Despite the economic challenges being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Wednesday, promised bumper deliverables for workers and people of the state in the 2021 fiscal year.
The governor, who enumerated the series of developmental initiatives his government is targeting in the New Year, also declared that his administration will continue to proritise the welfare of civil servants in the state.
Makinde stated this during the annual inter-faith service to mark the beginning of 2021.
The governor disclosed that the backlog of promotions from 2017 to 2020 will be cleared, while the government will also create the opportunity for deserving civil servants to rise to Grade Level 17.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor stated these while addressing civil/public servants at the Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, noting that though the government expects 2021 to come with its challenges, the welfare of civil servants will be a top priority.
The governor equally declared that his administration is on top of the insecurity challenges in the state, noting that the government will continue to run policies and programmes that impact positively on the lives of the majority of the populace.
While appreciating God for the grace to survive 2020, a year termed as a tough one due to the myriad of challenges that came with it, the governor said that despite the hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, his government was able to keep up with the prompt payment of salaries and pensions all through 2020 and even paid the 13th month salary as well as embark on several infrastructure development projects.
Governor Makinde added that the government will commission 10 infrastructure development projects in 2021, including the 65 kilometre Moniya-Iseyin Road; the 21 kilometre Ajia-Airport Express with spur to Amuloko; the four bus terminals in Ibadan; Challenge-Odo Ona-Apata Road; the Gedu-Oroki-Sabo-Asipa Road in Oyo town; and the Lekan Salami Sports Complex remodelling, among others.
He said: “First, let me thank God for the gift of life and His protection over us all in the past year. 2020 has been described in many quarters as a tough year. We did not survive last year because we are tougher, we survived only by His grace and that is why it is good that we are holding this inter-faith service in gratitude.
“We are starting this year in good spirits. We are confident that this year, the seeds we planted in the previous year will yield good fruits. Last year, I didn’t know where the International Airport was from February till December. We all stayed together to experience the pandemic.
“On the 30th, I decided to spend the New Year in the United States of America and before I came back, critics were saying I went to America to enjoy myself while Oyo State was burning. My belief is, they were criticising me because they had no other thing to say. Well, I am back and we will continue to serve the people of Oyo State.
“So, we are looking forward to commissioning various projects that we started last year. For example, the 65km Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin road will be commissioned this year. Also lined up for commissioning this year are: the 21km Airport- Ajia-New Ife Express road with a spur to Amuloko; the 12km Apete-Awotan-Akufo road, which will be the first concrete road belonging to the state government.
“We also hope to commission the 3km Under G Stadium-LAUTECH-2nd Gate road; the 5km Gedu-Oroki-Sabo-Asipa road; the 12.5km dualisation of Challenge-Odo Ona Elewe-Apata road and that road is special because it will take pressure off Ring Road. “In the course of the year, we will also commission the 10km Saki Township road dualisation amongst others.
“Aside these, we will also be commissioning the remodelled Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, and I look forward to watching Shooting Stars in the stadium soon. Mark this, the first match we will watch there will be at 7 p.m.
“We hope to also commission the four bus terminals at Iwo Road, New Ife Road, Challenge and Ojoo in Ibadan as well as the bike and bus terminal at Agodi Gate, Ibadan. I will be visiting Akesan Market next week. The first phase is done and we will be commissioning the entire project (the two phases) in the next three to four months.”
While speaking on his administration’s continued commitment to the welfare of civil servants, Governor Makinde said: “We heard some people wondering last year if we will continue paying salaries promptly given the hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic meltdown. Well, by the grace of God, we are not owing salaries.
“We even surprised them more by paying 13th month salaries for the second time running at a time when other states are owing their workers. In fact, we have spent about N9.3 billion to pay pensions and gratuities owed by the previous administration so far, and we will continue to pay to clear up the backlog.
“Also, as you may be aware, there is a backlog of outstanding promotions from 2016. This will be addressed this year. All the outstanding promotions from 2017 to 2020 will be done. Furthermore, under our watch, deserving civil servants will have the opportunity to get up to grade level 17.
“Let me reassure you that we will continue to prioritise the welfare of the civil servants in Oyo State. Yes, we are expecting that 2021 will come with its own challenges. In as much as we want everything to be smooth-sailing, God promised us that He will get us to our destinations safely. “There will be a period of turbulence but if we believe in God, we will get to that destination. So, I expect challenges and we are ready to face them.”
He further stated that the government will continue to deal decisively with the security challenges because its aim of expanding the economy could not be achieved in an atmosphere of insecurity.
“The general consensus is that we have started well. I have heard people say, we hope he continues like this. Well, let me remind you that when we came in about one year and six months ago, our promise was to serve. We remain unwavering in that resolve. We shall continue to serve the people of Oyo State and we will put their interests first,” the governor said.
Earlier in her speech, the Head of Service of Oyo State, Mrs. Ololade Agboola, appreciated the governor for the various packages already being enjoyed by civil/public servants in the state.
Mrs. Agboola, who commended the governor for approving the recruitment of youths into the civil/public service to fill vacant positions in the state, including the recruitment of over 7,000 into teaching and non-teaching cadres, as well as recruitments of Health Workers, Environmental Health Officers, Health Superintendents and State Counsels.
She equally commended the governor that despite the lockdown and absence of the majority of the workers from work, the salaries, leave bonus, pensions and other entitlements of workers were paid as and when due, saying that the new minimum wage for the workers had been implemented.
She said that over 300 staff dismissed in the state civil service by the previous administration were reinstated by the governor, charging workers in the state to put in their best, have the right attitude towards work and desist from all forms of misconduct.
In their separate remarks, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, and the chairman of the Oyo State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Comrade Kayode, among others, enjoined civil servants in the state to redouble their efforts in 2021 by ensuring effective service delivery and continuous support for the Makinde-led government, so that it can further build on the successes already recorded.