Osun At Retreat: Charts New Course For Development

The state of Osun has said it has resolved to come up with new strategies that would help it navigate through the financial challenges while sustaining all its development programs.

According to a communique issued at the end of a three day retreat held in Iloko Ijesa, in Oriade Local Government Area of the state, the government was compelled to review its programs with a view to executing its various development programs within the context of the ongoing economic crisis in the country.

In the communique signed by the Chief-of-Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, participants at the retreat identified the need to reduce the cost of governance, increase internally generated revenues and drive investments to the state as vital to the continued growth of the state.

The document noted that the state is on the verge of ‎unveiling what it called, “a competent and capable cabinet” which is expected to be identified and inaugurated soon.

It said the in-coming executive council of the state would be expected to work in conjunction with dedicated civil servants of the state for implementation of these plans.

The communique said participants at the retreat recognized the urgent need to put in place clear action plans that would put the state on a good footing among its peers in the country despite the biting economic hardship.

Highlighting the current global economic hardship, the communique added that Osun is not alone in the economic difficulties just as participants noted that the dwindling economic fortune will affect all tiers of government, including their business partners.

“Osun has been at the forefront of innovation in governance and it is one of the few states in the country with commendable development statistics. 

“The state has made massive investments in physical and human infrastructure in the last five years. In 2013, Osun had the lowest unemployment rate in the country and the second lowest poverty rate.

“Osun’s Youth Empowerment Model and School Feeding Scheme influenced the World Bank’s YESSO programme and the All Progressives Congress (APC) National School Feeding goal respectively,” the communique pointed out.

It further noted that the commitment of the Rauf Aregbesola administration to delivering on its development initiatives to the people of the state, stating that Osun will institutionalise performance-driven governance‎.

“The role of humans in economic development must not be overlooked, so it is important to leverage on the human resources of the state to generate ideas, establish enterprises and create much-needed goods and services.

“If we can get 40% of the population to be productive and generate surplus value, we will generate enough revenue to be comfortable. The aim of the Repositioning Osun for Prosperity (ROPE) initiative is to achieve increased IGR by employing creative means to widen taxpayers’ base and supporting enforcement action,” it added.

It said that the repositioning of the state will reduce the cost of governance by strengthening the state’s public financial management system and ensure compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

The document said that the new era that Osun is entering will increase investments in the state by attracting investors for short to medium term investments in agriculture, tourism, solid minerals, and strengthening the Public Private Partnership framework.

It also identified performance-based governance with the setting up of appropriate mechanisms and frameworks to track performance in Millennium Development Agencies and government policies as benefit of the new initiatives.

Click to read the full Communiqué from the Osun Retreat here

Contrary To Reports, Osun Has Paid WAEC Fees For 11,394 Students

By Waheed Adekunle, Osogbo

The Permanent Secretary, Osun State Ministry of Education, Mr. Lawrence Oyelade Oyeniran has disclosed that the Government of the state of Osun under the leadership of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, has registered and paid for over 11,000 students seeking to seat for this year’s West African Examination Council, WAEC, West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.

His submission was contrary to report of a section of the media which reported that Osun has placed an embargo on the payment of WAEC fee for the final year students of public Secondary School in the state.

Debunking the allegation while addressing the journalists in Osogbo, Mr. Oyeniran who described Osun education policy as one of the best in the world, said the state has recorded greater achievements in education sector.

He stressed that the education initiatives and policies introduced by the current government in the state has contributed meaningfully to pupils in all the public schools across the state.

Analyzing the selection procedures and criteria adopted by government in picking those students that were paid for, Mr. Oyeniran opined that the step was taken to restore seriousness among the students, saying with the new development, the students would see greater need for them to sit tight for any examination.

Mr. Oyeniran recalled the state under the Ministry of Education had initially conducted prerequisite examination called “Mock exams” for those students in S.S.3 which according to him was aimed at selecting the best to be enrolled to write WAEC free of charge.

According to him, the criteria includes compulsory pass mark in four subjects, of which Mathematics and English were mandatory for all candidates.

He stated further, “As I am talking to you now, the State Government of Osun has paid WAEC fee for 11,394 students across the state.

“The students that benefited from this scheme are those that passed the state pre-WAEC exams known as Mock examinations conducted recently.

“This action was taken because out of the nine subjects that were written by the students, each of them must at least pass four subjects before such a student could be qualified for the government scholarship.

“Any candidate who is able to pass four papers including English and Mathematics, such candidate would be fully registered by government and as a matter of fact they have been registered.

“It is those candidates who were unable to pass English and Mathematics that their parents were asked to pay to register for the WAEC examination.

Mr. Oyeniran stated that the purpose for the exams was to build the needed confidence in the students and ensure government is only spending resources on those students who are ready to learn.

The Permanent Secretary also frowned at what he described as gross indiscipline and violation of law, saying those students that were allegedly caught while destroying government property at the Ile-Ife branch of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation should be legally punished.

“The students involved were misled in their thinking and as a matter of fact, these are the students who wrote the Mock Exams but failed to pass the required four subjects or perform as expected.

“If you look at the neighboring states, many of them are no longer registering their students free of charge for WAEC.

“What the protesting students have done was nothing but a criminal offence and they should be held responsible, prosecuted and properly dealt with for the action”, Mr. Oyeniran stated.

He debunked the rumours making the round that the government motive on the Mock Exams was to serve as discriminatory measures, saying the exams was totally conducted with utmost sincerity, transparency and accountability while the students were selected on merit.

The Permanent Secretary said the current government successfully registered students free of charge in the past five years, adding that, in 2011, over 26,000 students were registered and paid for.

According to him, “in 2012, over 32,000 students were registered. In 2013, over 34,000 students were registered. In 2014, over 36,000 students were registered and last year, over 32,000 students were registered.

He said Osun government has so far expended over N2billion on the payment of West Africa Examination Council, WAEC for Secondary School Students.

Breaking: Kenya’s Abraham Kipton Wins Lagos Marathon

Kenya’s Abraham Kipton today emerged winner of the first ever Lagos Marathon in a race keenly contested by over 20,000 people from Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Uganda, India, Cameroon, Asia and other parts of the world Osun Defender has learnt.

He completed the 42km run which started from the National Stadium in Surulere and terminated at the Eko Atlantic beach in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 12 seconds. The current world record is 2 hours, 3 minutes.

Abraham Kipton Kenya marathon winner Abraham Kipton Kenya marathon winner1

Other big IAAF gold label runners who participated in the race includes Peter Kiptoo Kiplagat, Amos Mitel, Sammy Kipkorir Kibet, Simpson Pkanaan Limareng, Nelson Kirwa Rotich, Kipkemboi Hosea, Philip Kiplagat Biwott Kenya, Isaac Kipkeboi Kosgei, Mehair Fesshaye and Ali Abdosh Muhammed.

Emmanuel Gyan, was the first Nigerian to arrive the finish line, he came in 7th place. Halima Hussein of Ethiopia was the first female to cross the finish line, while Chineme Okpeta emerged the first Nigerian female to cross the finish line.

Third position in the female category went to Ethiopia, Alis Thimbil from Kenya comes in second position.

The Lagos State governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and the minister of sport Mr. Solomon Dalung were at the finish line to congratulate the winners, while ace musician, Olamide Baddo serenaded the audience with songs from his albums.

C of O To Be Granted Within 90 Days In Osun

The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has assured investors and residents in Osun speedy process of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) to legitimately acquired property within ninety days of commencement of processing.

The Governor stated this at the presentation of N50m cheque in support of Osun Certificate of Occupancy Fast track project (OCOFO) by Sterling Bank PLC at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Osogbo.

Aregbesola commended the bank for its partnership with the state, noting that the support from Sterling Bank will go a long way in strengthening the resolve of his administration to fast track the issuance of C of O in the state.

He added that with the OCOFO project, the 90 days of getting a Certificate of Occupancy for legitimately acquired property will be made possible as opposed to the old regime where it may take eternity to obtain a C of O.

The Governor called on investors, residents and citizens of the state to take the opportunity of the new C of O regime and get titles for their landed property within the stipulated 90 days.

Aregbesola assured Sterling Bank that the state will account for every Naira the bank has given to support the scheme, saying the relationship shall be a win-win situation.

He said, “I want to use the occasion to call on our people to take this opportunity to have title for their property, a land gets value because of its title.

“A government title on a land is the only way you can identify your property. We have put up this scheme to fast track the issuance of your Certificate of Occupancy like never before.

“With the scheme, you should rest assure that your title will be ready after 90 days of the commencement of the procedure”. Aregbesola pointed out.

He highlighted some of the areas in which the bank has partnered with government such as support for the on-going construction of Oba Adesoji  Aderemi Road; building of some schools and providing backbone for the school feeding system.

He added that support for his government by the bank is a support for the people of the state as well as for a turnaround of the economic situation of the state.

Speaking earlier, the Regional Director of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Ademola Adeyemi, said the bank is living up to its promise of supporting the state to give people the dividend of democracy.

He stated that the bank, out of promise, to support the state to succeed has increased the support to the OCOFO project from the initial sum of N20million to the present N50million.

According to Adeyemi, “What we are doing today is as a result of the promise of our bank to this state at inception, we have promised and living to our promise to partner with the government to give dividend of democracy to our people.

“We are willing to help the state considering the relationship that we have with the present government that we approached our management to increase the grant from N20 million and we are here today to present a cheque of N50million for the scheme”.

Breaking: Saraki Loses Appeal At Supreme Court, To Face Trial At CCT

The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal will go on after the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision read by Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen dismissed his appeal against the decision of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that the CCT was right to try Saraki on 13 count charges of false assets declaration.

All the six issues raised against the appeal court judgment by Saraki were resolved in favour of the prosecution.

A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court led by a retiring Justice John Fabiyi had on December 4, 2015, ordered a stay of proceeding by the Tribunal pending the determination of Mr. Saraki’s appeal. The court also asked counsel on both sides to submit their briefs of argument within 14 days. The court then fixed February 5, 2016, to deliver its judgement.

Mr. Saraki’s appeal before the country’s apex court contends that the CCT lacks jurisdiction to try him. His lawyers argue that the tribunal was not duly constituted as it comprised two instead of three members provided for by the Constitution. Also, the embattled Senate President’s lawyers claim that the charges against Mr. Saraki were not competent. But the court in a unanimous decision dismissed Mr. Saraki’s appeal, stating the charges were both valid and competent.

The senate president will now face trial at the court of appeal for false declaration of asset on a day to be fixed by the tribunal.

Embrace Latest Technology For Enhanced Productivity, Laoye-Tomori Tells Farmers

A call has gone out to farmers in the State of Osun to embrace latest initiative of the state government by focusing on mass production of cocoa and other farm produce which are viable alternatives to ameliorating the present economic challenges bedevilling the state and the nation at large.

The State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, made this call while speaking at the launch of medical equipments facilitated through AD King Foundation, Atlanta, USA by the authorities of Odo-Otin Local Government Area of the state.

Mrs. Laoye-Tomori, who noted the continuous nose-diving in revenue accruable to the nation arising from acute shortfall in oil price, said it is imperative for states in Nigeria, state of Osun in particular, to look inwardly for potentials inherent in agricultural practice.

According to the State Deputy Governor, the present administration in the state under Governor Rauf Aregbesola has taken some measures which include establishment of Cocoa Marketing Board to resuscitate cocoa production in the state as well as other agricultural produce such as coffee and plantain among others.

Mrs. Laoye-Tomori recalled the days of Western Region when cocoa was the mainstay of economy of the region and how it was exploited for overall development especially in the area of education, social and infrastructural development.

The State Deputy Governor also used the opportunity to appeal to residents of the state to join hands with the state government in developing the state through prompt payment of taxes by all taxable individuals adding that all should see to the current efforts to revive the economy of the state as a collective responsibility. Earlier, the Executive Secretary of Odo-Otin Local Government, Mr. Tope Adejumo, said his administration procured the equipment with a view to ensuring qualitative health care delivery in the local government in line with the cardinal objective of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration.

Helicopter Crash: Bristow Mobilizes For Incidence Support

Following the crash of their aircraft into the atlantic ocean earlier today, Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria) Limited said it has mobilized its resources for incidence support.

Bristow Helicopters Limited, a company known for its poor safety records, said the aircraft involved is a Sikorsky S-76C++ with tail number 5N-BQJ.

The crash occurred around 10.25 a.m. local time, even though the company called it “controlled landing on water” Osun Defender learnt.

The aircraft was returning on a routine crew transfer flight from an offshore platform.

All nine passengers and a crew of two onboard the aircraft are safe and accounted for, and are being transferred to a nearby onshore installation, a statement by the company’s publicists reads.

Recall another helicopter belonging to the same company crashed into the Lagos lagoon, by Oworoshoki late 2015, killing at least 9 people and injuring 4 others.

According to media consultant to the airline, Mr. Tunji Olugbodi: “At this time, the full resources of Bristow Group’s incident response team have been mobilized. The company is fully cooperating with authorities responding to the incident.”

“We are incredibly thankful that everyone on board the helicopter is safe and has been accounted for,” said Bristow’s Regional Director Africa Duncan Moore.

“Our highest priority is to take care of our crew and clients and their family members and provide them with any assistance needed.”

“Family members and friends of those on board located in Nigeria may telephone 01-271-6748 for information.  Friends and family in the U.S. and Canada may dial toll free +1 (855) 979-7533 or direct toll at +1 (567) 302-7004. Bristow will continue to release additional information at bristowgroup.com as soon as it is confirmed.”