That local governments in Osun State have been largely idle, since the advent of the Olagunsoye Oyinlola Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in 2003, is no news. What is news but which is hardly surprising, is that these local govern-ments have gone even deeper into the idling bog – no thanks to their illegitimate arrival en route an election that was not.
Since Oyinlola and his desperate PDP handpicked them and, Mugabe-wise, made them run a one-way race against them-selves (since the other parties worth their names boycotted the fraud), they are doomed to Oyinlola doing whatever he likes with them.
Yet, it is our people at the grassroots that suffer. These local governments are unknown to the people. Nobody elected them. It is no surprise therefore that they have no answer to the condemnable greed of the state government, which would rather divert their funds to some wasteful projects, instead of allow money to be spent on developmental programmes.
All through Osun State, the local governments are an endless vista of idleness. Of course, that has always been the tradition.
Hot, fresh and smoking with mischief in 2003, the Oyinlola government conceived the Honeycomb project, the wonder rural road and infrastructure wonder project, in which the state would spend N2.48 billion of local government funds to tar three kilometres of road in each of the 30 local governments and one council development area in Modakeke.
The project has been an unmitigated failure, as admitted to by Governor Oyinlola himself. Money, huge amount of money, has been disbursed. But the returns from the disbursement have been infernal racketeering in the legitimate money of the people, on which a few PDP fat cats feeds even fatter! So, the Oyinlola government has somehow become the axiomatic unscrupulous prophet, who feeds fat directly in contrast to how his congregation grow thin!
This same unconscionable mindset and emotional blackmail has gone into the conception of the controversial, multi-campus Osun State University (Uniosun), to which Governor Oyinlola has suborned local government funds in forceful execution.
Getting local governments to jointly fund the university project, it must be stressed, is not in itself outlandish. In fact, the idea could be noble other things being equal, and with a focused, purposeful, frugal and serious government.
But the big problem is that other things are seldom equal – for the Oyinlola government has proved itself prodigal, wasteful, undisciplined and directionless. So, under the emotional guise of co-funding the university project, the government has cruelly drained the local governments of badly needed funds.
It is an open secret that most of the local governments often groan at the amount of monthly deductions to fund Uniosun. Monthly, Oyinlola deducts N3 million from the allocation of Osun local governments. Yet, these councils seldom see anything on the ground to justify the huge drain of their resources.
This drain, and of course, the general lack of direction among basically unelected local government, has led to mass idleness in local governments in Osun. But that pattern is not about to stop. Perhaps no state in the Nigerian South West needs the local government as springboard of development more than Osun State. There are dusty (and in the rainy season, muddy) roads to tar. There are drains to construct, as a prelude to road construction. There are highly educated but idle youths to absorb. Osun State, you must recall, is not only the most urbanised in Yorubaland and by extension Nigeria, it has the largest concentration of tertiary institutions, the flagship of which is the famous Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
With adequate funding, Osun local governments are positioned to turn these trained but idle youths into gainfully employed gangs for public works like roads, construction of drains and even as agricultural extension officers, each employed according to his or her own skills. If that had been done, the local governments would have started a quiet revolution that would have been second to none, perhaps in the whole country.
But that has not been and is unlikely to be. The roguish Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in Osun State would rather share public funds among its greedy and heartless cronies and pauperise the people so that, come election time, it would have a ready pool of thugs to unleash on our luckless and peaceful people as it did during the last electoral swindle of April 2007.
That is Oyinlola’s masterstroke to constantly under-develop our people, an evil we are resolved to oppose and defeat. But first, our vote must count. That way, we can hold our councils to account and make them work the land.
•This piece, first published in the Wednesday July 23, 2008 Edition is repeated due to popular demand.