July 16, 2024

Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has declared that there is a strong link between the trio of fiscal federalism, restructuring and state police and running a government that places the people’s interest first.

The governor stated that it has become imperative for the country to consider toeing the path of constitutional reform to accommodate these ideas if government would begin to benefit the people.

Governor Makinde stated this on Tuesday, at the International Conference Centre, Ibadan, where he chaired the 85th birthday lecture of a former governor of Osun State and former acting National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande.

Makinde, who praised Chief Akande for his immense contributions to national development and his service to the old Oyo State, Osun State and the country in different capacities, said it was commendable that people have come together to honour the former governor in his lifetime.

Governor Makinde congratulated Chief Akande, describing him as a political icon and a dogged personality, who left good legacies in different positions he held, including Deputy Governor and Secretary to the State Government in the old Oyo State, among others.

Governor Makinde maintained that holders of political offices should use them for the benefit of the people, stressing that Chief Akande contributed immensely to the democracy being enjoyed in Nigeria through some of his thoughts, which remain relevant to date.

He said: “Baba Akande is, indeed an icon, and, as some of you may already know, he served the Old Oyo State as a Secretary to the State Government and I think in that administration, he also served as a Deputy Governor.

“Baba does not need to know where you stand or where things stand with him. He will say it the way it is and heaven may fall after that. When they were reading Baba’s citation, they said his introduction to national politics was in 1977.

“I read an article published some years ago about a presentation Baba Akande made in 1977 at the Constituent Assembly in Lagos. I will want everybody present here to find the article and read it.

“He raised some key issues affecting our constitution, which are leading to societal inequality. But I would like to highlight a few issues Baba raised, because there is no better time to do that than this occasion of his 85th birthday to talk about some of the ideals he stands for.

“One of his strongest beliefs is that power should be used to benefit the people. In so doing, he advocated for fiscal federalism, restructuring, state police, and others. I also agree that there is a vital link between these three constitutional issues and the ‘people first’ type of governance. For example, our fiscal federalism involves understanding, which government functions should be centralised and which should be decentralised.

“You will agree with me that if some of the functions of the Federal Government are decentralised and put in the purview of the state, the people will begin to spend more time focused on getting their state governors to function more effectively. This is part of the article Baba presented in 1977.

“A case in point is the recent amendment in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, devolving power generation.

“Generation, transmission and distribution are being devolved to the state. So, here in Oyo State, citizens ask why they don’t yet have a state-generating and transmitting power supply. So, it is a shift in focus to the level of government, which is closer to them.

“Also, with restructuring, we can see states devolving powers to local government areas. But what we have right now is the Federal Government directly funding local government areas as if they are answerable directly to the central government. So, these are some of the examples of the things Baba spoke about in 1977.

“Some of you also know that we tried to get state Police and former Governor Gboyega Oyetola and now Minister of Blue Economy was part of the struggle, but we could not and decided to form Amotekun. And Jide [Sanwo-Olu] said he would use the Neighbourhood Watch. That is the beauty of the devolution of power and true federalism.

“For over four decades, Baba Akande has been exposing these issues and it is not too late to take actions that show we are learning from history.”

Governor Makinde equally admonished politicians to always emulate leaders of impeccable characters like Chief Akande, who have left lasting legacies both in actions and thoughts, for the benefits of the people.

He added that one of the best ways to celebrate icons and honour their legacies is by examining their thoughts and implementing such thoughts in a way that will benefit the people.

“Indeed, one of the best ways of celebrating our icons and honouring their legacy is by examining their thoughts and actions and implementing them in a way that will benefit our people.

“I am very happy because when Professor Olu Aina came forward, he said they are already setting up a Foundation in honour of Baba Bisi Akande. Some of us like to set up honour for ourselves.

“So, this is a lesson for us in public positions right now. If you do well, you will see people who will rally around you and ensure that your legacy lives on. May the Almighty God continue to bless and keep Baba for us in good health,” he added.

Also speaking, the Vice-President, Senator Kashim Shettima, who was represented by Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum, in his lecture entitled; “The Leadership Question: Prospects For Nigeria”, charged all Nigerians to take responsibility of leadership, as it is a collective effort to move the nation forward.

President Bola Tinubu, who spoke through the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also lauded the effort, remarkable and outstanding contributions of the celebrant, Chief Akande, to democratic governance in the country.

Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman, Board of Trustees, Adebisi Akande Foundation, Emeritus Professor Olu Aina, OFR, said the gathering was to celebrate an acknowledgement of a life dedicated to service, leadership, and unwavering commitment to the betterment of the society.

In his response, the celebrant, Chief Akande, appreciated the honour bestowed on him.

The event had in attendance ministers, governors of the South-West states, former governors, traditional rulers, political stalwarts, captains of industry and top government functionaries in Oyo State, among other dignitaries.


Sulaimon Olanrewaju

Special Adviser (Media) to Oyo State Governor

January 16, 2024.

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