In a couple of weeks, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State would clock two years in office, marking the mid-term of his four-year mandate. And what interesting time it has been, with the governor always under the spotlight of controversies. If he’s not being accused of attempting to secede from the federation, then it is that he has an Islamisation agenda. Or he wants to create a republic within a republic, thus dubbing his territory, “The State of Osun”, with its own flag, emblem and anthem.
Does he truly have an Islamization agenda, Sunday Sun asked the governor during an interview in his office in Osogbo. His response: “If my brother, from the same uterus as me, is a Christian, and my sister, from the same uterus as me, is also a Christian, and I have not been able to retain them as Muslims, how then can I Islamize a whole state?”
He abhors being addressed as ‘His Excellency.’ He equally forbids the display of his official portrait in government offices, all these pedestalling him as a most unusual person. But the governor explains the rationale behind the actions and decisions, as he did in this interview with FEMI ADESINA and TOPE ADEBOBOYE.
By November you will be two years in office. How will you reflect on these first two years as governor of Osun?
It has been inspiring. Because if I say it’s been challenging, it won’t capture it. Governance, to those who see it as a call to duty, can be very stimulating. And for me, it’s just a continuum. I’ve come to see my existence as part of a process of supporting the cause of human actualisation of self to conquer nature, to overcome obstacles. So, from that tendency, opportunities like this could only further imbue one to see how best one can go. The period spent so far is a period of assertion, exerting myself to the duties that I’ve seen myself in long before now.
We have impacted on the lives of the people and on the environment. I told the world that we’ll concentrate on food production, through land preparation, through mass mobilisation of both existing farmers and new farmers, and introduction of new techniques, improved seedlings and easy access to other important inputs that would make farming extremely profitable and attractive. That, to a large extent, we have done. Nobody is any more in doubt as to the commitment of the government and people of Osun to turn here into a food basket. And that is at the production end.
We have equally engaged the Nigeria Railway Corporation. As a matter of fact, we woke up the Nigeria Railway Corporation with our ambition of turning here into a hub of commerce in agricultural commodity, essentially, by our novel idea of transporting to Lagos free of charge, commodities, from wherever they are sourced. On reaching Osogbo, whoever brings in any agricultural commodity will not pay a dime to get those commodities to the Lagos market.
Before now, we had told the world that Lagos is our focus for agricultural commodities distribution. And it is not just a superficial choice. Before I assumed office, we had used our opportunities in Lagos to verify what is the financial value of the commodity food exchange market in Lagos. And mindful that there is N3.5 billion on a daily basis, we realised that whoever wants to make any gain in agriculture, particularly food commodity, must target Lagos. For that reason, we put in place a mechanism, in conjunction with the Nigeria Railway Corporation, to move food commodity free of charge from Osogbo to Lagos. Occasionally, to encourage NRC, we run a free passenger tariff from Lagos to Osogbo and Osogbo to Lagos, but those are during the festival seasons. But part of our agricultural programme is this free freight for food commodity. It’s not catching on with the people as much as we would want, but it’s there. It’s the first of its kind in this part of the world. I’m not even sure there’s any part of the world where government subsidises, I mean, openly provides free freight for agricultural commodities. That, we do as part of our massive food production programme.
There is a state programme directed at mobilising all sectors in government and outside government in this area. It’s called O’REAP – Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Programme. We give land to whoever wants to farm, we prepare the land partly, we open up the land that we would have cleared of all stumps and trees and other things that might require any capital expenditure. That is in agriculture, and it is ongoing.
In education, we have not done badly at all. We have changed the structure of learning here. We have three structures of basic education. Rather than employing the existing primary, junior secondary and senior secondary format, we now have elementary, middle and high school. The 6-3-3-4 broad education system of the federal government is not affected at all. But we have tinkered with the physical infrastructure and arrangement of the pupils even in the 6-3-3-4 system. How? We realised that naturally, pupils at stages of development, have different desires. That is number one. Two, we are committed to giving the children, our pupils, the right support for their ages. To that extent, we have broken basic education into three clear, distinct structures. We have the elementary school, we have the middle school and we have the high school. The elementary school caters for children from age six to nine, that is grade one to four. And they are going to be neighbourhood schools, neighbourhood to where their mothers are during the day. If you are in the market most of the time, the neighbourhood school will be near you in the market. If you are at home most of the time, the neighbourhood school will be near the home. But they will be schools that will not require the pupils to move beyond 100 to 500 metres to wherever their mothers are. And they are limited to that age bracket because we realised that is the age in which full mental development will aid learning.
Considering the general poverty condition prevalent among our people, we have decided to support parents by feeding these pupils with nutritious meals. So, to do that without creating both psychological and physical trauma to their seniors should they be in the same school, we have separated the schools for that category of students from those in primary five and junior secondary schools. So, all students in our elementary schools will have access to good meals that will help develop them mentally and physically for learning. They will have good lunch.
What’s the budget for the lunch?
About N3billion. The uniforms too, which we are providing, are about the same cost. We are kitting all our children. We are almost concluding it. I hardly want to talk about it because it’s still not fully formed, but we are very close to concluding it. We are almost at the end of preparation.
We realised that information technology will be the tool of life in another decade. In the next 10 years, hardly will anyone survive without information technology. We know that already, the situation in the world everywhere is almost making it a routine. Hardly can anyone, no matter how uninformed, live without the use of things that are ICT-related. Now, even if you don’t know anything about digital technology, people are using handsets. Hardly is there any person that cannot use telephone handsets now. If they cannot dial themselves, somebody can dial and give to them.
But beyond that glaring reality is the fact that education would be more attractive, will be easy to acquire, and will not be cumbersome if we can present it through the available digital devices. So we are working on the use of computer tablets which we call opon imo (tablets of knowledge), that our high school students, the 150, 000 of them and their teachers will be provided by the grace of God. We have done the laboratory test, we will soon do the pilot. It has not been done, there is nowhere in the world where anything like it has been done. There would be dedicated books, lesson notes, examination papers programmed. Everything they need to know about their curriculum will be made available to them. I pray we succeed with it. It will be a unique tool for learning.
What is stimulating and unique about it is that as we are developing the software and negotiating with the hardware supplier, we are equally planning on how the tablets can be assembled here.
Of course, our first three, four months was to powerfully reposition our state in the eyes of the world and in the minds of our people. We went about a vigorous rebranding programme that sought to give us the image and character that we feel is our own. We told the world that we are virtuous people (omoluabi), epitome of character, valour, pride and history. We put up a flag for the whole world to see. The flag isn’t just any flag; it’s a flag that is meaningful. And there are totems. We have our emblems and we have our anthem. To casual observers, these might be simple things. But if you visit our schools, if you listen to the ordinary citizens and see the enthusiasm with which they render the anthem, the joy that they exude each time the anthem is rendered, and the attestation in their relationships, clearly show that something is happening.
Closely linked to that is the first-of-its-type mass youth employment and empowerment programme. When we announced it during the campaign, nobody gave it any chance of success. We said we would employ 20, 000 youths within 100 days, but everybody thought it was a gimmick. But to the glory of God, we really did it within the specified period. We engaged 20, 000 youths. The end result is simply fantastic. But to me, the real challenge, and what has been very remarkable, is the logistics of getting it to that end. People who just looked at it as just 20, 000, how did we get the 20, 000? How many people applied? How did we select 20, 000 without using any sentiments of relationships, of partisanship? How did we do it? This to me is the greatest achievement of the empowerment programme, apart from that programme itself. The success we made of the extremely herculean task of fairly picking 20,000 out of 250,000 applicants which in itself tells you of the enormity of the crisis Nigeria faces on youth unemployment. One is therefore very much shocked at the crass ignorance of the naysayers who, rather than look at the impact of that scheme on the pool of listless youths that for years – we are not talking of people with just one year unemployment experience; there are people with 10 years history of unemployment, pining away, wasting away, doing nothing, a fraction of whom we took, refined – because it’s not just engagement and kitting; they were given the best in orientation, in leadership, discipline and conscientisation. We didn’t just put them and say go and work, no. At a cost, we invited the best in psychology, leadership and community mobilisation to give these youths the required orientation that would make them useful. Otherwise, they won’t be as productive as they are even in those things we give them to do.
And we did not hide what would be their engagements from them before they even applied. We advertised in the papers. We said, “These are the things you would be asked to do. You would be engaged in social, community public works”. When ignoramuses now condemn the scheme, I laugh. A scheme that the World Bank commended. Even some advanced economies are copying our model, because that would be the first time a government would tie up social welfare scheme with community service. That again cannot be just overlooked.
In security, we have done what no administration here had ever done. We have not eliminated crime, but we have considerably checked the incidence of crime to a large extent through the provision of facilities, equipment and tools for the management of crime. The height of it will be a very rapid response gadget that we are working on. We are working on a facility that can cover the state within 30 minutes during any distress or attacks from hoodlums.
We are embarking on massive road construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and maintenance that have never been the case in the history of the state. It is massive. There is no town, no community in which not one road work or the other is not ongoing right now. And more will still come. Healthcare is being pursued vigorously. We are doing urban renewal too, and urban renewal has a road component.
We have set up committees to develop a complete town upgrade and renewal programme for nine of our ancient towns. These are Osogbo, Ikirun, Ila-Orangun, Ede, Ejigbo, Iwo, Ikire, Ile-Ife and Ilesa. This is different from the urban road works. The target of this is to clean up and upgrade the one-kilometre radius of the town centre in each of those nine ancient, historic towns and make them a world-class zone. These are what I could readily recall of our efforts in the last 22 months.
What’s your feedback mechanism like? Are you getting returns from the people, and are they happy?
For the people, one should just give glory to God. I’m happy with the sustained support of the people. It’s definitely not possible for any government to sustain the level of popularity with which it was received at inception. I don’t know how many of Awolowo’s books you have read. In his biography he would tell you that a time was when six months after he assumed office, people were booing him on the streets of Ibadan. But does that mean that Awolowo is not a legend? For anything to be enduring, ultimately popular and beneficial, people must naturally resist such things. You did not happily go to school. You must have cried when you were being taken to school. So it is not possible for one to sustain the level of enthusiasm that ushered us in, but without exaggerating, I can tell you that the people here are still very much with us in terms of support, enthusiasm, acceptance of our programmes and policies and our commitment to them. To me, I’m satisfied with the level of support I get from the people.
How do you get funding for all these programmes considering that Osun is not a rich state?
This question is very important. I don’t know why some people are deliberately mischievous. You can’t even call them cynics again. A cynic does not believe in you and does not want people to believe in you as well. But those who go beyond that to even lie about what is not, to me, are mischievous. Knowing that these programmes are essential programmes for the transformation of our state to be economically viable, buoyant and therefore self reliant, because that’s the ultimate goal, the schemes we are putting in place, the initiatives we are introducing are a necessity. Poverty is not a thing of pride; it’s not a thing of joy. Every human being, society, political space and region must work on overcoming poverty. So it’s not a pride to keep on saying you are a civil service state. To escape that, you must develop strategy that will overcome that unacceptable condition. It is towards that, that everything we are doing is geared. When you mobilise the people to be more productive than they were, you are preparing them for prosperity. That’s what the agricultural initiative is all about. You are improving production as well as introducing market. It’s for money. If they are prosperous, they will support the government. We are turning here into a hub of commerce with our rail transportation programme. By improving the condition of basic education, we are developing the leadership of tomorrow that will have the knowledge, skill and education that will further move production up and further increase prosperity. So, even the security that you are providing, will give confidence to those you want to come here, either for leisure or for work, that they are safe, that their lives are not threatened. So, all that I’ve mentioned are focused on developing virile economy that will guarantee prosperity.
To do that, we must seek for ways through which we could fund the process that by itself and on its own pay back the investment we are making. The simple right word is sustainability. That’s what they call sustainable development. We are, therefore, working on a sustainable growth and development process that will transform Osun and situate it at a level far, far beyond what it is now. We are dissatisfied with our position in Nigeria’s political space, economically and socially. We believe we must rank among the first 10 in Nigeria. And that is our goal. To achieve that, we have introduced what is called a flexible financial system for the execution of our programmes.
Our projects are being funded in a way that would not hurt our budget. And we are going for a combination of capital market funding. We are the first government in Nigeria that would go for sukuk. This is the Islamic funds from the capital market as well as the conventional funding from the capital market. We are mixing them. We are using sukuk, that is, free interest investment fund from the capital market to fund education. In education, it’s very difficult to get returns. It’s social. We are using the main conventional funds from the capital market to fund roads and agriculture. So that is the combination of an ingenious creative financial method as well as access to capital market where we are combining Islamic sukuk capital investment with conventional capital market investment.
What’s the inflow like from the federal allocation and IGR, and what’s the outflow monthly?
Well, we are doing a balancing act that is peculiar to us. There is no way I can give you an accurate description of the balancing act we are doing, but it will surprise you that as tough as it is, I’ve put in place a sovereign fund deposit where every month, a percentage of our income, particularly from the federation account, must go into a sinking fund for the future. It is for the unborn generation, and we will not touch it.
Yet, I’m using that inflow to fund all my projects as well as meet my statutory obligations to staff and general running of the government. I receive between N3.6 and N4 billion every month, and I’ve been able to raise my IGR from N200 million to N600 million every month. But I’m quite hopeful that my efforts on the IGR would still yield result that will far improve on what I have now. And I pay all out except what I have to save in the sinking fund. So nothing is left. But I still have untouched, all my excess crude oil allocation. Because that is not regular, rather than dip hands into it, I am simply saving it. At the last count, I have close to N10 billion there and it is the totality of all this that I leverage on to do my projects. So you just have to understand my mindset. My mindset is using everything I have to prosecute development and growth. You cannot therefore simply get me on your line of questioning, like, what do you spend? I spend everything, except what I have used the law to prevent me from spending: my own sinking fund for the future. Then I save everything I get that is not routine. Allocation is routine. But everything outside allocation is saved and I use it to leverage capital development.
But as you do all this, you have also cut the picture of a very controversial person.
Really? I don’t know about that. Tell me how.
Well, people would say that you said you’re now State of Osun, and not Osun State, some said you came up with an anthem and an emblem that made it appear as if you want to secede from the federation. Lot of controversies.
What you want to say is that we are charting courses that had never been charted. Is that controversy? No. That is not controversy. The unfortunate thing here is that we have been badly screwed or mesmerized by the military particularly, that we no longer even know the fundamentals in our system. If I tell you that we have even forgotten that we are a republic, you would be shocked. But to make us not lose the sense of what we are – Nigeria’s name is not just Nigeria. Nigeria is Federal Republic of Nigeria. Over the years of the repression by the military, even the highly educated ones among us have lost the import and significance of that name, “Federal”. And not federal alone; Federal Republic of Nigeria. If that name has any meaning at all, then some things must change. You call the government in Abuja, Government of the Federation. But it’s not the government of the federation; it is a federal government. The Secretary to the Federal Government is not the Secretary to the Federation. There is no secretary to the federation. There is nothing so called. He’s secretary to the federal government. Several things like that, that we just take for granted. No! The danger is that if the generation that witnessed independence should go with this misinformation, we are doomed. So it is in your interest and in my interest for us to put these things in proper perspective so that we don’t lose it all.
This is the only republic where people call themselves prince and you all aid it. In a republic? The meaning of a republic is equality of every person under the law, regardless of who you are, that there is no privilege on the basis of birth or any position. That’s a republic. And yet we have all accepted the misrepresentation and misunderstanding of that word. I ask people all the time: what’s the name of Nigeria? Nigeria is Federal Republic of Nigeria while the name of the government of Nigeria is Federal Government of Nigeria. Why is it not Nigeria Federal Republic? Why is it not Nigeria Federal Government? If it is not Nigeria federal government, and it’s not right to say Nigeria Federal Republic, why is it right to say Osun State government? Pause and think. If it is right to say Nigeria federal government, if it is right to say Nigeria federal republic, of course it is right to say Osun State government. That is my first position on that.
The second is this: we have a constitution and the constitution is clear on this. So I want you to fault me based on this. The constitution says that the names of the states are Abia, to Zamfara. The constitution did not put any qualification, any prefix or suffix of any nature. So, at best, Osun is Osun. As long as I put Osun, I’ve not violated the constitution. If I say State of Omoluabi, oh, I’m in big trouble. If I say O’ Sun, I will be in trouble. To the extent that I’ve not changed the name of Osun, then we should be hailed for deepening our understanding of the federalism that is the form of government that our founding fathers chose for us. I didn’t choose federalism.
That is not all, sir. If you controvert that, let us go to Section 3 of the constitution. I read: There shall be thirty-six states. Let me now show you something that will shock you. In Section 176, something interesting happened. It tells us how to call the state. There shall be a House of Assembly for each state of the federation. So what we should have in Osun is the House of Assembly of Osun. It’s the constitution. Look at it right here. How does the constitution describe the governor of a state? You’ll wonder why we allowed ourselves to be fooled all along.
According to the constitution, I’m to be called Governor of Osun. This is it here. Are you getting my point? We should have the High Court of Osun, not Osun State High Court. And I’m quoting the constitution here. So I’m not controversial. I’m simply trying to live by the instrument on which I swore an oath of allegiance.
Let’s even go to Nigeria’s name. So, what I’ve told you is there. Let’s now go to international convention. All over the world where you have states as the structure of government outside the federal government, how they call their state is State of…. Let’s start from Australia. You must have heard of the State of Tasmania. From India, move to Malaysia. It is State of… India has 28 states, and their constitution says State of…. Germany has 16 states, and they are all States of… In America, they are called California, New York, Wyoming, Ohio, Florida, and so on. These are the nations that I can recall. With the exception of India where some two states refused to follow the constitutional prescription – I know of Gujarat and Goa – all the other states are States of…
I’ve used the name of Nigeria to tell you that what we’re doing is what is appropriate. I’ve taken you to international convention. Finally, in Yoruba, we say, Ipinle Osun, not Osun Ipinle. How do you call Ipinle Osun in English? It’s State of Osun. So where did I go wrong? That we have not adverted our minds to all of this, does it now prevent somebody from calling our attention to it?
Nobody cared about “His Excellency” before now and I’ve come to say that, for goodness sake, don’t address me as His Excellency or Your Excellency. My religion even forbids me from sharing the same title with God. Besides the fact that the constitution has not asked anybody to so do, there is nothing here that says you must call anybody His Excellency. It’s a carry-over of the military mentality. Now, if you don’t call somebody His Excellency, he will not even answer you. If you don’t put Executive Governor, some people will even take umbrage. Where is Executive Governor in this constitution? What does the constitution call the governor? The governor. So these are things we have just adopted without foundation. Even the pictures of governors and the president that we hang around, where is it in this constitution? What should be displayed are the symbols of the state, the accepted images of the state – symbols, crest, coat of arms. We have done a very wrong mixture of monarchy and republic. It’s not done where we copied it. You don’t call the American president His Excellency. You say Mr. President. Do they even remember academic titles of public office holders in America? No! Gordon Brown has a Ph.D, but throughout the time he was British Prime Minister, no one even realised he had a Ph.D. Condoleezza Rice is a professor. Throughout her period as Secretary of State in the United States, there was no mention of that. Where did we get this atrocious, bogus attitude of wanting to just sound off? If somebody says, ‘look, these are not my needs’, what is controversial there? Why are we all interested in pursuing unedifying models? Why are we not interested in doing things that will inspire our citizens and promote patriotism, nationalism and zealous commitment to our people, our environment and the future of the generation? If these could therefore mean undue interest in controversy, well, I have no apology to make to anybody. But I believe that these are things that should not only be advocated by one person, but by all those who are genuinely committed to the progress of our people and the development of our race.
But even those at the highest level of government in the country are not comfortable with this. It got to a point that there was a security report, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) even took you up on this. How do you react to all this?
The SFG never took me up, because he’s Secretary to the Federal Government, actually. As for the security report, the agency your paper claimed issued the report denied it. I went to the agency, and they said they didn’t write any such report. If there was that denial, and I still react to it the way you want me to, the problem is with me then. Because everything speculated in that report was false. How could my effort to brighten my state by giving students here, rich or poor, attractive uniforms, be interpreted to mean Islamisation? I told the world that I did not attempt, not to talk of failing or succeeding, to Islamize my nuclear family. My father was a polygamist, rightly so, as a Muslim. My own uterus sister from my mother is a Christian. My uterus brother, also from my mother, is a Christian. How could you therefore say that of a man who failed woefully to keep people born as Muslims and given Islamic names but today, are serious Christians? If I have not succeeded in retaining them as Muslims, where is the power to make those who are not even related to me Muslims? If I have failed completely, not even to Islamise, but to retain my siblings as Muslims, they are still my siblings and they are still very close to me, where then is the ability to attempt to Islamise a whole state? I mean, it’s all bunkum. I have no pact with any group.
Beyond that, in history, I will go down as the only governor that has promoted all religions here, officially. Officially from the day I assumed office here, the Muslims pray, the Christians pray, and traditional religion people too pray. It was not without a protest from those who had had a preference before now. It was not just an happenstance; that has been the order now. I think the paper you got was the paper prepared by the opposition here, mischievously in the name of the agency you referred to, and it was used liberally. Well, that agency denied the authorship.
As for the Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG), the president is the president of the federation, and we must be clear on it. We all appointed the president; he’s the president of the federation but the other man is the secretary to the federal government. I don’t want to be drawn into this because he has not written me personally, and I would therefore not want to react openly on what I’ve not received from him personally. So, I take it that what was reported, as coming from him was his personal opinion, in exercise of his freedom to comment on national issues. All I know is that we are on safe grounds, constitutionally, on what we are doing. It’s unfortunate that it’s attracting this sort of attention. We didn’t intend to attract attention. We simply want to deepen the knowledge of federalism, understanding of the Nigerian Constitution, roles of all the tiers of government in a federation. Beyond that, we have no other interest. We are not irreverent, we are not rebellious, we are not seeking attention. We are simply, calmly pursuing the cause of our people in the best way we can for their interest, for their progress, for their development and for their greatness.
Are those raising these issues doing it out of ignorance, or is it a conscious attempt at mischief?
In any democracy, everyone has the right to believe what he wants. Honestly, I don’t believe there is any animosity on official relationship. We are getting on well. You must therefore concede the right of individuals to their personal opinions and their expressions. What is important is for the media and the public to know what is right. If you do, then there is no problem. It is only when you too have the wrong notion that we are wrong and they are right. So, the purveyor of information must respect that sacred ethic of journalism which says that facts are sacred, comments are free. Once you live by that, you too will know why you must be by the truth, by that which is factual. Then where you tend to, because of long years of misconception, assume that that misconception is true, there is a problem. In life, knowledge is dynamic, it can’t be static. If you recall, a time was when the popular knowledge was that the earth was flat. And when empirical evidence came that the earth was round, all the initial effort to kill people based on that notion fizzled out. We must equally give allowance for the dynamism in life and knowledge to accept the reality of new knowledge when it comes to us. We had never bothered about all of this before now, but the fact of the case is that the fulcrum on which our political system is based is unambiguous. For as long as that is, we must not spare any effort to support what is factual. That is what I have not found in the public discourse on this matter. In fact the thinking in most quarters is that we are the ones that are wrong, they are the ones that are right, whereas the reality is to the contrary. Perhaps what you are worried about is that we have not had the support that we should have from the media in particular on this matter. The media is not sure whether this is true. But please, don’t back me. Let us go to the constitution. We all swore to uphold the constitution. There is nobody in public office that did not swear to uphold the constitution.
As we speak, Mr Governor, about 30 states have been taken over by flood. In Osun, is there any cause for alarm?
Before flood became an issue of national interest, we had taken it upon ourselves to combat that prospect and it’s been an annual commitment that, well, may there not be an extraordinary occurrence, flood here is thoroughly eliminated. Why? The year preceding my office, there was a terrible flood here, and at that time, there was no national calamity. It was carried in the papers, on television and on the radio. Lives were lost and properties weredestroyed. The Capital city was seriously affected. So as soon as I assumed office, I engaged all waterways, canals in massive dredging. As a matter of fact, no government has ever attempted to do such. We cleaned up all arteries, all waterways, all canals and possible outlets for storm water control.
When the rain came last year, people just saw rain, and storm water just flowing, without disturbing anybody. Even those who were living in flood-prone areas and water-ways just saw water passing by them. It was amazing. Thereis a joke here. There is one stream called Okoko in Osogbo. The joke is that Okoko would soon become a lagoon. Our intervention has reduced Okoko into a mere stream. We have not relented.
Mr Governor, Please what’s the issue of about 48,000 mud houses being demolished? Wouldn’t that be too ambitious a project.
There is a difference between elimination of dangerous buildings that can affect lives and urban renewal. This phenomenon of rickety , distressed ,dangerously dilapidated houses that pose serious threat to lives is not limited to this state. As a matter of fact, it’s a manifestation of the abnormal poverty that is prevalent in our country and for which the federal government has failed to take a decisive action.
Culled from SUNDAY SUN NEWSPAPER