Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, declared that the administration has made real progress in developing and repositioning the state in the last two years.
The Governor, who stated this while delivering a speech at the 2nd Circularity Africa Conference, held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, added that the government and the people of the state are seeing results in the areas of education, health, security and expansion of the state’s economy.
He added that his administration has been able to lay a solid foundation in the state to transmit renewable energy for larger and sustainable development.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that his administration has ensured that no fewer than 40,000 out-of-school children have returned to classrooms as of the end of 2020.
Makinde, who participated in the Conference through Zoom, also pointed out how the Clean and Green Initiative of the government has changed the sustainable environment narrative in the state.
The statement further quoted Governor Makinde as saying that the Conference, with the theme, “Enabling Green Businesses and Circular Economy in Africa,” centred on two aspects of governance close to his heart: education and sustainable environment.
The statement added that the organisers of the conference honoured Governor Makinde with the Green City Award of Recognition for his government’s efforts in the area of sustainable environment.
While speaking, the governor explained that his government has made real progress in the education sector and other sectors, stating that the administration’s investments in education, where it has committed more resources in the past two budgetary cycles, have resulted in the reduction in the number of out-of-school children in the state and massive improvement in education.
The Governor said: “Let me start by thanking Dr. Olawale Olayide and the Board of Images Initiative for the opportunity to be part of this event – the Second Circularity Africa Conference. One thing stands out for me here. This is the fact that you have effectively married two aspects of governance that are close to my heart – education and a sustainable environment.
“As you may already know, education is one of the four pillars of our Roadmap to Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019-2023. We believe that an educated population is definitely key to sustainable development. And this is why for the past two budgetary cycles, we have done more for education.
“We have consistently allocated over 20 per cent of our budget to education. Aside from that, we have removed one of the major barriers to education in Oyo State: the payment of fees. Every child in Oyo State has access to free education. We are also ensuring that they have qualitative education. This is why we just recently completed the recruitment of 5,000 teachers – qualified teachers – into the public school system.
“Additionally, we are tackling the issue of proximity of students to schools, especially in rural areas. We have been consistently paying our Universal Basic Education Commission’s counterpart funding. With these funds, we are building and rehabilitating schools all over the state.
“So, when you drive around Oyo State, modern school buildings are becoming the norm and not the exception. “And I must tell you that we are seeing results. We are making sure progress in reducing the number of out-of-school children and improving the quality of education in the state. One of the statistics that we recently received is that we have helped over 40,000 children get back into class in the last year.”
He added: “We did not just come up with our four-point agenda, there is a reason for it but they are all linked. We believe if you have an educated populace living a healthy life with an expanding economy in a safe and secure environment, then life will definitely be lived in abundance in Oyo State. And that is what those four pillars are supposed to do for us in the state.
“Still on education, I can tell you that we have seen a lot of our children back to school. For health care, we are renovating 351 primary health care centres (one in every ward) and we are spending close to N7bn in carrying that out. Very soon, you would not need to leave your ward to be able to get attended to in terms of health care. Private people are also talking to us that if we are putting a lot of money as such into primary health care, they want to partner with us from their pocket to support us. So, we are seeing results.”
Speaking on the efforts of the government in the area of sustainable environment, the governor explained that as part of his administration’s commitment to ensuring that the state makes the much-needed transition to renewable energy, it created a Ministry of Energy Resources immediately he got into office, saying: “First, when I came in, we created a ministry that was not in existence – The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and one of the mandates of the ministry is to ensure that we rapidly go into renewable energy.
“Second is to also ensure we have a sustainable way to provide energy for our people. So, it is one of the things that we have done and we have people that have been deployed there to do their work. If you go all over Oyo State, we have at least 6 or 7 sites where we have deployed solar infrastructure to light up. Private people are also coming in, in that area.”
He added that the Clean and Green Initiative introduced by the state government to manage the challenges of a poor waste disposal system which it inherited has resulted in a massive leap in terms of sustainable environment rating.
“There are various components of the Clean and Green Initiative. We have the waste removal bit recently launched after we completed the rebuilding and refurbishment of the former Awotan Dumpsite now Landfill. We are monitoring developments in that regard to tweak things to work even more effectively while also rehabilitating and upgrading the Ajakanga Dumpsite.
“We also have the recycling leg in tandem with the theme of this conference, “Enabling Green Businesses and Circular Economy in Africa.” Our plan is that inorganic waste will be recycled. Presently, non-degradable materials are collected from the landfill for recycling, while investors have been engaged to generate fertilizer and electricity from the organic component,” Makinde added.
The governor further stated that one area where the government has been able to apply the principles of circular economy to great advantage beyond the environment sector is in the area of the Light-Up Oyo project.
He explained that while the government has been removing old infrastructure and replacing them with newer technology that promote more efficient energy management, it has not been discarding the old infrastructure but has been moving them to less critical areas.
“We also apply the principles of the circular economy beyond the environment sector. For example, we have the ongoing ‘Light Up Oyo’ Project Phase 2. We decided to remove the old infrastructure and replace them with newer technology that promotes more efficient energy management. But we did not just discard the old infrastructure. We relocated them to less critical areas.
“Our vision is to continue to redeploy existing conventional and solar installations that are not as bright or efficient as the Light-Up Oyo infrastructure to areas with less economic activity, security challenges and traffic. So, nothing is going to waste. I believe this is what the circular economy is all about.
“We are also constantly looking for more effective and efficient ways of doing things and avoiding waste. So, this is an open invitation to all participants of this conference that our doors are always open. Come with your ideas and let us work together.”
Responding to a question on the sustainability of the ongoing Light-Up Oyo State project, the governor said: “On the sustainability of the Light-Up Oyo State, I can tell you that this is yet the boldest approach to light up the state. So, we are spending a lot of money and the project is being executed under APFA. Even beyond this administration, we have an agreement, which has been signed. If we don’t get 90 per cent of the infrastructure functioning for 12 hours in a day, then the people are liable to pay back the state.
“The agreement actually went beyond the tenure of this administration. We signed 72 months agreement with the contractor and we factored in where the payment will be coming from as we tied it to our IGR, which we are consistently growing.
“We have introduced inverter system and gas-powered generator and those infrastructures would be tied to Oyo State IPP once it is in place. We have signed an agreement with Shell Nigeria Gas. Natural gas is coming to Oyo State to power IPP in the first instance. So, all of these coming together means I can put on the generator only for three hours with the inverter system to give me 12 hours of electricity.
“Also, we have empowered the Oyo State Investment Promotion Agency. Now, they are almost like a one-stop-shop for investors. You don’t need to keep going from ministry to ministry to engage people.”