AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF OYO STATE
Good day and compliment of the season to you sons and daughters of Oyo State.
Precisely on the 3rd of February, 1976, thirty-eight years ago, our state, Oyo State was created by the then military government led by Late General Murtala Mohammed, the then old western state was divided into Ogun, Ondo and Oyo states respectively. In 1991, Osun state was carved out of what today is known as Oyo state.
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 the warriors our forefathers in the old Oyo empire is still been 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), the first skyscraper to have been built in Africa (Cocoa-House). All these were made possible by the sacrificial lives that our founding fathers lived.
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 specific time limit. It is so difficult to point to any significant development in the state in the past 38 years, as a State called Pace-setter. As a Pacesetter we suppose to be setting the pace for others to follow. “Aji se bi Oyo la ri. Oyo ki se bi enikokan” which is literarily translated to mean; Oyo will always set the pace and never copy others.
The political leaders we have had in the state in the past 38years have obviously refused to be great and make their foot-prints known in the history of the state. Their understanding of greatness seems to be skewed around making their pocket “great”. They have refused to take care of the poor, the sick and the underprivileged. They are set of leaders that take from the poor and give to the rich.
Meanwhile, on a more serious note, by now we suppose to have embarked on free, compulsory and qualitative education for all school age children to the University level; By now we suppose to have the best designed, constructed and maintained roads network in our cities (I am not talking of the city roads without side-walks) and even take a bold step to construct four-lane carriageways from IBADAN linking and leading to IGBETI-SAKI-KISHI-SEPETERI-OKEHO-ILORA-AWE-ILERO-OYO-ISEYIN-ERUWA-LANLATE-IGBOHO-IGBOORA-OGBOMOSHO respectively. By now all the 33 Local Government establishments should have gotten their befitting and well-equipped Health Centers, Sports Complexes / Mini Stadia, and Libraries (please check around if there is any library near your house). We have not seen any International companies or new important private companies springing up apart from Event Centers and Shopping Plazas syndrome that litter our streets. We have not thought of constructing what supposed to be 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 the State roads? Roads are being constructed in the cities without making necessary provision for pedestrian's lane (side-walks), bus-stops and drainage mechanism, but flowers were given priority. Where are our streets publics taps gone to when there is a Ministry of Water Resources with qualified engineers? Why embarking on street lights project if there will be no provision for maintenance mechanism? 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 one of the basic necessity for human beings, talk-less of thinking about public parking space for vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles. The results of NECON and WAEC examinations have been poor in the last five years but the State house of Assembly have not debated once on having well-equipped libraries in all the thirty-three local governments in the State. When are we going to have a State own Newspapers to serve as information dissemination link between the government and citizens? This could even generate employment opportunities for our unemployed graduates. Are we saying our tourist centers like Bower Tower, Agodi Botanical garden, Iya-mopo and Agbele hills in Igbeti cannot generate revenue to the government if well rehabilitated and kept under good management? 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. What use is a policeman on the road 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.
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 Friday 3rd 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 will be attended to soonest. This protest explains my believe 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. 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 Pa Chinua Achebe once said when referring to the major problems of this country 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 of all sons and daughters of Oyo state (including those residing abroad) to 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 only getting employed 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. We seem to have gotten to an era of winning elections by achievements in the state. There are many and better ways to compensate 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 citizens live within that period when he/she had not done anything to 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 and sensitive post is corruption as well. The State is so blessed with both natural and human resources than to be engaging in this kind of democratic mediocrity. Governance is a complex issue that deserves professionals and competent hands. No state can develop without having good leaders, people of trust, integrity, experience, responsibility, empathy, patriotism and credibility. 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 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 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 general election gives them opportunities to decide our new representatives. We should register so we can 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. Oyo State citizens deserve the best because we are the Pace-setter. God blesses the good people of Oyo State. God blesses Nigeria
Adewale T Akande, an Author and Road Safety Traffic Consultant based in Barcelona, Spain Tel: 0034-6008772962/ 08125896631; [email protected] Adewale is presently in Nigeria on World Bank project assignment on implementation of Governance Accountability Action Plan (GAAP) with Federal Ministry of Works.