SOMETIMES, one is tempted, by the argument, that it is too early to roll out the drums and blow the trumpet for Engr. Seyi Makinde, Governor of Oyo state, over his sterling performance thus far. As much as one wants to wait out on time before celebrating that young man, the mind comes back to say that occasional pat-on-the-back encourages better performance. I am not an indigene of Oyo state. I also do not live in the pacesetter state. But from what I have read so far about Gov. Makinde and his approach to governance, it seems that finally, Oyo has returned to the true meaning of its tag -pacesetter.
The regular show of brilliance by Makinde, is proof enough that governance ought not be left in the hands of the hungry, the angry, the loathsome and the braggard. Makinde keeps reminding that governance is a serious complex business yet, very simple. He shows that a governor who attends the business of governance with the mindset of a project manager, will only harvest positive results. And I am not surprised. Makinde is an engineer adept at project management. He worked his way up the ladder of his professional call and having not been ‘contaminated’ by Nigeria’s understanding of ‘public service’, he comes to leadership from a perspective not previously explored. His approach so far ought to be encouragement to Nigerians to seek young, savvy and talented professionals to manage our states, and country, for the 21st century.
First, he not only asked the Oyo state House of Assembly to be adept at its oversight function and question anything that is questionable, he moved ahead to create an agency of state that would monitor, and question, public procurements. This is significant because whatever we know as fraud in government is domiciled, mostly, in procurement. In enabling a Due Process office, Makinde made it known to his people that his was government unusual. He is ready to put an end to some behaviour in public service, at least, in his time. His predecessors did not have need for due process office because they had different intentions. Moving from there, Makinde publicly declared his asset, something many of his peers are not prepared to do.
Now, that was the most audacious of his actions. In public service, once you declare your asset and the figures are not eye-popping, the chances are that no one may bother to verify your claims. But as soon as the figures cause eye brows to rise, be sure that you have invited an inquisition. Officials at the Asset Declaration office are most likely going to track your claims to be sure you did not make claims that would provide you a cover for stealing. I am sure that Makinde knew that when he declared an asset base that left many mouths agape. That was courage. However, what that asset base showed was that Makinde did not come into governance a hungry fellow. He did not come to office a deprived fellow. He lacked nothing that money could buy and also, could have bought anything his appetite leads to. So, it is not likely that his journey to Government House Ibadan was for the sole purpose of guaranteeing luxury and feeding for his immediate and extended family till 2023.
For that reason, Makinde comes forth as one of a few of his peers who came to office fully aware of the enormous challenge ahead. He came to power knowing that leadership must be exemplary and not coated with aspartame. For him, leadership is about civility and resetting mindsets. He happened in a clime where minds are setat the understanding that a governor is just another Santa Claus. But unlike Santa Clause, he is not seasonal, but a daily occurrence. Prior to May 29, 2019, Nigerians saw governors as owners of state funds. Many believe that a states wealth is the governors’ to dispense as he wills. That seems to be major reason many governors derailed especially with the army of praise singers, mostly integrity challenged charlatans (apologies Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala), whose eyes are set, not on public good, but on what drops from state purse. That is a mindset that Makinde is resetting in Oyo, making the people to understand that as a project, Oyo must work for everyone not just members of his Peoples Democratic Party, as was the case in the immediate past.
Further to that, the governor hit the people with a fresh insight when he appointed a 27-year old as commissioner. I laughed when I saw a picture of poster-bearing oldies, shared on social media, alleged to be of persons in Oyo protesting the appointment of a ‘boy’ as commissioner when there are older persons available. If that be true, it means that Gov. Makinde has hit the right note in his expression of leadership of the state. Often, youths are considered best for thuggery and election day criminality. Their reward has often come by way of appointments into committees to fight touting at motor parks. That is not the thinking for Makinde, who, in his 50s, can see, and appreciate the challenges of tomorrow, better than many who are older. That to my mind, indicates that he is not governor for just today. He is also working on building a better tomorrow for Oyo people. That tomorrow will be driven by youths whose leadership skills are molded today, not oldies who are approaching the departure lounge.
Despite these, Makinde will likely face a fight back, especially from those who will be dislodged by his good governance model. However, the point to score is the utilitarian value of governance. He would have scored very high marks if the effects of his governance positively impact the lives of a greater number of people in the state. Already, civil servants in the state are on the high because they say their salaries are paid even before the month ends. However, I don’t like mentioning salary payment as a governance achievement. Thought it is motivating, it is however statutory. So, it is no big deal. But, his predecessors made it become a big deal. Many governors have made salary payment such an impossible task that those who regularly pay, are exceptional.
In all, Makinde is making governance seem so easy that some of his peers may be at a loss as to the magic he attends issues with. But there is not magic. The only that works is preparedness. Being prepared means being in constant communication with oneself and his environment. It means being abreast of the issues and having a mind that churns out solutions not one that makes excuses. Makinde is not making any excuses. He is rather working on solutions. That is focused leadership.It is such a leadership that makes a leader very uncomfortable with unsolved tasks and unanswered questions. Leaders who flow like Makinde are condemned to success because it is only a mind that is fixated on solutions that wins.
- Uchegbu, a journalist, writes in from Abuja
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