Before Ajimobi Decides On Successor

THE Oyo State political landscape is swarming with an unprecedented number of aspirants to the number one seat in the state. This is a good development because never in the history of the pace setter state has there been such a plethora of individuals interested in governing the state.

It is worthy of emphasis here to state that the current scenario in Oyo State politics reinforces the popular saying that “True leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders”. Coming on the heels of the first administration to win a second term in the state, it is obvious that the outgoing governor has raised the bar of politics and governance high enough to attract serious contenders from the political class as well as technocrats.

This appeal is further confirmed by the good quality of aspirants in terms of educational background, professional career, record of achievements, private and public sector leadership experience. While some may aver that the availability of quality aspirants is weighted more in the ruling party, such claim does not obliterate the fact that from a drone view of the current Oyo State political panorama, the camera is capturing multiple dots of quality aspirants which will naturally and forever change the configurations and equations in the political capital of South West Nigeria.

Convincingly, this turn of a new page in this fresh chapter of the Oyo State history books is a bequest of the current governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who has provided a strong allure for the abundant aspirants.

So, where does Oyo State go from here? What does this really mean and how does the state derive benefit from this elevation of quality standards in its leadership? Governor Ajimobi is at the twilight of his eight-year “Koseleri” term. Every great leader, either in the public or private sector, endeavours to succeed himself.

John C. Maxwell, the management expert, puts it succinctly when he says “There is no success without a successor”, while leadership coach, Bill Bliss, puts it very pointedly as a key leadership function by stating categorically that “The number one role of any leader is to identify and prepare their successor”.

The clock is ticking. Time is short. The list is long. Aspirants are in excess. Options are many. It is now a matter of choice. Governor Ajimobi must weigh the options and narrow down his choices and ultimately make the choice of a successor. The die is cast. Time for decision is now.

As the longest serving governor of Oyo State, for a historic eight years, it goes without saying that the choice of a successor is one of the hardest decisions Governor Ajimobi needs to take for the sake of Oyo State. While Governor Ajimobi is reputed for being a principle-centred leader who is bold and courageous to take strong and hard decisions for the sake of development, I am convinced that taking this decision will not be a walk in the park. Certainly, it will not be not as easy as the resolve to curtail the insecurity he met in May 2011, ban street trading, cancel automatic promotion in schools, engage stakeholders in the management of secondary schools with the establishment of the School Governing Boards, relocate butchers to a new central abattoir, enforce environmental sanitation laws, elevate traditional rulers to Obaship positions, embark on the reform of the civil and public service amongst many others.

That strength of character to take decisions in the overall interest and development of the state is the singular and most important quality Governor Ajimobi’s successor must possess. Bravura must be in the DNA of the next ‘constituted authority’.

In our largely traditional and conservative state with a deeply rooted culture of impunity and condonation, Governor Ajimobi needs a successor with strong moral fibre; an individual who understands, appreciates and values the position of the governor; an individual who can take hard decisions for the sake of development, no matter whose ox is gored. That successor must be a dauntless leader with spunk, who can differentiate between merit and expediency.

Governor Ajimobi’s successor must be ready to build on the foundation his predecessor has laid in building a modern Oyo State. In taking the baton from “the builder”, he or she must be prepared and work hard to move Oyo State upwards from the current 4th investment-friendly state in Nigeria, uphold its four-star rating in facilitating foreign and domestic investment by the Nigerian Investment Promotions Council, sustain the renaissance of the night economy, improve on the 147 per cent increase in key players in the hospitality and tourism sector, surpass the best West African Senior School Certificate result in 18 years, continue with the Geographic Information System project and implementation of the Ibadan Master Plan as well as other master plans, advance to phase 2 of e-governance beyond pay roll system automation, add to the Ajumose fleet of 100 mass transit buses provided for both the general public and those dedicated to civil servants.

The next ‘constituted authority’ will be required to manage the N50bn Health Endowment Fund, Oyo State Education Trust Fund, Oyo State Security Trust Fund as well as the first state health insurance scheme in Nigeria. The next Mr Governor must position Oyo State in taking advantage of the completion of the Lagos — Ibadan Expressway and the Federal Government’s rail project; open up the state to more Agric investors beyond the Dangote Group, Friesland Campina and others; grow Oyo State Pace Setter Integrated organic Farm, Songhai Model, Awe and provide additional farm land for them beyond the current 250 hectares. The next occupant of the governor’s lodge in Ibadan needs to reduce the time frame for the processing of the electronic C of O from the current 60 days, deploy the data from the land and house enumeration across the state for better planning, continue the infrastructural revolution with the rehabilitation, expansion, and completion of road networks like the 110km Ibadan Circular Road.

Listing where we are in Oyo State in some sectors is germane to the issue at hand because a. call to leadership is a call to advance the current situation a call to move things forward, a call to make a positive difference by improving the status quo. Do we have that individual who can make the difference? Of course. Even Governor Ajimobi agrees that there are “eminently qualified” aspirants to the Governor’s Office. With a lot of sound curriculum vitae in the air, what then should determine the choice?

One thing is as sure as death. Great leaders are not those who aspire to be leaders but those who set out to make a difference. Governor Ajimobi’s successor must be the one that is hungry and thirsty for making a difference, one that is passionate about success; living and breathing excellence with a rare commitment to developing Oyo State just like his predecessor. That is only when that individual will make a difference…. the difference that will mould the building blocks on the foundation and pillars of a modern Oyo State.

Toye Arulogun is the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism.