EDITORIAL: Osun Setting The Pace In Education

For several years to come the tangible achievements of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration in the state of Osun especially in education sector will continue to be appreciated by those who value education as the bedrock of growth and development in any society.

The massive investment in education by Ogbeni’s administration tells much about Osun’s helmsman’s belief in education as an incontrovertible and veritable means of transforming the society. For nothing surpasses human capital development in development indices. For any leadership to build a greater future for the incoming generations it must invest massively in education. Thus for the discerning minds this realisation most surely informs the passionate commitment of Mr. Governor of the state of Osun to educational advancement in his state.

Hate him or like him, no reasonable and objective mind will turn a blind eye to the tangible achievements of Ogbeni Aregbesola in the educational sector in Osun. The investment in educational infrastructure is quite noticeable; making many to marvel at such level of achievement in a state with meagre resources. Of course only a prudent manager of resources can achieve this in a state like this. Also highly commendable is the ‘O MEAL’ (free feeding) programme in the state which has also now become a federal policy. That the federal government thought it right to adopt this policy testifies much to the pace setting status of Osun in educational advancement in the country.

What’s more? Much as we cannot name all here, the free uniform to pupils is also worthy of mention. So also is the ‘Opon Imo’ (tablet of knowledge) designed and distributed free for senior secondary school students in the state so as to make them perform well in WASSCE, a programme that UNICEF also recently signified intention to copy. All this and other fantastic education promoting programmes have earned Aregbesola accolades both locally and internationally especially the state of the earth school structures. Most recent of such came from the current Minister of Health in the country, Professor Isaac Adewole who did an inspection tour of both the ongoing and completed school projects in the state of Osun recently.

In the Minister’s words; “I am very happy to see this edifices in my state and as a matter of fact, Osun has proven to be a pacesetter in educational infrastructure. This state is aggressively building extraordinary and memorable legacies in the educational system. This is a deliberate investment targeted at taking people out of poverty. As a an educationalist, I have traveled far and wide, but there’s no other place in Nigeria where public schools are constructed as being done in Osun. It’s my hope that with this innovative ideology and modernity put together to aid education system, Osun is sure of greater future…..” The minister had said this amongst others in expressing his surprise and delight at the pace of work going on in Osun in the education sector.

The above coming from the Minister and with the emulation at higher levels some of Aregbesola’s educational policies there is no disputing the fact that Osun under the leadership of Ogbeni Aregbesola has become a pace-setter as fas as policies and programmes that of lasting legacies are concerned. We can only wish him complete success!

Education: Aregbesola As An Exemplar, By Mohammed Haruna

Last Thursday, September 1, all roads led to Osogbo, the Osun State capital. The occasion was part of the state’s celebration of the Silver Anniversary of its creation by military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, on August 27, 1991, along with 11 other states, namely, Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Taraba and Yobe. The significance of Osun State’s celebration lied, in part, in the fact that it was the only one President Muhammadu Buhari participated in.

The president’s participation was by way of visiting a couple of the state’s newly built primary and secondary schools before finally commissioning the Osogbo Government High School. The school must be one of the largest, most beautiful and most well equipped secondary schools in the country.

Actually the school, as the state’s governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, explained in his welcoming address, is three-in-one, each with a student population of 1,000, its own principal and staff but with an overall supervising principal and sharing academic and sports facilities.

The High School may be top of the line but it is only one of a dozen or so high schools that Governor Aregbesola has built or rebuilt as part of his comprehensive restructuring – today’s buzz word for every politician seeking relevance! – of primary and secondary school education in the state to give its students the quality education they need to transform their state from Third World status to First in one generation. (It reminds you, doesn’t it, of the famous title of the autobiography of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s late prime minister, who lifted his country from Third World to First in one generation).

When Aregbesola first became the state’s governor in November 2010, he inherited a public school system typical of public state system all over Nigeria – dilapidated, over populated, under staffed, under equipped, and badly managed schools. As a man who apparently believed the key to human progress is education, the governor resolved to end the rot.

As the man himself told it in his welcome speech on Thursday, the first step he took in ending the rot was to convene an education summit for the state chaired by no less an icon of the virtue of knowledge than Wole Soyinka, black Africa’s first Literature Nobel Laureate.

Out of the summit emerged four elements for the transformation of the state’s public schools: their feeding and health programme, reclassification of the schools into elementary, middle and high schools, infrastructural development and the provision of what Americans call edtech (the use of technology to drive education) but which the state called Opon-Imo (Yoruba for tablet of knowledge) for all students.

The building of the high school President Buhari commissioned last Thursday fell into the third category in which so far the Aregbesola administration has constructed or reconstructed 28 elementary schools, 22 middle schools and four high schools, with another 14 virtually completed.

Aregbesola was, of course, not the first to convene an educational summit. Long before him, the Northern Governors’ Forum did so in Kaduna. Individually the governors also made the right noises about ending their region’s notorious educational backwardness. To date their actions have not matched their noises. Instead, the region has dropped even further behind than it was during the First Republic.

Educationally backward as the North was back then, its leaders, with its premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, in the forefront, walked their talk about bridging the gap between the region and the rest of the country. Meaning, they invested heavily in primary and secondary schools so that the region could produce quality materials qualified for admission into any tertiary institution any where in the world.

With all due humility, I can boast that I am one of those materials. I and my cousin, retired Major-General Mohammed Garba, and a childhood friend, Professor Mustapha Zubairu of Federal University of Technology, Minna, attended Native Authority primary schools in Kano, first in Tudun Wada for the first four years from 1957 and finished in Kuka Primary School after another four, having had to repeat my final year because I failed to gain entrance into a secondary school in my third year in 1963.

Kuka was located between Sabon Gari where we lived and Fagge. It was a walking distance from our home on Niger Road. All around us were Igbo and Yoruba most of whose children attended private and mission schools. In the evenings of weekdays all of us attended private lessons to improve on our chances of doing well in school. I remember we used to beat the children who went to private and mission schools in the evening classes, especially in English.

I am always amused each time people talk about the magic Chief Obafemi Awolowo performed with free education in Western Region. Of course, it was a great achievement which showed Awo’s foresight. Even then I am always amused because while the great premier of the West gave free education, in the North we were paid to go to school and we did so in hundreds of thousands, if not in millions.

The problem, I think, was that the next generation of the region’s politicians chose to pay only lip service to investment in education, especially primary and secondary education, without which invariably we could only send garbage into our tertiary schools. And as they say of computers: garbage in, garbage out.

I know this for sure because of the experience I had teaching in my alma mater, Ahmadu Bello University’s Mass Communication Department for six years until I left two years ago. During the last three of those six years, I made it a habit to test the English Language of all my students, both under- and post-graduates, at the beginning of each semester.

The test was a simple one of correcting ten sentences with errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation. The average failure rate for all the students was a dismal 70%! The highest score was 8 and you could count those on your fingertips.

The conclusion is obvious; our universities have generally been taking in barely literate materials because our primary and secondary schools have suffered criminal neglect.

In giving primary and secondary education top priority to the extent of even borrowing to reform Osun State’s public education system, Aregbesola has demonstrated that he has his heart and mind in the right place. As a mutual friend, Chief Ikechi Emenike, who also witnessed Buhari’s commissioning of the Osogbo Government High School said, the governor’s educational intervention “reflected an abiding love for his people and a deep appreciation of history and his legacy.”

President Buhari summed it even better when he said in his speech the governor was only keeping the promise of the ruling party to provide free and qualitative basic education by implementing the Basic Education Act.

“What we are witnessing here today,” he said, “is the formal fulfillment of that promise in Osun by the state government. The cost effectiveness of this project can only be seen when we consider that this school will graduate an average one thousand pupils in a year and in fifty years it would have produced fifty thousand well-trained and well equipped pupils many of whom will go to higher education and will form the backbone of the administration of our country.

Over six years ago, an award-winning columnist of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, wrote an article which underscored the importance of quality basic education and which I have had cause to refer to on these pages and elsewhere. He titled it “ Pass the Books. Hold the Oil.”

It was published in the Times of March 10, 2012. Every politician concerned abou the dismal state of our education at all levels should read that short – roughly 1,070 words – article. In it Friedman narrated how a study by rich-country club, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.), established a negative linkage between natural resource dependent countries and knowledge.

The club looked at the bi-annual test of 15-year olds in Mathematics, Science and reading comprehension in 65 countries and the total earnings of each of them as a percentage of its Gross Domestic Product. The test was called PISA, Program for International Student Assessment.

The study, Friedman said, showed that the bigger a country’s revenue from natural resources as a percentage of its GDP, the poorer the knowledge and skills of its pupils. For example participating Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Bahrain, Iran and Syria that were natural resource rich performed poorly compared to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, also in the Middle East, which were natural resource poor. So, Friedman concluded, “Oil and PISA don’t mix.”

As always there were exceptions to his thesis. Canada, Australia and Norway, also countries with high levels of natural resources, he pointed out, still scored well on PISA, in large part because all three countries had established deliberate policies of saving and investing these resource rents, and not just consuming them.

The three countries provide great lessons for us as a natural resource dependent country by showing that oil and PISA can indeed mix.

As a country we may have so far blown away our oil fortune but clearly Aregbesola has shown as governor of one of the poorest states in the country that you don’t have to be rich to plan for the future of your children.

Buhari Restates Commitment To Revitalize Education Sector, Commends Aregbesola For Setting Pace

…As he Commissions Osogbo Govt High School

By Waheed Adekunle, Osogbo

The President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, has reiterated his administration’s commitment towards ensuring that the moribund state of country’s education sector is resuscitated.

President Buhari who said his government was on a rescue mission to make Nigeria a prosperous, thereby commended the Osun state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for treading the path towards enhancing the socioeconomic and political lives of the citizenry through the provision of functional education.

President Buhari stated this on Thursday in Osogbo, Osun state capital, during a-day presidential visit to the state for the official commissioning of the Osogbo Government High School, Osogbo.

Expressing his determination towards making education affordable for all, Buhari said the present administration was highly determined at bringing back the lost glory of education sector, saying that was why 10 percent of the national budget was voted to revive the rot in the education system in the country.

The President who noted that the All Progressive Congress, APC led government has been unrelently given priority to education said “efforts are in place to make Osun and other states of the federation achieve their various desires and goals in education sector”.

He described the newly commissioned high school as an “educational monument” and a “legacy project”, capable of creating unquantifiable future for the present and incoming generation.

He commended Aregbesola for abiding by the APC’s manifestos on education policy just as he urged other governors to emulate the Osun governor.

“What we are witnessing here is a display of patriotism to the party’s manifesto by the governor. There should be a substantial commitment of energy and dedication to education by government at all levels,” he added.

The president subsequently appealed to Nigerians to persevere with the current challenges experienced in the country.

He said, “Change is never achieved by bed of roses but through patience and perseverance. We are dedicated to restore integrity into the country, improve the condition of people and make the country a prosperous one.”

President Buhari who commended the people of the state for their continued support, said the people in the state have always been the pillar to his political pursue.

Buhari said the purpose of state creation is to bring the leaders of government closer to the people for clear development, to promote patriotic tendencies and as well engender self-sufficiency, stressing that, “Osun government has demonstrated what good governance stands for”.

While delivering his speech titled, ‘For a bright today and a glorious future’ Osun Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said that President Buhari has not disappointed Nigerians with his performance.

Aregbesola who commended Buhari for his transparent leadership, said, “he has not disappointed us. He has faced his task with courage and doggedness. No doubt, he is facing some challenges part of which is the fall in revenue that has put about 28 states under severe financial crisis”.

“He continues with a rare sense of doggedness and faith in God as he faces the turbulent situations. We are satisfied with the way he manages the affairs of the state (country) and leads us. The challenges we are facing are as a result of the previous party’s (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP) rape of our resources.

Stating that the President was accountable, Aregbesola said, “When we were coming, the president asked me how we got the resources to do all these. I looked at him carefully and replied ‘God’ and ‘you’.”

Aregbesola, who estimated the cost of the project as N1.35bn, said the elementary school has standard facilities.

Among the facilities, he said, the school possessed is classrooms, offices, laboratories, toilets, library, bookshop, sick bay, and multi-purpose hall which can accommodate 1000 students for examinations.

He said, “It is part of our party manifesto to provide basic education and you can see that in the way All Progressives Congress governed states pay so much attention and commitment to education.

“When we came in here at Osun, we first held an education submit headed by Prof. Wole Soyinka. Now, we have built 14 elementary schools, 15 middle schools and 11 high schools.”
Minister of Communications, Shittu Adebayo, commended the state of education infrastructure in Osun State.

He noted that such standard infrastructure existed in few place around the world.

He said, “I must commend the infrastructure I met here. I don’t this exist in many places of the world that I have visited. I am proud that someone is replicating the legacies of Obafemi Awolowo, especially his legacies of quality education.

“There is no child that will come here and won’t feel very much at home. I recommend this for other governors to emulate.”

A former governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said the president’s visit would serve as a challenge to the state government to intensify efforts in improving education level.

Describing the visit and reception of the president as overwhelming, he said, “The implication of this visit is that it is an assessment on the state of education and it is a charge to do more.”

He, however, urged users of the infrastructure on adequate maintenance.

He said, “This edifice is not for today alone. It will also serve future purposes. We must improve on our maintenance culture. We will monitor and ensure discipline in the maintenance of public infrastructures.

“I will implore that special funds should be set aside for the maintenance of public infrastructures.”

During the visit, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the newly built Osogbo Government High School, Osogbo, which has 3,000 students capacity.

The visit and commissioning of the school was part of the activities to mark Osun State 25th year’s anniversary.

The visit held amidst tight security and presence of dignitaries such as the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, Borno State Governor, Ibrahim Shetima, senators, members federal House of Assembly, Lagos and Osun Houses of Assembly speakers, among other dignitaries from Osun, Lagos, Oyo and Borno states.

President Buhari Commissions Osogbo Government High School (Photos)

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, commissioned the newly constructed Osogbo Government High School in the capital of Osun State, when he visited the state. President Buhari was accompanied by the governors of Oyo, Lagos, and Borno, and hosted by Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. See pictures below;

Commissioning of Osogbo Govt High Sch-1
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari (Middle); Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (3rd left); his wife, Sherifat (2nd left); Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode (2nd right); Governor of Borno State, Kashimah Shettima (right) and Osun deputy Governor, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, during the commissioning of Osogbo Government High School by President Buhari, at the State capital on Thursday 01-09-2016
Commissioning of Osogbo Govt High Sch-1b
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari (Middle); Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (3rd left); his wife, Sherifat (2nd left); Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode (2nd right); Governor of Borno State, Kashimah Shettima (right) and Osun deputy Governor, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, during the commissioning of Osogbo Government High School by President Buhari, at the State capital on Thursday 01-09-2016
Commissioning of Osogbo Govt High Sch-1c
From right, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari; Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; his wife, Sherifat; deputy Governor, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori and Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, during the commissioning of Osogbo Government High School by President Buhari, at the State capital on Thursday 01-09-2016
Commissioning of Osogbo Govt High Sch-2
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari and Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at the just completed Ataoja Government High School, where president Buhari was received, during his official commissioning of Osogbo Government High School, at the State capital on Thursday 01-09-2016
Commissioning of Osogbo Govt High Sch-3
From left, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari; Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; his wife, Sherifat and Senator Olusola Adeyeye, representing Osun Central, during the commissioning of Osogbo Government High School by President Buhari, at the State capital on Thursday 01-09-2016
Commissioning of Osogbo Govt High Sch-4
Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, addressing the gathering, while President Muhammadu Buhari (left) listening immediately after the Commissioning of Osogbo Government High School by President Buhari, at the State Capital on Thursday 01-09-2016
Commissioning of Osogbo Govt High Sch-5
From left, Deputy Governor of Osun, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode; State of Osun Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Minister for Communications and Technology, Barrister Adebayo Shittu; President Muhammadu Buhari; Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Borno State Governor, Kashimah Shettima and others, testing the comfort of the newly installed furniture facilities procured for the students, at the commissioning of the Osogbo Government High School by President Buhari at the State Capital on Thursday 01-09-2016

Osun Set To Receive Buhari

Osun State was agog Wednesday for the reception of President Muhammadu Buhari, who arrives the state Thursday on a one-day working visit.

Preparation to host him was in top gear as the state government cleared the major roads of containers and wooden kiosks.

Owners of cars parked on the roads were ordered to remove them before the arrival of Mr. President and his entourage.

The security agencies, including the Police, the Department of the State Security, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the Federal Road Safety Commission, and other paramilitary agencies were yesterday preparing their officers and men for the visit.

President Buhari is expected to commission some enviable projects of the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration, including the construction of an ultra-modern construction of the Osogbo High School.

Meanwhile the state government has urged the people of the state to demonstrate the Omoluabi (virtuous) ethos they have been known for.

In a statement yesterday the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy in the Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, said that the President will during the visit, commission the newly built 3,000 students capacity Osogbo Government High School, Osogbo.

According to the statement, President Buhari’s visit to Osun will be a testimony to the landmark achievements in the almost six years of Governor Rauf Aregbesola as well as the good working relationship between Osun and the Federal Government.

‎The statement read in part: “From our own corner of this great country, we are poised to set examples on how to solve many of the national social economic and political complications confronting us. The magnificent Osogbo Government High School President Muhammadu Buhari will be commissioning on Thursday is illustrative of the magnitude of our ideas and interventions in the education sector. We remain unrelenting as we continue our assault on delayed infrastructure in our education sector and all other sectors.

“We urge the good people of the state to maintain the peace that the state is noted for during and after the President’s visit. We ask them to give a rousing welcome to our amiable President.‎ We call on our people particularly the people of Osogbo and its environs, to come out in their great numbers and give our President a befitting welcome during his visit to our state.‎”

Also, a socio-political society, the Oranmiyan Group, has congratulated the state government over the visit, saying the Rauf Aregbesola administration had more than enough projects for commissioning.

Its President, Hon. Niyi Aluko, said the visit would prove that Aregbesola as a prudent manager of resources had done his best at a critical period of economic downturn to deliver his campaign promises.

He, therefore, enjoined Governor Aregbesola not to be deterred by “uncomplimentary comments of some people but to continue to do more for the state.”

Aregbesola Leads Celebration Of Osun At 25 (Photos)

Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola joined the rest of the state, while acknowledging cheers
from the crowd, during the calisthenics display commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Osun with 4,000 children making different formations at the Osogbo City Stadium on Saturday.

Governor Rauf Aregbesola also joined the pupils in calistenics display under the rain, during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the State of Osun, at the Osogbo City Stadium. See pictures below;





Osun @ 25-6

Osun @ 25-7

Aregbesola Launches Job Centre For Youth Employment In Osun

The Governor of Osun has on Tuesday said there will be no going back in his government’s human development policies as he launched the Osun Job Centre.

He said the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme O-YES policy brought great micro-economic impact on the state with N200 million monthly allowance given to the youth under the programme.

The Governor stated these at the commissioning of the Osun Job Centre at the parking lot of the Ayegbaju International Modern Market in Osogbo.

Aregbesola added that his administration is taking job creation to a greater height with the establishment of the job centre where government will not need to employ workers directly but create an environment where finding jobs will become easy for the unemployed and better jobs for the youths.

He pointed out that the centre will provide an interface between applicants and employers by maintaining a database that will be made available to employers who need to recruit, adding that‎ it will also keep record of job vacancies which applicants can consult.

The Governor stressed that before the coming of his administration there was a high and frightening level of youth disorientation‎ which brought about the OYES that engaged 20,000 youths in public works in less than 100 days after inauguration.

According to him, “All the programmes we have implemented and the one of today have been captured in the Green Book which we entitled: “My Path with Osun.

“Today, if you open the book, you will find all we have done and are doing. If anybody had told you that in Osogbo there would be the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, would you have believed it was possible? But is it there now or not?

“If anybody had told you that a road would start from Osogbo and run through to Ila Odo Kwara Boundary in one tenure; would you believe it was possible? But is it there now or not?

“When I said we would employ 20, 000 youths in our hundred days in office, many laughed and called us jokers. Today, has the joke been translated into truth or not?

“If anybody had told you that a second ring road would come into existence in Osogbo would you believe it? But is it there now or not?‎”

The Governor stated that his administration is responsible to all the people in the state and not a section of it.

He revealed that of the 4 million population of Osun, there are 60 thousand civil servants ( retired and working), whose salary and pension are much more than the revenue accruing to the state today.

Aregbesola averred that to pay workers salary alone will amount to neglecting over 3.9 million people of the state.

He said, “If you are to use all the resources of the state to pay salaries life will be hard and unliveable, therefore our government uses its creativity to spread the resources we have to all citizens. By this, we can achieve development.”

In her speech, the Coordinator of Job Centre, Ms. Mobolaji Akande, said Osun is the first state in the federation to establish such centre to help reduce employment crisis the country is battling with.

Mobolaji said the the Job Centre was designed with two purposes of providing comprehensive data base of Osun job seekers and provide a robust system for collating accurate figures of employment and unemployment rates in the state.

According to her, the data collated would help the state government to plan better for economic policies through highlighting areas of skills and skill deficits.

She stated that the Job Centre would provide employment support services such as career counseling for job seekers; employablility skills training; verification of certificates; job fairs to connect individuals to employers of labour and seminars to be given by experts from all fields of the economy.

“With these services, the Centre aims to turn out job seekers that are well equipped to make better choices be it in their educational training or their future careers and in so doing, set more realistic goals for themselves.

“This will enable the state government to better plan it’s economic policies by highlighting areas of skills or skills deficits possessed by its human resources.

“The Osun Job Centre is a State Government-funded programme and its services are provided at no cost to the users of its facilities. It will serve as an intermediary between job seekers and employers, with the goal of matching the company’s needs and requirements with a job seeker’s skills, experiences and interests.

“The Centre does not create neither does it find jobs for users of its facilities.

“What it does is complement other youth empowerment programmes that this administration has put in place,” Akande said.

In his remarks, the Controller of Labour, Osun State Chapter, Mr. Bode Abikoye, said unemployment and poverty among youths combined as the single biggest bane affecting the nation’s economy.

Abikoye also mentioned undue market forces as one of the worst causes of unemployment in the country.

He commended Aregbesola for his vision by providing the job centre to curb the increasing wave of unemployment ravaging the land.

He said that “Unemployment and poverty among Nigerian youths have been the single biggest bane of economic development in the country.

“Enthronement of undue market forces also caused unemployment particularly starting from the later eighties during the military regimes.

“The establishment of the Job Centre demonstrates the vision of Governor Aregbesola. This Centre will no doubt help in combating unemployment in the state”, he added.

Against All Odds, Osun Is Growing Strong, By Erasmus Ikhide

I CHANCED upon some disappointed folks last month in Ghana who thought the Governor of State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had depressed their optimism for a rebranded Nigeria. They were all in agreement that after the poor management of the country for 16 years by the previous PDP administration, Ogbeni ought to have spared the people of Osun the hardship by paying the state work force promptly.

They went further to re-echo the Islamisation allegation that has long been addressed by Governor Aregbesola that no such plans ever crossed his mind. They accused the governor of taking Sukuk loan, the Islamic bond that the state obtained for the development of educational infrastructure. They pointed to the Christian Association of Nigeria’s concern that it was part of the islamisation agenda of the governor for the state.

The inquisition was rhetoric given the admission that banditry which took the place of governance led to the collapse of the nation’s economy and gave rise to wasted opportunities and aborted chances.

I had no doubt in my mind that the seemingly progressive gathering at the conference had some basic negative impression about the state of affairs in Osun but refused to make little grain of effort to juxtapose the present state of the State from what it used to be. Second, I was miffed that Comrade Peter Okechukwu from a state in South-South Nigeria did not know that his own state is among the 27 states battling wage payment problem. Worst still, I was literally eviscerated that he did not address his mind to the fact that the former Minister of Finance and Supervising Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (from Delta State) told Nigerians in 2014 that the Federal Government has been borrowing money to pay Federal workers, even after claiming that Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa.

The Sukuk bond in question was approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the financial market. Even the former British Prime Minister declared that his government was set to obtain the Islamic loan. The Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan also indicated its willingness to use the interest-free Islamic loan to finance transport projects in Nigeria. What the opposition thought they could use to rubbish the administration of Aregbesola ended up making him a pacesetter in financial management.

A check at the Debt Management Office, DMO, Abuja revealed that Delta State which has been perpetually governed in the last 17 years by the PDP is the most indebted state in Nigeria, with a total of N320 billion. Delta has been battling payment of wages unsuccessfully, having owed pensioners 15 months backlog of unpaid salaries! That Osun and Ogbeni have been singled out for hash criticism, even by persons whose states and political actors are criminally responsible for the national economic malaise, calls to question the real motives of these lazy critics.

From the evidence of developmental stride dotting every corner of the State, it is obvious that Aregbesola has not defaulted on the promises made to his people to use the limited resources to enhance the plight of the mass majority. The six integral action plans of the government remained the compass that guides the working and actions of the government in its core mission to battle poverty, banish hunger, unemployment, restore healthy living, promote functional education, and enhance communal peace and progress.

Ogbeni followed through to his promise. In the beginning of his administration, he employed 20,000 youths under the Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme – OYES. This singular act of compassionate governance was the first of its kind in Nigeria; more so at a time state governors across the country were laying off their workforce.

The OYES scheme has since received the approvals of the World Bank which in turn sold the good idea to the Federal Government and supported the scheme financially. The Federal Government kick-started the scheme under the name YESSO. Ogbeni, unlike the prophet, is being honoured and respected at home. But a section of the media sponsored by the same forces that brought the nation to its knees have been striving unsuccessfully to disparage his administration, lampooning his job creation efforts; school recreation initiative and the re-engineering of the state being celebrated nationally and globally.

Aregbesola’s government in the last six years has also mobilised youths into farming via O’REAP. Many have been trained within and outside Nigeria to embrace modern farming techniques. Vast hectares of virgin land is being cultivated for large scale farming; loan schemes and farming equipment as well as fertilizers are regularly being provided to boost farming in the state. Little wonder that Osun has becomes the food basket of the South West.

This effort has made Osun to be voted as second best in poverty index in Nigeria. The Federal Office of Statistics has also adjudged it as the best among the states with less percentage of unemployed youths.

The accusation of Islamisation of the state by the Aregbesola’s administration for a long time has been targeted at discrediting his person and government in the eye of the world. His critics know that nothing is remotely close to it. A few weeks ago the Pope’s envoy on a visit to the governor in the State described Aregbesola as a “Great pillar of supporter of the church”.

The Catholic Church described Governor Aregbesola’s government as one without ill-feeling against any sect or religion. It has always been the belief of Governor Aregbesola that religion is an instrument of developing capacity for love, instrument for refinement and testing the human will to resist provocations.

Similar sentiment has been consistently expressed by powerful Christians leaders, including Bishop David Oyedepo, debunking claims of religious bias and Islamization. In 2014 at the height of the cries of religious manipulations by the administration of Aregbesola, Bishop Oyedepo was one of the voices who establishes the governor’s innocence.

Appraising the governor’s innumerable strides and achievements the General Overseer of the Living Faith Church a.k.a. Winners’ Chapel, on July 9th, 2014, said the infrastructural renewal, particularly the education revolution in Osun deserves global applause. Bishop Oyedepo gave his assessment in Osogbo, Southwest Nigeria, when he paid a courtesy call on the Governor of the State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The cleric noted that any governance that is producing results and affecting the lives of vast majority of the people must be deeply appreciated, irrespective of religious inclination. The Bishop strongly appealed to stakeholders to always be at the vanguard of peaceful coexistence, noting that there is nothing like living in peace, working in peace and promoting peace.

“There is nothing like peace in the whole world. We should always walk towards whatever will promote peace and peaceful coexistence among our people. Let us work for an atmosphere that encourages peace, which engenders growth and development. This is because life is all about promoting the well-being of the people.

“I deeply appreciate the infrastructural development. Besides, the educational revolution is for us a great achievement. “I can see the massive road construction going on. This is to the benefit of the people. No policy can remove the roads. I am very impressed,” Oyedepo said.

On that occasion Aregbesola come clean as always thus: “My upbringing in Yoruba setting has given no basis for religious antagonism and mutual distrust. “It is impossible in Yoruba milieu not to imbibe the culture of accommodation, tolerance and understanding of the faith of others.

“I guide my faith as much as I fight for the protection of the faith of others. If anyone would accuse me at all, it should be that I have zero tolerance for fundamentalism. “Therefore, my liberal disposition to religion is thus farther from the erroneous impression of being an Islamic extremist,” Aregbesola said.

The issue of Hijab would have been rested by now, if not for want of excuse of failures on the part of PDP, which governed the State for roughly eight years before Ogbeni retrieved his stolen mandate from them. For the records, it was under Governor Olagusoye Oyinlola’s administration, a PDP Governor that the Muslim community went to court and insisted on their wards attending schools in their Islamic wears as part of their school uniform. As we speak, the matter is still being pursued in the court by the Muslim community. Addressing Ogbeni in a borrowed robe to score cheap political points on the bases of religious fanaticism is clearly a crass political opportunism and promotion of falsehoods to a grand art.

Observers of political development in Osun and Nigeria should know that Governor Aregbesola’s administration has no political, religious or tribal preference. It is absolutely impossible for Ogbeni to be a religious fundamentalist owing to his all-faith inclusive background. One cannot but wonders why the governor has been so described by mischievous makers who erroneously tagged his administration as pro-Islamic faith.

Mr Erasmus Ikhide, a social activist, wrote from Lagos

Aregbesola Attacks Ignorant Opposition Members Demanding His Resignation Over Osun’s WAEC Results

Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the state of Osun has attacked critics demanding his resignation for the state’s woeful performance in the last Senior Secondary WAEC examinations results.

The governor’s spokesperson, Semiu Okanlawon, said Wednesday that those calling for Mr. Aregbesola’s resignation were “naive and ignorant of statistics”.

Mr. Okanlawon said the call stemmed from the “usual lack of knowledge of performance charts and attention to details that the opposition elements are notorious for”.

He said records and statistics of students put forward by the government in the past years have shown that there is improvement in percentage of overall results.

“Those who say Osun is declining are not being honest. The following data will show their claims to be totally unfounded. The performance of pupils has not gone down under the watch of Aregbesola.

“In 2007, the state government put forward 36,171 candidates for WAEC examination out of which 2,483 representing 6.86 per cent had credit pass in five subjects, including English and Mathematics.

“In 2008, it was 37,715 candidates with 3,813 pass, representing 10.11 per cent. In 2009 it was 39,676 candidates, with 5,545 pass, representing 13.98 per cent. In 2010 it was 43,216 candidates, with 6,777 pass, representing 15.68 per cent. If you put these four years together, you will get an average of 15.68 per cent.

“Put side by side, when Aregbesola’s administration started sponsoring candidates for WAEC in 2011. That year, it fielded 53,293 candidates, had 11672 pass, representing 21.98 per cent. In 2012, it fielded 51,463 out of which 11,431 passed, representing 22.21 per cent. In 2013, it also fielded 47,013 candidates, recorded 9,301 pass, representing 19.78 per cent.

“In 2014, government sponsored 47,672 candidates, 9,316 of them passed, representing 19.54 per cent. The average performance for Aregbesola’s first four years was 20.88 per cent. Compared with the average performance (13.26 per cent) of the three years that preceded it, the percentage improvement in performance during Aregbesola’s tenure is a huge 57.46 per cent,” Mr. Okanlawon said in a statement.

He said the improvement was result of strategic planning by the administration.

“The first task of his administration was to convene an education summit which was chaired by Prof Wole Soyinka. Since then, all the interventions in the education sector have been the outcome of that summit,” the statement added.
The statement said the Aregbesola administration was constructing 100 elementary schools, 50 middle schools and 20 high schools out which 14 elementary schools, 15 middle schools and 11 high schools have been completed in addition to rehabilitating the existing ones.

We Won’t Stop Until Poverty Is Abolished In Our System – Aregbesola

…says no going back in repositioning the state

By Waheed Adekunle, Osogbo

In spite the adverse effects of the current economic situation in the country, the governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has re-emphasized his administration’s readiness to actualize all its goal-oriented and pro-people policies and programmes.

Aregbesola said there is no going back in repositioning the state as several efforts had been made to rebirth her economy through genuine interventions.

Governor Aregbesola stated this while taking the Minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole round the construction sites of the ongoing school projects in the state.

The Health Minister who hailed from Ijesaland, in the Eastern Senatorial District of the state was reportedly on an unscheduled visit to the governor.

The train of governor Aregbesola’s inspection tour kicked off at Ansarudeen Elementary School, Osogbo, the state capital vis-a-vis Adventist High School, Ede, Osogbo High School, C.A.C Middle School, Osogbo, Ataoja High School, Osogbo, Anthony Udofia Elementary School, Osogbo, Olorunsogo Community High School, Osogbo, among others.

Aregbesola who described quality education as the best legacy that can bequeath on to a child, said no effort would be spared to champion the course of providing quality education.

Governor who recounted some of the achievements made on infrastructures, said his administration has given education a deserved place in economy.

Aregbesola said his intervention in education was to abolish poverty as well as palpable dichotomy between the education of the rich and the poor.

Governor Aregbesola who said there is no reason to be poor as poverty is not hereditary, noted that it is the responsibility of government to provide the basic needs for the people in the society.

He said government was formed to oversee the needs of the masses by providing the necessity, saying his unwavering commitment to physical infrastructures and human capital developments were aimed to prove to the world the essence of good governance.

According to him, the state is working assiduously to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in the acquisition and access to quality and functional education.

“Our administration having identified the decadence in education brought-in policies centred strictly on all round transformation.

Aregbesola who disclosed that some of the ultra-modern schools constructing across the state would be commissioned later this year, however warned those allegedly maligning his policies unjustly to live on the truth as his government had adopted the principles of transparency, openness and prudency in whatever it does.

He therefore reassured the residents of the state of continuous sensitivity towards their plights, saying “no government exists without the people”.

EDITORIAL: Osun Delay In Constituting Cabinet Justfiable

Left to choose between the current frenetic pace of delivery of infrastructure across the board on one hand, and the constitution of a full-blown cabinet and with it the symbols and paraphernalia of governance on the other, we have no doubt about the choice that the good people of Osun would make at this time of dwindling finances.

With the evidence of fruits of governance abounding in the renewed drive to complete on-going road projects, the massive transformation in the learning environment unprecedented in the annals of the state and, the steady but assured re-engineering of state finances all of which signposts the state’s march to prosperity, they are able to appreciate the truth of the saying that truly, the hood does not necessarily a monk make!

To some, the feats do not matter perhaps because the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has, in their opinion, neglected to constitute a cabinet nearly two years after. Fair? Not when one looks at the bigger picture. By this we refer to the national economy that has remained unresponsive in the face of rising expectations; an economy that has in fact shrunk to levels that would ordinarily be regarded as unimaginable two years ago. Even at that, the most virulent of Aregbesola’s critics would readily admit that the man neither wavered nor failed to post superlative performances where it matters most.

Of course, we would be the first to admit that the achievements being logged by the governor and the composition of the cabinet are not mutually exclusive. But then, the governor has never said that he was averse to naming a cabinet. If anything, the evidence from his first term points to the contrary. The issue is whether – considering the dire financial situation in which it has found itself – the state could afford to shoulder the burden of paying the legion of commissioners and advisers, particularly at this time.

By the governor’s account, some N100 million would be required to pay the salaries and emoluments of the appointees monthly were they to be named today. As one who wears the shoes, we have no basis to fault his computation. However, if anyone imagines that the burden would ordinarily not be too heavy to bear for a state like Osun, consider also that the state currently chafes under the crushing weight of salaries to civil servants and pensioners. Consider also that the governor – and these are verifiable – himself and the state lawmakers have themselves not been receiving salaries since last year owing to none other reason but paucity of funds. If it seems understandable that elected officials could be called to make the sacrifice, what would be the point in bringing on appointees whose wages the state cannot afford?

Why would any leader – particularly one that has demonstrated uncommon prudence like Ogbeni Aregbesola – be required to add to the burden that the state is called to bear at these difficult times just to satisfy political expediency?
These are certainly not the best of times for the states. With 27 out of the 36 states currently in arrears of wages to their workers – some by several months – what the situation requires is a delicate balance between current demands and the development aspirations of the state. This is obviously where the governor stands out from the pack.

We must say that State of Osun is lucky to have in charge, a leader who has long resolved not to tread the populist path; or is willing to trade off the future for current exigencies. Surely, the cabinet will come – but then only when the state is in a position to pay.