When people campaign for political office, they often consult widely. They will not only speak to party chieftains to ensure they get support, but they also go to the people. They share their promises with the people and listen as the people tell them the things that they want their government to do for them. This model is the foundation of strong democracies—government by the people. Ultimately, power rests with the people through their elected representatives because the leaders listen to and implement the wishes of the people.

I have always said that I am in this position today because it is the will of the people and of God. And so, I am determined to continue to pursue and expand policies that will show that I respect the yearnings of the people. One of the ways our administration has done this is by ensuring that our communities are involved in the budgeting process.

Last year, we produced our first budget, which we tagged, “The People’s Budget” because we came out and engaged in town hall meetings and sought your input. You spoke, and we listened. You made it clear that you wanted more capital projects and infrastructural development. You indicated that payment of salaries and gratuities was a sore point. As a result, of last year’s budget of N213.8Billion, capital expenditure was pegged at N103.4Billion, while recurrent expenditure had a value of N110.4Billion.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 happened. Additionally, the fall in oil prices affected federal allocations to states. We had to slash the budget. However, we decided that whatever cuts we were making, payment of salaries pensions and gratuities, and other emoluments to the state workforce will not be affected. After the reductions, recurrent expenditure remained N108.9Billion while capital projects took a 36.9% hit and came down to N65.2Billion.

Still, we have found ways of ensuring that some planned infrastructural projects could still be carried out. For example, we introduced the Alternative Project Funding Approach (APFA), where the contractor executes the entire project with their own money before the government repays over several budgeting cycles.

The ongoing reconstruction of the 21km Airport Road-Ajia-New Ife Express Road with a spur to Amuloko and the remodelling of Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, are products of this funding approach. We also had the Contractor’s Project Financing Scheme. Through this scheme, Oyo State contributes an initial percentage of the contract sum while the contractor brings the rest. The government then has the grace of paying over several budgeting cycles. The recently flagged off ‘Light Up Oyo State’ (Phase 2) project is being facilitated using this financing model.

We also embarked on targeted borrowing. We are grateful to the State Legislature led by Honourable Debo Ogundoyin for signing off on infrastructural loans. We have begun constructions such as the bus terminals at Iwo Road, New Ife Road, Challenge and Ojoo in Ibadan; the remodelling of OYSADA headquarters at Saki, Oke-Ogun; Upgrading of Primary Healthcare Centres and other healthcare facilities. Just last week, we were at Saki to commission the Saki Specialist Hospital.

Other projects we have embarked on include: supply and installation of all-in-one Solar Powered Street Lights for the illumination of some market places, selected hospitals, and quite a few public places across the geo-political zones in the states. We have also embarked on the ‘Operation Zero Potholes’ in Oyo State.

We also have procured new truck-mounted drilling rigs with a compressor to improve our water supply, five firefighting trucks and ten ambulances. The implementation of the 2020 budget has indeed touched every sector of the Oyo State economy that you told us you wanted to see work.

We were able to carry out these people-centred projects because we started off the budget year by asking you the question: What would you like us to do for you?

And so, we are back this year on a similar mission. And this time, we are expanding the process and making it even more open and transparent. Last year, town hall meetings were held in the three senatorial districts. This year, we are upping the ante. Town hall meetings will be held in the seven geopolitical zones of the state.

I, therefore, would like to use this opportunity to invite you to participate in the process. Come out and let your voice be heard. They say it is the person who wears the shoes that knows where it pinches. So, please, tell us your pain points. Our administration is all about inclusion. We strongly believe in the tenets of democracy. We will continue to work to make sure that people’s preferences are paramount. We are here to serve you.

~Seyi Makinde, September, 17, 2020.