Governors Aregbesola, Ajimobi, Ambode and Amosun at the wedding ceremony
Oyo State has been very much in my mind this
week since I had an encounter with photos of the latest destination wedding
organised by the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, for one of his daughters. It
appears the state has not been fortunate with the right kind of leadership
since the exit of the late Lam Adeshina. Don’t get me wrong, there are great
people in Oyo State, but I’m worried that the state under its present
leadership could make partying in Beirut, Lebanon, a serious affair than the
governance of the state. How can a governor whose state is struggling with
financial crisis dare to insult the sensibility of his people by going to do
offshore wedding for his daughter?

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Just last week, Ajimobi admitted that his government
was in shambles financial wise. He admitted to the financial mess he’s sitting
on as a governor, when he told a presenter on a radio station that, “Next
(this) week, we should be able to access the Federal Government bailout of
N26.6bn. As of today, we owe the state workers N21.3bn but all we could get
from the bailout is N17.3bn. So if we get the money today, we will still have
to look for more money to balance the account so that all the debt can be paid.”

Ajimobi said government should take a sheer size
of the blame for the economic woes facing Nigeria. According to him, “We should
blame the culture of spending without saving, lifestyles of Nigerians,
ourselves and government for the position we find ourselves today. We have not
managed the economy well but government should take the larger blame. So much
money had been stolen.’’
Do you take Ajimobi serious, when he speaks? No. I
don’t. One follow-up question to his treatise on the bailout issue is: who
stole the money in Oyo State since Ajimobi only succeeded himself and not any
other person or party?

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During his last campaign, Ajimobi promised free
education to his people, but now he has backtracked. A few days ago, he made a
surprised “change” in his education policy. He cancelled the government sponsorship
of the final examination for the senior secondary school students and in
addition introduced N3,000 levies to be paid annually by the students in Oyo
State. Not only has the governor stopped WAEC fees, but at the same time, in
what looks like a clueless policy, he also re-introduced tuition fees in public
schools.

In the new arrangement, primary school pupils will
be paying N3,000 education development levy per session, which will be paid in
three installments of N1, 000 per term. This poor policy is Ajimobi’s response
to “abysmal academic performance” of students in Oyo State.
How do you respond to an outdated idea such as
this? Let’s look at the United States. That is a country that is far gone is
education policy. Primary and secondary education are not only free, children
equally enjoy free ride to and fro whenever school is in session. Only
recently, when the US government realised that people from certain race in the
country are not enrolling for college education as expected, it started to promote
the idea of free education up to the first two years of college (university).
 The Oyo State example is a bad example for governance in south-west Nigeria. And that idea that development levy should be paid
for students to be serious with their education is obviously for lack of ideas.
What happened to the taxes being paid by the residents? Any state government
that knows its onions must be creative about how to fund elementary and
secondary education, if such state must be ranked high in development.

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I’m embarrassed that Ajimobi as a governor could
leave Nigeria to go and organize wedding for his daughter abroad. It makes
mockery of leadership in Nigeria. That simply says something about his
political party as well: lack of discipline. I know a number of people may find
words to describe it as “once in a lifetime thing,” but not when a state
governor is unable to pay salaries or fix deplorable education system and needs
to rely on a bailout to get things done. That is unjustifiable. If you take
major federal government infrastructure out of Oyo State today, the capital in
particular, you’ll likely see a rustic state. Ajimobi has not impressed me so
far, although he’s got that opportunity and exposure as someone who had lived
and studied in the United States. It is saddening that a man who observed Chief
Obafemi Awolowo’s legacy of development and took part in the social
opportunities it provided will be removing social opportunities from this
generation and still don’t care a hoot about what people think. That is not
leadership.

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