In Osun political history, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is adjudged to be the most popular and accepted, most vilified and most courageous but in less than 220 days to leave office, recent tour of Federal Constituencies revealed that people are already worried on how to produce a successor that will sustain the current infrastructural development record. KEHINDE AYANTUNJI in this report examines the journey so far.
Rather than lifting ban on the governorship campaign in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as severally promised by the state party Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famodun, the party on Monday began “Goodwill Tour” to the nine federal constituencies in the state to review the implementation of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s six point Integral Action Plans, seven and half years after. According to the party leadership, it is under moral obligation to render stewardship and feel the pulse of the people to determine in real sense if the government has substantially fulfilled electoral promises before venturing into the succession project. Consensus at the goodwill tour so far is that Governor Aregbesola’s administration has laid a shining example in prudent management of state funds and posted stunning records that have never been in the annals of the state.
With the common style of Governor Aregbesola to start any political public outing from the cradle of Yoruba, he commenced the tour at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi before proceeding to Oba Okunade Sijuade City Hall which was filled to the brim to address the stakeholders and members of APC in Ife land, after which he proceeded to Ilesa on Wednesday.
The responses of the people during the goodwill tour show that he is still and acceptable governor. This is not surprising because Governor Aregbesola since 2005 when he ventured into Osun politics, he has possess capacity to pool crowd, but the surprise is the beauty of the successes he had recorded, inspite the rough and tedious journey. Most of the projects that Governor Aregbesola suffers vilification for, now become the most celebrated and commendable during the tour, especially the school projects. The rousing welcome given to Aregbesola in the places toured was a clear indication of his acceptability, even in the face of hard economy.
Reflecting from the beginning, Governor Aregbesola was peculiar to controversy since November 27, 2010 that he became the governor for his unusual pattern of governance; many doubt his programmes because it was believe to be hoax and impossible in Nigeria. For instance, his promises to employ 20,000 youths within 100 days in office, his promise to feed over 200,000 students in elementary schools daily. When he introduced rebranding of the state and Omoluabi ethos, if not for constitutional immunity, he might have been tried for felony because the noise was so pronounced to a level that many in Nigeria who lack the depth of federalism easily concluded that Osun was about to secede with the new flag and state logo. The rest is history as the state anthem is already a pride, many can conveniently sing it than the national anthem that has been in existence since 1978.
At a point, a religion body became the voice of the opposition in the state, hanging religion bigotry on the governor to the extent of attributing the change of the “ Living Spring” to State of the Virtuous” to Islamisation.They also questioned why he demolished schools to build another one instead of renovating the existing structures. At the beginning, most of the political institutions and elites were hostile against the governor; they never overcome the shock of the November 27 that restored the mandate of the people. When he emerged, he inherited hostile State House of Assembly that was not in any way comfortable with the government but the people of the state were strongly behind the governor everywhere he visited to the extent that at a point, there was a rumor that the state assembly was about to impeach him and the people threatened to occupy the house if such move really exist.
He found himself compelled to walk a tight rope, deftly and dexterously entering a compromise here, a concession there, to ward off the reactionary designs of an opposition that could not reconcile itself to the new reality of people’s power. In fact when he was about to constitute the Local Government Caretaker Committee, the opposition members in the then House of Assembly negotiated two slots per local government before the approval of the caretaker committee. For the first six months, Osun ran government of “unity” at the local government level, but anyway they were minority at the state assembly. Much had to be put on hold for the political equation of power to be altered in favour of the new administration following the election of a new House of Assembly by the electorate in April 2011, where the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) won all the seats in the assembly.
No doubt, the path-breaking and trail-blazing efforts of Aregbesola represent the process of consummation of a revolutionary scheme which was earlier captured in the document entitled “My pact with the people of Osun” authored by him before venturing into the stormy waters of electoral contest in 2006.
The document was inspired by the three principles goals of Peace, Progress And Prosperity that Yoruba leader committed themselves to at the end of “Kiriji War” in September 1886; the pact is a statement and re-statement of an intention to resume the truncated journey of the Yoruba into glory under the illustrious Obafemi Awolowo, but it is not just a mere statement. It is a condensation of an extended and comprehensive vision clearly outlined and articulated under six broad headings otherwise known as “Six Point Integral Action Plan” which are Banish Poverty, Banish Hunger, Banish Unemployment, Restore Healthy Living, Promote Functional Education, Enhance Communal Peace And Progress.
However, seven and half years after, Aregbesola is a hero whose footsteps would never be forgotten in the history of the state. The outstanding consolation for the present administration is that people are not losing sight about massive transformation of the state by the present administration and the need for competent successor with charisma to take the bull by the horns in the pursuit and continuation of the integrated and organically linked crusades against poverty, hunger and unemployment; massive investment in agriculture, food production and food security that have been witnessed under the leadership of Aregbesola.
At the Oni’s palace, Oba Ogunwusi could not hide his joy, saying Aregbesola has kept his campaign promises to the people of Ife and the entire state in the past seven and half years. He described the Osun governor as someone who has the fear of God, hence the good works and great achievements that have continued to trail the administration of Aregbesola. The monarch while appealing to the people of Osun to continue to show support for the present government in Osun noted that the entire state had never had it so good in terms of infrastructural development. Ogunwusi while expressing concern about successor, warned APC members to close ranks and called on residents of the state to embrace peace and ensure a violent free politicking.
He explained that the current spate of growth and development being enjoyed in the state can only continue in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, saying, “Aregbesola has been faithful on his promises to the people of Osun and this is because he is a God fearing man and I commend him for this. Osun has no doubt thrived and developed under the administration of Aregbesola and this I am so proud of”.
The story is the same during the governor’s goodwill visit to Ijesa South Federal Constituency. Apart from the crowd that trooped out to welcome the governor, the Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijeshaland, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran, on Tuesday praised the handwork of the governor so far, especially on infrastructural development. He explained that the administration of Aregbesola which is already winding up has done so well for the state that it will be difficult for any government to surpass, stressing that the dividend of democracy has truly gone round the state through the present APC government in Osun.
He then called on members of the APC in the state to ensure that they conduct themselves in a peaceful manner during the forthcoming polls so as to avoid violence and ensure that the state continues to get the best in terms of good governance being delivered to the people of the state.
According to the monarch, “Aregbesola’s reign in Osun in the past seven and half years has been very eventful, the state has witnessed development like never before in the history of the state and we are so happy about this. Osun is no longer the state people used to know and this is because of the intervention of the present administration led by Aregbesola, it is certain that Osun can no longer go back to those years of darkness because the state has already been liberated by the APC.
Alhaji Saka Adewumi, an APC chieftain during the tour told Osun Defender reporter that he knew Aregbesola will perform since 2005 but not up to this magnitude, saying his performance was unprecedented in the history of the state.
Adewumi said “What is happening in Osun to me is like a magic, I have no doubt about the capacity of the governor considering his performance in Lagos, but as we all know, we cannot compare Lagos with Osun in terms of resources, but I never believe that it would be up to this level, he has completely changed the face of Osun, he has set a standard that will practically be impossible for anyone to reverse in the history, that is why some of us are kin about successor, someone cannot build all these edifices and hand it over to a nonentity that will set us back, never again in the history”.
Aregbesola while addressing the massive crowd in Ife and Ilesa said the current spate of development being experienced in Osun will continue if the ruling APC is voted back into power in the forth coming gubernatorial elections in the state.
He said the only state that has so far witnessed steady and continuous growth since the beginning of the current democracy in the country is Lagos state which has always been ruled by the All Progressives Congress for the past over sixteen years. Aregbesola who described the APC as the light which has come to liberate Osun from backwardness said the party, if re-elected to continue the governance of the state is ready to continue bringing the dividends of democracy to the down trodden in the state, saying “We can look back with pride and hold our heads up high at our achievements in the last seven and half years”.
Aregbesola warned the people of the ancient towns of the dangers in allowing the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) back into the saddle of leadership, saying that the PDP has never been known for anything good adding that the party is dead and buried.
“The PDP has never been known for anything good in Nigeria, whatever they touch is destroyed, so we should not allow them to comeback. Osun is destined to grow and so we must allow it continue, I want you to understand that we would be doing our people a lot of disservice if we don’t close our ranks and settle our differences so that this state should not get into the hands of those who want the development to stop and destroy the foundations we have laid.
“The mischief makers keep talking about our debt profile, but they fail to talk about the developments they are seeing on ground. The truth is that any individual or society that doesn’t want to incur debt is not likely to grow. The most indebted country in the world is the United States of America and that is where everybody wants to go. Our own debt is to develop Osun and that is what you are seeing all around, all we want to do is to bring about rapid development to Osun and we are in a hurry to do it”. Aregbesola stated.