Makinde: A Governor Like No Other |By Sulaimon Olanrewaju
Governor Seyi Makinde enjoys a huge dose of goodwill from the people of Oyo State. He is genuinely loved by the citizens across all divides. He is adored by Muslims, celebrated by Christians and revered by traditional worshippers.
The Governor is the pride of the old and a source of inspiration for the youth. Men like to flock around him, women love to hear him speak, even children can’t seem to have enough of him. The eggheads esteem him, just as the hoi polloi venerate him. From Ibadan to Ibarapa, Oyo to Oke Ogun and Ogbomoso, Makinde is the face the people want to behold, the name they want to utter and the man they want to follow. For the people of Oyo State, Makinde is the quintessential leader.
An example will suffice.
The governor, in the evening of Monday, May 29, 2023, the day he was inaugurated for his second term in office, was on his way to the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, venue of his inauguration dinner, when his convoy ran into a traffic gridlock close to the venue. Not wanting to keep his guests waiting, he decided to get down from his vehicle to walk the remaining distance. As he alighted from the vehicle, a horde of people swarmed round him, some to take pictures with the governor, others to congratulate him on his electoral victory, yet some others to share with him what they would want him do for them in Omituntun 2.0. He did not allow his security aides to chase them away, rather he moved close to them. All the people were exhilarated and they couldn’t hide it. Many of them wouldn’t have believed they could have an opportunity for a one-on-one with His Excellency. They all kept hailing him as they saw him to the entrance of the event venue.
Makinde doesn’t just work for the people, he also walks with them.
Why is the governor so much loved by the people? Is it a function of prompt payment of salaries and pensions? Or is it a consequence of the health facilities his administration has improved? Could it be due to the infrastructure he has emplaced or the education sector he has transformed or the economy he has expanded? All these are good enough reasons to revere a leader, but for Seyi Makinde, it is more because of his fairness, creative approach to governance, empathy and humility.
Governor Makinde ensured during his first term in office that all parts of the state had a feel of his good governance. Development was spread evenly. He reconstructed the 65km Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin road, awarded the construction of the 34.85km Oyo-Iseyin road and similarly awarded the 76.7km Iseyin-Fapote-Ogbomoso road with a view to connecting all the major zones in the state. In the same vein, the Light-up Oyo project is a state-wide venture targeted at giving a modern look to all parts of the state. Operatives of the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun) are in every nook and cranny of the state, ensuring the security of life and property.
Although he is a native of Ibadan, the governor sees himself as belonging to every part of the state. Consequently, all he does is for the benefit of the whole state. So, the governor is as much at home in Saki, Atiba, Ogbomoso or Idere as he is in Ibadan. He is as loved in Ibadan as he is in other parts of the state.
Makinde’s creative approach to governance is hard to equal. Before he came to power, change of power among transport workers in the state was war-like. Determined to put a complete end to the abnormality, he came up with the Park Management System, which limited the influence and power of transport unions in the management of parks in the state. With that, the state took its proper position as the owner of the parks and appointed a committee to manage it on its behalf. When the government felt it was time to change the leadership after four years, it was done without any bloodletting or terror unleashed on anyone. Although at the outset some people complained about the PMS, the governor has been justified with the adoption of the same system by a number of states across the country and the reduction in transport workers-related violence.
His empathy is second to none. It is common knowledge how he went against popular opinion among state governors when the leaders decided that states should be locked down to curtail the spread of Coronavirus disease in 2020. Governor Makinde said he would not subscribe to that because of the realization that the bulk of the citizens survived on daily earnings.
His argument was that keeping the people indoors to curb the spread of COVID-19 would be more hazardous than letting them out. So, he devised a means of allowing the citizens to go out in search of their daily bread without unnecessarily exposing themselves to the virus. With time, the Federal Government adopted that style and relaxed the restriction order it had earlier emplaced.
For Governor Makinde, the interest of the people he leads is paramount and that determines the action he takes. Recently, in response to some comments about his visits to President Bola Tinubu, the governor said, “We are in politics because we want to add value. Yes, people have been abusing me because of my frequent visits to the President, but who do they expect me to be visiting? Well, I have news for them; I will continue to visit the Presidency to ask for things that Oyo State people are entitled to.”
The governor also stated last Wednesday during the proclamation of the 10th Oyo State House of Assembly that his visit, alongside others, to the President facilitated the signing of the Electricity Bill into law, adding that if the bill had not been signed before the end of the ninth National Assembly, a golden opportunity would have been lost because the process would have to be started all over again by the new Assembly. He also said his administration would take advantage of the opportunity offered by the new law to ensure round-the-clock electricity provision in the state.
But perhaps the governor’s greatest appeal is his humility. Humility is respecting the other person irrespective of his status, station or stature. It is being considerate about others’ feelings even when they have no power over you. It is treating others as you would want to be treated were the roles to be reversed. Because of his humility, Makinde puts others first. Because he is meek, he does not see his position as something to vaunt but an avenue for service. Because of his lack of hubris, his focus is doing that which is right for the majority of the people. Because he is not self-serving, he has no qualms deploying the whole of the resources of the state for the benefit of the people. Because he does all these, the people are unrepentantly attached to him.
So, in Oyo State, the citizens don’t just see Seyi Makinde as their governor, he is more than that; he is their guy, their pal and the man they can be down to earth with: a governor like no other.
Olanrewaju is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde