It is with serious concern that we note the worrying trend that it is gradually becoming the norm in many states in the country. We find it most unfortunate that most of the state governments in Nigeria now find it difficult to carry out one of their basic/fundamental duties- which is to pay the wages of the workers who toil for the state.
We are particularly worried that some Yoruba states are also affected by this ignoble trend.
The question that should the minds of reasonable sons and daughters of this noble race is why Yoruba states, who were hitherto known for proper governance now have to wait for the so-called “federal allocation” before they carry out responsibilities like payment of salaries.
It is also worrisome that it can be safely deduced that a state that cannot service its recurrent expenditure will not be able to carry out any new projects for the benefit of the people. It is unfortunate that a state like Osun now has to announce to the press that they will pay workers salaries for a certain month – Should this fundamental basic and expected task be the subject of a press release? This is a clear sign of retrogression that should not be allowed to continue.
We demand that Yoruba governors wake up from their deep slumber and dust their historical and economic textbooks to study the regimes of the late sage, Papa Awolowo on how he generated revenue in the defunct government of Western Nigeria and still made sure that huge and subsisting projects were carried out for the benefit of the people.
Yoruba governors should also note that the citizens are watching them and are tired of sound-bites and propaganda in respect of numerous documented wasteful junketing around the globe by some Yoruba governors in the name of trying the attract foreign investors to invest in their states. What they are going to sokoto for is in their sokoto pockets! The governors should seat at home and study the numerous potentially money yielding and generating ways of raising funds to develop their states and make life more comfortable for the citizens. It will be far cheaper and more productive to invite the investors in for talks and “sell” the states’ potentials to them in situ
Yoruba governors should also bring our best brains together to study the revamping of agriculture (especially cash crops like cocoa, cashew, rubber, ginger, kola-nuts, palm oil/kernels etc) that will yield funds and the proverbial hard currency for the states. The numerous thousands of empty acres of land can be put to us to build gigantic agricultural estates to feed the people and also earn revenue for the states. For the sake of variety, they can invite foreign governments/organisations with proven expertise and success in this area to compliment our local minds. – e.g from China, Israel and even Brazil.
The Yoruba states should also, as a matter of urgency, create a better enabling environment for Nigerian investors, both local and from the Diaspora. We are aware of tales of woe and frustrations from a lot of Nigerians from the Diaspora who dared go back home to invest in projects and things that would have bettered the people’s lives and also generate funds for the states. Yoruba governors should create a specific one-stop parastatal outside the bureaucratic bottleneck of the standard civil service and directly reporting to the governor to assist such potential investors. This one-stop parastatal will handle things like acquisition of land without tears, initial tax breaks, security, roads, amenities and full support for the potential investors.
The governors should also look into turning tourism into a money spinner. Tourism and its surrounding industries create jobs and also serious revenue. The management of some of the historical sites in Yorubaland should be more proactive and use modern business techniques to attract more tourists and conduct package tours. Some countries in the world get a very significant part of their revenue from tourism – Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, UK, Switzerland etc. Apparently, insignificant things like the houses of our former leaders can be money spinners for the government – Just like the The Royal Pavilion in Brighton UK earns hundreds of thousands of pounds revenue every year for the UK. Even Jamaica, whose crime level is on the high side earns money from tourism by creating purpose built tourist resorts dedicated to tourists who bring in much revenue.
Attractions that come to mind are Olumo Rock, Osun Osogbo, Badagry town/beach, Erin-Ijesha waterfalls, Old Oyo national park, Ojude-Oba festival, Ado Awaye suspended lakes and Idanre Hills in Oyo and Ondo states respectively, palaces of our Obas, Ikogosi warm springs etc.
The industrial base of Yorubaland should also be revamped. The blueprint that Papa Awolowo used to build industrial estates in places like Ikeja should be studied and utilised and modernised for the benefit of our people. Huge industrial giants should be invited to Yorubaland and made to see the attractiveness of building factories therein. At the end of the day, the people, the government and the investor will all be happy.
We hope that our message will get to the right channel and lead to a turn-around from our governors.
. Being a statement by the Oodua Peoples Congress in the United Kingdom and signed by its Coordinator, Otunba Wale Harrison-Obafemi, and Secretary, Lanre Sunmonu.