By Taiwo Adisa
Visionary leaders are hard to come by and when the world sees one, it is also difficult to accept the change he projects. That has been the lots of many visioners the world has produced, and it is certain to be the fate of many others still to come. When Jesus Christ was in the world, the greatest measure of resentment he received was done to him by his own kinsmen and that made him to conclude that a prophet is without honour in his homestead.
But because of the conviction of the visioner and his insistence that the society stands to benefit from his vision, the world eventually comes to terms with the benefits of his vision and he, thereafter, becomes the hero and the toast of not just the immediate community but the world at large.
Such is the reality the South-Western part of the country is experiencing as far as the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde (GSM) of Oyo State is concerned right now.
When the Park Management System (PMS) was launched in Oyo State early in 2020, not many were willing to touch the idea with a long pole. The commotion that greeted the idea with threats oozing from the parks could easily melt the chicken hearted as the leaders of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) threatened to bring down the sky.
Today, the PMS idea has become a toast of many states. Lagos and Ondo states have fully launched their versions of PMS, a clear vindication of Makinde as the man who saw tomorrow, as far as the management of the parks is concerned.
In the early hours of Thursday April 7, the government of Lagos State announced its adoption of the PMS in its bid to thaw the dice of the lingering crisis that had engulfed the operation of the NURTW in the state.
Some days earlier, the governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu had banned the operation of the NURTW in the state and announced the adoption of the Park Management System.
The two states are incidentally taking a cue from the vision set two years ago by Governor Seyi Makinde when he launched the PMS in the state.
Makinde, who inherited a chaotic situation among the transporters in the different parks across the state had midwifed the PMS policy in February 2020 in a measure aimed at ending the perennial park crisis and unmitigated violence the transporters easily unleash on themselves in their attempt to establish relevance in the parks The measure was also aimed at shoring up the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and modernise the operation of the parks across the state. In one breath, the PMS policy as midwifed by Oyo State was both an economic tool and a security measure. On one hand, it will bring sanity to the parks and on the other, it will boost revenue generation.
The then Commissioner for Public Works, Infrastructure and Transport, Professor Raphael Afonja, who addressed newsmen on the modus operandi of the system said that the PMS would include a team of Park Managers who will coordinate activities at the parks located in each of the 33 local governments of the state as well as two disciplinary Committees which will coordinate operations at the Motor Parks and Tippers/Lorries Parks.
The commissioner had stated then: “I am here to basically inform you of the recent development concerning the motor parks, garages, and quarries. We are all aware that recently, the state rolled out a plan to engage consultants that will be collecting revenue on behalf of the government, to increase our internally generated revenue in the state.
“The state also decided to appoint park managers across the state through all 33 local governments, and the goal is to have these people become the eyes of government and also to collect revenue on behalf of the state government, which will be remitted through the consultants and sent to the government coffers.”
Immediately the idea was made public, the earth-shaking threats vibrated from the parks with the marketplace-like noise knowing no limits of decibels. Such a situation would easily weaken the faint-hearted. There was tension in the parks especially as members of the NURTW alleged that Governor Makinde had only handed the parks to a faction of its leadership headed by Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi, (aka Auxiliary).
It took the strong stance of the Governor and repeated explanations by media handlers of the government to get the aggrieved section of NURTW know the true position of things- that rather than appoint Auxiliary as the Chairman of PMS, the government had only appointed him as the chairman of one of the two PMS Disciplinary Committees. Even at that, the NURTW dragged the matter before the law courts.
Two years down the line, Makinde’s vision of an organized Park Management System, devoid of the usual rancour the parks are known for as well as the allied thuggery and unwarranted commotions is spreading fast. As things stand, the PMS idea, pioneered by Makinde has become a vision whose time has come.
On April 3, the government of Ondo State announced its decision to end the “prolonged crisis” within the NURTW in the state by setting up the PMS.
Lucky, Ayedatiwa, Deputy Governor of Ondo State, who made the announcement on Governor Akeredolu’s behalf said, as he named the Chairman and other members of the body.
On the heels of the announcement by Ondo, the Government of Lagos State also on April 7, announced the setting up of a PMS committee to oversee the management of the parks and end the rancour between the state chapter of NURTW and the national body.
The decision by the government of Lagos State, made public by the State’s commissioner for Information Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, further indicated that the PMS committee will “oversee the affairs of all motor parks and garages in the state and will report to the Ministry of Transport.”
The government also announced the appointment of the popular Chieftain of the state’s NURTW, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya, also known as MC Oluomo, as the chairman of the newly constituted Parks Management Committee.
The Lagos State Government said: “This is in fulfillment of the Government’s promise to ensure that events in the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) are not allowed to threaten law and order.”
Omotoso had added: “The Government has, therefore, exercised its constitutional powers to ensure that no vacuum, which can disrupt the peace of our dear State, is allowed to exist in the parks.”
Whether it is Oyo, Ondo or Lagos, the fact remains that the ugly incidents that usually herald the installation of new leadership order at the parks have become reprehensible to public office holders. And for GSM whose government broke the dice, the time has come to give our people a better living condition whether in the parks or social life generally.
But it is not the only time Makinde is showing the nation the way to go. While the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic established its magisterial reign over the world, Nigeria inclusive, no governor, not even the Federal Government dared to take creative steps to order a balance between the health and economy of the troubled people.
Makinde was faced by a debilitating paucity of data which would enable the state to determine its capacity to feed the different strata of the society including the less privileged, the poorest of the poor, the physically challenged and those whose livelihood has been blocked by the perpetual lockdown ordered by the Federal Government.
To fill the gap and provide succour for his people, Makinde ordered partial lockdown which enabled a balance between the challenging health situation and the economic wellbeing of the people.
The result was a stable Oyo State economy which even recorded a 26 percent growth within the pandemic as certified by the records of the National Bureau of Statistics. He also unveiled a palliative-sharing model that cut across the strata of the state and ensured the poorest of the poor were reached without rancour.
The ingenuity that equally came with the distribution of the palliatives is also something to behold and which was one of the factors that engineered the growth of the state in economic terms within the period.
The COVID-19 Management team chaired by Makinde insisted that food items to be shared by the state must be largely home grown. Thus, you had garri, egg, yam flower, plantain flower and yam as well as other farm produce form the bulk of the palliatives distributed by the state. It meant that as the people were being relieved of the pangs of COVID-19, many residents who produced the various food items were also smiling to the banks.
The partial lockdown observed in the state also ensured that markets for sale of food items and other critical products were opened at regulated times especially with strict observance of COVID-19 procedures. It was a win-win situation for all.
Adisa is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde