Governor Seyi Makinde took the oath of office alongside his deputy, Alhaji Rauf Olaniyan, on Wednesday with a declaration that the state could not pay the N30,000 minimum wage because of its lean resources.
He, however, scrapped the N3,000 tuition per pupil in the state secondary schools.
Makinde also promised to donate his salary to the state’s “suffering pensioners.”
The governor, who admitted that the greatest challenge confronting the state was poverty, promised to tackle it with investment in agriculture.
Makinde stated this in his inaugural speech shortly after the state Chief Judge, Justice Muntar Abimbola, administered the oath of office to him and his deputy at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan.
Notwithstanding the good intention of his government, Makinde said the state was not capable of paying the new N30, 000 minimum wage.
He said, “I am taking this opportunity to solicit your support. We are going to be taking decisions that may be tough in the immediate but will have long-term benefits. We want you to look at the big picture. We want you to focus on the goal.
“For example, I have always said that the Oyo State civil servants deserve to earn a whole lot more for their dedication and service to the state. Recently, the Federal Government announced a new salary scheme in which the lowest cadre of civil servants are expected to earn at least N30,000 per month.
“I know how access to this type of money will improve the lives of many of the families that I have had direct contact with. However, with the way the Oyo State account currently stands, I will be deceiving you if I say we are capable of taking on this burden.
“I believe in true federalism. I believe the states should decide the minimum wage of their workforce based on individual realities. All states are not created equal, so it is against the principle of fairness to apply a blanket rule to govern them all.
“That being said, our plan is to make Oyo the first state to pay above the national minimum wage. We know this is possible. We have already set our plan in motion to make this possible. But, this requires time. We propose staggered increments.
“I met with organised labour during my campaigns and made a pledge to an open relationship. I intend to stand by that promise. We will have a sincere conversation and arrive at the best possible decision. Rest assured that the decision will put your overall best interests first.
“We will set up a committee in due course to look into all cases of those who believe they have been wrongly dismissed from the civil service, including those whose cases have been decided in their favour in court who have not been reinstated.”
Makinde also promised to invest more in the education sector with a view to increasing enrolment in public schools and thus reducing the number of out-of-school children, which he put at 400,000 in the state.
“Effective immediately, the school fees of N3,000 in state-owned secondary schools is hereby abolished. We want enrolments to go up, we want our children off the streets and in the classrooms. We are throwing the school doors wide open. Whoever opens a school door opens an opportunity. We are opening opportunities for a brighter future,” he said.
He added that his administration would open access to quality health delivery to the people, saying that exisiting health facilities would be upgraded.
Meanwhile, the leader of the coalition political parties in Oyo State and former governor Rashidi Ladoja was conspicuously absent at the inauguration.
Our correspondent gathered that Ladoja was around at his Bodija, Ibadan residence but chose to stay away for reasons yet to be disclosed.
His media aide, Alhaji Lanre Latinwo, who was contacted on the development told our correspondent on phone, “I didn’t meet him in the house when I got there in the morning and he had yet to return when we arrived from Liberty. Until I see him, I wouldn’t know why he was not there. I belief he went somewhere.”
Dignitaries at the event included the Peoples Democratic Party Deputy National Chairman, Chief Yemi Akinwonmi; Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Chief Olu Falae; Chief Olabode George; a former governor of Oyo State, Dr Omololu Olunloyo; and Osun and Ekiti states governors, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Ayo Fayose, respectively.
The immediate past governor of the state, Abiola Ajimobi, was represented at a brief handover ceremony by the new Head of Service, Alhaja Amidat Agboola.
In the same vein, Makinde has appointed Chief Bisi Ilaka as his Chief of Staff. – Punch.