The Chief of Staff (CoS) to Governor Seyi Makinde, Chief Bisi Ilaka, has described increasing criticism of the administration as part of mid-term blues, saying people now expect the government to raise the bar because they are already taking its huge achievements for granted.
Ilaka, who stated this in a chat with some reporters in Ibadan the state capital, said people are now taking for granted the fact that children go to school without paying fees, hospitals are now working, civil servants collect salaries without delay and people are now asking what higher achievements the government wants to offer.
He said the situation is complicated by the growth of fake news and the nature of opposition which he described as skilled in propaganda and spinning.
He said: “I have been with the administration from the transition committee to having the privilege of being the first appointee of the executive governor till we were joined by other members of the administration team. I think the bar was set pretty too low for us.
“But we set very exacting and very high standards and we have maintained that by and large. Just like any other administration, there will be midterm blues and people will re-evaluate and we now pitch it a lot higher. What we have done has now become generally acceptable.
“The fact that children go to school today without paying any fees, they get free textbooks and free exercise books. Our hospitals are working, our economy is expanding and these are taken for granted. So people are now saying, what’s next? This is keeping us on our toes and I am sure we will definitely meet up with the challenge. We don’t expect it to be plain-sailing all the time.
“And again, we are operating against a backdrop where the other side is made up of a team of propagandists who are willing to spin and spin. We also live in an environment where there is a lot of fake news and this makes it further challenging for all parties concerned to dissect what is true from what is not. But what is most important to us is that we have remained focused. We have set the objective all along that it won’t be business as usual.
“We know we will never be perfect, but we will strive for perfection nonetheless. We don’t expect it to be easy. We are up to the task as to the various challenges. We expect a multitude of challenges and our heart is in the right place. We have men of great intellect working with us and I am sure that with that combination we will get the results that the good people of Oyo State deserve.”
Ilaka said in spite of criticism by the opposition, people should remember that Makinde’s administration has changed the narrative of the state in education, healthcare, security and expansion of the economy.
His words: “In the area of education, when we came in Oyo State was languishing in terms of the ‘league table’ for NECO and WAEC. We were in the 26, 28 and 29 positions at various times in the last administration. But the last examination, we came 11th because we really had our hands properly on the steering in terms of education since we came on board.
“The changes we have put in place will percolate through and will become permanent and I am sure next year we will be in a single-digit position and do even better. Oyo State has always been regarded as the centre of excellence for education and the fount of knowledge in Africa. We have also succeeded in getting the sole ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) which has been pretty contentious. In terms of finding funding for the school, we will continue what we have been doing solely.
“I am sure our people are quite happy about that, that we brought the old tussle with Osun State to a permanent end. We kept and maintained the Technical University in Ibadan. The mandate of the school has expanded and they are also firing on all cylinders. We have looked after our tertiary education system. We came in when lecturers were being paid 25 per cent of their salaries.
“We have been paying them full salaries, and promptly too. We even promised to pay the arrears owed them by the previous government and we are doing that. We are rolling out wi-fi in our schools. We are teaching and training teachers in ICT. We have a whole lot of teachers being trained at Saints Annes’ School and Government College.
“Talking about infrastructure, our secretariat is the only one that has wi-fi in the country today, even Lagos State has not got that.
“On healthcare, through the eight years of the late Governor Abiola Ajimobi, no single primary healthcare centre was commissioned. We have commissioned about seven and we intend to do one in every one of the 351 wards in the state before the term of the administration.
“We know how to get the money for it and so funding it is not an issue. It is not a wish-list. It is what we will do. We have got to have a kind of an integrated healthcare system and with regard to the secondary healthcare system. Adeoyo Hospital, when we came in, had a patchy diagnostic system.
“We have put in place a lot of diagnostic and radiography equipment. We have established a strong MoU with the UCH to provide us specialists in all our secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities. We will exchange the know-how that resides predominantly at the UCH in Ibadan. In Saki, we have set up a specialist hospital. We had the challenge of COVID-19 and I think we have done admirably well with it. The recovery rate has been quite decent.”
He added that the administration was building farm estates, adding that it has revitalised the state’s transport company with 109 new buses.