My Dear Good People of Oyo State,
I am addressing you today to share our short-term plans, which will play a huge role in alleviating the effects of the removal of fuel subsidies and the resultant economic difficulties being faced by our people.
You will recall that on June 9, 2023, following the removal of fuel subsidy, we announced measures to be taken to cushion the effect of the removal.
We gave directives that the number of Omituntun Buses on various routes in Ibadan should be increased and that commuters must pay a reduced fare on these buses. Additionally, our senior citizens and students should board the buses at half price. We have received feedback that this immediate action has benefited our people.
We promised that more will be done. Our plan has always been to roll out sustainable actions in keeping with our promise of sustainable development under Omituntun 2.0.
Having been in government for the first four years, we know it is easier to make promises than to keep them.
After wide consultations, we have arrived at decisions that we believe will be of the most benefit to the good people of Oyo State. In reaching these decisions, we considered the importance of using these economic packages to stimulate our economy and bring about sustainable development.
Therefore, the Oyo State Government has resolved to take the following actions tagged Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER). Our SAfER package will ensure a softer landing for the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable.
It will also address the need for food security through direct intervention to our farmers.
Additionally, we shall be making provisions that will ease the transportation pains of our civil servants and other residents of Oyo State.
Let me now share details of our SAfER package.
1. Following the pattern of our actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are updating our social register to include two hundred thousand (200,000) of the poorest of the poor. These will be provided with immediate food relief packages. As usual, we will ensure transparency in the registration process so that only those who qualify will get this immediate relief.
2. We will be providing health insurance for 100,000 of our most vulnerable citizens. We will be paying their one-year health insurance premium under the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA) scheme so that they have access to quality healthcare without paying out of pocket.
3. The Omituntun Bus service will be extended to cover inter-city routes from Ibadan to all other zones of Oyo State.
Details of their routes will be released in the coming weeks. So, we will have buses going from Ibadan to Ibarapa, Ibadan to Ogbomoso, Ibadan to Oke-Ogun and Ibadan to Oyo. The fares will be kept at low rates, while our senior citizens and students will board the buses at half price.
4. Our farmers have not been left out. To ensure food security, we will be distributing additional inputs to 10,000 farmers. This is in addition to the inputs support being provided under the World Bank assisted OYS-CARES programme. Further details will be released through the relevant agencies in the coming weeks.
5. Our youth agropreneurs who were trained under the Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP) and have established businesses will also have an opportunity to contribute to food security and sustainable development as they will receive enterprise support of five hundred million naira (N500,000,000) under the SAfER package. They will get further directives on how they will benefit from the relevant agencies.
6. We have also resolved to assist small businesses to stay afloat through low-interest-rate loans with the provision of five hundred million naira (N500,000,000) facility. Our traders, artisans and other small business operators can apply for these loans through designated micro-finance banks. Details of how they may enroll for and access these loans will be announced by the relevant agencies.
7. Tertiary institution students in Oyo State will board the Omituntun Buses at half price upon showing their school identity card. We will also be meeting with the student leaders of tertiary institutions in Oyo State to agree on further measures which will be added to the SAfER package for students.
Before I announce the next part of our SAfER package, it is imperative that I make the following observations. In the last week, the Oyo State leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have made it impossible for Oyo State Civil Servants to resume work at the State Secretariat. As a government, we believe individuals and groups have a fundamental right to protest.
However, we also believe in the axiom, “Your right ends where the right of others begins.” Therefore, while the leadership of the unions may choose to continue with their protest, they do not have the right to restrict the workers in Oyo State from accessing the secretariat to carry out their duties as usual.
With the Oyo State economy being fragile, any acts that disrupt the economic wheels of the State is economic sabotage.
I have therefore directed the State security apparatus to ensure that the workers of Oyo State regain access to the secretariat starting this Monday, August 7, 2023. I am also by this, directing all workers of Oyo State to resume their duty posts on Monday, August 7, 2023.
As a government, we remain open to parleying with labour to ensure that the rights of the workers of Oyo State are protected. We encourage the union leaders to return to the negotiating table to discuss any increases in salary or possible harmonisation of pension payments.
Let me also state that the Oyo State Government remains one of the most favourably committed to workers’ welfare in the entire federation. Since May 2019, we have paid all civil servants’ salaries and pensions on or before the 25th of every month without fail. And since January 2020, we have paid the minimum wage and consequential adjustments to all cadre of civil servants every month without fail. Presently, the civil servants’ wage bill stands at N7.2 billion monthly. We have continued to pay this despite having a state revenue of just below N10 billion monthly. It is, therefore, clear to understand why any increase in salaries or pensions may not be possible at this time.
However, as part of the SAfER package, the Oyo State Government has resolved to:
1. Increase the number of buses made available for civil servants to commute to and from work from 9 to 12. This will ensure that more routes are covered and lessen the transportation burden of our dear workers.
2. The two-month cooperatives deductions being owed Oyo State workers will be paid along with their August 2023 salaries on the GSM Date.
Going forward, the workers who choose to continue making cooperative contributions will work directly with their cooperatives as the Oyo State Government will no longer be making any deductions at source for these cooperatives.
3. We will pay the health insurance premium for all pensioners under the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA) scheme.
Any pensioner who has already made payment will be refunded.
We remain committed to caring for our dear pensioners who served our state in their youth by ensuring that they continue to receive their pensions promptly along with other workers on the GSM Date.
4. We will resume the monthly payment of gratuities to our pensioners to continue to clear the backlog of gratuity payments inherited by our administration.
We are sure that with the implementation of the SAfER package in the coming weeks, the Oyo State economy will continue to be strengthened, and the pains being experienced by our people will be lightened.
Also, with the appointment of commissioners for the various ministries, we will begin to implement the Oyo State Roadmap for Sustainable Development 2023-2027 for the benefit of the good people of Oyo State.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long Live Oyo State.