In his inaugural speech on November 27, 2010, Governor of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola described his journey to victory as one that was not smooth, considering the hurdles he passed before achieving his goal. According to him, “Those who steal power for selfish interest should realise that it is temporary, only the power that comes from God and from the people is permanent and everlasting.” He said he was in Osun state to rekindle and restore their lost hope as a result of the misrule and misgovernment of the seven and a half years rule of PDP government. He assured the people of the state that his government would restore dignity to governance and contribute to the well being of every individual in the state.
ISMAEEL UTHMAN in this report chronicles Governor Aregbesola seven year’s administration in office.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola pronounced ‘Government Unusual’ in the state. He tactically dismissed the worshipping notion of the governorship title by declaring that he should be addressed simply as Ogbeni, and not the common ‘His Excellency’. He had since been made himself available to the people of the state, even at an unexpected places and time, and especially to the common people.
In his speech at the Aregbesola’s 2010 inauguration, the then Governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Fashola (now Minister of Works, Power and Housing), said: “The conflagration of good governance predicated on progressive ideas and practical solutions to the problems of Nigeria and Nigerians has just begun. Those who are alive today to witness this event must take pains to record and remember the Friday, the 26th and Saturday, the 27th of November, 2010 in their dairies and in their hearts. It is the day when first, the constance of truth prevailed over a mountain of lies. Secondly, it marks the commencement of the development of what will be the best political party building process ever undertaken in Africa. A party built by the common and ordinary people, driven by their absolute faith in freedom, democracy, good governance and the rule of law that is symbolised by an independent and fearless judiciary. Freedom and good governance is beginning to travel in Nigeria. It is on a journey to liberate our people. It is travelling in the vehicle of the Action Congress of Nigeria. It has found home in Lagos, Edo, Ekiti and Osun. It is coming your way.”
Seven years after, the development of the state of Osun is a fact steering the faces of the residents of the state. Aregbesola had, based on his manifesto as contained in the Green Book: ‘My Pact With The People of Osun’ commenced work on all round development. The green book contains the Six Integral Action Plan which are; Banish Hunger, Banish Poverty, Banish Unemployment, Promote Healthy Living, Promote Functional Education, Promote Communal Peace and Progress.
The development of Osun could be assessed on:
Education in the State of Osun has been in the limelight, receiving bashes and commendations from members of the public since the inception of Aregbesola’s administration. It is the most critical and visible sector that has projected Aregbesola’s government and at the same time makes it controversial because of the innovative ideas brought into revamping the sector with the modern infrastructures therein.
The promotion of functional education as contained in the green book is a revolution ongoing. Aregbesola had approached the decayed education sector holistically. The revolution in the Osun education started with education summit. Today, Osun has earned noble international awards with Aregbesola’s innovative intervention in the education sector.
The interventions include: the provision of international award winning digital text books known as Opon Imo – Tablet of Knowledge to students in the high schools, free school feeding programme called O MEAL, payment of external examination fees, construction of modern schools and introduction of discipline into the schools.
Opon Imo was launched in 2013 by Aregbesola. It contains e-textbooks, past questions (WAEC and JAMB) and virtual classroom for all approved subjects from SS1 to SS3. According to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Adelani Baderinwa, “Opon-Imo is the first stand-alone e-learning system in sub-Saharan Africa. ‘Opon Imo’ has saved parents in Osun a sum of N8.2 billion worth of textbooks. The tablet of knowledge was recently endorsed by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in February 2017, and recommended to other states for adoption in Nigeria and it has also been endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Orgainisation (UNESCO).
Over 50,000 students have benefited from ‘Opon Imo’ in Osun since inception in 2013 to 2017. Less than N3billion has been spent on procurement, installation, distribution and maintenance of ‘Opon Imo’ since inception till 2017. It has helped to improve performance of students in Osun, culminating in 46% pass rate in 5 subjects including Mathematics and English, the best result in a span of 10 years. In 2013, ‘Opon Imo’ won the e-learning and science category in World Summit Award, World Congress in Sri Lanka.
The Aregbesola’s government has embarked on the construction of State-of-the-Art 100 Elementary Schools, 50 Middle Schools and 20 High Schools. It was learnt that more than 20 Elementary Schools, 22 Middle Schools and 5 High Schools have been commissioned while the High Schools in Iwo and Fakunle Unity High School in Osogbo have been completed and ready for commissioning.
During the commissioning of Osogbo Government High School on September 1 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari noted that the All Progressive Congress, APC-led government has undauntedly given priority to education, saying “efforts are in place to make Osun and other states of the federation achieve their various desires and goals in the education sector”.
Buhari described the school as an “educational monument” and a “legacy project”, capable of creating unquantifiable future for the present and incoming generation. He commended Aregbesola for abiding by the APC’s manifestos on education policy just as he urged other governors to emulate the Osun governor. The President said: “What we are witnessing here is a display of patriotism to the party’s manifesto by the governor. There should be a substantial commitment of energy and dedication to education by government at all levels.”
Aregbesola while delivering a lecture to mark the 20th anniversary celebration of the City Peoples Magazine in Osogbo in December 2016 said his administration has put in place the best educational programmes in the state, saying, “Our greatest impact is in education. Our first task when we came to office was to hold an education summit, which was chaired by Prof. Wole Soyinka. From that summit emerged the blueprint we are implementing on education.
“We immediately reclassified our schools into elementary, middle and high schools. The elementary and middle schools cover the primary and junior secondary schools. The high school is the senior secondary school. We are building 170 new schools. These are 100 primary, 50 middle and 20 high schools. Out of these, 20 elementary schools, 22 middle schools and 11 high schools have been completed. Beyond new buildings, we are also rehabilitating the old schools. We have carried out renovations on 40 other schools which give us 1,694 standard classrooms in the existing elementary, middle and high schools.
“They provide accommodation for nearly 90,000 pupils. We have provided for them more than 100,000 desks and chairs, toilets and boreholes and made schools decent places to be. We have provided 50,000 e-Learning tablets (Opon Imo) for grade 12 final year high school pupils in the state. This has benefitted three sets already while the fourth set, i.e. the current final year set has just been given the tablet. In addition to building schools, we have recruited more than 12,000 teachers to boost manpower in the school system. We are also motivating teachers. We have put in place a policy that makes teachers in elementary and middle schools to rise to grade level 16.
“We have, in addition, appointed three Tutors-General, equivalent of Permanent Secretary, in the three senatorial districts in the state. We have concluded arrangement to appoint nine Headmasters-General for effective coordination, management and administration of elementary and middle schools in each of the nine federal constituencies in the state.
“We have established the Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency to assure education quality and enforce morality in our schools. Our overall vision is to develop the new person intellectually, socially and morally. This new person is placed in the centre of society who views his/her own development as part of and for the development of society. We also distributed free uniforms to pupils in public schools. The programme gave birth to a garment manufacturing company, Omoluabi Garment Company Ltd, which can employ 3,000 workers at full capacity”.
A strategic pointer to Aregbesola’s commitment to education in Osun is the sponsorship of 85 medical Students of Osun State University who were sent to Ukraine by the Aregbesola’s administration for medical studies. The government had sent 85 UNIOSUN medical students to the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkov, Ukraine in January 2013 to study medicine when they could not proceed to clinical class as a result of non-availability of a rightly approved Teaching Hospital for UNIOSUN. The students have graduated and returned to Osun as medical doctors.
Provision of road infrastructure is another segment of Aregbesola’s achievement in the transformation of the state. Prior to his emergence, there was dearth of road infrastructure in every nook and cranny of the state. However, almost every part of the state now has good road network. The road revolution started with the construction of 21 township road in major towns in Osun and the 10km road construction in each of the 31 local governments in the state. Besides, Aregbesola reconstructed and rehabilitated some dilapidated roads in some parts of the state.
There are three major roads that crown the Aregbesola’s road project; they are: the dualisation of Osogbo to Ila-Odo/Kwara state boundary, Oba Adesoji Aderemi East Bypass in Osogbo and the dualisation of Gbongan to Akoda road with a trumpet bridge named after the former governor of the state, Chief Adebisi Akande.
The Oba Adesoji Aderemi East bypass is a 17.40km road which is designed to lead to all artery roads in the capital city as well as other interstate roads. The road has four bridges over a railway, Osun river, a major road and another on Osun rivers. The bridges are named: November 26th, Five Judges, November 27th and August 8th respectively. The road, which is nearing its completion, has already been functioning as viable alternative route for commuters just passing through the state without having to go through the traffic in the city. Traffic now flows freely as the new Bypass provides alternative route to various destinations within and outside Osogbo the state capital. When completed, the road, which is circular, will link with the Ring Road (Ibrahim Babangida Way) to form a complete circle round the state capital Osogbo.
The dualisation of Osogbo-Ikirun-Ila-Odo-KWSB is a 40km road from Old Garage, Osogbo and goes through Ikirun, Inisa, Okuku, Ijabe and terminate at Ila-Odo, the boundary of Osun and Kwara state. The dualisation of Gbongan-Akoda is a road project that hosts the Bisi Akande Trumpet bridge.
Commissioner for Works and Transport in the state, Engr. Kazeem Salami said the bridge has four pedestrian crossing facilities. The bridge connects those traveling on the Ibadan-Ile-Ife Expressway with those coming to Osun through Gbongan. The road, according to Salami, will have two layers of asphaltic surface with 60mm and 40mm thickness, street lighting, reinforced concrete side drain, culverts, ditches, landscaping and road marking signs. Over 1km of the road was filled with boulders.
In his address at the 20th anniversary celebration of the City Peoples Magazine in December 2016, Aregbesola said: “We rehabilitated and completed 230 states roads spanning 368 km. We partnered local governments to deliver 226 council roads across the 30 local governments and local council development areas with a combined length of 216 km. Thus, we were able to construct more than 800 kilometres of quality, stone based roads with concrete drainages across the length and breadth of the state. Work is ongoing on the Orile-Owu – Ijebu-Igbo Expressway; Osogbo – Ila-Odo, Kwara Boundary Expressway; Oba Adesoji Aderemi Ring Road; and Gbongan – Akoda Road.
“These are not just any roads that catch our fancy. They are roads carefully selected because they impacted the most on the social and economic activities of our people.” This is aside the Worlds Bank and French Development Agency Assisted Osun Rural Access and Mobility Project (O’ RAMP) that is ongoing across the villages and settlements of the state”.
Also, Aregbesola has constructed a 2.8km Olaiya-Itaolookan road in Osogbo in honour of workers in the state civil service. The road is reconstructed by Aregbesola who named it ‘Workers Drive’ to show appreciation for their understanding, support and sacrifices during the financial crisis in the state.
Aregbesola’s social security programmes soar beyond Nigeria. Recently, UNICEF sent a team to Osun to understudy the social security programme of Aregbesola’s administration. The governor was lauded on programmes like OYES, O MEAL, O’ Ambulance, Agba Osun and many other programme.
Aregbesola in less than 100 day in his first term established as promised Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) through which 20, 000 cadets were employed into the public works. Another set of 20, 000 unemployed youths were engaged, rounding up the figure to 40, 000. The OYES cadets were given safe landing with jobs in teaching, various agriculture schemes and ICT. For this, Osun now has one of the least unemployment figures in Nigeria while the state is also among those with the lowest crimes rate. The N200 million monthly allowances paid to the cadets percolate the economy of Osun and shot it up to the seventh largest GDP in Nigeria.
Osun is one of the states that pioneered the free school feeding programme. In the programme, healthy and nutritious meals are being served to 262,000 elementary 1-4 pupils in all public schools in the state, every school day. This programme, called O’MEALS cost the government of Osun N3.6 billion per annum. O’ MEAL integrated into the agriculture and economic empowerment programmes of the state. This is because under it, 3,007 food vendors were engaged and trained to cook healthy and hygienic food for the pupils. To be able to feed these pupils, 15,000 whole chickens, 254,000 eggs, 35 herds of cattle and 40 tonnes of catfish are weekly bought off farmers and other producers in this state.
O’MEALS is so successful that it attracted the attention of Partnership for Child Development (PCD) of Imperial College, London and the World Bank, both of whom have supported it and recommended it to other states and countries, as part of Millennium Development Goals. Aregbesola has also been invited twice by the British Parliament to speak on the programme. Osun has also been the template for its national rollout. Earlier this year, Osun has hosted and trained officials from other states other states preparing to launch this programme in their respective states.
In February 2013, Governor Aregbesola launched 50 State-of-the-Art ambulance vehicles as part of the state’s Ambulance Service Scheme tagged O’ Ambulance. The ambulances were stationed in strategic places on highways and across the local government. The O’ Ambulance had saved more than 4000 lives. The Director General of O’Ambulance, Mr. Akinloye, said the scheme rescued more than 2000 people in 2016 through its prompt rescue operations during emergencies across the state.
Agba Osun is a social welfare programme targeted to cater for the highly vulnerable elders who do not have guardian support. The scheme provided monetary support to 1,602 elders as well as free and personal medical attention. Osun is one of few states running such scheme in the country.
Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, the State of Osun Commissioner for Health, spoke on Governor Rauf Aregbesola achievements in the health sector, saying the administration has brought a radical transformation into the health sector. According to him, Aregbesola has built Primary health centres in Ogbaagba, Erin-Ijesha, Erin-Ile/Erin-Oke and about nine comprehensive health centres were equipped with modern day equipment. To comprehend the effort on the O-Ambulance scheme, Aregbesola built emergency unit in State Hospital Asubiaro. In 2014 Aregbesola bought about 100 handheld scanners which were distributed to rural areas outside the cities and Asubiaro State hospitals. Isamotu said: “We bought four 3-D Duplad scanners which were distributed according to the Senatorial districts; one was given to Iwo, Ilesha and Asubiaro then the fourth one was given to LAUTECH Teaching Hospital here in Osogbo.
“We also built tuberculosis control centre in Ilesa west. As a policy, government make sure that anyone treated of leprosy and tuberculosis in the state, all get drugs free of charge, while diagnosis and treatments of HIV/AIDS in our state is also free.
“In 2013, about 1.4 million long lasting insecticidal nets were distributed. Periodically we trained members from the O-YES scheme on house fumigation. This year in conjunction with Global Fund, Catholic Relief Services, Society for Family Health, they gave us about 4 million insecticidal nets.
“We have also encouraged ‘Surgical and Medical Mission’ with the help of an NGO called Hope Flow Initiative headed by Dr. Simeon Afolayan, we use to do what we called Surgical Jamborees in which we go to all the State and General Hospitals to do free surgical operations, surgeries that won’t require hospital admission like anaemia, breast lump; occasionally pregnant women during this period, second stage of labour will be attended to.
“Between June and July this year, we covered all the nine State hospitals and the grand finale was done in Asubiaro. We have started this since 2010. We also distributed free eye glasses in 2012.”
The primary responsibility of every government, as stated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is provision of security for the safety of life and property of the citizenry. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently rated Osun as the state with the lowest crime rate in Nigeria. The report commended and compliment Aregbesola’s commitment to providing adequate security for the people of the state.
Aregbesola purchased and distributed 125 patrol vehicles to security agencies in the state and specifically provided 25 fully equipped Armoured Personnel Carriers to the state Police Command. The Aregbesola’s intervention in security system in the state is responsible for the peaceful atmosphere of the state.
MKO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The MKO International Airport at Ido-Osun is a landmark achievement of Aregbesola’s administration. During the recent signing of concession agreement on the construction of the airport with All Works of Life International Limited, Aregbesola said the taking over of the airport by AWOL was a divine intervention for the fulfillment of his administration’s dream to make Osun economically viable and self-sufficient.
AWOL Chief Executive Officer, Ambassador Nurudeen Ogunlade said the state government has no financial commitment to the construction of the airport, explaining that the concession agreement reached by the two parties excused the state of committing any amount to the airport. He said the airport would hence be constructed and funded 100 per cent by his company through the Turkish government, maintaining that they would build, operate and transfer the airport to the government.
Besides, the state government would earn five per cent of the profit of the airport, Land rent, collect tax and other necessary dues will be committed to the government before the transfer. According to Ogunlade, the first phase of the airport would be completed in eight months time and would begin to operate, adding that construction work had started at the airport site in earnest.
He disclosed that the facilities at the airport will include an ultramodern commercial complex, terminal buildings, control tower, standard civil infrastructure, construction of maintenance building and power house, staff training centre, fire fighting station, security infrastructure, apron and taxiways and dual carriage road from Oba Adesoji Aderemi road to the airport.
NELSON MANDELA FREEDOM PARK
The Nelson Mandela Freedom Park is a long expanse of sprawling beauty, spanning a huge land mass. The park replaced the popular Ojurin which was synonymous with ramshackle structures, destitute and beggars and car parks as well as street traders long the edges of the road, proliferation of miscreants and hoodlums and a very dirty and haphazard arrangement, giving the place the look of a ghetto.
The Aregbesola’s administration rebuilt and redesigned the popular ojurin to an amazing recreation spot that can be described as an unraveling profile in tourist beauty. This long stretch beautifully sculpted and designed, encapsulates the culture, history and essence of what Osun stands for in a modern and standardised mode. The recreational and aesthetic beauty of the park is a testimony of a huge turnaround in planning, beautification, aesthetics as well as cultural history and social facilities, making it a regular point of call for different classes of citizen and creating an opportunity for a night out in a safe environment among the people.
With a vision “to make Osun the food basket of the South West”, Governor Aregbesola has so far achieved eight major things in the vision he laid out six years ago when he took mantle of power on November 27, 2010. A holistic agricultural policy taken by the government has placed the state on the green map of the South West in a space of six years; making it one of the major suppliers of agricultural produce to markets in Lagos and other South Western states. The governor, his deputy and other members of his team were recently seen in one of the major rice farms collaborating with the state government to produce Ofada Osun Rice.
Recently, Aregbesola led an official government delegation to Germany in search of new insights on modern agriculture in order to further realise the dream of making Osun the food basket of the South West. Germany has in the past four years trained over 40 young people from Osun in modern agriculture techniques such as ‘40 days Goat Fattening’ etc.
In summary, over 50,000 tonnes of cocoa exported annually. Over 16,000 jobs created for the indigenes of the state. Over 700km of rural roads built to reduce cost of transportation for farmers and increase access to markets, 30 bridges constructed with access given to areas cut-off from civilization. Over N2.8 billion given to farmers as loans, over 11,000 farmers have been supported with direct cash transfers, 5,000 farmers’ co-operatives registered and over 71,000 farmers have benefitted from the Governments interventions so far in agriculture sector.
More than N2 billion interest-free loans had been made available to farmers in addition to yearly provision of farming inputs and additives. The government has also sponsored two sets of youths to Germany for training in modern farming techniques.