As part of activities to mark his second anniversary in office, Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, on Friday, commissioned one of the Start Them Early Programme (STEP)-Oyo school projects, an agribusiness initiative at Methodist High School, Ibadan, and a model school building at the Muslim Grammar School, Odinjo, Ibadan.
He equally commissioned the upgraded Staff Clinic within the premises of the State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, and flagged off the breast and cervical cancer screening, while also handing over nine luxury buses to the Oyo State Civil Service for ease of transportation for staff.
While speaking at the commissioning of the STEP-Oyo project school, which is aimed at encouraging the youths to take interest in agribusiness from an early age, the programme will be extended to more schools in all the zones of the state.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Makinde said that the first project at Fashola was funded by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), noting that the project is currently running at Bishop Phillips Academy, Ibadan, and Methodist High School, Ibadan.
The statement added that the governor also distributed science equipment and students’ furniture at Muslim Grammar School, Odinjo, Ibadan.
Speaking during the commissioning of the STEP-Oyo project, the governor said: “When they were going to commission the STEP project at Fashola, the DG of IITA invited me. I went there and when I saw what they did, I thought we cannot limit it to Fashola alone but spread it across Oyo State. So, I was very excited about having the STEP programme in Oyo State.
“The first project at Fashola was funded by IITA. When we went there, I needed no further convincing that we need it in our schools. So, we decided to install STEP in other schools in all zones of Oyo State.
“Today, STEP is running in Bishop Phillips Academy, Ibadan, and Methodist High School, Ibadan where we are, and I have seen their reports that things are in top gear at Christ High School, Oleyo; Adegun Asake Grammar School, Igangan; Iresa Adu High School, Iresa Adu, and UMC Secondary Grammar School, Igbeti.
“I am delighted to be here today at the Methodist High School to formally commission the STEP programme in the school. It is exciting what these kids can accomplish when you give them an opportunity. This is why, in Oyo State, we remain committed to providing access to education.”
He said that the introduction of an initiative like STEP, which intends to catch the next generation of youths in agriculture, is a step in the right direction, adding that the programme sits well with the focus of his administration to explore agriculture and its value chain to expand the state’s economy.
The governor added that the state is ready to absorb anyone ready to invest in large scale agricultural practices and agribusiness.
In his address, the Deputy Director-General of IITA, Dr, Dashiell Kenton, noted that IITA has always had a cordial relationship with the state government, adding that the institute has the best partnership with Oyo State in Africa.
He commended the state government in its efforts to reduce the number of out-of-school children in the state, enjoining the state government to judiciously utilise the multi-million naira STEP project for the resuscitation of its agribusiness.
While speaking during the commissioning of the model school at Muslim School, Odinjo, Makinde said education infrastructure was in a deplorable state before he came into office, stressing that his administration has been able to change the narrative by rebuilding more befitting schools and constructing more schools.
“Now, we see more befitting school buildings constructed or remodeled or rehabilitated all over Oyo State. So, it is time to tell a new story. I am happy to report to you that the majority of the projects we commenced last year are already done and these projects include Early Child Development Centres,” he said.
The governor stated that his administration remains committed to ensuring that quality education is the standard in Oyo State, adding that in May 2019, the government dedicated over 20 per cent of the state budget to education.
At the commissioning of the Staff Clinic, Makinde maintained that the upgrading and rehabilitation of the clinic is part of the ongoing massive remodelling and upgrading of 351 Primary Health Care Centres across the state.
He expressed the commitment of his administration to improving the health sector.
Afterwards, the governor performed the handing over of nine luxury buses designated for use by the civil/public servants in the state.