Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi is the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Oyo South District. He broke the second term jinx as governor in 2015. Will he return to the Senate? Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU examines his chances at the poll.
Four years ago, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, governor of Oyo State, made history. He broke the second term jinx, thereby becoming the first governor to be re-elected for a second term. As the second term expires on May 29, the Ibadan-born politician hopes to return to the Senate, where he served as Deputy Minority Leader between 2003 and 2007.
The poll will not be a walk over for him. His rivals are Adesoji Akanbi of African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Dr. Kola Balogun of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The three major contestants are campaigning vigorously.
If Ajimobi is re-elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), he will be a ranking senator and elder statesman whose experience will assist in guiding proceedings in the Upper Chamber. He is highly respected in the APC, where his experience has been useful in mobilisation, reconciliation and crisis resolution.
When he was in the Senate, Ajimobi was not a bench warmer. As governor, he has endowed the Agodi Government House, Ibadan with honour. Ajimobi is perceived as a matured politician and a team player.
As a senator, he ploughed back to the constituency. Ajimobi established the first and the largest free vocational training centre in the history of Oyo State, offering training in computer engineering, computer operations, telephone engineering, fashion designing, hair dressing, tie and dye etc. The center has turned out over 20,000 students to date, who have secured employments in many reputable industries. The center has also been recognised and certified as a partner and training center by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF). Ajimobi also identified communities that lacked potable water in his district. He sunk boreholes. He also carried out many empowerment programmes in the district.
As governor, he enjoys tremendous goodwill. His greatest asset is maturity, which age, experience and wisdom could confer. He inherited a state in turmoil in 2011. Brigandage and violence had become the order of the day. Killings by factional drivers’ union defiled solution. Armed robbers were on the prawl in broad day light and banks were not insulated from their attacks. How to restore peace and security into a state of pandemonium where the rule of brawn had displaced the rule of law was his major priority.
Between 2011 and 2019, Ajimobi has restored sanity. Prevention, in his view, is better than cure. The starting point was the establishment of a well-equipped joint security outfit codenamed ‘Operation Burst.’ The governor also introduced the ‘Safe City’ project. Closed Circuit Television cameras were installed in many flash points. The efforts paid off. Criminals relocated from the state. Bank robbery stopped. To avert ethno-religious conflicts, the Oyo State Inter-religious/Ethnic Committee was set up to foster understanding in some heterogeneous communities.
The governor built on this achievement by establishing the Security Trust Fund that has donated multi-million naira equipment to security outfits and refurbished many grounded patrol vans. Due to security, night life was restored.
Ajimobi also fought the infrastructure battle. He was appalled by the poor environmental sanitation in Ibadan, the state capital, which earned it the unenviable sobriquet of the dirtiest state capital. The governor embarked on road construction across the state. Where necessary, flyovers were constructed. Other projects include the construction of ‘Restoration Bridge’ and dredging of rivers to avert flooding and its attendant loss of lives and property, restructuring of the solid waste management system for a cleaner and healthier environment, the initiation of the First Ibadan City Master Plan, and the Ibadan Beautification Project through the creation of green areas, parks (Temidire and Podo) and gardens (Agodi Gardens).
The governor’s attention is not diverted by the electioneering. He is still supervising the rehabilitation and reconstruction of existing roads, and the dualisation of entry roads into major towns. These include the on-going construction of 110km Ibadan Circular Road, the construction of 49.02km roads and rehabilitation of 684.12km roads by Oyo State Public Works, the activation of Ibadan City Master Plan, Ibadan Drainage Master, Ibadan Solid Waste Management Plan and Ibadan Urban Flood Management programme in conjunction with World Bank.
The Ajimobi administration has defended education in Oyo State. It has established the first technical university in the state. Owning to the provision of conducive leaning environment, the state got the best West African School Leaving result in 18 years. The School Governing Board was able to attract more than N2bn non-governmental investment in the education sector. The governor also introduced the Education Trust Fund.
The 628 secondary schools now have Governing Boards, which have injected over N2b into their infrastructure development. This is now being understudied for Southwest states. also, the introduction of Oyo State Model Education Intervention (Oyomesi) as a structured character building curriculum, the launch of the Digital Literacy Drive, Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and the professional training of teachers have been applauded. Besides, three model schools have been constructed and many secondary schools are being rehabilitated.
For ease of transportation, Ajimobi introduced the first mass transit system for the people. While citizens ride the buses at rock bottom controlled price, civil servants ride them free to and from their homes. Many people have hailed the governor for repositioning the Oyo State Transport System with 90 units of 63-seater buses at subsidized rates and providing another 100 units of 18-seater buses, in collaboration with the Industrial Development Bank. Also, modern motor parks and garages at Temidire and Podo were constructed.
In the health sector, the governor’s achievements are commendable. Under his leadership, Oyo became the first state to introduce the Health Insurance Scheme. A N50bn health endowment fund was lunched, in addition to the free health missions across the zones. Government also distributed medical equipment worth $2m to health facilities in the state.
Other achievements are the upgrading of the Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital, schools to colleges of Nursing and Midwifery, and the School of hygiene to College of Health Technology.
To promote industrialisation, the administration has provided a conducive atmosphere for investment to thrive. Thus, the state was rated as the fourth investment-friendly state by the NBS in 2016. According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), no fewer than 36 new companies sprung up and 3,884 people were employed. Also, direct Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth N22.8b was attracted.
Other achievements in the areas of trade and investment include Trade and Investment include the introduction the first State Industrial Policy in collaboration with UNIDO, four-Star rating as a well-qualified state to facilitate foreign and domestic investors by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC 2018), attracting FDI worth N22.8bn (NBS 2016), establishment of Polaris Free Trade Zone and Industrial Park on Lagos Ibadan Express way, upgrade of Oyo State College of Cooperative and Entrepreneurship Studies to an OND & HND Certificate Awarding Institution, Biometric Data Capturing for Informal Sector Operator, and onstruction of phase II of Bola Ige International Business Complex (BIIBCO), Gbagi through PPP to decongest phase I of the market.
Ajimobi has rehabilitated the existing water supply schemes at Eleyele and Asejire, resulting in 72 per cent water production in Ibadan and environs and improved water supply generally across the state. He completed the Iganna, Ayete, Ogbomoso, Asejire Waterworks and Eleyele mini-waterworks, and constructed six booster stations to boost urban water supply.
The state’s land, housing and survey has been restructured to prevent fromgrabbing, speculations and allocations based methods through automation, resulting in 60 days processing of Electronic Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), Home Owners Charter, Geographic Information System (Data Capturing), Land and House Enumeration in conjunction with Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV). The government also enacted the Land Grabbing Law. Stakeholders have also hailed the good foundation being laid in agriculture. These include the establishment of Oyo State Agricultural Initiative, AgricOyo; purchase of 388 units of tractors and implements for mechanized farming as 6,282ha of arable land was operated resulting in 40 per cent increase in land cultivation by farmers, establishment of Oyo State Pace Setter integrated organic Farm, Songhai Model, provision of 250,000 hectares of farm land to Agric investors in the state new agricultural land policy, N9 investment in rice production by Dangote group of companies, construction of 10,000mt mega silo in Oyo, establishment of two fertilizer blending plants in Oke Ogun and Ibarapa, construction and rehabilitation of 8,032.92km access roads across 28 Agrarian LGAs with 5,023,060 beneficiaries in the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) across the state, cconstruction of 500km of rural roads to promote Agric economy, and disbursement of N1.0bn soft loans and grant to farmers and N250m for anchor borrowers’ programme.
In solid minerals, Ajimobi established the Mineral Development Agency and incorporation of Pacesetter Mineral Development Company. He resuscitated the moribund Nigeria Marble Mining Company, Igbeti, and explored Talc Deposit in Ilero and environs
Youth and sports development have not been neglected. No fewer than 2,000 have benefitted from entrepreneurial training. The Permanent site of the NYSC at Agbakuta, Iseyin was inaugurated. Aslso, 5,000 were trained through the Oyo Ajumose Business Leadership programme OYO ABLE; N200m was released for youth empowerment through the Bank of Industry, and 300 artisans and tradesmen supported through the Oyo Nise Oyo Leko initiative. Government has also embarked on the estructuring, reorganization and inauguration of all sporting associations to enable them achieve the desired result and support the ‘Catch them Young’ initiative of the government, which has led to the increase in under age sporting activities.
In women development, Ajimobi has accorded priority to poverty alleviation. An important achievement is the passage a law to prohibit violence against women. Others include the training and release of grants to young persons for business in photography and video production, barbing, hand-made jewelry, computer centre operations; rehabilitation of Centre for People with Disabilities and equipped with equipment for ICT Training and shoe making with support from British American Tobacco (BAT), and educational and nutritional support for 10,514 children, including orphans, vulnerable, trafficked children.
Ajimobi has presided over an effective government. He is a lover of reforms. He has restructured the civil service for better efficiency through BVN and Biometrics verification, in addition to personnel quantity and quality audit. He established the Customary Court of Appeal to fast-track administration of justice and court decongestion. He also set up the Oyo State Multi-Door Court house and expanded the Oyo State Citizens’ Mediation Centre services to other zones. He constructed new centres in Oyo and Ogbomoso.
The governor introduced e-governance with phase one activated with payroll system automation. He expanded the tax net with about 500, 000 newly registered tax payers. He provided ten 63-seater Free transportation for workers and students to and fro; paid the 142 per cent arrears of pensions totaling over N2billion, promotions of workers with backlog 2008 to 2011 with over 30,000 beneficiaries. He increase in car loan from N 200, 000 to N 500, 000 and Housing loan from N1M to N2M, with N 540, 749, 997. 78 disbursed to about 850 beneficiaries. In 2011, he introduced the Treasury Single Account.
Under him, the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) increased by 250 percent from N800m to N2billion He also created Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).