This Essay was submitted by Muhammadulfatiu Adepeju
“Oyo state’s average recurrent expenditure at N7.7bn (2016) is high, and drastic action needs to be taken to correct the abnormalities, given that her monthly revenue is approximately N4.2bn. This can barely settle the personnel costs with nothing left for capital investment. Oyo needs strategic thinkers to position it as a hub to Lagos, a city 120km away from her capital.” —BudgIT, 2016.
“For some years now, stakeholders in the Oyo state education sector have continued to lament the free fall of the system such that the state has become a laughing stock among states, not only in the south-west region but the country as a whole. THISDAY checks revealed that the state was the 26th in the last West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations.” — THISDAY, 2019.
A wraith is haunting Oyo — the wraith of its old glory. In the annal of its existence — from its empirehood to statehood — Oyo has always been a principal settlement of immense economic and political clout, a social avant-garde and pacesetter, and a nursery of leaders, barons, and an altogether loving people. Now, all that remain, are the loving people of the state. Many sectors critical to the development of the state are greatly crippled as a result of inadequate leadership, under-exploration, and systemic myopia, and these have over the years robbed Oyo state of its ‘pace-setter’ slogan. Out of sincere love for the state of our fathers, we, thereby, seek election to govern Oyo state to animate its greatness left to adorn historical literature.
Oyo state must be developed in all dimensions to become the 21st -century phoenix and the pride of West Africa. It is upon this that our agenda is to BUILD a modern state of Oyo which indigenes and visitors will be proud of. How do we intend to BUILD?
B – BUSINESS IN TOURISM (BIT)
Oyo state is home to the Agodi Gardens, the Bower’s Tower, Mapo Hall, Irefin Palace, Awba Dam, University of Ibadan Zoological Garden, and more. Our dream is to build a beautiful identity that is capable of stimulating local and international patronage as a state brand and creating a sustainable revenue scheme based on value. We shall invest in tourism infrastructure to ensure value-driven tourism as a strategy to increase internally generated revenue and maintain the flow of foreign cash into the state. Our key objective shall be to attract 5 million visitors a year by our third year in office and to position Oyo state as a top choice for local and international leisure and business travelers.
Our strategy will include initiating cultural exchange programmes with international neighbours, inviting storytellers and artistes to hold events at these sites, building co-working workstations for entrepreneurs and freelancers, and corporate spaces for famous stores and marts. Tourism has proven to be a strong resource in turning the fortunes of any nation. We will draw inspiration from the realisation of tourism exploration and development in Dubai. This will help swell the purse of the state, offer job opportunities, and name Oyo state on the world map.
U – ULTRAMODERN AGRICULTURE
If we remember that the once tallest building in tropical Africa — the Cocoa House — was built from proceeds from agricultural commodities, we will understand that the fortification of the agricultural sector is needful and vital to revamping our sunken economy. In past years, the growth and contribution of the sector have been stifled largely because of its very crude methods and government disregard. Our objective is to return Oyo state to being the core of agriculture and agro-processing in West Africa. Our policy thrusts include increasing the nine farm settlements in the state to fifteen and upgrading the facilities at these settlements to match modern demands, assessing and standardising the latent forest reserves and moribund fish estates, and empowering farmers with modern agronomics skills and training.
Also, corporate bodies will be encouraged to embark on Civic Social Responsibility projects that will boost agriculture in the state. We shall institute a board, to be led by an expert agronomist, which will facilitate our e-farming scheme aimed at creating wealth and job opportunities. Our commitment is to ensure the revival and modernisation of agriculture in Oyo state while providing jobs for many and boosting the economy.
I – INDUSTRY, INNOVATION, AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and fostering innovation as the burdens of the Social Development Goal 9 shall be our focus. These I’s are to every state as the eyes are to every human. Our objective will be to improve the welfare of the people of Oyo state through innovation, industrialisation, and equitable access to sustainable infrastructure.
The administration shall create a conducive environment for businesses and industries to thrive. We will create an empowerment trust fund to support SMEs and innovations. The curriculum and pedagogy of our technical schools will be reviewed and updated, and the staggering gap between schools and industries will be filled.
Our infrastructural focus is canopy-like. From providing modern roads, water supply, housing, electricity supply to health and educational facilities. We shall embark on robust repair of our roads and ensure quality execution. Some services will be privatised to ensure efficiency, alternative electricity schemes, i.e. the Independent Power Projects (IPP) will be explored. To reduce the pressure on our general hospitals, community clinics will be commissioned and staffed. Our schools will be refurbished and modernised. We hold it dear that Oyo state becomes the synonym of comfort.
L – LITERACY, EDUCATION, AND TECHNOLOGY (LET)
Literacy has become a key indicator of development in the modern world. It is defined as the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts (UNESCO). Now, with the current dynamics of the world, the adoption of technology in education has become even more important than ever.
It is our belief that “one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world”. Our policy thrusts include ensuring all-inclusive, quality education to all, digitisation and digitalisation of learning, creating opportunities, and facilitating exposures through state competitions and tournaments.
We plan to re-evaluate teachers’ proficiencies and raise the welfare of educators, seek partnerships to scale up and equip our schools (including schools for special needs children) with modern educational aids and technologies, reward outstanding students with cash gifts, awards, summer trips, and educational gadgets, and increase the number of adult education centres at the grassroots level.
At the core of our LET goal is to establish a profiting synergy between citadels of learning and industries.
D – DRIVEN YOUTH POPULATION AND SOCIAL INCLUSION
Nigeria is one of the countries with the largest youth population in the world. Oyo state, as a constituent of Nigeria, will no doubt have its share in this figure. Our objective, as a government,
is to build an energetic youth population that will contribute to the economy of the state and will participate in public affairs. We consider youths an invaluable asset to any society desiring far- reaching change and development. Among the many challenges that face youths in Oyo state, our government shall prioritise curbing the rife of teenage parenting and the high unemployment rate among youths. Our strategy will be to involve all relevant stakeholders towards ensuring a driven youth population in Oyo state. We shall increase the number of community vocational centres to upskill more youths towards self-reliance. This administration will see the mass entry of youths into agriculture. We shall ensure the preservation of dignity and honour of the youths and institute youth mobilization programmes. Our focal projects under this agenda are to build five youth centres across the state and to organise annual youth policy-conference, adopting the UN Model, which will be calledOyo Youths Model United Nations (OYMUN).
Despite the many potentials housed in the state, Oyo state has regressed into becoming a shadow of its old self. Considering how the state has fared in various indices of democracy and welfare, Oyo state has become a historical figure like Shakespeare — its grace only read in books and heard from the lips of the old. It is almost becoming a legend, in fact. A score year ago, the focus of governance became more inclusive and socially-oriented. This change came as a beacon light of hope to many who had felt the scathing sjambok of colonialization and eaten the horrible soup of junta. To the people of Oyo State, it gave a vista of restoration to come. But twenty-one years later, Oyo state is yet to record significant improvements. Given these hard realities, our mission is, therefore, to drive growth and ensure transcendental development in Oyo state through inclusive governance and robust partnerships. We are motivated by the vision of a globally-competitive Oyo state whose inhabitants indigenes and visitors alike — are proud to name. Driven by the democratic values of liberty, inclusion, and servant-leadership, we believe that we will earn the trust in the sincerity of our intent and sustain the confidence in our capacity to deliver on our promises.