Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State declared on Tuesday that he would keep ensuring that his appointments are made based on merit rather than ethnic and religious biases.
The governor, who stated this while performing the swearing-in ceremony of the former State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Bayo Titilola-Sodo, as a Permanent Secretary, said that those seeking to always x-ray his appointments through religious and ethnic binoculars were wasting their time.
The governor also swore in the governing councils of six state-owned tertiary institutions at the Government House on Tuesday.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor, at the two events held at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, stated that merit and competence would continue to be parameters for appointments into positions.
He enjoined those working to divide the state through the manipulation of religion, to turn a new leaf, because, according to him, their efforts will always be an exercise in futility, as the people of the state will not yield to their deceit.
“To the folks that always look for loopholes; whatever we do they are quick to jump out there and carry placards, I make bold to say that they are completely useless to our people because if they are not, they won’t just criticize us; they can bring alternatives to the table. But they cannot divide this state on religious grounds,” he said.
The governor added: “What we have done today is to demonstrate to the whole world that even if you operate on a different side of the divide, our focus is the same. When I came in as the governor of Oyo State, I called the chairman of NLC, Comrade Bayo Titilola-Sodo, and explained to him that the objective is the same. One may be on the side of government and the other may be on the side of labour, but the objective is to develop our state, to make life more meaningful to our people.
“We had an agreement that there will be a relationship of harmony between the Oyo State Government and labour union, that is exactly what we are witnessing now. So, I use this opportunity to implore people, whether you are PDP or APC, we don’t have to destroy ourselves and our state because positions and political players will come and go. Some of the players of yesterday are not here anymore, but our state remains.
“I want to commend Comrade Titilola-Sodo for managing the labour union well; we are partners in the development of our state. This was why it was not difficult for me to sign when they brought the recommendation for me to sign that you should become a permanent secretary.
“I don’t have any doubt that you have the capacity and ability to deliver. Hope you will do the job with the best of your capability as it is expected.”
In another vein, the governor urged the new chairmen of governing councils of state-owned tertiary institutions to see their appointment as a call to service, adding that they should use their experiences to uplift the education system of the state.
He said: “We are here to swear in the chairmen and governing councils of tertiary institutions in Oyo State. We have the chairmen here but the members are also being sworn in in absentia just to observe the COVID-19 protocol. We cannot have all the people here.
“Presently, Oyo State has 10 tertiary institutions. We are swearing in six today. Out of the 10, we have the Tech-U. We are currently carrying out sustainability study on Tech-U just to be sure that it is a sustainable venture. We also have the school of nursing and midwifery and Oyo State College of Hygiene and Health Technology. We do have one tertiary institution jointly owned by the government of Oyo State and Osun State, that is the LAUTECH.
“When we released the names of the chairmen of the governing councils, some people were upset that there were more Christians than Muslims. Well, we would not have noticed because, apart from one or two of you that I have met one on one before, I don’t think I have sat with the rest before. You were nominated by your constituency. If we have to make any progress, we have to listen to the people who have been in that sector over the years and they know the challenges that the sector has been facing over the years. We called them, we sat down and they nominated some of you.
“I believe we will continue to make progress in our society when we stop looking at people through the lens of ethnicity, tribe or religion and start paying attention to competence. I checked you out even though they nominated you. And I am glad to say that every one of you seated here is competent to occupy that position. I know things will balance out. As an individual, I am blind to religion, and the people trying to divide us through religion seriously need to look for something else to do.”
The governor maintained that the new chairmen of the governing councils will be responsible for institutional change in their respective institutions, promising that as the state expands its economy, most of the tertiary institutions would benefit and become more stable.
He added that even though the immediate past administration which, hitherto, paid 25 per cent subvention to the institutions, jerked it up to 100 per cent immediately after his March 9, 2019, victory, he has continued to pay the 100 per cent subventions because that was what he intended to do on the assumption of office.
According to him, despite the challenges imposed on the state’s finances by the COVID-19 pandemic, he has kept faith with the 100 per cent subvention payment.
He expressed the confidence that the councils would be able to address the issues of quality assurance, effective teaching methods and efficiency in running the system, which he noted, are some of the challenges facing the tertiary education system in the state.
He charged the new chairmen and members of the councils to think outside the box, declaring that the government would give them maximum support to succeed in the new task.