By ‘Gbenga Ogunremi
Within the Oyo State socio-political space today, the most common parlance is ‘’ko sele ri’’, a yoruba coinage which literally translates to ‘’never happened, experienced or existed before.’’
This imaginative but apt coinage was actually an ‘’honorary title’’- Ko seleri 1 of Oyo State- conferred on Governor Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi by the body of common people, the masses, by virtue of his well deserved victory at the 2015 governorship polls that gave him an un- precedented second term in office as governor of Oyo State. It was an unparalleled feat waiting to be equaled in the long chequered history of politics in the state.
Now, ‘’Ko sele ri 1’’ has become a rhythmic phrase chanted time after time at most public functions the governor attends these days. This presents an accurate picture of the people’s appreciation for an endless flow of good governance that has brought Oyo State to the forefront of rapid growth and development.
Perhaps at this point, and in retrospect too, it is necessary to examine the contributing factors that over time added great value to governance and ultimately led to this ’title’ bestowal. The main focus of this piece actually.
Like a recurring decimal, these contributing factors that could best be described as novel and pacesetting achievements, happened at different intervals during the first four years of the Ajimobi led administration. Indeed, they were in themselves ‘’ko sele ris’’, the totality of which paved the way for Gov. Ajimobi’s second term victory.
The first and perhaps most important factor was the governor’s rare ability to exercise a resilient and irrepressible political will in making far-reaching decisions that eventually changed the fortunes of the state for the best, regardless of whose ox was gored.
For a fact, from the inception of his administration, Ajimobi’s body language was quite clear. In an audacious manner, he called the bluffs of the fifth columnists by putting his foot down firmly and courageously in executing his reformation, regeneration and repositioning agenda.
Consequently, his vision and drive, coupled with well articulated initiatives and programmes ensured restoration of peace, security and political stability, long overdue resuscitation of decaying infrastructures and environmental revival and upgrading. Next factor was the restoration of peace, security and political stability that were almost non-existent before the advent of Gov. Ajimobi’s government. It is on record that the governor inherited a state of anarchy, of which brigandage, thuggery, hooliganism, loss of lives and property in great proportions were sad spectacles of the time.
This unhealthy phenomenon left him with no choice than to proactively put together initiatives that would within a short time entrench peace and stabilize the polity. Predictably, the governor rose to the occasion in a very robust manner, for he did not only provide appropriate leadership at this instance, but also led the charge in implanting a sustainable regime of peace that has permanently changed Oyo’s typecast of a violent and unruly state to one of the most peaceful states in the country today.
With a peaceful and tranquil environment in place, the stage was now set for meaningful development and socio-economic stability. This commendable peace effort in fact set the pace for monumental and unprecedented achievements of the Ajimobi-led government.
A fact check revealed that the first four years of his administration witnessed the construction and rehabilitation of over 250 roads across the state while dualization of major entry points to major towns in all the geo-political zones of the state were completed to taste and commissioned accordingly.
Furthermore, the Mokola fly-over bridge, the first ever by a civilian governor was commissioned within two years of his first term. In addition to this, government constructed several bridges, including the Bodija Restoration Bridge and dredged many rivers, streams and canals that effectively checkmated flood disasters that constantly ravaged the state, especially Ibadan, the state capital for so many years prior to Ajimobi’s administration.
It is also worthy of note that Oyo State is fast becoming one of the choicest investment destinations in Nigeria, thanks to Gov. Ajimobi’s strategic peace, environmental enhancement and public infrastructure resuscitation initiatives that continue to attract both local and foreign investors to the state in large numbers.
At the last count, his administration has attracted at least 30 new companies that have yielded a turnover of about N32bn and created over 3000 jobs. In fact, the National Bureau of Statistics figures of Foreign Direct Investment Inflow in Nigeria revealed that Oyo State had within four years attracted a total of $64.8m investment, placing the state second only next to Lagos State in the South West.
Six years down the line, Gov. Ajimobi continues to render transparent and accountable stewardship reinforced by integrity and good governance. He is busy consolidating on his first term achievements by stepping up the tempo of making life more meaningful to the common man on the street through the never-happened-before (ko sele ri) legacy projects implementation, even despite serious financial constraints.
For instance, the road revolution legacy projects continue unabated with the recent flag off of the dualization of the Idi-ape – Basorun – Odogbo Barracks Road; dualization of Agodi gate – Old-Ife Road to Adegbayi Junction; Expansion of Oke-odo – Agodigate – Idi-ape to Iwo Road Interchange; Eleyele – Ologuneru to Akufo Junction, all in Ibadan metropolis, and the dualization of Saki Township Road.
The latest addition is the revival of the Ibadan Circular Road, an idea conceived by the late Lam Adesina government, but neglected by successive administrations. According to reports, when completed, the Circular Road is expected to ease intra and inter city traffic congestion, especially in Ibadan which is fast becoming an industrialized city under the current administration. The road is also expected to boost trade and commerce and ultimately engender better standard of living of the people.
Other pacesetting achievements of the Ajimobi led administration include, among others, the establishment of a farm settlement in Aawe, Afijio LGA which has engaged 1000 youth farmers to pioneer organic farming, modeled after the Songhai Farm in Porto Novo; Health initiatives aimed at giving the citizenry more access to quality healthcare such as – Free Health Mission interventions that have recorded over a million beneficiaries from all the nook and crannies of the state, and the establishment of the First Health Insurance Scheme which instantly provided employment for about 750 health workers in the state.
Others include a veritable welfare programme that has empowered and provided succour to about 1,200,000 people in the last six years; and finally, a recently unveiled Transformation Industrial Park along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, a Free Trade Zone established with the aim of upgrading the civil service status of the state to that of an industrialized one.
In conclusion, the foregoing narrative could best describe Gov. Abiola Ajimobi, popularly hailed as the Architect and Builder of modern Oyo State, as an accomplished change agent that irrepressibly continues to steer the ship of the state to new directions. He remains resolute in sustaining the Oyo State pacesetter status through a holistic restoration, transformation and repositioning of all sectors of the state economy.