UNIOSUN VC: On The Challenges Confronting Nigeria

Professor Labode Popoola, vice chancellor of Osun State University, has pointed some issues affecting the country’s economy which he identified over-dependence on mono product economy, lack of understanding about good leadership, poor business planning and management amongst others as some of the problems Nigeria is battling with.

Popoola, who explained this issues yesterday, in Lagos, while giving a lecture titled ‘’The Nigerian Business Climate: Challenges of an Under-exploited Economy’’ at the 2017 seminar and launch of a book, entitled: Law Hospitality and Tourism’’ written by Goodie Ibru, complained that the short sightedness and inability of the government and Nigerian business leaders to see beyond oil and tap into unexploited sectors of the economy.

According to him, the simplest things in Nigeria are often complicated by sentiments and wrong perceptions.

He said: ‘’Nigeria has an environment that is favored with expansive space of more than 92,300 kilometers. The strength of population and the basis for sustainable development is sadly often politically exploited with deleterious effects on the political-economy of the country.’’

According to him, there are indications that earnings from crude have been on the increase over the quarter of a century, in spite of sporadic oil slumps.

He said: ‘This ordinarily is expected to bring about more production, consumption, expanded human resources, capacity for innovation and investments, robust economy integration among others.

‘’However these indicators may be described as ‘coat of many colours’, implying huge opportunity for business and investigations to thrive in the country.’’

However, the celebrant Goodie Ibru, in his welcome address said it was sad that Nigeria was still over dependent on mono product. He, argued that if Nigeria had to diversify, tourism and hospitality should be the next industry to look into.

The keynote address was delivered by chief Victor Oyolu, Chairman, Capital Hotels Plc while a panel of discussants included Dr Remi Oni, Executive Director Corporate Banking Group, FBN Ltd: Mr Yomi Badejo Okusanya, Managing Director CMC (connect), and professor Joseph Abugu, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos.

PhotoNews: Governor Aregbesola Attends First Cabinet Meeting after Swear-in

Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Wednesday held a meeting with newly appointed State Executive Council members.

This is the first executive meeting since 2014 when the cabinet was dissolved.

 

The meeting which held at Council Chamber of the Bola Ige House had 39 commissioners and special advisers in attendant who took oath of office last week.

 

 

 

Allegation of Nepotism Against Osinbajo Laughable – Aide

The senior special assistant to the acting president on Legal Matters, Dr Bilkisu Saidu has frowned at the recent comments credited to one Mr Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara State, a faceless Social Media contributor who accused Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, of nepotism in some of appointments made by him.

In an interview granted on BBC Hausa Radio, Dr Saidu, who was a law teacher from the Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University Sokoto before she was named an SSA in the Office of the Vice President said contrary to Farouk comment, the VP’s office has more Muslim appointees from the North than Christians.

Mr Laolu Akande, spokesperson to Osinbajo in a statement said, she described the nepotism charges as simply laughable, untrue, unfair and should not be taken seriously.

“If you are talking about religion, the most senior official or position in the Office of the Vice President apart from the Vice President himself, is the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and the name of the person occupying that office is Abdulrahman Ipaye and he is a Muslim.’

“The positions following the Chief of Staff’s in the order of hierarchy are the Special Advisers in the office of the Vice President. Here there are three Special Advisers and two out of the three Special Advisers are Muslims, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and Barrister Mariam Uwais from Kano State,’’ she added.

Dr Saidu said that a cursory look at the other senior positions in the Vice President’s office indicate that religious consideration was never a factor in the appointment of the officers, noting that “If you look at the remaining senior positions in that office, most of them are in the hands of Muslims from the north.’’

She said: “For instance the person in charge of Protocol (i.e. the Director of Protocol) is Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary from Yobe State; those in charge of welfare and health in the office of the Vice President are mostly Muslims and from the north.

“Worthy of note are the stewards, those who serve the Vice President’s meals, they are mostly Muslims, so what do the critics mean when they talk about religion.’’

Dr Saidu concluded that when non-progressive minded people fail to win public support on their personal agenda they often resort to the use of religion given its sensitivity among Nigerians.

According to her, “when people lack what to use or have exhausted all avenues to speak evil against perceived opponents or ridicule the good works that they are doing, they resort to use of religion or other means possible to damage the image and reputation of that opponent.’’

It would be recalled that the faceless Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara State recently criticized Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent outings and appointments made in his office describing them as sectional and not in the interest of the North.

Editorial: Buhari Administration’s Mid-term

Monday this week, Nigerians celebrated the second anniversary – the mid-term – of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Nigerians, as would be expected, have continued to offer their assessments of the administration, not just against the backdrop of promises it made to Nigerians prior to its coming into office, but also against the challenges that the country has had to face in the last two years of the administration.

It is of course natural that the Buhari administration would want to beat its chest about not doing badly, given the circumstances it found itself. However, Nigerians in general terms, would appear to have resolved that the country remains ailing – on all fronts. From the security sector where the North-east remains a seething cauldron and the activities of the murderous Fulani herdsmen have reduced vast swathes of the republic to a killing field; the economy which, despite the valiant efforts to get it out of the current recession, has remained largely unyielding to the broad range of stimuli pumped in by the federal government; or the anti-corruption war that continues to be bogged down by the same traditional strictures of process; the indices are such that leave little to cheer.

Be that as it may, it seems now, fairly easy to forget where we were two years ago. We refer here to the grave crises the administration inherited after 16 inglorious years of PDP administration – the reason Nigerians voted so resoundingly for change.

Take for instance, the war against the Boko Haram in the North-east, we were witnesses to how the once proud Nigerian Army was forced to endure the daily humiliation of Boko Haram with their superior fire-power – the consequence of the billions voted to fight the war ending up in the private bank accounts of some brass hats, something that former President Obasanjo would capture to succinctly to wit: “Jonathan and his people turned Boko Haram into an industry for making money… Boko Haram became an ATM machine for taking money out of the treasury”.

As for the economy, if preceding PDP administrations since 1999 failed to transit the economy from an oil-based to an industrial one – an economy less prone to cyclic shocks – the immediate past administration would present a classic study in wanton profligacy and cluelessness.

A few of the bazaar that went on under the Jonathan administration is worth recalling. First is the industrial-scale heist under which a nation with a modern Navy was reported as losing 20 per cent of its daily oil production to thieves. Add to this, the countless deals under which the administration alienated some of the nation’s choices oil blocks to its cronies under some dubious ‘strategic’ partnership; and then the inexplicable build up in debts at a time of unprecedented oil earnings – under the dubious but ingenious claim that the country was under-borrowed even when there was nothing to show for the massive borrowing; the result could not have been anything other than the broken system that the administration inherited.

All of these – long before the dip in global oil prices which merely came to knock the bottom of the primitive economy run by the cabal in the Jonathan administration. If few Nigerians recall that the federal government had to resort to borrowing to pay salaries at some point, the fiscal crisis that engulfed the finances of the states is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.

It was in this background that the Buhari administration rode into office. As if to compound the problems, oil prices not only took a dive, the militants would also ensure that the nation’s capacity to export crude oil was substantially crippled. The combined effect was the recession and the foreign exchange crisis which attenuated it.

Today, it is safe to say that things are beginning to change. While the nation may not be out of the woods yet, things are certainly not getting worse. Boko Haram is being fought with a new resolve; ditto, the monster of corruption – if admittedly the result has been modest. Although, still very high – at 17 per cent, inflation has been on a steady climb-down. Even the naira, has in recent time gained some strength. And while it is true that the cost of borrowing has remained prohibitive, there are also signs that a number of the concerns of businesses, particularly the environment for doing business are being addressed gingerly. The infrastructure situation, particularly power, of course, remains dire although, there have been renewed interests in railways development. And with the expected boosts in agricultural produce in the coming months, the nation seems on an assured path to food security.

Mid-way to its four year tenure, it is clear that the administration would need to do more. One thing that would need to change is its snail-pace approach to governance. Most certainly, the administration could do with new tools in its anti-corruption war. Its greatest challenge however, is growing the economy to create millions of jobs; fixing the archaic infrastructure at the heart of the economy’s legendary lack of competitiveness and reversing the situation of the country’s dependence on imported goods.

‘Decline In Political Intellectualism Responsible For Failure In Governance’

By Kehinde Ayantunji

A chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State of Osun, Prince Dotun Babayemi said, one of the major problems facing Nigeria political development is weak political institutions that accommodate “political jobbers who chose politics as a means of survival rather than science of public service.

He said, as a result of prevailing political opportunism in Nigeria, many people struggle to get power and loose direction because they lack intellectual depth and science of public service.

Babayemi, an industrialist, during a media chat with members of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Osun State Council in Osogbo said, the increasing motive of politicians to siphon public resources on getting to power is a culture that must be discourage and eliminated in Nigeria political system

He advocated that the political parties should return to the old method of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and develop system where intellectual depth of the public services, loyalty and commitment to the ideology of the party determines selection of leadership.

Introducing such conditions before taking the flag of any political party to hold any office, according to Babayemi , would eradicate political jobbers  and produce quality leaders that will drive the desire developments in Nigeria.

Speaking on the performance of the APC-led government in the state since 2010, Babayemi said, one of the best that has happen to Osun since its creation was the emergence of Governor Rauf Aregbesola whom, he said has redefined governance.

Babayemi described Aregbesola as an example of responsible leader any political party or society should be yearning for, if such society desires development.

“ Rauf Aregbesola is an example of leaders that our political system should be producing, it has never happen in the history of Nigeria that a government just came and declared that 20,000 unemployed youths should be taken-off the street, yes he may not be paying them fantastic salary but on daily basis, they go to work, come back home and get something at the end of the month,  it is a success story for the majority of the youths today”.

“What you will appreciate in his leadership as an industrialist is that all  his programmes and projects are  linked to the economic prosperity of the state.

 

Who is Afraid of Prof Osinbajo?

By Musa Alhassan

Our people say a toad does not wander about in the afternoon for no good cause. This is why we must examine the personal attacks that have been leveled against Professor Yemi Osinbajo, purportedly showing the disaffection of the “North”. Like all things crooked, the more you look, the less you see! The more you look at the allegations that the promoters have maliciously published and disseminated on various social media platforms, the less you see any truth or coherence in their work. Without more, this is a hatchet job! To tag their battle as a destruction of Prof Osinbajo’s “sainthood”, you must go back a long way to see that Prof did not just acquire the cloak of integrity overnight or in just 2 years as VP. His reputation for integrity, diligence and rendering humanitarian social service precedes his occupation of the Vice-President’s office. As Attorney-General of Lagos State, his integrity in public office is very well known, just as his reform of the justice sector is still being replicated across the country.

First, we know Dr Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara is a phony and not very well-thought-out alias. As you can imagine, one would expect an “Ismail” not “Ismaila” from Zamfara. So Dr. Ismaila, the paid underground media, and all other paid toads are only out in the afternoon to display the deadly fangs and teeth of their sponsors. If you are patient to read through to the end, you may get to discover who these sponsors really are. It’s a mix between “corruption striking back” and political jobbers grappling for personal relevance and power

Their first bite is Dr. Enelamah- an Igbo man. So, Dr Ismaila and his sponsors have an issue with Mr. President for picking a notable South-Easterner as his Minister for Industry, Trade and Investments. It is a well-known fact that Dr. Okey Enelamah, a graduate of the prestigious Havard Business School, and the Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments is the pioneer chief executive of African Capital Alliance, Nigeria’s biggest private equity firm with over $1 billion in management and direct investments in Nigerian private companies. Dr. Enelamah who is well known in Nigerian investments circles, (including to the President’s Chief of Staff, Chief Abba Kyari, who was once an Executive Director at UBA) for leading investment into MTN Nigeria and other blue chip companies, was nominated by the President himself. Dr. Enelamah has done more to sustain the Nigerian project far more than the self-absorbed sponsors of this smear campaign as he has directly invested in small and big Nigerian companies that employ Nigerians from both North and South.

The lack of commonsense in this power play and diversionary tactic belies reason when we have just seen how the sit-at-home exercise by the agitators of Biafra proved effective. Now Dr Ismaila’s sponsors question a qualified Igbo man amidst the ongoing agitation. Please for God’s sakes, do not push Nigeria over the wedge for your evil and selfish aims. One can perceive the evil intentions of the sponsors in trying to create contention in identifying Mr. Wale Edun as Tinubu’s pick for Minister of Finance. First, it’s the President’s prerogative to consult with people and identify those that take up ministerial positions. Secondly, Babatunde Fashola represented Lagos State. So, how could the VP have been angling for a particular cabinet position against an individual who was not on the ministerial list? Also, to the extent that he is being tribal won’t the choice of Kemi Adeosun for finance from Ogun State be his obvious preference? So why Ismaila’s inconsistency that he preferred an Igbo man? Obvious mischief!

It is this old order that President Buhari came to fix when in repeated campaign speeches he promised to assemble a team of honest and competent professionals to move Nigeria forward.

As everyone recollects what is not a very distant past, the Cabinet Ministers were appointed long after the President and the Vice-President picked their aides. So, how can people be coming to terms with the choice of Dr. Enelamah when the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff were appointed long before the ministers? The choice of Mr. Ade Ipaye as the Deputy Chief of Staff speaks to the interest of both the President and Vice President in competence and character. Mr Ipaye is a seasoned public servant and one of Nigeria’s foremost tax practitioners and was the immediate past Attorney General of Lagos State. A devout Muslim who goes about his work with extreme diligence and without fuss and the common airs of the Nigerian big man, was vetted by the President as suitable for administering the chunk of work for the Vice President within the Presidency. Anyone who knows Mr. Ipaye can see why Prof. Osinbajo, a man of similar ilk, will support a man with a humble and diligent disposition. Alluding to his descent from Ogun State (although he doesn’t even hail from Ogun State) as an indication of nepotism, without reference to his qualities as a professional and a decent man, shows you the reprobate hearts of the sponsors of this smear campaign.

The evil sponsors, somehow and conveniently, failed to mention that the biggest focus of this administration, which is the Social Investments Programme is being handled by Mrs. Maryam Uwais, a Muslim woman from Kano. Mrs. Uwais, a seasoned legal practitioner with years of experience in tackling social developmental issues is the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments and works in the Vice President’s office. Like all other Special Advisers and other political appointees, Mrs Uwais was appointed on the basis of merit and her character. The Vice-President is a man that pays attention to diversity and has given opportunity to women and youth. Particularly, Dr Balkisu Saidu, a female northerner is the Senior Special Assistant on Legal Matters. Also, Gambo Manzo, Hafiz Ibrahim, and Murtala Aliyu are all close aides of the Vice-President who hail from the North.

Somehow, the malicious sponsors of this smear campaign intend to taint the character of the VP by fabricating a falsehood about Simmons Cooper Partners (which was Prof Osinbajo’s previous law practice he resigned from to be Vice-President) obtaining “juicy” or any work from Federal Ministries and agencies. This is untrue. Everyone is aware of the requirements of the Public Procurement Act. An enquiry directed to the concerned ministries or agencies will show or disprove if there has indeed been any procurement of service that has been awarded or manipulated in favour of SimmonsCooper Partners.

As regards the appointment of Babatunde Irukera, the sponsors may choose to enquire from the consumer protection circles as to who is a more qualified professional who has contributed immensely to the body of consumer protection work . It is well known that Mr Irukera, who is from the North, has for decades now advocated for consumer protection rights, including formulating policies and regulations in consumer aviation and other sectors. The sponsors don’t ask the most relevant question for public service- Is he qualified and competent? No, they are only interested in their hatchet job. The same goes for Mrs. Yewande Sadiku who is very well known in investment banking circles. Many of these professionals are serving in these positions, not because of any pecuniary benefits but bringing their experience, knowledge and skills to bear for the public good.

Besides, the supervisory Ministers in charge of these agencies are mostly responsible for selecting the relevant chief executive. So why castigate and malign the VP? In most instances and as in the cases identified, the supervising Minister presents an appointee who is then evaluated and approved by the President. The assertion that the VP has appointed persons on the basis of their religious affiliation is disingenuous, malicious and untrue. The reference to Mr. Okoh’s relationship with the VP demonstrates the nature of the evil Nigeria is contending with. They rightly assert that Mr. Okoh (from the South-South) is a former CEO of a bank, but the claim that NNB (that consolidated in 2005 and ceased to exist then) had a retainer with Simmons Cooper is patently false. It is well known in legal circles that Simmons Cooper came into existence in the year 2006 and Professor Osinbajo joined the firm in 2007 after serving as Attorney General of Lagos State from 1999-2007. The vile sponsors of this smear campaign will stop at nothing- lies, falsehood and uncreative imaginations. Beyond innuendo, there’s no truth, accuracy or sense in the allegations of contracts, and taking over the work of the Ministry of Niger-Delta. Obviously, the President needed leadership to ensure that restiveness in the Niger-Delta was tackled, which was why he delegated the role to the VP. We are all witnesses to the effect of the VP’s engagement with the Niger-Delta.

Belief in the Nigerian State is characterized both by action and statements. The VP’s responsibility to all Nigerian people in his actions and statements is clear to all, except for the sponsors of this evil plot who have other sinister intentions in undertaking this hatchet job. From children to youth, to women, to the vulnerable in society, the VP demonstrated sense of empathy is apparent. Again, the allusion to a quarrel or tussle emanating from travel concerns to Lagos between the Chief of Staff and the VP is manifestly devious. The President and Vice President have enjoyed a cordial, symbiotic and brotherly relationship since they campaigned and got into office. The appointment of aides and political appointees within the presidency has never minimized or diminished this relationship. It is apparent that the VP continues to maintain a healthy relationship with the Chief of Staff. Anyone who knows the VP knows he is not given to frivolity and will not undertake needless travel nor run up expenditure. Prof. Osinbajo is focused on his job- that is to serve the Nigerian people in partnership with Mr. President who obviously continues to repose trust in his character and competence to deputise for him and deliver their promises to the people. The attempt to impugn his character is to stop the good work of all Nigerian people regaining confidence in the Nigerian State.

The big picture purpose of this smear campaign is not only to tarnish the image of the VP but also to derail Nigeria’s progress. This is the handiwork of the evil that has held Nigeria back. The evil axis of those drunk and made blind by the allure of power, permutations of 2019 and those struggling with corruption cases have found in the VP a stumbling block. They know he will not bend to their whims on relaxing the stance of Government on corruption. Do not be fooled. This is not the North! It’s corruption striking back. It’s personal parochial interest versus the people. This great evil must be resisted by all of us.

Osun Residents Count Blessings

By Sola Jacobs

As the nation marked democracy day last Monday, residents of the State of Osun have commended the efforts of the state government under Governor Rauf Aregbesola on tackling insecurity in the state.

Counting their blessings, one of the residents of Osogbo, Mr. Oyawole Abiodun, an hotelier said, the current administration in the state had tackled the issue of insecurity, through provision of Armoured Personnel Carrier and other equipment s that are sophisticated enough to conquer any security emergency, saying, this gesture had brought more investors to the state.

Mr. Oyawole recalled that prior to this time in the state, insecurity is the major factor that drives away investors from the state, but had been tackled by Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration.

Tasks Before The Osun New Cabinet Members

By Kehinde Ayantunji

The enormous tasks before the newly-appointed cabinet members in the State of Osun had been placed before them, as the Governor, Rauf Aregbesola sworn-in his 39-member executive council.

This is just as governor declared that he and his deputy, Mrs Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, were dropping their portfolios in Works and Infrastructure, and Education respectively for new entrants into the cabinet, to allow for more effective policy coordination and supervision.

The executive council members are being faced with the tasks of assisting the governor to complete the ongoing projects across the state, develop policies for the economic recovery, strengthen social programmes of the government, strengthen the educational sector and galvanise development within the remaining 18 months of the administration.

The Governor at the swearing-in of the cabinet members in Osogbo stated that the inauguration was long overdue, but for dire constraint of funds.

Aregbesola stressed that Osun was not insulated from the financial challenges that the country had during the Peoples Democratic Party-led administration in Nigeria, saying the state was receiving negative monthly allocations from the Federation Account during the period.

“Of course, this is long overdue. It should have come up immediately after my inauguration on November 27, 2014. As you all know, we were hamstrung by dire constraint – principally financial.

“Our second term coincided with the onset of a national economic disaster. The first on account of a purported daily theft of 650,000 barrels of crude oil under the watch of the immediate past PDP national government. This is curious and improbable.

“We must note that 650,000 barrels of crude oil is the equivalent of 65 super tankers each laden with over 300,000 metric tons of crude oil. By the way, a super tanker is about 450 metres long, the equivalent of four and a half football fields.

“Indeed, 27 states and the Federal Government were unable to pay salaries of workers. It might interest us to know that the government of Goodluck Jonathan, according to his Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had to borrow N476 billion from commercial banks to be able to pay salaries in the last four months of his administration,” Aregbesola told the gathering.

The Governor further stated that his government has responsibilities to three broad categories, the most important of which is the commitment to the generality of the people of the state whose mandate he swore an oath to exercise faithfully, the state workers whom his administration has a contractual obligation to pay at the end of every month, and the political class who made it possible to campaign, contest and win elections.

“We also continued with our programmes and critical social intervention albeit on a reduced scale. Lastly, we have good understanding from the political class on the need for them to make sacrifice as we defer appointments and cabinet formation.

“Our traducers, rather than reasonably comprehend the situation went to town to harp on the non-composition of cabinet but in the process expose their own ignorance.

Speaking on behalf of newly sworn-in cabinet members, the new Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Ajibola Bashir, described the delay in the constitution of the cabinet by Mr Governor as a sign of courage and commitment to good governance, saying, the governor had exhibited high sense of commitment to raise the bar of governance in the last six years of his administration.

He said, the new cabinet would leave no stone unturned to ensure unflinching support and cooperation with the present administration in the state, just as he assured the people of the state of the readiness of the new cabinet to consolidate on the legacies built by Aregbesola-led administration in the last six years.

“For us, the remaining 18 months to the expiration of this administration is enough to galvanise development”, Ajibola said.

PHOTONEWS: Aregbesola, Fayose And NUPENG Officials Meet To Resolve Ekiti Fuel Crisis

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti  (PDP) today visited his Osun State counterpart, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (APC) to discuss issues of regional interest in the South West.

Sources in the know revealed to this paper, that the meeting also gave opportunity Governor Aregbesola to help his Ekiti counterpart resolve the lingering crisis with members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, who had been at loggerheads with authorities in Ekiti.

Find photos from the visit below:

Osun Medical Student Emerges Overall Best in Ukraine

One of the medical students sponsored by the Government of state of Osun has emerged the best overall student in Ukraine University.

Miss Oyeleye Lateefat Abiola, who is one of the 87 medical students studying in overseas was announced the best overall during the institution graduation ceremony.

It would be recalled that Aregbesola-led administration in 2012 took responsibility of 87 medical students of UNIOSUN to V.N Karazin Kharkvin National University in Ukraine, to complete their medical programme. The students’ programme was stalled due to non-availability of a Teaching Hospital for the state university.
The government facilitated the transfer of the students because it believed that a responsible government must fulfill its part of a pact entered into with the people irrespective of which person or party in power signed the agreement, since governance is a continuum.

60th Birthday: Deconstructing Rauf Aregbesola

By Goke Butika

Life is a product of deterministic concept, for every ounce of breathe is measured. It has a take-off point, maybe from the zygote at a formative stage in the womb, and it has a terminal date, a situation that makes all men and women mortals-a terminal project. For the fact that people booked different dates of departure: some will die young, some will be denied existence at all, some will live and live miserably; while some will have a celebrated life. But all within the given by a Great Determinist who could be given different names or nomenclatures: Nature or God or Eledumare or Olorun or Chukwu or Allah et al. I only know that something must be determining something somewhere as far as the concept is concerned.
In that wise, it is a rare opportunity worth of celebrating for anyone who lives, navigates the offerings of life and still being celebrated by the people the same nature imposes such an individual on, particularly one advances in age from golden to platinum. On that note, I celebrate with Governor Rauf Aregbesola of State of Osun who clocks 60 years on earth, obviously with good health, enviable position, beautiful family, sprawling wealth, thankless job and indelible marks.
Having been a distant watcher of his 50th birthday in Lagos, I could not tell which of the birthdays is best celebrated, because Aregbesola’s associates and friends ensured that the entire city of Lagos was painted red when he marked his golden age, and I learnt that the same people who bankrolled the birthday then are still the financiers of his 60th birthday where the entire Osun is being painted blue. At the risk of dramatic irony, one could say that Aregbesola is one of the luckies persons in the democratic experiment that took off in 1998.
Yes, his fame, politics and position came with a price. He had suffered in life like anyone from humble background, he had made a choice that is critical to him; that explains while he settled for the lineage of left leaning; following the track of Comrade Ola Oni, and made Fidel Castrol his mentor as a Communist in search of egalitarian society. He had labored in politics before the nature threw him up for the most important job in Lagos as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure- that metamorphosed his life from common to elite, and his struggle to become the governor of Osun was fiercest and quite expensive, but the mother luck smiled on him after three and half years in the trenches.
Rauf, as his friends fondly call him is a dogged fighter, give it to him. He could dare devil sometimes when he makes up his mind. He came up with concept of unusual government, started from intangibles which were trailed by controversies; he faced stiff opposition from hostile federal powers; he fought with jaw-dropping performance, which radicalized the people of Osun in the heat of his reelection. Of course the then power that be, made an attempt to supplant him, but his popularity was feverish and only a war monger could toy with it.
With life expectancy pegged at 45 years in Nigeria, the great son of Aregbesola is an elder in the class of leaders with emotional intelligence called AGBA SHANKO to borrow from the Speaker Najeem Salaam of Osun Assembly. He is a game changer, because his sterling performance in office with a doctrine of utilitarian left of the centre makes him to cultivate 800 friends, that shows, if 400 are castigating him; 400 would eulogize him.
However, I am concerned about one ugly trend of the same people who bankrolled ten years ago, are still the ones who bankroll his birthday this year. Why the same people? Is it that only his friends residing outside the state of Osun benefitted from Rauf’s large-heartedness? Are his friends and political associates in this part of the country who might have benefitted from him in the last six years stingy? What would be their lot if Rauf is out of power? These and many questions are begging for interrogation from those who claim that they can die for Rauf today. Know that the son of Aregbesola has no problem with that, but the loyalty of the loyalists must be examined with cursory look.
However, celebration or not, Rauf will go down in history as one man who came to governance with load of ideas, he advances villages to cities, and turn incinerator of refuse dump into markets, as numbers of schools, markets, roads and bridges coupled with the number of people he made would bear eloquent testimonies to his contributions to humanity.
As someone who has worked for Rauf, sat with Rauf, listened to Rauf, and admired Rauf, and ultimately, one of the beneficiaries of Rauf’s large-heartedness, I must admit that he is a rare-bred iconoclast and a mentor to the younger generation. Yes, naysayers have issues with him, but it is a statement of fact that Rauf can never share the glory with God whose work must not be questioned, at the risk of fallacy of question begging.
Congratulations The Man of the People!
Butikakuro is a journalist of international repute.