New governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has abolished N3,000 school fees in the state-owned secondary schools, which was introduced by the administration of the immediate past governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
Besides, he said his administration is planning to be the first state in Nigeria to pay above the national minimum wage in Nigeria, but appealed to the organised labour unions to give him time as the current fiscal capacity of the state could not at this time afford N30,000 minimum wage.
He made the disclosure in his inaugural address after he was sworn in as the 28th governor of the state by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Munta Abimbola, at the main bowl of Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Oke-Ado, Ibadan, on Wednesday. The stadium was filled to capacity on the occasion.
Makinde, who was dressed in blue agbada lace and blue cap with silver touches to match, was accompanied to the stage by his wife. On the stage with them were their children, comprising two daughters and one boy. He took the oath allegiance at 12:10pm. His deputy, Alhaji Rauf Olaniyan, had earlier been sworn in.
Makinde is the 8th civilian governor of the state. Civilian governors before him were the late Chief Bola Ige (1979 to 1983), Dr Omololu Olunloyo (October 1, 1983 to December 31, 1983), the late Chief Kolapo Ishola (1991 to 1993), the late Lam Adesina (1999 to 2003), Senator Rashidi Ladoja (2003 to 2007), Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala (2007 to 2011), and Senator Abiola Ajimobi (2011 to 2019).
He explained that during his electioneering, he spoke with parents of children in public secondary schools, who “out of their meagre resources still have to scrounge N3,000 per child so that their children can get an education and increase their opportunities.
“Our region that housed the first university in Nigeria now has a state with the seventh highest number of out-of-school children. Over 400,000 children in Oyo State are out of school.
“Effective immediately, the school fees of N3,000 in the state-owned secondary schools is hereby abolished. We want enrolment to go up; we want our children off the streets and in the classrooms. We are throwing the school doors wide open. Whoever opens a school door, opens an opportunity. We are opening opportunities for a brighter future.”
Makinde, who promised to increase education budget to 10 per cent of the annual budget and donate his entire salary as governor to Teacher’s Pension Fund in fulfilment of his electoral promise, stated that civil servants in the state deserve to earn a whole lot more for their dedication and service to the state, adding: “Recently, the Federal government announced the new salary scheme in which the lowest cadre of civil servants are expected to earn at least N30,000.
“I know how access to this type of money will improve the lives of many of the families that I have had direct contact with. However, with the way the Oyo State account currently stands, I will be deceiving you if I said we are capable of taking on this burden.
“I believe in true federalism. I believe the states should decide the minimum wage of their workforce based on individual realities. All states are not created equal; so it is against the principle of fairness to apply a blanket rule to govern them all.
“That being said, our plan is to make Oyo the first state to pay above the national minimum wage. We know this is possible. We have already set our plan in motion to make this possible. But, this requires time. We propose staggered increments. I met with organised labour during my campaigns and made a pledge to an open relationship. I intend to stand by that promise.
“We will have a sincere conversation and arrive at the best possible decision. Rest assured that the decision will put your overall best interests first.”
Makinde promised to set up a committee in due course to look into all cases of those who believe they were wrongly dismissed from the civil service, including those whose cases had been decided in their favour in courts, who have not been reinstated.
The new governor noted further that the “biggest issue facing the people of Oyo State is poverty. We need money to confront poverty. Oyo State needs money. Right now, Oyo State’s income stands at 33 per cent from Internally Generated Revenue and over 60 per cent FAAC allocations. This is why we are constantly in a cycle of debt and liability. This model is unsustainable. It has to change.
“We will reduce government overheads, increase the efficiency in tax collection, simplify the tax payment system and cut down on debt accumulation without concrete repayment plans. We cannot do this without your support.”
Dignitaries in attendance included former Secretary of to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; an Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former Deputy National Chairman (South) of PDP, Chief Bode George; and Oyo State PDP chairman, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha.
The roll call also comprised two former governors of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, and Dr. Omololu Olunloyo; former governors of Ekiti and Osun states, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former governor of old Western State and former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Brig Gen Oluwole Rotimi (retd).
Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, representing Oyo Central; former deputy governor of Ekiti State, Senator Abiodun Olubunmi; former Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide; former leader, House of Representatives, Mrs. Mulikat Akande-Adeola; former deputy governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; former chairman of Ibadan North West of the state, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun; wife of former governor of Oyo State, Alhaja Mutiat Ladoja; governorship candidate of PDP during the 2018 governorship poll in Ekiti State, Prof Olusola Kolapo Eleka; governorship candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), who stepped down for Makinde, prior to the governorship poll, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin; and a popular gospel artiste, Evangelist Yinka Ayefele among other dignitaries.
Royal fathers in attendance included the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I and Alajia of Ajia, Alhaji Nureni Yusuff, who is the traditional ruler of the country home of the new governor.
Religious leaders in attendance included Archbishop Joseph Akinfenwa of Anglican Church, Archbishop Olumuyiwa Odejayi of Methodist Church Nigeria; Archbishop Gabriel Abegunrin of Catholic Church; Bishop Ademola Moradeyo of Methodist Church; and Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States, Alhaji Dawood Makanjuola.