08 Aug 2020 STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE OYO STATE NINTH ASSEMBLY
Thank you for inviting me here for the first anniversary of the Oyo State Ninth Assembly. It is always a pleasure to be among you, honourable members of the house. It is even more so, as you have given me another opportunity to present a state of the state address, an account of my stewardship in the last year and a chance to comment on current and salient issues that affect the polity.
When I took the oath of office, I pledged to serve and protect the people of Oyo State. In the past year, our actions, policies and projects have been geared towards ensuring that the impact of good governance reaches everyone in our state. From the entrepreneurs and managers of large corporate organisations to the market woman and the Micra driver on our roads.
To be fair, the first year in office for every administration is always used to plan and set things in motion. But in most cases, when the people have voted massively for ideological change, they are in a hurry to see the resolution of issues that affect them. There is pressure to hit the ground running and set the ball rolling.
I can report to you that these expectations are not lost on us, which is why, from the outset, we built our Roadmap for Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019-2023 around four pillars: Economy, Education, Healthcare and Security.
Permit me, therefore, to present a situation report that encompasses these key areas.
Economic indices published by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for April-May, 2020, showed that with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, 92% of households felt a “substantial or moderate threat” to their household finances. This figure is 18% higher than 78% of households who reported they were “very or somewhat worried” about them or a family member becoming seriously ill from contracting coronavirus. This 18% may seem insignificant but 18% in a state like Oyo State with a population of over seven million people is over one million people.
I have decided to lead the report on the economy with this statistic because some persons have been worried about the Oyo State Government’s response to COVID-19. I have repeated, every time I have had an opportunity, that our response has been based on science, data and logic. We have been careful to ensure that our response to this pandemic does not create more problems than the pandemic itself.
And so, aside from effecting a partial lockdown, our administration played our part to grow the economy by consistently paying salaries/pensions for March, April and May even though, most of the civil servants have been away from work.
I want to use this opportunity to thank you, honourable members of these hallowed chambers, for the sacrifice you made in supporting us in meeting these obligations by taking a 30% cut in your monthly allocations.
Meanwhile, we have conducted over 3,500 tests in the state, placing us in the top four highest testing states in Nigeria. Just yesterday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), approved a second diagnostic laboratory for testing for COVID-19 in the state. We now have the Biorepository and Clinical Virology Lab in the University College Hospital, Ibadan. We can now get results even faster.
Education continues to be one of the best ways to fight poverty and improve our economy. We are aware that having the right infrastructure for education is a necessity. For this reason, we completed hundreds of infrastructural projects in the last year. Yet, you will agree with me that one of the areas that suffered under the COVID-19 climate is the education sector. Schools were among the first places to be shut down and will be among the last to be re-opened. We are concerned that our children are not learning. Even though, we have put in place the School-on-Air programme, the reality is that a combination of factors, including inadequate power supply and not owning necessary devices and other infrastructure, is affecting its effectiveness. We want our children to go back to school, but we cannot do that without mapping the transmission of the coronavirus in our communities. This is why ramping up testing, as we are now doing, especially in communities outside Ibadan is necessary. So far, we are testing in ten additional local government areas across the state. We have projected a July 15 date for the resumption of schools. But that date is dependent on the risk situation analysis presently being carried out by the experts.
For this same reason, we have held off from reversing our directive on religious gatherings. We saw what happened when a private organisation did not follow the advisories we provided to the letter. Over 50% of COVID-19 cases in Oyo State can be traced to this organisation. So, I take this opportunity to again plead with our religious leaders to be patient with us. We are keeping our eyes on the numbers and will adjust this directive at the right time.
On healthcare, I am happy to report we have just started a new funding system for primary healthcare. Part of the 22.5 Billion Naira infrastructural loan that you so graciously approved will go into developing the healthcare sector. We have set the standard we want for our Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), and anyone who has visited the renovated and equipped PHCs at Oranyan, Aafin in Oyo Town, or ALGON Comprehensive Health Centre at Eyin Grammar, Ibadan, will testify to the fact that the standard is high.
If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic should have taught us, it is that we have to get our house in order. Little did we know that in our lifetime, there would be any sickness that will force everyone, no matter their social class to depend on our local healthcare facilities for any chance at survival. With the Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo and more ongoing upgrades to healthcare facilities in Saki, Ogbomoso, Igbo Ora and Awe, we are in a better place, healthcare-wise, than we were a year ago. Ultimately, we plan to renovate or rehabilitate one PHC per ward in Oyo State. We know this is a daunting task, but it is one we are determined to accomplish.
Let me also at this time update you on the 7.6 Billion Naira loan borrowed by the previous administration but which you approved to be repurposed for the Akufo and Eruwa farm estates. The funds were released to us by the Central Bank of Nigeria towards the end of March 2020. We are now set to commence the upgrading of the farm settlements starting in July 2020. The commencement was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, I thank you for the role you played in making this a reality.
I cannot end this address without giving an update on the issue of security in Oyo State. We are constituting the Amotekun Corps which, as you are aware, will complement the efforts of the federal security forces in securing our state. Within the next one month, they will be fully operational. I want to also at this point, commend the moves by this legislature to review the laws on rape and sexual assault. We all know that one of the best ways to address any type of crime is to strengthen the legislation around it.
On our part, we will do well to enforce the laws as directed by the Judiciary. All the arms of government must continue to show zero tolerance for sexual violence. Only in this way will we honour those who have been victims of these heinous crimes and ensure that the rest of the population are protected.
Once again, I want to thank you for the opportunity you have given me this day. As you celebrate the first anniversary of this solemn assembly, it is my prayer that we continue to work together for the overall good of the people of Oyo State. May the cooperation and togetherness that we have enjoyed this past year, continue to abide with us until we complete our tenure.
Governor Seyi Makinde, June 10, 2020.