At the creation of the State of the Living Spring seventeen years ago, the people must have been exultant in that their yearning for development had hit the home run; they probably assumed that the struggles which saw to the creation of their dear Osun State would coalesce into giant strides in all round development, the stuff of which made the old Western Region under the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, the toast in the republic.
As one of the legacies of the old free education states in the region, such optimism could not have been misplaced: the state had a head start in the reservoir of high quality manpower, unlike a lot many created about the same time; it could also boast of a rich tradition in progressive politics, a vibrant population willing to be led, provided that the leadership was credible and transparent.
Added to these were the great potentials in agriculture and commerce that the state possessed in abundance.
It must be seen as one of the tragedies of our time that a state which boasted of so much potentials way back had easily become one of the backbenchers in development-reduced to a soulless drifting entity by inept leadership that it has been afflicted with.
Like most of those states sired in the heat of passion to bring development closer to the people, with the imperative to galvanise the latent energies of the people as its driving motif, it must be seen as the ultimate tragedy that the state is counted among the bottom rung- in run down institutions, in collapsed infrastructure, of corruption and mismanagement and a leadership simply gone berserk. Osun today presents a lamentable picture of a vision gone awry, a dream aborted and where anomie looms large. All told, it is a miniature of Nigerian tale of missed opportunities, of tragic failures of leadership, of planlessness and of the rule of a vile, opportunistic cabal.
While the years of military adventurism in the political life of the country and the culture of non-accountability that it bred may have taken its own toll on psyche of the people, the sad fact is that the years of civil rule, have hardly punctuated the decadence. The first advent of civil rule in the state was marred by phenomenal trivialisation of governance. If there was any redeeming grace, it was the relatively short administration of Chief Bisi Akande, from 1999-2003. During this time, valiant attempts were made to truly define the essence of governance by laying the building blocks for people-government partnership in the delivery of public good.
Today, we have a farcical government in place personified by Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Under him, the state has witnessed the most comprehensive regression and meltdown ever in the history of the young state, particularly the undoing of the worthy foundations laid by his predecessor, Chief Akande.
What does anyone expect of a man who came into office with his garment dripping with the blood in the mindless rage of violence, vote-stealing, mayhem and murder that attenuated his bid for power? Bullet, more bullets, of course! With his martial rule, he has driven every semblance of opposition to his arbitrary rule out of town. In his desperation to cling to office, he has subverted every institution in the land, subjecting even the judiciary to his odious influence. He does not even pretend to govern; he prefers to see the state as his fiefdom, an instrument of patronage for his soldiers of fortune in the PDP. Under Oyinlola, hedonism has been promoted over and above the delivery of the public good. That is the tragedy of Osun under Oyinlola’s inept rule.
At 17, the heartfelt cry of the people of Osun is for leadership and development. A progressive administration steeped in the finer traditions of public service and popular participation is a sine qua non to galvanising the people to harness the rich endowments that nature has blessed the state with. That was what the vote robbers denied the people in April 2007. What has become an imperative is how to consign the evil cabal into the dustbin of history by relieving the people of its needless burden; only after, would the yearnings of the people for effective leadership and development be conceivable.