Despite the economic challenges being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Wednesday, promised bumper deliverables for workers and people of the state in the 2021 fiscal year.
The governor, who enumerated the series of developmental initiatives his government is targeting in the New Year, also declared that his administration will continue to proritise the welfare of civil servants in the state.
Makinde stated this during the annual inter-faith service to mark the beginning of 2021.
The governor disclosed that the backlog of promotions from 2017 to 2020 will be cleared, while the government will also create the opportunity for deserving civil servants to rise to Grade Level 17.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor stated these while addressing civil/public servants at the Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, noting that though the government expects 2021 to come with its challenges, the welfare of civil servants will be a top priority.
The governor equally declared that his administration is on top of the insecurity challenges in the state, noting that the government will continue to run policies and programmes that impact positively on the lives of the majority of the populace.
While appreciating God for the grace to survive 2020, a year termed as a tough one due to the myriad of challenges that came with it, the governor said that despite the hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, his government was able to keep up with the prompt payment of salaries and pensions all through 2020 and even paid the 13th month salary as well as embark on several infrastructure development projects.
Governor Makinde added that the government will commission 10 infrastructure development projects in 2021, including the 65 kilometre Moniya-Iseyin Road; the 21 kilometre Ajia-Airport Express with spur to Amuloko; the four bus terminals in Ibadan; Challenge-Odo Ona-Apata Road; the Gedu-Oroki-Sabo-Asipa Road in Oyo town; and the Lekan Salami Sports Complex remodelling, among others.
He said: “First, let me thank God for the gift of life and His protection over us all in the past year. 2020 has been described in many quarters as a tough year. We did not survive last year because we are tougher, we survived only by His grace and that is why it is good that we are holding this inter-faith service in gratitude.
“We are starting this year in good spirits. We are confident that this year, the seeds we planted in the previous year will yield good fruits. Last year, I didn’t know where the International Airport was from February till December. We all stayed together to experience the pandemic.
“On the 30th, I decided to spend the New Year in the United States of America and before I came back, critics were saying I went to America to enjoy myself while Oyo State was burning. My belief is, they were criticizing me because they had no other thing to say. Well, I am back and we will continue to serve the people of Oyo State.
“So, we are looking forward to commissioning various projects that we started last year.
While speaking on his administration’s continued commitment to the welfare of civil servants, Governor Makinde said: “We heard some people wondering last year if we will continue paying salaries promptly given the hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic meltdown. Well, by the grace of God, we are not owing salaries.
“We even surprised them more by paying 13th month salaries for the second time running at a time when other states are owing their workers.
In fact, we have spent about N9.3 billion to pay pensions and gratuities owed by the previous administration so far, and we will continue to pay to clear up the backlog.
“Also, as you may be aware, there is a backlog of outstanding promotions from 2016. This will be addressed this year. All the outstanding promotions from 2017 to 2020 will be done. Furthermore, under our watch, deserving civil servants will have the opportunity to get up to grade level 17.
“Let me reassure you that we will continue to prioritise the welfare of the civil servants in Oyo State. Yes, we are expecting that 2021 will come with its own challenges. In as much as we want everything to be smooth-sailing, God promised us that He will get us to our destinations safely. “There will be a period of turbulence but if we believe in God, we will get to that destination. So, I expect challenges and we are ready to face them.”
Earlier in her speech, the Head of Service of Oyo State, Mrs. Ololade Agboola, appreciated the governor for the various packages already being enjoyed by civil/public servants in the state.
Mrs. Agboola, who commended the governor for approving the recruitment of youths into the civil/public service to fill vacant positions in the state, including the recruitment of over 7,000 into teaching and non-teaching cadres, as well as recruitments of Health Workers, Environmental Health Officers, Health Superintendents and State Counsels.
She said that over 300 staff dismissed in the state civil service by the previous administration were reinstated by the governor, charging workers in the state to put in their best, have the right attitude towards work and desist from all forms of misconduct.
In their separate remarks, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, and the chairman of the Oyo State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Comrade Kayode, among others, enjoined civil servants in the state to redouble their efforts in 2021 by ensuring effective service delivery and continuous support for the Makinde-led government, so that it can further build on the successes already recorded.