“Yiyo ekun, ti ojo ko,” the Yoruba proverb goes. ‘The gentleness of a tiger is not a sign of weakness,’ it says. ‘The fact that the lion is a master of stealth does not translate to fear in the jungle.’ That is what those words in the Yoruba saying confirm.
Governor Seyi Makinde had just delivered his candidate, Amb. Taofeek Arapaja, as the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party at Eagle Square in Abuja in the early hours of Sunday, October 31. (PDP). Someone shouted – The master strategist! – from the throngs of his supporters. The general backslapping continued after the governor gave him a thumbs up.
Makinde, who was thrust into the forefront of Oyo State politics by the March 9, 2019 governorship election, is quickly establishing himself as the master of stealth as his politics and policies pervade the state, zonal, and national scenes. But the amusement is that his political opponents frequently fail to recognize that the Oja’ba, Ibadan-born Engineer-turned-stealthy politician’s strategic moves are not signs of weakness.
Many people mistake his slow speech, gentle mien, and simple looks for those of an everyday man, whose benign postures could easily be put out with a featherweight punch.
Political analysts and theorists are still debating whether his friendly demeanor contributed to the lightning-fast penetration of his Omituntun mantra across the length of Oyo State ahead of the 2019 election, but it is becoming clear that some natural affinities that were once considered off-cuts by some contenders have become firm parts of the robust stratagem that delivers the goods to GSM, battle after battle.
At the state level, he faced challenges firsthand: a state engulfed in a hellhole of local and international debt, owing more than 96 months of pension arrears and gratuity arrears dating back to 2010; a state burdened by infrastructural decay; the worst out-of-school and educational records in the Southwest; a state engulfed in filth and whose Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) offers no solace for its my
The task may appear daunting, but Makinde knew that making a lot of noise wouldn’t solve the problem. According to the elders, the empty barrel makes the most noise. As Shakespeare would say, stealthy stratagem is the way to go. And by stalking the challenges one by one, the debonair Engineer, whose trademark is using science, logic, and data to solve the state’s problems, has depleted the ranks of the challenges and provided some comfort to his people.
He launched salvos at the education sector’s woes from the inauguration podium at Ibadan’s Liberty Stadium, declaring free and high-quality education, canceling levies, and announcing the implementation of the Roadmap to Accelerated Development of Oyo State, 2019-2023, which encapsulates the four-point service agenda of security, health, education, and economic expansion through the agribusiness value chain.
The free and high-quality education initiative included the hiring of 5,000 teachers, teacher training and retraining, textbooks, notebooks, a compendium, and extra classes for students taking external exams, among other things. As a result, the state rose from 26th to 11th place in external examinations, with more students receiving individual awards. The fact that he was able to separate the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology from Osun’s joint ownership was a huge win, raising LAUTECH’s already high standards even higher.
Again, in the dead of night on Monday, November 25, 2019, the governor declared a waste emergency in the state to clear the mountain of filth that had accumulated across the city of Ibadan and other towns, and within months, the city of Ibadan began to take on new appearances. Old habits, however, are difficult to break. People were taught to throw trash on road medians and strategic street corners by the previous government.
The Makinde government does not operate in this manner. The old habit would fight the new, but the huge mountains of refuse are being subdued thanks to the persistence of the new environment commissioner, Okunrinjeje Abiodun Oni.
Infrastructure projects aimed at boosting the economy began in June 2019, and positive results began to pour in within months, despite the stalling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 65-kilometer Moniya-Iseyin road was reconstructed in record time, providing direct access to Oke-Ogun, the state’s food basket. The Challenge-Felele-Idi Odo Junction Improvement in Ibadan, which gave road users a new lease on life, the light-up Oyo State project covering over 223.8 kilometers of roads across the state, and the Akufo-Awotan first concrete road, leading to the foremost Akufo Farm Estate are among the results.
The Makinde government is keeping its promise to build infrastructure that benefits the economy, with the Oyo-Iseyin Road, which connects the Fashola Agribusiness Hub, moving along at a rapid pace. The 21-kilometer Ajia-Airport road with a spur to Amuloko; the Awotan Dumpsite turned Landfill; the upgraded Adamasingba Stadium and mini-stadiums across the seven geopolitical zones; and the bold Agribusiness engagements such as the establishment and rejuvenation of Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) and the training of 10,000 agripreneurs at CSS Farms, Nasarawa are among the other
It’s no surprise that the state’s Internally Generated Revenue has increased as a result of improving the ease of doing business and promoting the state’s comparative advantage in agriculture, agribusiness, and solid minerals. It increased by as much as 26% during the Covid-19 pandemic and by 42% year over year by the end of 2020. The state’s IGR earnings placed it among the top seven performing states in the country in the first half of 2021, and there is no doubt that the rise is now a permanent feature of the Makinde government.
On security, the governor established the Amotekun security network to supplement the federal security structure, which was already overburdened, and to boost local initiatives aimed at resolving widespread security issues. A security component is provided by the light-up Oyo project, while another is provided by the state’s CCTV coverage. The battle to build a modern primary healthcare center in each of the 351 electoral wards across the state and promote the Tomo Tiya health initiative is being quietly won in the area of health. In the surrounding areas, remodeled primary healthcare centers are already springing up.
After overcoming the obstacles posed by the government, a political battle arose. Many people were quick to point out that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest was already doomed under his leadership. The zone’s congress in Osogbo, Osun State, was a divided house, with the Makinde camp reportedly at odds with the Fayose/Adebutu/Adeleke camp. Many people wrote off Makinde-backed Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja in the zonal congress, but Makinde snatched victory from the jaws of defeat using stealth as a strategy and science, logic, and data as core strengths. Arapaja was elected National Vice Chairman, Southwest, and attention turned to the party’s national convention, which took place in Abuja on October 30-31. However, the same scenario was to repeat itself, with the same Arapaja, backed by the Ibadan strategist, emerging as the PDP’s Deputy National Chairman (South) by a landslide vote of the delegates. Makinde’s actions have forged unity within the ranks of the PDP at the zonal and national levels, rather than succumbing to the doomsday projection that his style would keep the party divided. First, the factionalized Osun PDP has reformed, and the South-West PDP now speaks with a single voice. Makinde and Fayose, who were previously depicted as arch enemies, are now best friends. It is now clear that the South-West PDP, led by Makinde, is leaning toward peaceful coexistence rather than hostility. Such is the effect of Makinde’s stealthy strategy concentrated in the gentility of a tiger posture.
Makinde, as secretary of the convention’s central planning committee, and the chairman, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, spearheaded the shuttle diplomatic moves in the days leading up to the national convention, when it appeared that the bid for consensus was on the verge of collapsing. The Oyo State governor’s daily routine was predictable: an early morning trip to Legacy House to meet with key members of the convention planning committee, occasional press briefings, and then Governors’ Forum meetings. He was attending to files in Legacy House one minute, his convoy was on its way to visit some elders the next minute, another meeting was already set up in a governor’s residence to perfect the consensus plan the next minute, he was on his way to the home of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and other leaders the next hour, he was on his way to the home of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and other leaders the next hour, he was on his way to the home of ex-President Goodluck From Monday to Friday, the routine was almost predictable, and by Saturday morning, it had reached a crescendo. 18 of the 21 positions had been decided by consensus, and the PDP convention had begun in the most peaceful manner in 23 years. When the full list of the new PDP National Working Committee-elect was announced by the convention’s Chief Returning Officer, Governor Makinde, in the early hours of October 31, events had completed a full cycle, confirming the strategic engineer’s legend.