It has been a year already. And what a year it has been!
Last year, when we celebrated Workers’ Day, we could not gather together because we were in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the situation has changed. We are seeing a consistent decline in the numbers of COVID-19 infections. For this reason, we can gather for the workers’ parade with appropriate protocols in place. It may not be as elaborate as we would want it to be, but we thank God that we can celebrate.
We have had a rewarding year. And we have only you – the great workers of Oyo State – to thank for it. Great Workers of Oyo State. I salute you!
We celebrate you because the economy of Oyo State is built on your efforts. Never ever imagine that your contribution is too small. Your efforts do not go unnoticed. When the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) presents its periodic scorecards, and we see the reports, we are excited. We know that our economy is thriving not just because of foreign investments but also because of our local investors. For example, we were in the top three states with the highest full-year IGR growth rate. In the 2020 NBS report, our Internally Generated Revenue grew by 42.23%.
You, the workers in Oyo State, are our biggest investors.
Everyone – from the civil servants who open the gate to the secretariat every morning and shut them at the close of day; the Director-Generals who manage agencies; the clerks who make entries in files; the aides who follow up on requests; the entrepreneurs running businesses in various sectors; the market men and women in Alesinloye Market; the shoemaker at the street corner; the farmer in Oke-Ogun – we all are doing something to make Oyo State great, and I thank you for your contributions.
When I spoke to you last year, I gave you my word that no worker in the Oyo State Civil or public service will be paid with “bear with us” at the end of any month. I am happy to report that we have kept that promise. While other states are paying their workers in percentages, we are have consistently paid full salaries on the 25th of each month. And last December, we paid the 13th month salary for the second year running. We have been making prompt payment of pensions and clearing the backlog of gratuity payments we inherited.
So far, we have paid over 13 billion Naira in gratuities. We also have other measures to improve workers’ welfare in Oyo State, such as prompt approval of car and housing loans. We have also revisited the issue of civil servants who were denied promotions for the past five years. The process of ensuring all outstanding promotions are effected is already ongoing.
However, we know that not every worker in Oyo State is a civil servant. So, while we are making every effort to keep civil servants happy and more efficient at work, we are also concerned about the individuals in the private sector. Therefore, in the past year, we have taken all necessary steps to turn around the economic fortunes of all residents of Oyo State.
For example, we have invested massively in infrastructure. People now joke that Oyo State is a massive construction site. The result is that we have cut down on travel time in some areas. If you were travelling from Ibadan to Saki, you would go through the newly constructed 65km Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin Road as we did last Christmas.
This road construction has led to the emergence of several privately owned farm estates in that zone. New industries are relocating to Ibadan because we have favourable policies that promote private sector investments. This, in turn, means that more youths are getting jobs, more spending money in people’s pockets, more sales for the market men and women. And so, when the NBS statistics show that we had the lowest all items and food price inflation, Month on Month in Nigeria for February 2021, it’s a thumbs up for a job well done.
Last year, we used the agribusiness sector to drive our economic growth. We supported farmers for improved yields, collaborated with the private sector to improve processing capabilities, and even rehabilitated or resuscitated previously moribund industries. In the next year, we will be building on our expanded base and focus. We will be actively promoting investments in the solid minerals sector and tourism. We have already started speaking to investors in these sectors. By the time we present our next scorecard, you will be seeing the results.
Let me end this speech by talking about one sector that we all must remain invested in to continue growing our economy. I am talking about security. If our neighbourhoods are not secure, we will not have an economy to drive. So, please work with us. Do not allow any individuals or groups to divide us: Christians, Muslims, indigenes, residents, men, women, youths, whatever you may profess, we are one. We all want the same things. We want our lives to be better, so let us all work together.
We also know that there are criminal elements who want to disrupt the peace, as good citizens, our war should be against them. So, if you see something, say something and let the security agencies take charge and do something.
Great Oyo State Workers!
Happy Workers’ Day.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
God bless Oyo State.
~ Governor Seyi Makinde, May 1, 2021