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SIX MONTHS AFTER, STILL WAITING ON AJIMOBI

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In his inauguration speech at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan on 29 May, 2011 the then newly elected governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi talked about offering superior governance that will produce results that will supercede the achievements of his predecessors all the way back to the administrations of late Chief Bola Ige and Alhaji Lam Adesina.

It was a remarkable speech that elicited celebration of what is to come across the length and breadth of Oyo State, raising expectations to high heavens and foreshadowing a new era that the people had looked forward to when they trooped out in large number like never before to vote for him. Since then, the people have been waiting expectantly But now, gloom has replaced hope as Governor Abiola Ajimobi is celebrating his six months in office with yet no achievements to point at.

When journalists asked him to state the achievements of his administration when he clocked 100 days and nothing had happened beyond the empty promises he had made, he retorted that he signed for four years and not 100 days.

If the last six months of the Ajimobi administration is anything to go by, the damning verdict of the controversial elderly politician and former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Richard Akinjide that Governor Ajimobi was unprepared for the challenge of governance and is unlikely to perform may yet come to pass.

Expectedly, there were those who attributed’s prediction to dark motives, given that Chief Akinjide belong to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) whose governorship candidate Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala lost to Ajimobi in the April 2011 governorship election.

Some observers however now concur with Akinjide, even if reluctantly, given that the governor has wasted valuable time without appearing to have a firm grasp of governance and for not approaching his job with any sense of purpose or urgency. This is in spite of more than N40 billion revenue that has accrued to the state since he became governor. Since June the allocation to the state from the federal government has averaged N9 billion, not to mention internally generated revenue which is about N1.5 billion monthly.

Yet Governor Ajimobi came into office amid high expectation. Hyped to high heavens by his handlers, he was touted to be the best thing to happen to Oyo State since the groundbreaking administration of late Chief Bola Ige who governed the old Oyo State in the early 1980s. Ajimobi was lucky to be the major contender around when the Oyo State people, tired of Akala’s abrasive and ostentatious style of governance longed for change.

Articulate and charming, Ajimobi who had contested on the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2007 and lost to Akala defected to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Riding on the back of a popular movement for change, Ajimobi trounced Akala in the 2011 governorship election.

Any hope that Ajimobi is the change agent Oyo State need has been fast vanishing since he came to power last May as the people grapple painfully with the realization that, despite his lofty promises during pre-election campaign, he may not have the magic wand to turn the state around.

Ajimobi came into power promising to be the re-incarnation of legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first premier of Western Region who spearheaded many of the fundamental development projects which still abound across the Yoruba states. But given his ponderous style and some say his arrogance, he is fast losing the goodwill of the people so much so that Akala, so much maligned only a few months ago, is now being remembered with nostalgia.

On the strength of Ajimobi’s six months in office therefore, there is little or nothing to cheer about an over-hyped governor who appears to be overwhelmed by the demand of high political office. Under Ajimobi, Oyo State has become worse than he met it. The infrastructure has decayed. Ibadan is dirtier and the recent flood disaster in the ancient city which destroyed homes, roads and bridges has further degraded the quality of life in the ancient city.

The state has witnessed so many workers’ strikes in the six months he has been governor than any other state in the country. Student unrest, particularly at Ibadan Polytechnic and Ladoke Akintola University in Ogbomosho has become intermittent. Oyo State has gone backward as the governor, overwhelmed has simply found it difficult to get a handle on the demands of his office, a situation compounded by the un-ending bickering with leaders of his party and the poor quality of his cabinet .

Only recently, the ACN appointed council chairmen in the 33 local governments had to be sent packing from office after only three months by the state house of assembly for non-performance. Interestingly, the council chairmen did not dispute the accusation. Rather, they blamed their incompetence on the governor who they accused of starving the councils of funds.

As it were, the real fear is that Ajimobi may just end up going down in history as the worst governor Oyo State ever had. But he still has three and half years to prove skeptics wrong.

Tokunbo Gbadamosi lives in Ibadan.

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