From now on, the Rauf Aregbesola administration in the State of Osun enters the last lap of its second term in office. To put it mildly, the first term of four years of the administration has been most defining in terms of its pace and commitment to the highest standard of responsive, value-creating governance. The last three years of the second term has been just as exciting despite the immense fiscal challenges and a distracting propaganda orchestrated by those sworn never to see anything good in the Aregbesola administration.
Seven years on, it is so easy to forget what was and what now is. From a laid-back, socially prostrate state of a few years back, the state marches on, audaciously, confident that the foundation of a prosperous future had been firmly laid. A state that was practically insolvent after inheriting a debilitating loan of N18.38 billion at the time of its inauguration currently has in place a pragmatic fiscal template that keeps governance on an even keel – the aftermath of years of discipline and frugality – and despite the revenue shocks that have knocked the bottom off the finances of all the states of the federation.
Once upon a time, we had a state whose critical infrastructure lay in ruins, whose school structures once looked more like pig-sties than learning environment; where health facilities lay decrepit; a state whose capital Osogbo suffered perennial flooding. Today, the vast transformation is hard to miss – whether in the urban renewal schemes that have changed the face of the major cities in the state; the beautiful ring road that proudly announces the capital city’s romance with sophistication, the rural roads that promises to unleash the latent energies of the rural economy, and no less, the world class classrooms that attests to quality thinking and commitment of the administration to spare nothing in its quest to upgrade the learning environment for our children.
For a state that only a short while ago spoken of in deprecatory terms, we can now talk of a state on a steady cruise, thanks to Ogbeni and his team.
Yet, much as break-taking performance will define the Aregbesola legacy, there is another factor that will be something of an icing on the governor’s cake: His choice of successor. The outcome of the process, aside proving his mettle as a leader, would most certainly make or mar his legacy. If we have any advice to APC as a party and the governor as the leader of the party in the state, it is for them to handle it with utmost responsibility.
Today, Nigerians including the good people of Osun speak glowingly of the Lagos Model of succession. They refer to the carefully planned relay that started with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu with his careful attention to planning, team-building, and execution; then Babatunde Raji Fashola – the actualiser who took the vision farther afield with his spectacular performance; and now, Akinwunmi Ambode who continues to show infinite promises that only an individual which shares in the original promises can.
Between the trio, what we have is a state not only coming to its full potentials but a reference in continuity and excellent performance. We also see this model to a limited extent in Edo State where Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, after eight years of sterling performance handed the baton to a fellow team player, Godwin Obaseki under whom the state continues to coast along.
Our dear state of Osun, we daresay, deserves no less. If we may put it in simple terms: Having seen the sheer toils of the governor, his labour of love of the past seven years, it will be tragic to have either an incompetent, ill-equipped outsider come in to roll back the gains. Moreover, we know how much store the Aregbesola administration places on planning for the future. We know the efforts that went into the making of his Six-Point Integral Plan – the administration’s developmental roadmap. In the same way that we cannot talk of the Lagos model without the blueprint on which successive Lagos administrations has been running for almost 18 unbroken years, the least the state can wish for is to have a leader that will run on the same development trajectory begun by Aregbesola. The only way to get that done is for the governor to cast his net wide to see which of his team members can build upon the foundation already laid.