Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola last week Friday till dawn of Saturday addressed the people of the State of Osun through the state interactive programme tagged Ogbeni Till Daybreak. Osun Defender team was there. Excerpt
The Governor’s Tour To All The Nine Federal Constituencies
It is clear that the party that has been criticizing us for embarking on that tour is grossly incompetent and unfit to govern any reasonable state, because if you would not take people for granted, you must ensure that you engage them particularly on the things our administration has done over the years. Whichever part of Osun you are in today, there is a clear difference between Osun of pre-Aregbesola and Osun during Aregbesola. You don’t even need to stress yourself to notice these things, and because we are human, it is very easy to forget that Osun has moved by the speed of light within the period we assumed office. Interestingly, most people do not know that the period we have spent so far is 25 days less than the period the party we succeeded spent. We are yet to equal them in number of days spent in office, yet, we have so much surpassed them that whoever was here on November 26, 2010 will not believe it is the same state.
So, the movement round the state was to register this very clear and unmistakable difference between the impact of Aregbesola administration and that of the PDP. The tour was very successful, measuring from the response from our party members, the comments of traditional rulers and the people in the course of the tour.
Media Coverage Challenge
We are not in any way affected or bothered by their activities. I remain one of the few governors in the country that is still popular till now. How many governors can still move about their towns, street and compound and receive enthusiastic encomium and adulation from the people, not many. I am one of the few that attract ecstatic reactions from the people anywhere I go. I thank God for this. If they derive joy discrediting us, we will not be distracted. We will continue to affect positively the life of our people, and those media outfit that value good governance will celebrate us. Let those that are hellbent to run us down continue, life will not stop. We will continue to do things that have endeared us to the people.
West Senatorial District Agitations For Governorship.
The agitations for zoning should be left to me, I am a politicians and we know how to resolve this. Politicians know how to manage their problems and we shall manage it effectively.
Osun Debt Position
For your information, the debt can be segregated; we have the SUKUK which we used to fund the construction of schools, and the conventional one which went to the capital projects. By the grace of God, by November 2019, we will settle the conventional one, and there will be no kobo left of the N30b conventional bond. By September 2020, the N11.4b of SUKUK bond would be settled. What would be left would be the federal government bond which was actually the money we took as an over draft for salaries. You recall that, by September of 2014, the state could no longer pay salaries without taking over draft and by the time the government of Muhammadu Buhari government came into power, we had borrowed as over draft N25.8b on salaries alone. That one is structured to take a very long time and that is the only one that would be left which we are paying painfully. The buck of the money that we are paying is actually money borrowed to pay salaries.
Clearing The Backlog Of Salary Arrears.
The over draft we took to pay salaries between 2014 and 2015 was the bulk fund of the money converted to the federal government bond which is the most excruciating debt burden we have. To avoid such burdens was the reason we negotiated with the workers unions that the state could no longer owe to pay salaries. We do not have the capacity to borrow to pay salaries. To avoid any controversy, we put together a committee called apportionment committee. The committee under the leadership of a veteran Labour Leader, Comrade Hasan Sunmonu, meets every month to monitor all the revenues and assist on the proportion of the revenue that must go into salaries, capital and recurrent and that is how we have been running. However, we must leave on hope that our tomorrow will be better than our today and interestingly we have seen improvement in the economy from without and from within. We are witnessing improvement in our capacity to internally generate revenue. I am very confident with everything we have put to it that our state will gradually pay whatsoever it is owing and be able to pay the full salaries of our staffers as we are going on.
However, I will admonish our critics to be mindful of what they say. People forget about the history of our state, our state whether we like it or not was part of Oyo but now on its own and that happened in 1991. The bulk of civil servants in the western region before independence were from two states today – Ogun and Osun. When the Western region later became western states, even at that time the bulk of the civil servants were still from those two states. Ogun was created later as well as Ondo. When we were under the old Oyo state, 80% of the workers in the old Oyo state were from Osun until 1991 that Osun was created. The implication of this is that the state has a huge pension burden because of those that worked in the old western region that are from Osun and have not died; we cannot kill them and for as long as they live they must earn their pensions. On pension alone, we pay more than several states.
Two days ago, the critics that do not even know about government in spite of the fact that they were here for seven and half years, and have no clue about governance, came to challenge us that we are reckless. Beside the fact that the figure they gave was wrong, one other fact that will interest you is that in 2015, the year they referred to, when our total amount received from the federal government as allocation was N5.09billion, we paid as pension N4.99billion. For you to appreciate the enormity of our pension burden which has historical basis, in 2015 alone we serviced our pension responsibility alone with N4.99billion, while our receipt from the federation account that year was N5.09billion. So, when you are looking at our state, take into consideration the historical factors determining finance and management. If you are not sagacious, you cannot manage the finances of this state, and that is why such party must never be allowed to come near governance here. The question to ask is how have we been managing? Because if our receipt was N5.09b and our pension burden for that year was N4.99b, while salaries for that year at modulated rate was N18b, you must ask about the ingenuity we introduced.
Many workers have been crying that their salaries have not been fully paid, it is not so. The low salary earners are receiving their full pays. While I was referring to how we pay much on pensioners in the state, I must also add that the total numbers of civil servants we have is more than that of a lot of state, for instance about half of the amount we pay on salary is the total sum paid for all the workers in Kwara. We pay a lot on salary and that is why it has become a burden on us. So, as a result of constant talks with Labour, we agreed on paying the low earners in full, those that follow them are being paid 75% of their salaries while the high earners get 50%. For your information, in Osun, Permanent secretaries earn more than the deputy governor and if this is the case, then it means they earn more than the legislators and the commissioners, because that of the deputy supersedes theirs. Why I can’t talk about my own is that I do not receive salary and I will never do, hence, I do not know how much I am to receive.
As we pay the low earners in full and reduced that of the middle and high earners salaries, same we did to all political office holders. My deputy also receives 50%. Therefore, if the salaries are not enough to cater for the needs of our workers, our political office holders also share out of it. So, if they are complaining that I have been hard on them in term of finance, yes, it is true. It was very hard that we couldn’t purchase cars for them; they are using their personal cars because we are in a state of economic emergency.
MKO International Airport
The concessionaire of the Airport failed but that project is so dear to us that we pray by the grace of God we will complete it.
Regrets In Office
If I understand the concept, I will say I have no regret, but should I want to answer it philosophically, the only regret I have is that my administration coincided with the most irresponsible government at the centre under Goodluck Jonathan during my first term in office. Were I to have the opportunity of a responsible government at the centre during the period, it would have been phenomenal. Were I to enjoy a responsible government at the federal level the result here would have been something else. So, my regret is that I had the misfortune of being a governor with a totally irresponsible administration at the centre.
The Administration’s Performance
As to what we have been able to do here with so little, I give glory to God. Nobody can fix all problems except we would be deceiving ourselves. We must thank God for what he has done for us. Ask those who have been here before 2010 whether they believed that there could be an interchange bridge in any part of Osun. The only bridge built by PDP government that was there for seven and half years was just a two lane bridge across river Osun by Oranmiyan house. I said it before and I want to repeat it again that we are yet to spend the duration of years they have spent and we have delivered. On bridges alone, we have constructed five massive ones, each of which is better than the one they delivered. Let us be practical, if you were told that Gbongan interchange will no longer be a death trap, would anyone ever believe? Today, unless a suicide, we have eliminated avoidable deaths in the area. We have constructed an interchange that is phenomena; you can only have such in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano if we want to count the number of states that have this kind of interchange. We are not resting on our oars but honestly we are satisfied with our achievements.
Partnership With Nigeria Railway For Transportation of Agric Produce
None of our programmes has failed, except, you are not fully informed about the programmes. Our administration had prepare an arrangement with the Nigerian railway to take to Lagos agricultural produce of our farmers, but as a government we cannot coarse anybody to comply, up till today, the agreement still stands, but the Osun farmers are not willing to make use of the railway, they have shown lack of confidence in the railway system, you cannot blame our government for this. We never said we would be buying the produce, rather we said we would encourage the Osun farmers to export under our support to the Lagos market and this farm produce would be moved free of charge to Lagos market. On the other side of the agreement which involves the periodic festive movement of passengers from Osun to Lagos which has been running ever since then, we have never had enough space for those who want to travel to Lagos. So, we cannot be blamed for this.
On OYES Absorption Into The Civil Service
There was never a time we promised to employ or absolve all the participants of the OYES programme. What we said was that we would be using the programme to create jobs for the youths. Where would the over 40,000 cadets go into in government? Let’s be realistic, where are we going to put them? For us to absolve them into the government, we must discharge everyone currently employed in the state, and doing this, you are not solving problems you are only creating more. We never promised to engage all participants in OYES scheme, what we told the world was that we would create opportunity for employment of the best among them within the government and outside government which we are doing.
Development On Old Fakunle School Site
I am equally enthused by what is happening there. However, I said something last year that I will utilized everything we have to work for the people. We have 200 more days to go, those 200 days that the constitution permit will be filled with activities and what you are seeing at that spot is one of the very many things that will happen. Calmly watch and you will see surprises. We are not done yet, when we are done, great things will continue even after I am gone. We called the place a city centre, we have done that of Orita Olaiya; when you are coming from Abere, we have done a little work on that on the right hand side which we call ‘Magnificent Mile’. We have done the upgrade of the city centre. We are not done with the Freedom Park yet, it remains a phase. When we are done with the other phase what will become of Fakunle will be mouth-grasping. From Fakunle, there will be a Pedestrian Bridge linking the Freedom park, which we won’t be able to complete, but I can assure you that my successor will. People will be able to walk on a beautiful arched pedestrian bridge, it will be awesome.
Evaluation of Agricultural Interventions
We are humans and as humans, we over rate ourselves. Nature recognizes waste, the amount of waste in procreation is so huge and yet nobody talks about it. As humans, it is not possible to be perfect, there are strength and there are failures in some of the programmes embarked upon, but on the whole we have succeeded beyond measures, and I will explain again that we have been feeding our school children with fish obtained through those people that we empowered to produce fish, so why aren’t we interested in looking at that. Go to farm settlements, all the interventions there are successful, there could be some shortcomings here and there but in all we have succeeded in our agriculture sector.