Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, may announce members of his cabinet this week, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
It was gathered that 15 names have been pencilled to head some of the 20 ministries in the state. The state Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, will head the education ministry.
Adebule, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in Islamic Studies (1992), also has a Master of Education degree in Curriculum Studies (1997), both from the Lagos State University.
Ambode, soon after his inauguration on May 29, had announced Mr. Tunji Bello as Secretary to the State Government; Mr. Samuel Ojo as the Chief of Staff; Mr. Abiodun Bamgboye as his Principal Private Secretary; and Mr. Habib Aruna as his Chief Press Secretary.
A source close to Ambode, informed SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity that barring last minute changes, a former representative of Ikorodu Constituency II at the state House of Assembly between 2011 and 2015, Mrs. Modupe Akinsola, may step in as Commissioner for Tourism.
Also, erstwhile Special Adviser on Central Business District to former Governor Babatunde Fashola, Folarin Coker, has been purportedly named to serve as Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development.
Similarly, another former Special Adviser (Rural Development) to Fashola, Paul Kalejaiye, is said to have been named as the incoming Commissioner for Agriculture. Kalejaiye, a two-time House of Representatives aspirant, was a prominent member of Ambode’s campaign team.
In the same vein, Mrs. Lola Akande, is said to have been named as the would-be Commissioner of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
Akande, who gave up her ambition for House of Representatives membership, served as Deputy Majority Leader in the Lagos House of Assembly, where she represented Ikeja Constituency II from 2007 to 2015.
The Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, Dr. Dayo Mobereola, is believed to be the incoming Commissioner for Transportation.
The source also revealed that a former Senior Special Assistant to Fashola, Mr. Mohammed Kabiru, would be among the new commissioners.
Others said to be on the appointees’ list include two-time Special Adviser to Fashola on Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Ganiyu John (Ministry of Works and Infrastructure); former Senior Special Assistant to Fashola on Public Affairs, Mr. Idowu Ajanaku (Ministry of Information and Strategy); former aide-de-camp to APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Gbolahan Lawal (Ministry of Environment); and a former Special Adviser to Fashola on Political and Legislative Powers from 2007 to 2011, Mr. Abdullateef Abdulkareem (Ministry of Home Affairs).
The Chairman of Bariga Local Council Development Area, Mr. Sulaimon Oriyomi, also known as Oris, was also said to have been named as the Commissioner of Local Government and Community Affairs.
It was further learnt that a member of Ambode’s governorship transition committee, Prof. Ademola Abass, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees at King’s College, London, would head the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment.
Others said to have been considered to head ministries include a former representative of Amuwo-Odofin Constituency II (2011-2015), Ms. Ramotallahi Akinola-Hassan; erstwhile Deputy Director-General of Ambode’s campaign organisation, Mr. Kazeem Adeniyi; and a former Special Adviser to Fashola on Parastatals Monitoring, Mr. Adekunle Salvador.
The nation may have spent about N12, 967, 600,000 in two months to maintain National Assembly members, who were inaugurated on June 9, it has been learnt.
The 109 senators got N36.4 million each; the 360 members of the House of Representatives received N25 million each.
The Senators and the representatives were first paid N10milion each in June to ‘cushion’ the difficulty of settling down in Abuja.
The amount, which was to cover their expenses on housing, transport and furniture, cost the public about N4.6billion.
Last month under a pro-rata arrangement for quarterly allowance covering June, Senators got N13. 4 million each and representatives, N7million each.
Since their inauguration, the legislators have gone on recess three times. Before going on break last Thursday, Senators got N13 million each and representatives, N8 million. They have yet to pass a bill since they began sitting in June.
Their inauguration was followed by the controversial emergence of Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy President.
Yakubu Dogara and Lasun Yusuf were also picked as House Speaker and Deputy Speaker against the wish of their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Last Wednesday, senators disagreed on the recommendation by the Finance Committee to cut their salary and allowances.
The James Manager-led committee had recommended a 30 percent cut which, if accepted,would have saved tax payers about N2billion yearly .
This translates to N2 million reduction from the N51 million quarterly allowances enjoyed under the 7th Senate or about N874 million saved from each year’s four quarterly allowances alone.
Besides, the representatives’ reduction of their quarterly allowances from N39million to N33 million will save the nation about N2. 1 billion, made up of N6million reduction in each member’s allowances over four quarters.
Some Nigerians have criticised the Senators for rejecting the pay cut proposal even after President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have resolved to slash their salary by 50 per cent.
YEAR 2011 – 2014
HOUSE OF REPS N39million
HOUSE OF REPS N33million
After a two-hour closed door meeting on Wednesday, Senate President Bukola Saraki announced that the Manager committee’s report aimed at reducing salary and allowances, would be stood down. The report, he added, would debated on later date.
Following public criticism over the yearly N150billion budget being enjoyed by the National Assembly over the past few years, members decided to reduce their 2015 budget by N30 billion, to N120billion.
The Nation learnt that many Senators and representatives have signed documents that could make them vulnerable to inquiry by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption bodies.
According to sources, just like their predecessors, the lawmakers had circulated a template used to ‘account’ for their multi-million Naira allowances.
The template only requires the gathering of receipts to render an account of expenditure and it is basically given as follows:
Transparency: citizens have right to know,CICLAC claims
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) hold the view that Nigerians have a right to know how legislators are spending tax payers’ money.
Speaking with The Nation, CISLAC’s Executive Director, Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa asserted that his organisation and other civil society organisations had long been urging the National Assembly to bring in more transparency into its affairs.
His words: “At CISLAC, we have done some work on the cost of governance and the need for members of the National Assembly to have a more responsive budget, based on the reality of the economy.
“We also want the National Assembly to open up on its budget so that Nigerians will appreciate what they are really doing because a lot of people do not understand why the National Assembly should be having such kinds of monies while the National Assembly members are not helping matters by clarifying things or enlightening citizens.
“Rather, they sometimes get angry over calls for more transparency in their accounts and this is not the best way to communicate with the public. These are public funds!
“Instead of them to exercise patience and act with understanding so that Nigerians can appreciate the representation they give, they sometimes get angry and try to dismiss people as if it is their personal money.
“I think there is poor communication from the National Assembly and this is not helping them and it is not helping the nation. They need to explain because they are in charge of the nation’s appropriations. If they want others to be transparent and also subject their own budget to National Assembly’s oversight, they must be able to account for what they are doing.
“As it is now, unfortunately the National Assembly is not accountable to anybody; it is supposed to be accountable to the electorate but it is not accountable to anybody. Many of them do not even go their constituencies for constituents to ask questions. Yet sometimes, when people speculate, they just get angry.
“If you don’t want people to speculate, you need to create a platform where you can share information on what you are doing. Your going into public office is not a private thing, especially when public funds are involved.”
The Adamawa Government on Friday announced that it had earmarked N200 million to engage prayer warriors to seek divine intervention toward ending the state’s lingering security challenges.
Alhaji Abdurahman Jimeta, Chief of Staff, Adamawa State, disclosed this in a media chat aired on the Adamawa State Television in Yola.
Jimeta explained that the money was sourced from the state and Local Governments joint account.
“We have earmarked N200 million for prayers to seek for Allah’s intervention in tackling the Boko Haram menace and other insecurity challenges threatening the stability of the state,’’ Jimeta said.
He said that part of that money, which would be spent as security votes, would go into assisting local vigilance teams and security operatives.
On agriculture, he explained that the state government had ordered fertilisers worth over N3 billion for the 2015 farming season.
He called for massive support toward the success of government efforts for a peaceful and stable Adamawa, adding that not much could be achieved in an atmosphere of chaos.
The Senate on Thursday set up a 13-member Ad-Hoc Committee to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the management of funds so far appropriated for the power sector since 1999.
The Committee, headed by Senator Abubakar Kyari, was also given the task of probing the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria by the Federal Government.
The Upper Chamber took the decision while passing a motion sponsored by the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, seeking the immediate reconnection of some parts of Borno State back to the national grid in view of the challenges the blackout was posing to his constituents.
The Senate urged the Federal Government to complete the Mambilla Power Project with the aim of improving electricity supply in the country.
It also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Transmission Company of Nigeria to immediately reconnect Maiduguri to the national grid.
It also directed the committee to conclude its investigations and report to the Senate within two weeks.
The senators, while contributing to the debate, also condemned the inability of the TCN to provide uninterrupted power supply to all parts of the country.
Ndume had expressed concern that Nigeria, with a population of over 150 million, produced only 4,600 megawatts, while South Africa with a population of about 40 million people produced 40,000 megawatts.
He observed that the disconnection of Maiduguri , the Borno State capital, from the national grid, as well as the degeneration of power supply across the country had affected the economy negatively.
Ndume also expressed concern that with an installed power generation potential of about 5,000 megawatts, the output distributed currently was about 1,950 megawatts.
He added that it was disheartening to note that Iran with over 77 million people “generates about 42,000 megawatts, while South Korea with over 49 million people generates about 60,000 megawatts of electricity.”
Ndume, who said that Maiduguri and its environs had been completely disconnected since the emergence of insurgency, complained that the situation had grounded economic activities in the state.
He said, “I buy diesel to run my generator and that costs me N10, 000 per day. No country can be said to be near development when there is no power.
“This Senate needs to investigate this to give the government support. For some years now, a lot of money has been spent but there is nothing to show for it.”
Senator Danjuma Goje in his contribution said that the motion was apt in view of the untold suffering that lack of power supply had caused Nigerians.
Senator Godswill Akpabio lamented that many companies had shut down operation due to irregular power supply in the country.
He lamented that in spite of the financial contribution by some states in the South to improve power supply, Nigerians were still grappling with lack of electricity supply.
He said, “In 2015, we are celebrating 4,000 megawatts, for me this is worrisome. We cannot have employment without power and Nigerians are complaining about the high cost and some localities which have not seen light for months are asked to pay high tariff.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, noted that the inadequate power supply in the country was a cause for concern, saying it had affected the economic growth of the nation.
He observed that the lack of power supply had plunged the country into further hardship, besides corruption.
He said, “We thought that with the Power Reform Act and the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, we will begin to see improvement with regard to power supply; unfortunately, it is not so.
“The Ad Hoc Committee that we set up should look at the activities of the Discos and what is preventing Nigerians from benefitting from the unbundling of the PHCN.”
**Our government is people oriented. We won’t stop school feeding, free education” – Aregbesola
It was a gathering of representatives of every spectrum of the society, including traditional rulers, prominent indigenes, present and past government officials, leaders of formal and informal business unions, market women, students union leaders, opinion leaders, religious leaders, artisans, leaders of state civil service, civil society Organisations, Labour Union Leaders and all other relevant stakeholders in the
They all spoke frantically on issues bothering their minds, relating to governance generally in the state.
Chairman of the conference who was the first Secretary to the State Government and Head of Service, Chief Moses Inaolaji Abowaba said participants at the summit came upon their belief in the seriousness and commitment of the Aregbesola government. “For once we see somebody who is passionate about the development of Osun. We are here without any sentiment but because if anybody has done well we should acknowledge it, he said.
Mr Abowaba noted that governor Aregbesola demonstrated foresightedness by his action plans, through which the state reached curent level of development.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola who declared the conference open recalled that former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola had earlier on broached the idea of a gathering where stakeholders would discuss development in the state. “That is why, when the idea was later suggested by our people from the House of Representatives I advised them to communicate with former governor Oyinlola as an adviser, Governor Aregbesola said.
He urged participants to discuss without any fear of intimidation.
He however cautioned against any fowl discussions. He added that the gathering was “another open forum where everyone should be free to say it as he sees it without any fear of intimidation.”
Summary of the deliberations was captured in a communique which was ratified by the gathering.
– That the infrastructural development of the State of Osun is essential, irrevocable and should go on without compromise within the limit of available funds.
– Government should evolve all possible policies and programmes by which the economy, hence revenue realisable by the State of Osun could grow.
– In the face of dwindling revenue from the federation account, all Osun people must resolve to collectively ensure that there is tremendous improvement in the internally generated revenue.
– All the people and businesses in the State of Osun must patriotically pay their taxes and rates before being compelled to do so.
– Loopholes in the way revenues are collected should be blocked.
– There is an urgent need to review the cost of governance particularly to ascertain accurately the Cost of the various components, salaries, allowances and overheads encompassing recurrent expenditure of the Government of Osun.
– There should be feedback mechanism on government policies and programmes so as to evolve prudence, transparency and accountability in fund management.
– Government should consider diversification of the state economic base. There should be an improvement in the on-going efforts in the area of agriculture, mining and tourism.
– Government should embrace Public Private Partnerships (PPP) where the State has comparative advantage especially in the Areas of Agriculture, Mining and Tourism.
– There should be more efforts at ensuring that government patronises more competent and efficient local contractors so as to create more wealth within the economy of the State of Osun.
– The state Public and civil Servants should cooperate with government with a view to ensuring efficient and effective service delivery.
– In line with the objective to revisit the cost of Governance, Government should follow up with the declared readiness of Labour leaders to allow verification and audit of staff strength in the state with a view to confirm actual number of workers and the salary bill.
– Public servants in the state should be motivated to work efficiently as would be expected of them while reduction in the use of consultants should be exploited.
– Parents through the platform of Parents Teachers Association (PTA) should be made to contribute token to augment the laudable free education policy of the state government.
– Government is commended on its efforts on growing commercial activity within the economy of the state through the micro-financing programme through the provision of soft loans to small and medium enterprises. Government is encouraged to do more in this respect.
– Commended Government for its various youth empowerment programmes.
– The conference commends the Osun Legislators’ Forum for its effort in organising and sponsoring this conference and enjoins them to make it an annual event.
ABUJA — President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, asked the Ministry of Finance to explain why the foreign loans obtained for various key rail projects by the Federal Government were diverted elsehow under the watch of former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The President issued the query on a day he set up a Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption headed by a prominent professor of law and rights activist, Professor Itse Sagay.
President Buhari also dismissed the general notion that Nigeria is a rich country, arguing that indices and parameters of evaluating a rich country such as economic advancement and improved social services are lacking in Nigeria.
The President, who spoke at the end of a presentation by the Ministry of Transport by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Bashar at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said it was disappointing to find out that foreign loans obtained in line with signed agreements were moved from one project to another. According to a statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, his Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, President Buhari was reacting to the specific instance of the diversion of a substantial part of the $1.005 billion loan from the Chinese Exim Bank, obtained for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos with Kano but which was moved elsewhere.
The loans were obtained from China in 2012 under President Goodluck Jonathan, while Dr. Okonjo-Iweala served as Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy.
The Permanent Secretary had informed the President that only $400 million of that loan remained with the Ministry of Finance.
The President then warned: “I hope that due process was followed before such diversions were carried out. Taking money from one project to another has to be done properly.”
The President regretted that government had, over the years, failed to meet its counter-part funding obligation on some projects, leading to such projects being left uncompleted or abandoned.
He added that there was a clear need to streamline, harmonize, and priortize on-going projects in the transportation sector.
The Permanent Secretary also briefed the President on some challenges facing the transport and maritime sectors such as encroachment on railway land, lack of security on inland waterways and some vague agreements between the Nigeria Ports Authority and ports concessionaires.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after meeting the president, the Permanent Secretary said that the President directed that strict adherence should be paid to terms and agreements of various loans.
“Basically, what we did was to present to the President the various programmes, projects and the reform efforts that we have been undertaking in the last couple of years, the stages of the various projects, especially the railway rehabilitation programme and development in our seaports. Also some of the regulatory issues that we sought are due for review and attention.
“The President quite appreciated a lot of what has been achieved so far and he has indicated his willingness to continue with a lot of projects and programmes already on ground. He has expressed his support, especially when we started talking about capacity building for individual operators in the country. He is really appreciative of the entrepreneur initiatives of Nigerians, an indication that government will continue to give its full support.
“There are issues that he thinks we should pay a lot of attention to, especially in the execution of agreements that we have entered into. He emphasized the need to adhere strictly to the terms of agreements and we are going to abide by that.
“Basically, those agreements are relating to the projects we entered into with the construction of railway, standard gauge lines and rehabilitation programmes.
“As you are aware, we have completed the Lagos-Kano and it is operational. Twice a week, people move from Lagos to Kano and back to Lagos. We have also recently commenced operation from Kano to Port Harcourt, and Port Harcourt to Gombe and from Gombe upwards we have some challenges.
“With regards to Abuja-Kaduna, track has been completely laid and we are now waiting for locomotives to arrive, which have been ordered and paid for. Our belief is that we will meet the deadline of December, 2015”, he said.
Sagay heads Advisory Committee
Meanwhile, to demonstrate his seriousness in the war against corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, set up a Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption.
His government has also supported the establishment of an Anti-Corruption and Criminal Justice Reform Fund by three international development partners, namely the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Open Society Foundation with $5 million fund to assist implementation of key components of the Action Plan and the work of the Presidential Advisory Committee.
The advisory committee is to be headed by a professor of law and civil rights activist, Professor Itse Sagay.
Other members of the committee include Femi Odekunle, a Professor of Criminology from Ahmadu Bello University; Dr. Benedicta Daudu, an Associate Professor of International Law, University of Jos; E. Alemika, Professor of Sociology, University of Jos; Sadiq Radda, Professor of Criminology, Bayero University, Kano; Hadiza Bala Usman, a civil society activist and Bolaji Owasanoye of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, who will also serve as Executive Secretary of the Committee.
The Committee’s brief is to advise the administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
It is also expected to develop comprehensive interventions for achieving other recommended reforms.
A statement from presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina added that the “fund will be managed by Trust Africa, an international development civil society organization with programme presence in more than 25 African countries.”
Nigeria not a rich country—Buhari
In a related development, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria is erroneously being regarded as a rich country, stating that indices and parameters of evaluating a rich country such as economic advancement and improved social services are lacking.
He, however, enjoined the elite to be prepared to make sacrifices to rescue the country. The President spoke when he received out-going President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Donald Kaberuka and other officials of the bank.
According to him, the privileged and influential citizens clearly have to do more now than in the past to help the country deal successfully with its economic and security problems.
President Buhari also told Kaberuka that his administration will welcome more support from the AfDB for projects in versatile sectors like agriculture that can easily be explored to create more jobs for unemployed Nigerians.
He said: “With the shock of falling oil prices, lack of revenues, and insecurity, the Nigerian elite must now wake up and provide the right guidance in their communities, and also lead the economy on the right path more than they used to do.
“An impression has been erroneously created that we are a rich country but looking at the economic profile of the country today, you will see that this is not necessarily the case.
“Our social services have to be seriously rehabilitated. We need urgent attention in areas like education and health services, not only in the north-eastern part of the country, but all round the country.
“We will fall back on institutions like the AfDB for support in generating employment. We have vast potentials in the agricultural sector that can be explored to create more jobs.
“We also have small businesses that need funds for expansion.”
The outgoing AfDB President, however, told President Buhari that some development institutions like the World Bank, German Development Bank and the European Development Bank have already indicated their readiness to provide long-term loan facilities to small businesses in Nigeria.
Mr. Kaberuka assured the President that the AfDB will always support economic projects in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina will replace the outgoing AfDB President next month.
The AfDB currently has a strong capital base of 4.8 billion U S dollars.
WHEN I was Acting General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in 2011, we ordered workers’ strikes following disagreements on the implementation of the new Minimum Wage. Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, Executive Governor of the State of Osun asked me for a discussion in Abuja.
The state was on its knees due to the strike and negotiations with the labour leaders had broken down, how can I assist? I advised him to increase the quantum of the funds his government was offering so that the workers can have a better payment table. In return, I offered to ask the state labour leaders to return to the negotiation table. He protested that the wage bill will be too high and that the workers ought to realise that the all-round development schemes he was implementing would reduce their financial burden.
I told him they realise this, but that the workers first priority is their survival and that of their families; that the primary concern of a bird is to eat, before flying to behold the wonders of the world. He looked disappointed, but I told him that unless he takes my advice he would need to break the workers, or they will break him. I told him I had no doubt who will be broken and that he needs to learn from one of his predecessors, the prudent Chief Bisi Akande who could hardly finish his first term as a result of his wars with workers. Aregbesola felt he had the backing of the populace, and I wished him luck. I could see he was genuinely committed to sustainable development in the state. I could also see an idealist as governor.
I can reveal that in the January 2012 General Strike and street protests over fuel price increase, he was one of two governors I know, who stood by the Nigerian people, and even provided us with much needed information. He also stoutly stood against the Jonathan Government declaring a state of emergency in the country to break the strikes. In contrast, almost all other governors including from the opposition parties, queued behind the government of the day.
This year, when the list of twenty three state governments owing workers salary and pension was published, Osun was listed as owing six months. A state like Enugu owed parastatal workers twelve months, and pensioners, five years. Ogun State had not paid pension for fifty two months while Benue State was a basket case. Despite being one of the least debtors in this roll of dishonour, the focus has been on Aregbesola with a serving judge demanding his impeachment. To some, this could be a way of getting back at Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to whom he is closely identified. But I believe it might have to do with his antecedents as an activist, and peoples’ expectations.
This focus, tends to overshadow the social engineering, this mechanical engineer is carrying out. Unlike most governors whose sense of governance is to build some roads or kitchenettes, advertise them and impose huge taxes on the populace, Aregbesola, to use a trite, thinks outside the box. He makes a linkage between policy and the peoples’ interests. He does not just conceive projects, but also possible derivatives from the particular project, and how it is linked with other projects. He is like a town planner who ensures that the various development programmes are well situated for the convenience of the populace, and to enhance further development.
In tackling the mass unemployment monster, he began, in 2013, an ambitious Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES) under which 20,000 unemployed youths were engaged for two years. Tailored after Kwame Nkrumah’s Young Pioneers, beneficiaries were orientated to have loyalty to the people and serve them. Then they were taken through skill acquisition. This became a pool of educated, conscientized, skilled and empowered youths from which the state drew thousands of new recruits into its public service. The second group of 20,000 youths in the 2013-2015 batch, are rounding up their programme.
In introducing free education, his goal was not just literacy, but complete education which included membership of the Omoluabi (virtuous) Boys and Girls Club with emphasis on citizenship and physical training. One major innovation is the provision of one balanced meal a day for all children in school. This ensures their wellbeing and encourages parents to send their children to school. As part of the linkage, the food as much as possible, is locally produced thereby ensuring a linkage with the wellbeing of farmers in the locality of the schools. Also, the uniformed cooks and their assistants are taken from the schools’ locality thereby establishing a bond between community and school.
In integrating basic education with modern information technology along the lines of India’s Kerala State, the government provided pupils with Tablets (Opon Imo)
Also in providing school uniforms for pupils in public schools, the Aregbesola administration insisted the textile contractor must establish a factory in the state and train locals to sew the uniforms. The Government also introduced a Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Scheme and put in place an emergency system with ambulances. To check insecurity, it bought armoured personnel carriers and a surveillance helicopter.
In his zeal to frog-leap an essentially agrarian society into a 21st Century industrial one, Aregbesola forgot his Achilles heel; that like other states, Osun is dependent on monthly allocation from the federation account; so when the allocation dropped from N5 Billion in February 2013, to N540 Million this April, he was like a pilot who had overshot the runway.
Aregbesola tends to be programmatic like Obafemi Awolowo, a populist similar to ‘Penkelemesi’ Adelabu Adegoke, an orator in the mold of Samuel Ladoke Akintola, with a Talakawa spirit like Aminu Kano. But in a polity controlled by APC and PDP where all birds congregate; it is difficult to differentiate doves and pigeons from hawks and vultures.
In a sense, he is an idealist, and the problem with this tribe of people which I belong, is that we do not fully understand our environment. However, while realists perpetuate the status quo, only idealists change society.
Osun State is one of the 24 states currently contending with the challenge of unpaid workers’ wages. Obviously, the state’s workers are currently on an indefinite strike action over the issue. Consequently, things are a bit more complicated for the people and government of the state. Dealing with dwindling revenue, unpaid salaries and labour unrest is certainly not what any progressive and people oriented government prays for. Forlornly, the way things currently stand, this is what the Osun State government has to contend with.
It is, however, rather excruciating that while the Osun State government is making constructive and strategic efforts to ensure that all issues relating to the unpaid salaries debacle are addressed (the government has actually begun the process of offsetting part of the unpaid salaries), there seems to be a politically motivated plot and a groundless campaign of calumny against the state government. From the reprehensible activities of some self styled ‘activists’ and emergency ‘friends’ of Osun, one is tempted to conclude that those that were rejected at the polls by the good people of Osun have suddenly seen an opportunity to hide behind the unpaid salary matter to cause confusion in the state. Like a bolt from the blue, some of them had suddenly found their hitherto silenced voices. And they are not just talking; they are actually singing like a Red-eyed Vireo bird which sings more than 20,000 songs a day.
In their hypocrisy and desperate pursuit of political vendetta, together with their co-travelers in the mischievous contrive to ridicule the State Government, these unprincipled elements have continued to shamelessly trade in blatant and unfounded lies against the state government. Their mission is simple: To distract the state government and confuse the good people of the state. But like it is with all dubious individuals who love to play to the gallery, it is not surprising that these men are attempting to bounce to reckoning on the platform of the current Osun workers’ salary issue. How irresponsible!
What is, perhaps, quite absurd is their proclivity for rumour mongering and peddling of falsehood. How on earth could any reasonable person accuse Ogbeni Aregbesola, whose major selling point is his integrity and sincerity of purpose, of fraud? It needs to be stressed that Ogbeni Aregbesola has run, perhaps, the most prudent and transparent government in the country, thus far. In order to save cost and get the much needed funds, which were subsequently committed into judicious use for common good of the state, the governor, for nearly a year, during his first term in office, did not constitute a cabinet. Through this astute imitative, the government was able to make a few savings that were used in uplifting public education, agriculture, job creation, road construction, culture and tourism, environmental sanitation and beautification, flood control, rural development among others.
What this self pseudo ‘activists’ and unfriendly ‘friends’ of Osun did not tell the public is that what is happening in Osun is not peculiar to the state alone. About 23 other states and, indeed, the federal government, are experiencing same harsh economic reality. For the record, Osun State, which received five billion naira as monthly allocation in February 2013, got a mere N466 million in April, 2015! This aptly captures the dire financial strait of the state and the country as a whole. But these peddlers of falsehood won’t tell their audience this. Since their intent is devilish and naughty, Osun must be singled out for constant persecution and needless ridicule.
Ironically, it was the sixteen years’ reign of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that anti-people’s platform which these defective individuals represent, and in particular the six-year reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan that actually plunged our beloved nation into the present mess. It is common knowledge that Dr. Jonathan ran a truly clueless, visionless and most corrupt government in the history of the country. Under his watch, the nation’s foreign reserve was recklessly depleted. Like never before, corruption became the order of the day during Jonathan’s tenure. When the President of a country affirms on national television that ‘stealing is not corruption’, you don’t need to be a prophet to know that such a country is in trouble. The truth, however, is that our economy is actually in trouble courtesy the Jonathan and PDP years of gross misrule.
It must be stressed that prior to the dawn of this present national economic predicament, Osun State had faithfully discharged its responsibilities to its workers. For a period of not less than 30 months, there was no record of rancorous moment with its workers. Indeed, the state, despite its lean purse is one of the few states in the country that paid its workforce a 13th-month salary every December. The government has equally helped to develop the local economy. For instance, the uniforms of pupils and students in all public schools in the state are sourced and produced locally. This has brought about a perceptible boom in the local fabric and fashion industry in the state. Equally, local contractors have been given a great boost as they handle most of the State Government construction works. Artisans, especially at Osogbo, the capital, would readily attest to the fact that things have never been this rosy for them as a result of the unprecedented
patronage they currently enjoy from the State Government. The free meal programme for primary school pupils also offers local entrepreneurs sufficient opportunities to make ends meet.
It has, therefore, become imperative for Osun State workers to call off their strike, team up with the governor to find a lasting solution to the financial crisis bedeviling the state. Their cause is a justified one, and they deserve their wages, but the strike option would only worsen the parlous financial situation of the state. It is simply a counter-productive alternative. Since the State Government did not hide the facts concerning the finances of the state from them, the rational thing to do is to put faith in the already existing line of communication between them and the State Government.
It is important to stress that the workers are part and parcel of governance in the state and as such are in prime position (especially those that work in the state revenue board) to come up with viable strategies that would help shore up the state’s IGR. The state’s civil servants need to rise up in unison by encouraging every eligible resident of the state to fulfill his civic responsibilities of tax payment to the state. Until this is effectively done, the state workers could not be actually absolved of complicity from the current economic woes of the state.
—Raji is former Special Adviser, Information & Strategy, Lagos State.
Thank God my six hours on the new farm today was successful, I am proud to say I am a Farmer. Livestock and Fish farming is a very tedious one,moreover when you do everything manually. Mechanised farming is the best but Nigeria is a lucky nation where all what you have is natural, devoid of chemical.
As an environmental, human and anti-corruption activist, Farming should be seen as a fundamental way to build a non-oil based economy. Kudos to Prof. Omotoye Olorode who initiates me into farming. Chief Gani Fawehinmi Maize Farm along Akure road in Ondo and Tuns Farms owned by my benefactor, Asiwaju Olatunde Badmus were the two farms where I developed to a true farmer.
As a livestock and fish farmer , I have no regret for being a farmer, it is self independent and self reliance, my two farms today is a testimony that hard work and consistency pays.
My farms has also generates employments to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind, this is what sustained our activism over the year and the reason why I can path way with anybody who infringe on my core principle, a man without principle is like an uncharged phone.
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and President Muhammadu Buhari might have lived at different times but, like identical twins, possess many things in common-dynamism, pragmatism, integrity, self- discipline, vision and passion-to make Nigeria work. The impeccable past of these tested leaders has proved that the bane of the country’s slow development since independence has been lack of purposeful leadership.
Buhari-and-AwoUnlike the reluctant leaders who had been imposed on us, Awolowo and Buhari, both armed with impeccable records of performance, the former as Premier of the old Western Region as well as Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council in the regime of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, and the latter, as a military Head of State, etc, adequately prepared for the leadership of Nigeria. Three times were each unsuccessful- Awolowo in 1959, 1979, 1983 and President Buhari in 2003, 2007 and 20011.
Their paths might have crossed in one form or the other, that may been the unseen hand of God in their lives preparatory to the task ahead that :”You Obafemi Awolowo is my Moses and you Muhammadu Buhari, my Joshua, for the libration of your people from the ‘rats and mosquitoes’ of your country”. Or could it be by sheer coincidence that, for the first time since independence, both the North and the South West are in effective political alliance? The Thomas’s may continue to doubt.
Like the Nostradamus that he was, Awolowo, in a paper delivered in Kano in 1970,had proposed a seven- point agenda which he called national objectives that should be implemented simultaneously in all the states of the federation for the rapid and even development of the country. He explained that the revenue allocation formula should be based on the implementation of the seven objectives and, by so doing, put an end to the “endless search for the appropriate allocation formula”. He was speaking in a paper titled, Revenue Allocation Must be Based on Even Progress and Needs, delivered in his capacity as the Federal Commissioner of Finance, to the annual conference of state commissioners of finance.
As if confirming the link between these great national heroes, Buhari recently implemented item seven of the Awolowo’s seven- point objectives for national development of 45 years ago and, by so doing, been praised for “bailing” out states that could not pay workers salaries. The late sage had said under this item that it was imperative to put the federal government in sufficient funds to enable it not only to perform its allotted functions but also to come readily to the aid of any state in need while arguing: “But perchance any state falls on evil day, it would be the duty of the federal government, acting as an accredited agent of all the states, to come to the aid of such a needy state without delay…
Before leaving this topic , one may ask Buhari’s critics where they were when former President Goodluck Jonathan granted some members of the private sector a bail out. For instance, Arik Airline got 600m dollars, Aero -200m dollars, Air Nigeria-225.8mdollars, Chachangi-55m dollars etc.(AMCON) in addition to an attempt to buy aircrafts for them but for adverse public opinion.
Revisiting the Awo agenda
If one of Awolowo’s seven objectives has been considered well enough for implementation, the remaining six, which may equally be as good, are therefore presented though in abridged form, for consideration by Mr. President. They are-full employment, free education at all levels and free health services for all, modernisation of agriculture and rural development, rapid industrialization of each state and rapid development of system of transportation. Owing to the relevance of Awolowo’s paper to the Nigeria of today, I had, at the formation of the All Progressive Party (APC), dropped a copy of it for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at his office, Freedom House, Victoria Island, for possible incorporation into the APC manifesto.
Discussing full employment, Awolowo called for full exploitation and efficient utilization of minerals resources as well as modernization of agriculture explaining that the country’s capability for phenomenal growth was tremendous and colossal. He warned that anything short of full employment which could only be provided by exploitation of mineral resources and agriculture, would be an admission of failure on the part of Nigerian leaders “ that they are not equal to their admittedly difficult but at the same time inspiring and manageable assignment”.
Whenever we talk of merely reducing employment and not stamping it out he said, “The question which I always ask myself is- who are the unfortunate victims we are planning to keep on the unemployment market?”Like Awolowo, bailing out distressed states could be regarded as Buhari’s demonstration of love for workers too.
On modernization of agriculture, and industrialization, the sage, supporting his argument with characteristic statistics, said to achieve any of the ambitious projection, the country’s agriculture must be modernized and mechanized in a bold and massive manner. “We shall need to invest heavily in tractors, mechanical ploughs and riggers, fertilizers, pest control, irrigation, research into high yielding grains and cattle ranches, fishing trawlers, etc”. Awolowo, however, cautioned that none of the states could alone afford the level of investment involved without the intervention of the federal government acting in concert simultaneously with all the states.
As for industrialisation, he argued, that a properly developed agriculture in every state would lead to development of agro- allied industries automatically as well as manufacturing industries and consequently, disappearance of uneven location of industries. He however warned that between agriculture and industries, the choice should be agriculture to eradicate unemployment explaining that while industries if properly managed could provide employment for 220,000 workers in the next 12 years, agriculture would provide employment for six million within five years. Seeing 2015 way back in 1970, Chief Awolowo warned that “if it is the ardent and burning desire of those of us in the vanguard of public life to serve our age and the next generation faithfully, our area of concentration must ipso facto be agriculture.”
But how could uneducated and unhealthy population be productive? This was the concern of Awolowo as he canvassed as ever, for free education at all levels and free medical services for all, arguing: “Man is the alpha and omega of production and therefore indispensable to rapid economic progress, political stability and social harmony. The more educated and healthy he becomes the more productive he becomes as an economic agent and more effective as a member of the society”. He dismissed the fear that money would be the problem but adequate manpower and called for immediate planning.
On development of system of transportation, Awolowo said, “While the northern and riverine areas of the country, for social and economic reasons, lag behind in transportation development and should be therefore given a special attention henceforth, the crucial point of convergence for most transportation activities were those adjacent to the ports of Port-Harcourt, Calabar, Sapele, Warri, Escravos, Lagos and Apapa. It follows from this fact that the development of those roads within the areas of the Mid-West, Eastern, Western and Lagos Region which give access to the ports, is of concern to all of the states in the federation.” Predicting the chaotic situations of the roads witnessed today, Awolowo warned: “Any transportation difficulties in these areas are bound to constitute time-wasting bottle-necks of the worst order.”
The question may be asked, of what relevance is the vision of 1970 to 2015? The answer may be found in the reality that Nigeria has not been blessed with a visionary and patriotic leader since the Gowon era of 1970,who could harness the common wealth for the benefit of all her citizens as Chief Awolowo did for his people as the Premier of the Western Region. The metaphysical and psychological relationship between Awolowo and Buhari has shown that for the country to attain its potentials, there is an urgent need for another visionary, competent and honest leader like Awolowo, who Nigerians have found in Buhari, a man who came to power with tons of ‘universally acknowledged’ credibility that was uncommon with his fore runners.
Apparently in tandem with Awolowo, Buhari has already indicated that he would continue from where the sage stopped. Apart from”bailing” out distressed states, the President told the Nigerian community during his four-day visit to the United States: “The All Progressives Congress administration would fulfil its three-pronged campaign manifesto of providing security, turning around the economy with major focus on youth employment and fighting corruption.” He said agriculture and mining would receive priority as a faster job- creating avenues for the teeming unemployed youths.
Those who could not see yet any difference in electricity supply in the past two months may equally not find the correlation between Awolowo’s economic road map and that of Buhari. The sad news however is that if the projection of 1970 is still relevant in2015, it means the past 45 years has been that of the locusts and caterpillars due to bad governance. It is therefore not a surprise that Nigerians have unanimously voted for a statesman they could trust to remake the country. Good-bye Awo, welcome Buhari.
The Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Osun state chapter in its bid to match up with other cocoa growing states in Nigeria, has commenced the distribution of chemicals to boost cocoa production millions of Naira across the state.
The Association, in a release signed by its Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees and Zonal Secretary Oyo/Osun zones, Dr. Bola Otunla and Hon. John Alalade, respectively directed the procurement and the distribution of chemicals to cocoa farmers.
Otunla noted that the gesture was borne out of the association’s support for the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who has been rendering yearly support to cocoa farmers in the state.
He stressed that the Association felt that the time to reciprocate the Governor’s yearly gesture is by coming to the aid of the state by ensuring that the assistance to farmers continue unabated in the face of the financial challenges of the state.
According to him, “It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the state chapter of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria has started the distribution of fungicide and insecticide to cocoa farmers in Osun with effect from the first week of July, 2015.
The initial consignment has come and been distributed and it will continue until the end of the rainy season in 2015.
“This is to ensure that we match up with other cocoa growing states in the South-West, especially our competitor in Ondo state”.
He urged farmers in the state to put in their best in the area of cocoa production, saying all hands must be on deck for the state to realise it’s full potentials in agriculture and specifically in the area of cocoa production in Nigeria.