On Wednesday, May 29, Seyi Makinde took the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office as new Governor of Oyo State. During his campaign, Makinde promised to bring down ‘Omi tuntun’, ‘Fresh water’, on the state, so that residents of the state who thirst for the dividends of democracy can drink to their fill.
Makinde’s fresh water is expected to fall on critical areas like education, agriculture and food security, health care, infrastructure, youth empowerment, and percolate down through populist policies to the dry mouths of the citizens.
The people are excited and are looking forward to an abundant life, as promised by Makinde.
But their excitement is tinged with fear given the notoriety of Nigerian politicians to break the people’s heart. Nevertheless, I think Makinde is different. I have watched him speak at different events and he appeared a man in earnest, like a freshman attending his first lectures. I have also read his campaign manifesto: Oyo State Road Map for Accelerated Development (2019-2023), where he elucidated his eight-point agenda for the state, and it is a thorough document, although it contains some promises that do not square with reality.
However, it is a good guide to good governance. And if it is not tossed into the trash bin, it can lift Oyo State from the morass of underdevelopment.
Top on Makinde’s agenda is to make Oyo State the centre of agriculture and agro-processing in Nigeria; the hub of investment destination in Nigeria; one of the major contributors of non-oil exports in Nigeria; and to achieve a productive industrial base for Nigeria. These lofty ambitions are commendable. And they are obviously aimed at reclaiming Oyo State’s position as the pacesetter state in Nigeria. But one area where I believe much work is needed is the education sector, which is keeling over in the sweltering heat of neglect.
Many public primary and secondary schools are what they were eight years ago, some even worse: no new teachers, classrooms, laboratories or books. That is why Oyo State has fallen precipitously in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination national performance ranking.
The ranking is done by the West African Examination Council, and it is based on the performance of candidates who passed five subjects in the examination, including Mathematics and English in the 36 states and the FCT. Oyo State ranked 29th in 2017 and 26th in 2018, behind educationally less developed states like Borno and Adamawa.
Agodi was not troubled that Oyo State was no longer setting the pace in education. It was content with trailing behind those it ought to lead.