When it became clear that then PDP candidate Seyi Makinde was the ultimate shoo-in in the days leading to the last governorship election in Oyo state, a few analysts in Ibadan began to stretch narratives around the man’s inevitable victory beyond the plausible limit. Then came this subtle claim that his state-wide support was borne out of the superiority of his ideas and vision for the state when compared to other candidates. Yet, even if we overlook Mr Makinde’s below-par oratory prowess, it was obvious that the claim was a blatant lie.
At different informal fora, this writer argued at the time that Mr Makinde’s soaring popularity was fuelled by former governor’s Abiola Ajimobi’s misdemeanors as much as it was defined by pity. For one, among private citizens, the PDP flagbearer has been by far the most visible spender in Oyo state in the last decade. Despite repeated losses at the poll since he gave the Oyo South senatorial race a shot in 2007, the man maintained his philanthropic persona, while remaining calm and reserved, with this gentlemanly, pity-inducing men.
Of course, with the final displacement of the old guards—notably the trio of Abiola Ajimobi, Adebayo Alao-Akala and Rashidi Ladoja—-it is only natural that the people would “pity” the young man and look in his direction in 2019. With a campaign narrative largely steeped in the language of philanthropy, his acceptance and eventual victory was all too predictable.
But will pity-inducing mien address the challenges facing Oyo State? Quite unlikely. Among the numerous early signs showing the validity of this assertion, two would suffice here for now.
Upon being sworn in as governor in May, Governor Makinde immediately scrapped the N3, 000 levy being paid by pupils of all public primary and secondary schools in the state.
Later on July 3, the governor was reported to have accused Ajimobi of awarding contract for the construction of the Moniya-Iseyin road to a “faceless” contractor with an untraceable office address to the tune of N7 billion.
By the time the dust would settle, it was apparent that all of these concerns have either been mishandled by the government through juvenile exaggeration or, at worst, a shocking lack of depth, infantile obsession with the past, and poorly veiled cluelessness.
First off, the N3,000 levy scrapped by the government has since become a subject of uncertainty in public schools in the state. There were reports of school authorities insisting that pupils would not be attended to without paying a certain N500 exam “levy”, because they would not teach if there are no basic materials. In other words, the decision to scrap levies, a clearly populist move, was hurriedly made without adequate appraisal of the state of affairs in those schools. While the decision isn’t necessarily a bad one in itself, its ripple effect has shown that no serious interrogation went into it and no provision was made to address the short-term consequences. And what about the long-term effect, even? Frankly, is Oyo State buoyant enough to make such a populist move? What’s the implication on the quality of education provided to these pupils? Should populism be embraced at the expense of standards?
No development has exposed the governor’s tactless approach to governance like the claims on Moniya-Iseyin Road controversy. First off, a quick google search would reveal the identity of the contractor the governor described as “faceless”: M/S Oladiran Engineering and Trade Nigeria Limited.
Again, the contractor’s address and website could be confirmed by even the most inconsequential officer in the government house. Of course, the address is just a google search away.
The rather sad implication of the governor’s trademark boo-boo is that even in cases where he has legitimate queries (like the genuine issues around that obscene, morally repugnant “take-home” package allocated to Ajimobi and others in a struggling state like Oyo), poor and infantile handling of issues would not make people take him seriously.
Fuji maestro, Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, popularised the “Solo Makinde” concept sometime in 2004. The “Solo Makinde” phenomenon is one character trait that embodies rumour mongering, baseless innuendoes, infantile obsession with other peoples’ affairs, and unbridled meddlesomeness. Interestingly, Fuji is one popular music genre in Ibadan, the capital city, and other parts of Oyo state; hence, it should resonate with the governor and his handlers.
Governance is a serious business and, to record success, due diligence is key. SATIRE SATURDAY notes that by his statements, the governor is yet to fully realise that his words now carry more weight than in the past and would be subjected to serious scrutiny. It is plausible to say that the governor is perhaps overwhelmed by the desire to impress the people, given the huge expectations. But this should be done with tact, serious interrogation of governmental affairs and utmost discretion. A governor can’t afford to carelessly throw words and allegations around.
Now to be sure, opposition politics in Oyo state in recent weeks has taken the most farcical dimension, especially online. There are folks “critiquing” how the governor stands and sits and chews his mouth whenever he eats, for instance. But then those are expected and should not constitute a distraction. The sweet thing is that Oyo people are ready to support the governor in many ways, including in areas of recovering the state’s collective patrimony from alleged looters. But this would be done only with due diligence and adequate interogation with facts and verifiable data. Verily, a “Solo Makinde” approach to these things would be counterproductive and only expose the governor, and indeed the state, to needless ridicule.
In all, the desire to bring alleged looters of our commonwealth to book should not affect the most important issue of delivering quality service to the people. The governor would be remembered for what he does in the present and future, and not necessarily what he tried to undo about the past.
It’s still July but the signs are disturbing. If the governor and his handlers fail to make amends, then the people should prepare themselves not for fresh water (Omi Tuntun) but for four years of governance by “Solo Makinde”—–one defined by childish innuendoes, infantile rumour peddling and juvenile scaremongering. That, for SATIRE SATURDAY, will not be funny.