AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF OYO STATE
Good day and compliment of the season to all sons and daughters of Oyo State.
Precisely on the 3rd of February this year, Oyo State clocked 38 years. In 1976, our able State was created by the then military government led by Late General Murtala Mohammed from the then old Western State which was divided into Ogun, Ondo and Oyo states respectively. In 1991,Osun state was carved out from Oyo state which as of today is having 33 local governments.
Our dear state, Oyo is noted for its prominent historical and physical landmarks in art, science and culture. Up till date, the exploits and brilliance of our warrior-forefathers in the old Oyo Empire is still being talked about. We are proud to have the first University in Nigeria (1948), the first teaching hospital in Nigeria (UCH), the first television station in Africa (NTA Ibadan), the first ever sports stadium built in Africa (Liberty Stadium-now Obafemi Awolowo stadium), the first skyscraper to have been built in Africa (Cocoa-House). All these were efforts of the sacrificial initiative of late Obafemi Awolowo as the first Premier that spent government money to better the lives of the citizens. No generation will forget him.
My people of Oyo State, now, thirty-eight years after the creation of the State (from 3rd of February, 1976) and fifteen years of democratic government in the state (from 29th of May, 1999), we have not seen any major development in the state apart from the continuation of roads construction and rehabilitations by subsequent governments without time-limit. It is so difficult to point to any landmark or significant infrastructure in the state in the past 38 years ago as a Pace-setter of all State (am not talking of Shoprite or eatry joints). As Pacesetters, we are meant to be setting the pace for others to follow. “Aji se bi Oyo laari, Oyo kii se bi enikookan” which when literarily translated means that Oyo will always set the pace and never copy others. The understanding of greatness to new generation leaders seem to be skewed around making their pocket “great” and not making their foot-prints known in the history of the state. They have refused to take care of the poor, the sick and the underprivileged. They are a set of leaders that take from the poor and give to the rich. That is why they cannot be remembered for good things.
Meanwhile, on a more serious note, by now the State is supposed to have embarked on free, compulsory and qualitative education for all school age children to the University level(children are still hawking during school time at Dugbe, Challenge, Iwo Road and Ojoo roads respectively). By now we are supposed to have the best designed, constructed and maintained roads network in our cities especially where people live (the city roads with side-walks and bus-stops) and even take a bold step to construct four-lane carriageways linking and leading to IGBETI-SAKI-KISHI-SEPETERI-OKEHO-ILORA-AWE-ILERO-OYO-ISEYIN-ERUWA-LANLATE-IGBOHO-IGBOORA-OGBOMOSHO respectively. Is it a taboo to have a railway transport along with four or five lanes highway from Ibadan to Ogbomosho?. By now, all the 33 Local Governments should have gotten their befitting and well-equipped Health Centers, Sports Complexes / Mini Stadia, and Libraries (please check around if there is any public library near your house). We have not seen any International companies or new important private companies springing up apart from “owanbe” Event Centers or Shopping Plazas syndrome that litter our landscape. We have not thought of constructing the biggest hospital in Nigeria to consolidate our first teaching hospital record in Nigeria. When are we going to have a road traffic management with zero pot-holes commitments on all state roads for other State to emulate? Great development is possible with great cabinet.
Roads are being constructed and rehabilitated in the cities without making necessary provision for pedestrian side-walks, bus-stops and drainage mechanism, but flowers are given priority-we could not even see professional touches from the planting of those flowers as if there are no horticulture graduates in the State. Our new markets and the old ones like Akesan, Oja-Igbo, Akangbe, Sango (Saki), Anko, Maya, Towobowo, Bodija and Sango (Ibadan) markets should be giving a face-lift respectively with well-managed modern entrance tolls to generate revenue for the State. The government has to invest more on agriculture and wood production. Where are our streets public tap-water gone to when there is a Ministry of Water Resources with engineers?I remember my secondary schools when coming back from school to stop for a drink at nearby government tap-water. Why is it difficult to number and name our streets when there is a Ministry of Land and Housing? Our subsequent leaders do not make provision for public toilet as basic necessity for human beings, talk-less of thinking about public parking space for vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.
Results of NECO and WAEC have been poor in the last seven years but the state House of Assembly have not yet debated on possible teaching-learning solutions and having well-equipped libraries in all the thirty-three local governments in the state. We still see children and people begging for arms and hawking on our roads. When are we going to have a State-owned Newspaper to serve as information dissemination link between the government and citizens and even generate employment opportunities for our graduates on the streets? Are we saying our tourist centers like Bower's Tower, Agodi Botanical garden, Iyamopo, Agbele hill in Igbeti and other undeveloped tourist sites in the State cannot generate revenue to the government if well rehabilitated and kept under good management?(the State is having more than fifty tourist cities to explore) Our Police do not have any equipment to defend themselves talk-less of defending helpless citizens if at all they still belong to federal authority or of what use is a policeman without walkie-talkie to communication in the case of an emergency?. All these dividends of democracy and good governance are possible with good leaders with definiteness of purpose and competent team with a spirit of harmony.
Moreover, the above unfulfilled necessities among other reasons made me to stage a one-man-on-spot-peaceful-protest at Akobo General Gas Junction for the urgent dualization of Idi-Ape-Akobo Ojurin- Olorunda road on 3rd of January,2014. The protest was a success from the responses of the residents, motorists plying Akobo and the media. In addition, the State government also responded by a letter sent to me through the Oyo state Ministry of Works and they assured me that this road issue would be attended to soonest after budget presentation. The Governor even promised on BCOS television live programme to start the road dualization and rehabilitation in August but up till the time of writing this piece, nothing has been done.(just got another letter of acknowledgement to a reminder I sent to the Governor/Ministry of works). This protest explains my belief that the best ways to touch the people's lives at the grass-root level is to make all roads available and accessible with provision of effective transportation system and infrastructure for improvement to the quality of life within the State communities regardless of size and location. A good leader must not lead by votes. Infrastructure is a fixed provision of tangible assets on which other intangibles can build on.
Meanwhile, it is no more news that all the problems are consequences of recruiting (voting) bad leaders. Late Prof. Chinua Achebe once said when referring to the major problems of the nation that “…is simply and squarely a failure of leadership…there is nothing basically wrong with the Nigeria character”. I am a Yoruba boy that knows the implication of respect so much. I am now using this forum to appeal to the kings, chiefs, elders and political elites in the state to unite and bring back the state to its known history of achievements. It is a matter of collective effort and responsibility, all sons and daughters of Oyo state (including those residing abroad) we must unite and work to raise hope in making the best of the state. Our parents sent us to school to learn. Our elders gave us scholarships so as to get good education and be well informed. Our elders should think over the present style of recruitment of staffs into sensitive political posts in the state ,the sons and daughters of known and influential people are the only ones getting appointed into these sensitive posts. This is clearly against the principle of good governance and best international standard for recruitment.
A true democratic government is the best concept for the growth of any state or nation. Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people and NOT and can NEVER be a government of some people by some people and for some people. There are many and better ways to compensate political godfathers rather than to continue to toy with the lives of the citizens. An incompetent commissioner / person recruited and sacked within two or four years is a waste to the state economy and at the same time has wasted the citizen's lives within that period when he/she had not make any policy that touch their lives. It is not only embezzlement of fund or stealing from the treasury that is called corruption but recruiting incompetent candidate to a legal sensitive post is corruption as well. The state is so blessed with both natural and human resources than to think on this kind of democratic mediocrity. Governance is a complex issue that deserves professionals and competent hands. No state can develop without having good cabinet, people of trust, integrity, experience, responsibility, empathy, patriotism and credibility. Have you seen any football team making any great impact without very good players? There is no miracle to socio-economic development except good leaders.
Finally, this is time for a New Oyo State with a clear difference and from disappointments to opportunities. This is the time to change from obscurity to reality and say goodbye to the politics of hatred and deceit. We need a team of achievers and not deceivers. We need statesmen and not dubious, do-or-die or ego oriented politicians. Enough is enough. A great state recognizes the principle that the public must be protected and served by the delivery of essential services. This is time that we need a state where our collective political support, ideas, and effective strategies will lift large numbers of Oyo state citizens out of poverty. When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.
I am now imploring the people of Oyo state to be law abiding and pay their taxes as usual. The coming general elections will give us opportunities to decide wisely to elect our new representatives. We should register so we can be able to vote. Our vote is our voice and we should vote for the best candidate en-masse even if he or she doesn't belong to our party. The era of winning elections by achievements in the State has come to stay. Oyo State citizens deserve the best as a Pace-setting State. God bless the good people of Oyo State. God bless Nigeria
Adewale T Akande,
An Author and Road Safety Traffic Consultant
based in Barcelona, Spain. [email protected] Tel;0034632511469 (Spain) / 002348125896631(Nigeria)