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OYO101: How Did Oyo Become The Cesspit Of Corruption? | Muftau Gbadegesin

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A little over four months ago, precisely at the first anniversary of Agidigbo FM, Governor Seyi Makinde confidently made a bold, instructive and declarative statement: the state government is prepared to drag an online media outfit, Sahara Reporters to court, for the alleged false publication of exercise books contract – remember the #998 million Notebookgate sagas. More than 130 days later, nothing close to that legal brawl has happened! Ordinarily, Governor Makinde’s legal threat was supposed to dampen Dataphyte’s resolve, the investigative outlet under whose platform the mind-boggling revelation was conducted and published – before a larger platform – Sahara Reporters picked it up for its larger audience. Instead, the legal threat has only emboldened and reinvigorated the outfit to churn out more incontrovertible, hard-hitting and pulse-pounding strings of damning reports on the behind-the-veil (mis)conducts of the state government.

Not surprisingly, Dataphyte’s mind-blowing and shocking revelation was only a tiny fraction of stenches festering within the government of Governor Seyi Makinde: an administration that promises fairness, justice, and transparency in its dealings but that has instead mastered the dark arts of emotional blackmail, propaganda and outright deception. Others such as the unremitted, unaccounted billions of naira revenue generated by Park Management System (PMS) headed by Mr. Mukaila Lamidi, aka Auxiliary, the controversial disruption of tertiary institutions’ stability by Platinum Consultants, the increasing rate of contracts for cronies, and the polarization of the polity along religion lines, to mention just few shall be dissected.

When Governor Seyi Makinde assented to the Oyo state Anti-corruption Agency (OYACA) bill on December 10, 2019, he had one simple goal in mind for the agency: to investigate cases of corruption and mismanagement of public funds at the sub-national level. Consequently, the idea behind the agency’s creation was in effect to reduce the overwhelming workload of the centrally controlled Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). But despite a series of corruption reports begging for further investigation, especially those carried out by investigative platforms which indicted state officials, oddly, the agency has watched in stunned silence, forced to stay dormant, passive, and ineffective. OYACA was supposed to be part of the solutions to public probity and accountability but has instead joined the bandwagon. The agency, it turned out, was not only self-serving (creation of a government with disregard for due process) but equally lacked the wherewithal to tackle graft head-on. Of course, that’s not entirely the fault of the agency, though.

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To be clear, corruption is not a stranger to Nigeria (particularly Oyo state) or any country in the world. David Cameron, former British Prime Minister once half-heartedly described Nigeria and some other countries as fantastically corrupt. While not completely true because he excluded his own fantastically greedy country from the list, still he was on point. No government in Nigeria from the top to the bottom is insulated from the hydra-headed monster called corruption. Admittedly, corruption has continued to be the most potent clog in the wheel of our country’s progress at large, and by extension, our state. Unfortunately, the systemic rot going on in Oyo state under GSM calls for greater concern and worry; that a sitting governor could dismiss corruption allegations with a wave of the hand is just nauseatingly embarrassing.

Jide Josh was an ardent supporter of GSM’s government. Assuming you’d warned him a while ago on how his bootlicking for the government would backfire and leave the state in debilitating debt; he would have laughed it off. In part, because he firmly believes this current administration has the will to sustain peace instead of breaching it, empower local governments rather than cripple it, make contract bidding transparent instead of awarding it to cronies, foster religious harmony, instead of packing government with people of one faith and perhaps serve people’s interests, instead of cabals whims and caprices. Additionally, he didn’t expect any serious government to dine and wine with career criminals (that other states are in bed with them should never be a yardstick: Ajisebi Oyo laari) or give them liver to threaten the major opposition candidate with carnage and destruction by defending their nonsense – think of PDP’s shamelessness. In the inner recess of his mind, he knew Oyo would be safe so far the ruffians ‘omo ijoba’ are locked in the darkest cells of the prison for fomenting troubles. Even now it’s still hard for him to rethink the drama unfolding currently. As an unapologetic opponent of the previous regime, he conceded the relative progress made by Abiola Ajimobi’s administration. “In terms of standard”, he quixotically enthused, “Ajimobi’s government raised it to an enviable position”.

In addition, he believes the road map to accelerated development was a fine, promising document – one that can change Oyo into a beacon of transformation and development; until his hope and expectation came crashing down on the rock of current political reality. Looking back at the increasing rate of administrative malfeasance, endemic corruption, rampant contracts for cronies, the beatification of touts and hooligans, and unvarnished support for trouble makers, he now gnashed his teeth in regret. Josh’s regret is not one-off; rather he is just one of many silently disappointed and embarrassed supporters of the current government. Perhaps, Josh and co began to connect the dots of where shoes started to pinch this government right from the eye-opening event of April 18, 2022, when the Governor quietly spoke the words that would change his view of the state government forever. At that gathering packed most with the Governor’s yeomen, GSM said that the only truth about the government is the only one from him: “Well, let me tell you the truth of the matter (the N998 Notebookgates saga) such never happened” he told his enthusiastic audience “anything you hear from me is nothing but the truth (sic). If they don’t know where we are coming from, they know where we are going”.

Similarly, what will happen is that I will encourage Oriyomi (founder of Agidigbo FM) to sue them and settle the case in court. And as a state government, we will sue Sahara Reporters (instead of Dataphyte) for the false publication. By the time we are done with them, they will stop publishing false reports about the government of Oyo state. Here are the questions that should unsettled any patriotic citizens of this state: why has the state government not sued Sahara Reporters or Dataphyte? Why has Dataphyte continued to publish more vindictive, irrefutable and spine-tingling reports about the government after that legal threat? Why has the Agbowo Shopping complex project been abandoned? How true is the allegation that Mr. Governor awarded 13 out of 14 contracts to one single company?

Please note that Jide Josh is not the real name of the interviewee in this story. Any resemblance is only coincidental.

OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s Opinion about Issues affecting Oyo state, published on Saturdays. He can be reached via muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850

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