By Alhazan Abiodun Rilwan.
“Revolution is a change which breaks the old order to its very foundations, and not one that cautiously, slowly and gradually remodels it, taking care to break as little as possible.” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1970-1924).
Oyo State government inaugurated thirty-three Park Managers to manage the activities of the public parks in all local government areas of the State on Monday, 17th February 2020 amidst muted jubilation from the general public who expected violence to greet the occasion as some individuals were said to be against the move.
I left Iseyin early in the morning of that Monday so as to beat what could possibly happen along Moniya, Ojoo, UI, Bodija and until I got inside the State Secretariat, all I saw were people going about their duties and security agencies at strategic spots to rein in any skirmish.
Then I realized the fact that an idea that is ripe for birth would hardly encounter stoppage, especially if it is for the good of all. I have had occasions to inquire about the accounting system of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Oyo State, even from some of their members which they could not give. It was wrapped in secrecy!
The immediate past administration put Oyo State IGR, aside the monthly federal allocation, at N2.5 and N2billion and if we do a layman’s arithmetic of the number of public cabs, buses, tricycles, haulage trucks and motorcycles with what could be remitted daily, given that they pay just N100 each, the sum will be humongous.
The amount coming from the public transport sector has never entered into the State coffers before, that I am sure of. So if N2billion if added to whatever comes from the public transport as well as other taxable areas, then Oyo State has broken even.
The State has been governed by economist, lawyer, business tycoon as well as renowned academic, but never has there been any that could look beyond taxing the meager income earners under the its employ. No wonder we hardly broke the #3billion barrier! But with the efforts in place to harness the financial potential the public parks portend, we can heave a sigh of relief that Oyo State may soon start embarking on projects that will propel us ahead other States.
There is the need to look at other areas of economic importance when tax and revenue generation are concerned. The present administration has also taken a bold step towards partnering local and foreign businesses to rejig our agriculture, natural resources, manufacturing and the housing sector.
I will want to look again at the opportunities inherent in the abandoned Ikere George Dam at Iseyin. There have been many feature writings, articles, letters, Television coverage of the present condition of the project and what could be gained if attentions of the State and federal governments are turned in its direction.
We have been told that the distribution of the vast water for domestic use fall within the purview of the State and even the agricultural aspect as well. I know quite well that as much as N3million worth of fish is sold at Ikere every week, because people traveled from the North, Lagos and other neighboring countries to buy different kinds of fish in fresh or smoked form.
Back to the public transport and revenue generation, the Seyi Makinde administration has displayed since its assumption of office in May through many welfarist’ projects in education, health, women and child empowerment, youths development programs and modern innovations in agriculture, that it could deliver more when more revenue are accessed.
The funds generated from all the loop holes recently blocked will surely go into construction of more roads that will serve the people. Rural farmers will get their produce easily to the market and processing industries, emergency health situations will be easy roll when patients are transferred from one hospital to another and travelling for tourism purpose will be promoted when roads are well-paved and security ascertained.
In his 1955 budget, Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the then Premier of the old western region, launched what became popular and would not allow the Yoruba stock forget him which is the Free education policy.
He said: “Of our total expenditure of £12.45 million, not less than 82.6 per cent is devoted to services and projects which directly cater for the health, education, prosperity and general welfare of our people. Of this high percentage, 27.8 per cent goes to education, 10.7 per cent to medical services, 5.4 per cent to agriculture…”
Like Awolowo broke the old order in a revolutionary manner just to achieve freedom for his people and in extension, for the nation though his education and other policies, the present administration in the State has embarked on the same people-oriented programs that can only be made successful and sustainable through unfettered revenue generation and it is with joy I marvel at the near-easiness with which the people of the State are keying-in into the endless possibilities.
Again, I will want to equate Makinde with the late Premier of Western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo as attested by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (his in-law) at the 20th Annual Conference of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, where he said: “the six-year period of the Awolowo government is often cited as one of the most progressive of any government in the developing world.
“Some of the major accomplishments include the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), the 26 Storey Cocoa House, Ibadan – an architectural wonder at the time, Western Nigeria Television, WNTV (first of its kind in Africa), the Ikeja industrial estate, several farm settlements, Airport Hotel, Ikeja, as well as several industrial establishments, including Oodua Textile Industries, Ado Ekiti, Okitipupa Oil Palm Mills, Oluwa Glass, Ifon Ceramics, and Ire Ekiti Brick Industry, a network of roads across the region.”
No need adding anything unless you, the reader want to contest any of the facts above.
Alhazan Abiodun Rilwan is the Editor, Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism’s Press Center, Ibadan.