Intellectual honesty is important, this is why it is important to state that the philanthropist and entrepreneur, Bill Gates in no way attacked the economic policies of the federal government. What he did was to have made a cautionary observation about balanced and sustainable development. This is old hat really, the debate has been ongoing since the 1960 sixties about development models and the critical issue of “growth without development “.
This is also an issue in the State of Osun. The Aregbesola government has incontrovertibly made path-breaking forward gains in constructing the built environment. The physical infrastructures will attract investments which will generate employment, widen the tax base and lead to sustainable development. In the light of the ongoing interpretation of what Bill Gates said, it has to be pointed out that from the onset, Aregbesola has, as it were, rhymed the hardware with the software. The advance thrust in the physical infrastructure has gone hand-in-glove with investments in human capital development.
An often cited example is the free school meals program involving over 200,000 school pupils, which has increased enrolment in the schools, provided nutritional value and upliftment and crucially lifted agricultural production, thereby elevating leaving standards in the rural economy. This is an excellent demonstration of all encompassing sustainable development.
Across the board in the State of Osun, human capital development has matched the development of the physical infrastructure. Access to primary health care for example has widened and so has the structured investments in that and allied sectors. The widely acknowledged social intervention programmes of the state government like the OYES, O’Ambulance, OREAP, O’Clean and Agba Osun among others have been solid investments in human capital development. Like the free school meals programmes, the social intervention thrusts of the Aregbesola government have become the framework for similar federal government intervention programmes, proving yet again that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
We therefore commend the example set in the State of Osun where the Bill Gates question was anticipated and the puzzle readily unravelled.