and reformation of the education sector. He declared that 10% of the state budget would be dedicated to education. He abolished the educational levy of N3,000 which students of public schools in the State were required to pay by the previous administration. He has ensured an upward review of budgetary allocation to the sector to 10%, up from 3% by the outgone administration, in the 2019 budget cycle. In an act of magnanimity, he donated his salary for the period covering his tenure in office (four years) to the Oyo State Teachers’ Pension Fund, in fulfilment of an earlier promise made during his campaign. He also declared that his monthly salary would be used to augment the salaries of the pensioners in the State, and equally pledged to ensure the prompt and regular payment of salaries of civil servants working for Oyo state on the 25th day of every month. He made a payment of N280m for pensions and gratuity to 100 civil servants on Grade Level 1 to 17 who retired in 2012.
Furthermore, Governor Makinde has abolished entrance examination fees from Primary School to Junior Secondary School 1; offset N1.4bn as gratuity owed to about 1,000 teachers who retired from public service between 2010 and 2012; procured over two million exercise books for over 450,000 pupils in Oyo State public primary and secondary schools; inaugurated committees to investigate the issues stalling the smooth running of Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa, and Oke Ogun Polytechnic, Saki; and provided law school students’ of Oyo State extraction a bursary of N500,000 to enable them complete their pursuit of academic honours. The bursary payment had been suspended since 2012.
In his commitment to excellence, Governor Makinde has looked beyond partisan political lines, gender, age and other discriminatory considerations in assembling a compact and formidable cabinet of technocrats who have carved niches for themselves in their past callings. He supported the emergence of the youngest Speaker, Honourable Debo Ogundoyin, in the South-West, appointed the versatile and charismatic 27-year- old- Seun Fakorede as Commissioner of Sports, as well as the first-ever female Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun.
Governor Makinde’s belief that transparency and accountability are the building blocks of the economic stability of the State, has culminated in the establishment of a Due Process Office, followed by the appointment of a Director-General, Mrs Tara Adefope. He has initiated an Executive Bill, the Oyo State Financial Crimes Commission Bill, which is meant to check financial impropriety by both public servants and private sector operatives, to the Oyo State House of Assembly. Again, a ten- man investigative body has been inaugurated to review contracts awarded by the previous administration between 2017 and 2019.
Realizing the strategic role security plays in the growth of a society, Governor Makinde hosted the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission Security Summit to advance support for a regional approach to security challenges in South-West Nigeria. In furtherance of this objective, he bought 100 vehicles for use by the security agencies in Oyo State, moved proactively to nip in the bud and resolve the leadership crisis in the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers, Oyo State chapter, mediated in and resolved the butchers’ crisis at Ibadan Abattoir, and hosted the South-West Geopolitical Zone Security Summit, organized by the Inspector-General of Police, to discuss measures the Nigeria Police Force, in partnership with other security agencies, is putting in place to address insecurity in the region.
In further pursuit of his security objectives, Governor Makinde, a firm believer in the power of inclusivity, granted amnesty to 35 prisoners on June 12 to mark the Democracy Day, established a panel to look into cases of wrongful dismissal of civil servants in fulfilment of a campaign promise, established a State Advisory Council with a multiparty makeup to advise the government on the implementation of its development programmes and policies, and reopened and renamed “Freedom Bridge,” the overhead bridge linking the state secretariat to signify a new dawn in Oyo State.
In the areas of investment and development, the governor transmitted the first Executive Bill, Oyo State Investment Promotion Agency Bill, to the Oyo State House of Assembly. The bill is to initiate, promote and facilitate investments in the state. He has held strategic meetings with the World Bank representatives to fast-track developmental projects which the bank is assisting with, and with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria where he promised to assist with improving the infrastructure and security at the airport thereby opening up Oyo State for investment and trade. He inaugurated and received an economic and investment report from Oyo Ile Investors’ Forum, a non-governmental organisation; held strategic engagement with agri-sector stakeholders during the Oyo State Agribusiness Strategic Planning Retreat which included a tour of the renowned Songhai farms to replicate the model in Oyo State; entered a public-private partnership arrangement with agritech company, Farmcrowdy, to commence a three-year plan working with 50,000 farmers to boost agribusiness in Oyo State.
Governor Seyi Makinde has set the pace for others to follow. He is the standard to beat. He is an exemplary leader who walks his talk. Within just a few months into his four years tenure he has astounded both critics and fans with his all action, bold and focused approach to governance, churning out remarkable results in the process. His actions on assuming office, his strategic appointments and general commitment to public service are sterling attributes that set him apart from the rest.
Governor Seyi Makinde has started off on a firm footing, no doubts. He should continue on the trajectory that has defined his remarkable journey so far. He should remain firm and resolute in his resolve to restore the waning fortunes of Oyo State and its people. He must avoid cavorting with sycophants and trumpeters. There will definitely be mistakes and challenges along the way, but he must not be discouraged by these momentary inconveniences. He should pay heed to constructive criticisms, improving on the areas of weakness, while consolidating on the areas of strength. Only the welfare of his people should be his paramount concern.
Governor Seyi Makinded, the incumbent Chief-Executive-Officer of Oyo State, is a true champion of the progressive type of politics; a symbol of responsible, responsive, accountable leadership; a pure student of the Utilitarian school of practical politics. He is a leader that is worth emulating by other elected Nigerians manning leadership positions at the various levels and arms of government.