Seyi Makinde, 53
Seyi Makinde’s election as executive Governor of Oyo state last year was expected to kick off a new dawn in the politics of the state.
It is easy to be jaded about politics in Nigeria but it was hard to not at least be a little excited about this fresh faced business titan who waltzed in from the private sector and succeeded in snatching victory from the ruling party. If anything, this pivot to Makinde and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was proof that Oyo indigenes were sick of the disappointments and disregard that had been institutionalised by the status quo.
Eighteen months later and despite some missteps it is still impossible to not be excited about Governor Makinde. Even though his administration has been far from perfect, there is simply no other politician working today who can match Makinde’s strides- in achievement and promise.
Think of the Governor’s impressive handling of the #EndSARs protests. Oyo state saw its share of tragedy with the murder of citizens Jimoh Isiaq, Ganiyu Moshood Alabi and Adeoye Taiwo. The situation could have justifiably descended into mayhem and for a while perhaps it did. But Makinde was alive to his responsibilities as Chief Security Officer of the state.
While his counterpart was inviting armed forces in to intimidate peaceful protesters, Makinde calmly deflated tensions asking the police to stay away from protest grounds. Instead he engaged state trained security operatives to engage with peaceful protesters.
Makinde met with protesters physically, appealing to their good conscience while reiterating their right to gather and protest peacefully. He wasn’t just about the talk though, he set up a 500 million Naira compensation fund for victims of injustice during the #EndSARs protests in the state as well as a 500 million Naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) fund to be disbursed to youths with entrepreneurial ideas that could potentially provide employment opportunities. The state also set up a judicial panel of enquiry to investigate cases of police brutality and provide restorative justice.
2020 was the year that the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world and disrupted the global economic landscape in ways that the world is still grappling with. Embracing the use of data, science and logic as foundation for the state’s response, Governor Makinde swung into action immediately opting to avoid a blanket lockdown when it was fashionable to do so blindly.
Makinde’s administration runs on a level of transparency that has not been witnessed in the state since the start of the 4th republic, perhaps ever. The state’s budgeting process is now open with townhall meetings held at intervals so that constituents can participate in the process. The budget is also accessible to citizens on the government’s website.
A model governor, Makinde publicly declared his assets and kept a campaign promise of donating his monthly salary to the teachers pension fund. Pensioners in the state got a new lease on life as Makinde demonstrated good faith by committing to clear the backlog of their entitlements. Since inception the Makinde administration has paid more than 12billion Naira as accrued pension and gratuity to retirees, restoring the dignity that had been stripped from them by their former employer.
His four-point agenda aims to rejig the economy by focusing on the pillars of agriculture, security, health and education. Apart from returning the state to the vaunted free education policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Makinde ended years of acrimony by working with his counterpart in Osun state to resolve permanently the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology ownership crisis. Makinde’s leadership shoved ego aside and ended years of stalemate by signing off on the MoU that gives the state full ownership of the institution. He also resumed payment of bursaries to Law students.
Makinde managed to do all of this even while suffering personal upheaval. He survived a COVID-19 infection and lost his aged mother this year.
Bringing good governance down to the people is a matter of engaging honestly with them and Makinde has been top notch at this, deploying social media platforms to stay connected as well as ensure the people are active and engaged.
On the campaign trail, Makinde promise to change the face of political leadership in Oyo state and he has done just that, bringing with him a humanistic touch and an inclusive approach to governance.
A real man of the people.
To vote H.E Seyi Makinde as YNaija Person of the Year 2020; visit ynaija.com/personoftheyear2020