Osun Free Education Policy

WE sincerely appreciate the work your entire team is doing by being the voice of the voiceless and defending the defenseless.

I want to express my views on Osun State Government’s free education and its complexities. We understand that the government, since its inception was forced to retain the free-education policy of the progressive government since the people would not accept anything less.

The government also introduced the school free-meal programme and free distribution of reading and writing materials to school children and provision of sitting materials to public school across the state.

My concern us that is laudable as these policies work have become avenues through which money has been siphoned into private pockets at the expense of qualitative education.

Government officials in the education sector have became avenue through which money has been look they siphoned into private pockets at the expense of qualitative education.

Government officials in the education sector have formed the habit of taking eggs and chocolate drinks meant for schools children home for their personal needs.

The huge amount of money the state government claimed to have spent on the provision of sitting materials in school are without adequate infrastructure or it possible for the officials to put sitting furniture in the dilapidated blocks of class room?

Recently, the government announced that it had invested about N700millon on the provision of reading materials in school, yet the quality of education in our schools is seriously on the decline.

A baffling scenario is that the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Branch Controller said that Osun ranked low the in the recent school certificate results just released and his counterpart from JAMB said that Osun ranks high on examination malpractices in Nigeria.

I think that government should concentrate more on reuniting the already dilapidated sector by doing the right things first instead of allowing the last thing come first.

Government should put every machineries in place that would ensure that the states lost- pride is reclaimed through sound education revitalizing policies.

•ADEGBOROYE ADEWOLE, Alekunwodo Street, Osogbo, Osun State.

Okiro Must Probe Osun PDP’s Armoury Now!

The time has come for the Inspector-General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, to show deeper interest in frequent strings of violent clashes between rival factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State and their implications for national security.

The most recent one in Boripe Local Government of Osun State has again shown that its leader, retired Brigadier-General Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s culture of lawlessness is well-entrenched and imbibed by his party men and women.

That guns boomed at the PDP meeting while rival factions went for each other’s jugular justified our persistent outcry against state-sponsored attacks on the opposition. Members of Osun State PDP regularly resort to armed struggle to settle political scores.

This speaks volumes about the temperament of the party leadership; violent ruthless, blood thirsty and lawless to the extreme. There is an over-reliance on an existing ammunition store in the ruling party in Osun State.

Worse still, the Osun State Police Command under Mr. John Moronike has been condoning and conniving with the lawlessness of the PDP so as to please Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Rather than doing his job professionally, CP Moronike has been busy with repressing the opposition and executing the repressive agenda of the PDP against Engineer Rauf Aregbesola and the leading lights of the opposition in Osun State with a phoney bomb blast.

The amount of intelligence reports available to Moronike and other security agencies in Osun State show a preponderance of evidence that the Osun State PDP and Governor Oyinlola maintains a well-funded and oiled private armoury of deadly weapons.

These weapons were deployed into killing over 40 people including agents of the Action Congress (AC) across Osun State last year and have also been used to unleash mayhem on rival PDP faction right inside the Okuku Country home of Governor Oyinlola earlier this year.

We call on the Inspector-General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, to launch an independent investigation into the existence of deadly weaponry in the Osun State PDP and recover them into safe custody before they are used to create further security breaches that could give Nigeria sleepless nights.

We are surprised that the Police that are quick to criminalise the opposition without a shred of evidence have pretended as if it did not know that PDP factions engaged in exchange of gun shots in Ejigbo, ile-Ife, Ijebu-Jesa, Ikirun and even in Okuku, the hometown of Governor Oyinlola. These clashes have always left casualties in its wake but the Police and CP Moronike have always pretended that nothing happened or at best, that the violent clashes were normal.

Last year precisely on April 11, 2007, just few days to the last general elections, the State Security Service (SSS) upon a tip-off, recovered several AK-47 riffles, bullets and explosives in the Osogbo home of a PDP chieftain, Alhaji Lere Yussuf. As soon as the initial noise died down, the PDP leader was let off the hook and rewarded by Governor Oyinlola with a board appointment in the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree.

However, as soon as the PDP gets wind of Aregbesola’s visit into Osun State, they issue veiled threats and warnings that he should be law abiding as if he has ever broken any law; the case of a preacher who does not heed the lessons he preaches.

The IGP must also realise that all those he could rely upon for professional advice in the Osun State Command of the Nigeria Police can no longer swear by the God of Nigeria that they are not compromised. Hence, our demand for independent investigators.

Gbenga Fayemiwo
Media Director to Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, Gubernatorial Candidate of the ACTION CONGRESS (AC) in Osun State

Obasanjo-Bello, Daniel Clash At Ogbomosho

The crisis between Senator Iyabo Obasanjo Bello and Governor Gbenga Daniel took another dimension as the duo clashed on Sunday at the wedding of the daughter of Oyo State Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala in Ogobomoso.

The two political gladiators accused each other of being the aggressor that led to the clash in the ancient city.

The senator said the assault on her was not the first in the politics of the state.

“I was dancing behind the governor. The state security service officer, Frank Osakwe, pulled my hand and pushed me. I then pushed him back. I want to leave everything to God’s judgment. The same thing happened to Senator Ibikunle Amosum, Otunba Dipo Dina, Senator Iyabo Anisulowo and others, Obasanjo-Bello said.

She promised to open up later on the situation in the state. In another statement by her Personal Assistant (Media), Mr. Bidemi Osunbiyi, the senator faulted stories in some newspapers which accused her of being the aggressor.

Ms. Obasanjo-Bello also denied snubbing a former Military Governor of the defunct Western Region, Chief Adeyinka Adebayo and a former Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, who sought to intervene in the matter.

The statement reads: for the purpose of clarification, the distinguished senator at the wedding ceremony never snubbed the respected father of the South-west, including Chief Adeyinka Adebayo and Chief Olabode George. It is also outrageous to have stated in their syndicated story that the senator slapped the governor aide.

“To any discerning mind, one could see through the picture of the publications that it is impossible for the senator to have gone after the governor’s security aides no matter the level of provocation and intimidation. “What actually happened was that the senator had her hand jerked back from behind in the process of dancing during the thanksgiving without any prior notice either formal or informal as rightly published in other newspapers.

“It was while attempting to free herself that she shrugged off her hand from the overzealous security aide, which made other dignitaries to be aware of the ignoble act and made the security aide to retreat.

“The action demonstration lack of respect for women in particular and more importantly, a serving senator representing the good people of Ogun State.”

It was, however, gathered that some governor and elders of the state were worried over the degenerating relationship between the governor and the senator.

A source said: “Most governors at the wedding of the daughter of Otunba Bayo Alao-Akala, felt sad and embarrassed by the development at Okelerin Baptist Church.

“A governor at the wedding advised his South-West counterparts to come together and resolve the crisis between Daniel and Obasanjo Bello.

The governor said there was no way the crisis would persist without ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo not feeling insulted. Daniel, however, blamed Obasanjo-Bello for the incident, saying her action, though futile, was provocative and calculated to embarrass him.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Wale Adedayo, Daniel said the senator punched his security aide, adding that he discipline and maturity demonstrated by his security team staved-off what could have been an embarrassing moment.

“Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello made a futile effort to embarrass the governor on Saturday. She performed acts of provocative solo dancing with her hands and clothes, resulting in punches for the hapless man. But despite this act of provocation, the governor’s security team exercised discipline and maturity by not touching her and the governor kept quiet”.

By Kazeem Mohammed

Return Trade Fair Complex To Lagos -Fashola Urges FG

Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) of Lagos State has called on the Federal Government to return the Trade Fair Complex to the state.

Fashola made the call in Lagos on Sunday at a ceremony, marking the end of 2008 Lagos International Trade Fair.

The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Princess Adenrele Adeniran Ogunsanya claimed that the complex was a veritable avenue for the promotion of trade and investment in the state.

At the programme, marking the end of the 10-day event, Fashola insisted that there is need for the return of the complex in the interest of the people.

According to him “I want to use this opportunity to renew our appeal to the Federal Government to rescind its decision on the concession of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex”, “pointing out that the concession arrangement was not in the best interest of the people of Lagos State and the organized Private Sector.

“It amounts to a great disservice to Lagos State being the Gateway to Nigerian economic property and host to many companies and business interests” the Governor said, adding that the state surely would require increased resources and economic growth of at least 12 per cent annually to meet the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

He noted that the fair has continued to enjoy the consistent patronage of many nations, adding, “your presence here in large numbers, is a reflection of your appreciation of the contribution of this exhibition to the development of the Nigerian economy”.

Ajimobi Challenges Akala On Daughter’s Wedding

Governorship Candidate of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi on Sunday challenged the State Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala to tell the world how he got the money to fund his daughter’s wedding.

The former senator accused Akala of spending over N100million on the wedding of his daughter, Olamide an accusation the government has denied.

Ajimobi also criticized the state legislators for suspending sitting last Thursday for the governor’s daughter’s wedding.

He added that he was dazzled by the allegation that local government and ministries contributed the bulk of the money for the wedding.

Ajimobi, who is challenging Alao-Akala’s election at the Court of Appeal, said Alao-Akala’s income before he became a governor, could not have financed such an elaborate wedding.

Ajimobi said: “Look at the wedding now. They spent over N100 million. How much did Akala have before he became governor? What was his job? Where did he get the money? How much does he have? When he was a police officer, how much did he earn? When he became local government chairman, how much did he earn?”

But the governor denied spending so much on the wedding.

Alao-Akala, through his Special Adviser on Public Communication, Prince Dotun Oyelade, said: “Ajimobi is a political demagogue who could not muster trust and confidence among his own people such that he allowed the ANPP to collapse under his arrogant mien.”

American Wonder Is Possible In Nigeria

Oba-magic is possible in NigeriaOPENNESS WITH KOLA ODEPEJU

The Centre Stage taken by the United States of America as the leading leader in making the entire world a global village could not be questioned as dictated by the just-concluded presidential election with a landmark election of Barack Obama as the 44th United States President. The issue of race, ethnicity or religion had been discarded by majority of Americans saying that qualification for any position is the New World Order. Barack Obama’s victory brought tears to every emotionally-laden human being. Jesse Jackson, media gurus, Oprah Winfrey among others could not curtail their emotions and shed tears of joy. Don’t get too comfortable that racism, any form of discrimination is totally wiped-out from the veins of human beings.

Nonetheless, the approach to any type of discrimination would be different from this point on. And now Barack Obama is joining the league of American Presidents. What a historic win! On the historical lane, in a landmark victory, Senator Barack Obama is the first African-American to be elected the USA President. The First African-American to vote for himself in the presidential election. the first Senator to win election into the position and the first member of the Congress since J. F. Kennedy in 1960; The first in 30 years without the incumbent on the ballot; The First President from Hawaii; First in 24 years without Clinton or Bush on the ticket; He is the third President from Illinois, after Abraham Lincoln and Grant.

Obama is the fifth youngest to be elected US President; He is the 27th lawyer to go to the White House; 16th Senator to run for the President; the 2008 presidential election was the 25th election when the incumbent would not be on the ballot; and the fifth without war hero to win USA presidential election. Regardless the sceptics’ toxin and thoughts at the initial stage of Obama’s campaign and throughout the campaign, the terrain of world politics have changed for ever.

There is a New World Order that has challenged the entire world as to the direction they have to carry their citizens. At the funeral of Coretta Scott King, Tuesday, February 2006, the baby of the family, Reverend Bernice King, stated that a generation was gone and people should look forward for a new generation in the offing, which would emerge soon. I was baffled by that statement as to who would carry on the Dream of MLK? No one ever thought that the new generation, that Bernice King prophesised about, would come this early. Barack Obama is the beginning of a new generation, a New World Order. The New World Order that Obama tossed to all human beings, most especially the world leaders, is that

“…to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you.”

In his Berlin speech given on July 24, 2008, Obama stated “I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.”

As the world is becoming a global village, the entire world, especially religious leaders, must work hard for world peace, while accepting all human beings as “Citizens of the world”. In his post-victory statement, Obama asked the entire world,

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

The answer is clear to everyone that the time has come for a real CHANGE. What a good message for the rest of the world, especially Africa and in particular, Nigeria. How Nigeria would handle the numerous Nations within the Nation; the Afenifere, Yoruba Nation, Igbo Nation, Arewa Forum, is a challenge to Nigerian leaders. When would Nigerian leaders make Nigeria a united, one Nation under God, indivisible? Barack Obama was raised by a single mother and his grandparents, with not much money but with values from the Kansas heartland.

“He took out loans to put himself through school. After college, he worked for Christian churches in Chicago, helping communities devastated when steel plants closed. Obama turned down lucrative job offers after law school to return to Chicago, leading a successful voter registration drives. He joined a small law firm, taught constitutional law and guided by his Christian faith, stayed active in his community.”

Obama past experience, in organizing voters’ registrations, helped in his success at the polls and got elected as the President of the United States of America. His style of inclusiveness, not too overconfident, encouraged the full support of all races, religious and interest groups in America, and he was able to raise enough money for the election of the century. The whole world fully stood behind his success and God endorsed his victory. He is leading America into the New World Order. Nigerians abroad armchair politicians’ input in this New World Order is inevitable.

Obama started with nothing, no contributions, no endorsements, no volunteers, but has the brain and use it effectively to get to the grassroots, raised the money needed, got focussed, no distraction, fully determined and inspiring, and got to the end of the race successfully. Nigeria should shelve the divisive programs promoted by the notion of nations within Nation, the Afenifere, Igbo Union, and Arewa United for the betterment of humanity.

In his reaction to the election of Barack Obama, as the 44th President of the United States of America, Nigeria President, Umar Yar’Adua described Obama’s election as tearing down the “greatest barrier of prejudice in human history.” President Umar Yar’Adua went further that “…events in the United States have created a totally and completely new era. I believe for us here in Nigeria, we have lessons to draw from this historic event. Prejudices arising from various differences in tribe, zones, regions actually…

We should examine ourselves in the light of this experience and conduct ourselves purely as Nigerians to serve Nigeria and to serve humanity. When we find ourselves in position of responsibility, when we take decisions, we should take decisions as Nigerians in the best interest of the country, and not try to bring about issues of where I come from or which area I come from, or which tribe I come from. That is the old world. That is the old era. Its coffin has been nailed throughout the world and we have entered a new era.”

I love to read the rhetoric of President Yar’Adua. Hopefully the powers that be would transpose his rhetoric into reality. He has challenged Nigerian leaders, especially those that have no sympathy for the welfare of their fellow citizens. When would Nigerians be comfortable having that sense of belonging in a community where they have lived for years? It reminds me of Mr. Francis Aimakhu who was born and raised in Ibadan.

The fact that his parents, who made their living in Ibadan, originated from outside of Oyo State, could not get employment with Oyo State Government. Neither could he get contract job with Oyo State Government, despite his involvement in local politics. Even his wife, who is an indigene of Osun State, from Ilesha, but happened to marry Aimakhu, might have to go by her maiden name, Jegede, before her business could flourish in Ibadan. This is a challenge to Nigerian leaders while celebrating the successes of Barack Obama, as agents of Change to be part of the New World Order. That would be the time Nigeria could be the ‘Giant of Africa,’ as United States is raising its head as the world leader.

Obama did not have a god-father, he believes in himself, positively utilized the gift God gave him, reached out to all available races in the United States of America, applied the power of the modern technology to raise money, and focussed on the issues that are affecting America, and collectively, “Yes We Can”. What about poverty in Nigeria where the haves continue to swim in wealth and the poor continue to get poorer.

Nigerians are waiting for who among the Nigerian leaders, especially the Governors that would borrow from Obama phenomena and consider any Nigerian as “a fellow citizen of the world”, regardless where they come from. Or are we going to continue seeing the feudalism system in place, or Ngbati-ngbati philosophy, or I before others principles. As Otunba Gbenga Daniel of Gateway State stated, “For us as Africans, there are so many lessons that the victory of Obama has taught and will continue to teach us. You can look at it from virtually all angles.

In the construction industries, I am particularly excited because you can now see that what an expatriate company can do, an indigenous company can also do. You can now see that there is nothing wrong in dreaming dreams; you can see that with determination, there is nothing that is impossible.”

Would Nigerians agree with the assertion of Senator Smart Adeyemi that “the governors constituted the greatest threat to democracy in the country”? What about the Federal character, ethnicity and other threats as impediments to democracy in Nigeria. There would be no lesson learned by Nigeria, until Nigerians begin to see the changes in the way their leaders conduct their public services without religious or ethnic undertones.

Nigerians could do it. 2011 is around the corner when Nigeria would either bury its face in shame; or raise its head above its shoulders and say, ‘Nigeria is truly the Giant of Africa’. Matching the Nigerian legislature theories with actions.

Nigeria policy makers should be reminded how Obama became his party’s flag-bearer through primaries that he won fair and square, rather than an imposition with intimidations, hounding of opponents, without any manipulation or being aided to the throne. Obama ran a long relentless and excruciating campaign, and voters were never denied their rights in voting for the candidates of their choice.

Obama, the son of an African that schooled in America, was accommodated irrespective of race, and was judged at the polls by the content of his character. Obama is a well-educated, talented, tenacious, transparent, exposed and visionary leader. Obama, like his father, has been described as “… an ordinary man who did extra-ordinary things.” “Yes We Can”. Hopefully Nigerian leaders would see this as an end of years of misrule, deception, hypocrisy and lying to their fellow citizens. Nigeria should shun tribalism, ethnicity and religion, which had played a divisive role in the nation’s electoral system.

According to Obama and to Nigeria leaders, “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington…I’m asking you to believe in yours.” Nigeria leaders, could do it. They have been exposed and traveled far and wide. It is just to have the guts to stand for something that would make an everlasting impact on their fellow citizens. “So … let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; … what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace…”

Would we ever witness an Itsekiri man in Aso Rock as Nigeria President? Yes, Nigerians too can make history – a positive one! Yes We Can!!!!!! God Bless the United States of America and God continues to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

AC Has Dragged Osun PDP To EFCC – Aregbesola

Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, former Works Commissioner in Lagos State, was the Action Congress, AC governorship candidate for the April 2007 poll in Osun State. Aregbesola, the prime mover of the Oranmiyan Movement, in this interview with SAM BELLO speaks on his dogged battle to get the court to reverse the victory of the Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola in the election and at the Tribunal. He also bares his mind on several other national issues.

Excerpts:-

Q: What do you think you would have done in Osun State by now if you had been sworn in as Governor on May 29, 2007?

Aregbesola: In summary, I would not want to go into detailed explanations on what would have been in place if I had been sworn in on May 29, 2007, as we all had expected and as the people of Osun State worked for, desired and expected before the election, which some people deprived them of. Rather than give you that details which I want to believe is now common knowledge in Osun and Nigeria at large as I have explicitly enunciated those things that have been denied Osun people by the interlopers. I will just say the entire efforts at taking over the administration of Osun, through a democratic process, was informed by our concern about the economic poverty and the political doldrums that the state has been in since 2003 when the present crop of intruders hijacked the authority to govern the state. That is the summary.

We told the world that our emergence was precipitated by our desire to bring about redemption and if we define redemption, it means renewing, reviving, re-invigorating and healing diseases. Political disease, economic disease, social disease and spiritual disease that have plagued the space with the belief that we will purge such a critical part of Yoruba nation and Nigeria of the anomalies there and of course there will he a radian spread of fullness of joy and a radiant spread of rebirth and redemption in all ramifications. This is what we promised and it is what our emergence would have brought, and that is one thing that Osun state has missed.

Q: The issue of constituency allowances to the legislators, both at state and, national level have generated controversy. What is your stand on this?

Aregbesola: Let us educate ourselves very clearly. In the first instance, what is called governance is development of; constituencies. Governance means development of Human, materials and environmental resources of a space, and the space now is variously defined and gradually too by the constituencies that are so characterized. You have ward constituency, which is usually represented by a councillor, you have local government constituency which is represented by a local government administrator or chairman. In some local governments, you have one House of Assembly representative, in some local governments; you have more than one state legislator representing it.

Above that, you have the Federal constituency for the House of Representatives and also the Senatorial constituencies, followed by the gubernatorial constituencies in each state while the entire nation makes up the presidential constituency. If we really understand what constituency is all about, it won’t be difficult to understand what constituency development project should be. In the context of the Nigerian state, you have various categories of constituency projects.

At the National Assembly level, you have constituency projects, either as a senator or as a member of the Federal House of Representatives which in the case of senators would be an agglomeration of several local governments.

In Osun state, we have an average of three House of Representatives, members in each of the three senatorial districts. There are also, 10 local government areas in each of the senatorial districts.

My own take for clarity if governance at the executive level is development of constituencies and the constituents, then it is a must do for good governance. In fact, there is no reason for governance if constituencies are not to be developed. It is the number one purpose of government.

The question is: how are the constituencies going to be developed? Will it be development as defined by you for your own selfish reason or the one required by the people for their real needs and purposes? Again, we want to know the procedure. The issue in Osun State about constituency projects at the state Assembly level is one of the novelties of our presidential system of government.

It’s the presidential system of government that really separates the functions and operations of the various arms of government. In parliamentary system, there is no strict separation of roles because in parliamentary system, all those who are in the executive arms are also parliamentarians further saddled with executive responsibilities and in that case, the question of separation of roles would be superfluous. After all, the Prime Minister is not Prime Minister alone, but also a member of the parliament and representing specific constituency.

Whatever his government does at the executive level, is simply a reflection of what his constituents required of him because we are running a presidential system, there is the requirement that those who are in the House would always have projects they would want to identify as promoted by themselves, either as assemblymen at the state, federal or even local government level, was the reason why it was introduced.

Because of the strict definition of function and responsibility, it is criminal and unconstitutional for any legislator to appropriate the duty of the executive in implementation of whatever project or programmes he initiates or, promotes as his own constituency project. By the way, it is equally strange and rare for all assembly members to have uniformed projects because the needs of various constituencies are different and dissimilar.

In the case of Osun since 2003 till date, to tell you how totally abnormal and unethical, therefore unconstitutional some of these things are, the so-called constituency projects since the inception of the administration of Olagunsoye Oyinlola in 2003, has been the same pattern. It is either building of classroom blocks, without any design, without costing with the same amount of money. That is not it. That is not actually the, principle of constituency projects.

Constituency project ought to be the core critical needs of each constituency which ‘a serving honorable’ member representing that constituency, upon consultation with his constituents would want to/make part of current budgetary provision, which he would use his influence in government to get constituents would want to make part of current budgetary provision, which he would use his influence in government to get executed by the executive.

The view of Osun State Action Congress and other progressive parties, and I want to believe, all well thinking Nigerians, the issue we arc raising about the unethical and equally unconstitutional practice of Osun State government in particular, the PDP wing of the assembly members, is the impropriety of the procedure used in allocating resources from a capital provision of the budget and allocation of fund from that capital provision to the direct allowance account of each honorable members. It is totally abnormal and totally illegal. It is not supported by any law in Nigeria. It is strange to the general order of government operation.

Don’t forget that even a messenger, who is probably the lowest paid worker or civil servant in the public office, must not directly execute projects or contract for government, not to now talk of any senior public servant. If a cleaner cannot take contract from the government, either local or state, without infringing the laws of the land, how can a public functionary of a legislative capacity explain direct· payment of capital fund from money meant for capital project to their private allowance account to prosecute any project?

Following due process demands that having identified the project you want for your constituency, the appropriate government agencies would now go about determining the cost of other projects after designing them and approving the design and then go through the process of procuring the competent persons that must not have any relationship with anybody in government to undertake the project.

Should the state now want to use an agency ‘that is established for direct execution of government projects it will be so defined. We were all in Nigeria when former governors, Alamieyeseigha, Dariye and Fayose were criminalised and sanctioned through the manipulation of the various members or state Houses of Assembly on the same constituency projects mismanagement. To me, it’s the height of criminality, impunity and brazenness. It shows the level to which some of us have sunk in depravity.

Q: Do you think that economic summits being organized almost in all the South-West States can lead to proper economic integration in the region?

Aregbesola: There is a difference between economic summit and II economic integration in the South-West. Economic summit is a welcome development and if the purpose is to put together people with adequate knowledge of what is required I to stimulate rapid growth, then there is nothing wrong with it. As a matter ‘of fact, we have summited at ward levels, to rigorously consider the needs of that ward and the method of ensuring that those needs are met. So there is nothing wrong with it.

What is painful and unedifying is the fact that we have economic summits as a fad, as if it does not really matter what we get out of it. It is just one of the things they do for ego with the assumption that if others are doing it, let us do it too. It is more of showmanship. It is really a vehicle for the development of the space of the area for which the summit is called.

Consider the one that was organised in Lagos. Remember that we begain it. Before we assumed office here, we had what was called the transition group, where we fashioned out a blueprint for development which is still the basis for all that we are doing. With the blueprint, we initiated a periodic review of that blueprint vis-à-vis the realty of the resources available to the state and need for planning to improve on the resource available and what the revenue so acquired will be used for.

From ex-Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), it’s a continuous process and the benefit of the continuity is, simply wonderful, it’s amazing and it’s visible. It’s visible in terms of internally generated revenues capacity of the state, it’s visible in terms of the revenue derivable to the state. I doubt if any state could compare with Lagos state in any of the areas of development, be it human, be it materials, be it environmental, be it commercial, or even economic. There is no aspect of life that Lagos does not stand above any other state in Nigeria. Compare the content and context of the summit that Lagos had with the one holding today in all other states.

I will encourage the organisation of summits at state, regional and national levels because it is through such fora that you gather experts and professionals and challenge them to critically assess the needs of the society, the resources available to the society, the general potentials of that society and plan methods of development for a given period and the future.

Q: Recently, members of the National Association of Local Government Workers’ Union, NULGE, protested at the National Assembly, Abuja on the plan to abolish the local government from Nigerian’s political system. How would you see this protest by NULGE members?

Aregbesola: I don’t think anybody advocated for the removal of local government as an arm of government but local government in a federation cannot be a separate arm of government. It is an anachronism to have an autonomous local government area in a federal structure. A federal structure recognises only two tiers of government-the federal government and the state government. Whatever the state does with its own operations’ is absolutely its prerogative. So if a principal entity that has link with any other power outside the state exists within a state; it’s a direct affront, a direct challenge and a direct abuse of federalism.

For a federal structure to be so called and meaningful, the tiers of governments recognized constitutionally should be two and not three. The local government must be the absolute prerogative of the state government for federalism to have any meaning. So it is in that regard that I would want to understand the clamour for a review of the constitution.

That though does not mean abrogation of the local government area, No. As a matter off act, what this means is redefining local government appropriately. Local governments are governments meant for specific interest and purpose in a state as defined and understood by that state. It does not in any way mean abrogation of that tier of government. It simply means, let local government be the prerogative and absolute responsibility of the state. There cannot be state without local government just as there cannot be a federal government without the state. The local governments are subjects of each state.

Q: During your sojourn at the election petition tribunal, the interactions between the tribunal and the lead counsel to the defendant was a major story around the country, don’t you think that it may affect you in any way?

Aregbesola: It was TheNEWS magazine that broke the news that there was unethical interaction between members of that tribunal and a leading counsel to one· of the respondents· in my petition. Worse was the fact that even during some of the sittings of that tribunal text messages were exchanged between the counsel and the chairman of the tribunal. Up until now, that has not been denied. My lawyers have written to several judicial organs and my party has sent a petition to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. I even understand that the paper has been sued for libel at a Lagos High Court. I am aware of all these and we are all waiting and watching to see how it will fare.

Of course, we raised it in the course of the hearing that the attitude of members of that tribunal was suspicious and one of our counsels even accused the tribunal of exhibiting prejudice, and bias. All these I want to believe are in the minds of the Nigerian public. Even the style and the hostility of the tribunal, to us, during the hearing could not even exonerate them of the allegation of compromise, bias and prejudice. Virtually all the vital evidences we had to prove our case were excluded. They were never allowed to be brought in.

Several ploys were employed; several methods were used to deny us fair hearing. These were tabled by our lawyers at the tribunal and they are already in the court of public opinion like issues such as the exclusion of biometric evidence and physical inspection report, which the tribunal in the first instance ordered, approved, to computer analysis of the ballot materials. I want to explain this point. Whereas, the biometry is the examination or analysis of the biological aspect of the electoral process, finger prints and what have you, a huge number of manipulations were discovered. In the physical examination, we discovered that I here was no way the time claimed to have been ~used by the voters could be justified.

For instance, in Obafemi Awolowo University there were several polling stations, but for the purpose of my explanation, I will specify only Awolowo Hall. In Awolowo Hall, the polling station there 2,355 voters were registered by INEC. The university was closed down in February 2007 and it did not re-open until July, two months after the elections.

Yet the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, returned a total of 2,300 votes with the connivance and collusion of INEC. On the surface you may want to say, what about that? But that is exactly the issue and that is the expose of PDP manipulation and rigging.

That particular result clearly exposed the chicanery and manipulations of PDP in collusion with INEC. For such a result to have been possible, given each voter one minute each, which is impossible, because all’ PDP’s witnesses affirmed that it would take each voter at least three minutes to complete the voting process from the point of contact with the polling materials and INEC officials. Therefore, INEC officials would be super-efficient for three minutes to be enough to complete a voting process. But going by their own admission, the minimum period it will take a voter to vote was three minutes going by PDP witnesses account -and admission to the tribunal.

Were they to have spent that period, definitely, the totality of votes that could have been returned from that polling station within a period of seven hours, which was the period· used for that election would be maximum of 200 voters. Yet PDP returned for itself, 2,300 votes in Awolowo Hall. Now allowing a minute for each voter would mean that the exercise lasted for 2,300 minutes. Dividing 2,300 minutes by 60 minutes, the entire process lasted for 38 hours.

We must do this to actually know the enormity of the crime perpetrated by PDP to return itself illegally in Osun State, allowing for the maximum period of INEC for each voting day which is 10hours; it means that to return the result people would have been voting continuously for four days.

Again in all the areas where we challenged PDP or where PDP manipulated clearly without any inhibition or without any force, PDP just wrote figures for itself. There was no basis at all for such returns. In Ife-East, out 64 polling units, from the official documents that we got through physical inspection; we discovered that it was only two polling stations that reports could meet the three minutes voting period for each voter. In 60 other polling units, the results posted could not have been possible with that time allocation.

•Culled from National Mirror

Hard Time Awaits Osun Communities On Water Scarcity

There are indications that communities in Osun State may soon experience hard time during the
fast-approaching dry season as information available revealed that pipe-borne water may become a scarce commodity which only the rich can afford.

Investigations revealed that various attempts by the water ministry to blind-fold the people into believing that water supply will not be hampered throughout the year has become a futile effort.

OSUN DEFENDER learnt that despite the huge amount of money invested into acquisition of water treatment chemicals, the people in the state of the living spring would have to make-do with the usual untreated well water boreholes and patronize commercial water outlets.

According to further investigation it was learnt that the ministry is yet-to settle the alleged scam that rocked it, concerning the water treatment chemical, as the contractors billed to supply the ministry with the chemicals have backed out as a result of non-availability of funds.

OSUN DEFENDER also gathered that about five per cent of the total population enjoy potable water supply in the state despite the various mini-water schemes embarked upon by the Oyinlola-led administration, many of which have become mere demonstration tools.

In Osogbo, the state capital, only Government Reservation Area (GRA) at Oke-fia enjoys regular water supply and some parts of Dada Estate, as other areas which habour the larger percentage of the people only get pipe-borne water once in a week.

Residents of Pepsi-Cola, Oke-Ontii area of the city, Obelawo in an interview with OSUN DEFENDER disclosed that it is almost about five years since water ran through their pipes, adding that they usually depend on well-water, rain-fall and bore-holes for drinking water, a situation which they described, could lead to outbreak of epidemic diseases.

This also is the situation in many towns across the state. For instance in Ilesa, school children spend most part of the morning hours searching for water, either for cooking or bathing before leaving for schools.

In Ile-Ife, only those who are capable of going to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) campus to fetch water in containers are the ones likely to enjoy potable water, as the rest of the population depend on unhygienic sources for water for survival.

At Osu, the headquarters of Atakunmosa West Local Government Council Area of the state, the situation is pathetic, as the town completely depends on either well or commercial satchet water tagged ‘pure water’ from Ilesa and Ile-Ife for their drinking water.

OSUN DEFENDER investigations revealed that despite the mini-water scheme at Dagbolu, the people of the community and the neighbouring Oba-Ile and Oba-Oke are currently at the mercy of flowing streams and commercial water sellers from Osogbo for survival.

The Oyinlola-led administration had openly stated on several television and radio programmes during his first term in office that pipe-borne water would be available to all the nooks and crannies of the state, but five years after his promise, only about five per cent of the population enjoy potable water in the state.

All the various mini-water project, across the state are of no relevance as the host communities of these schemes are still suffering from poor potable water supply.

Some community leaders, who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER, urged the government to make good use of the tax payers’ money and ensure the adequate supply of potable water.

Pa Adeyenu Adeniran, a septuagenarian said that the government owes the people the social responsibility of providing basic amenities of life, especially water, which he described as essential to human survival.

He disclosed that for government to prevent outbreak of epidemic diseases especially in the rural area, it must, as a matter of duty, ensure that rural dwellers have access to potable water throughout the year.

Tribunal Ignores Ede North LG Chair’s Indictment

•Upholds His Election •Petitioner Vow sTo Appeal

Despite the indictment of the controversial chairman, Ede North Local Government Area of Osun State,
Honoruable Kazeem Akinleye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over financial misconduct when he was a councillor, the Local Government Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Osogbo on Monday upheld the December 15, 2007 election of the council boss.

The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) chairmanship candidate, Alhaji Ismail Adeniyi and his vice, Mr Francis Alabi filed a petition against the controversial election of the council boss and his deputy, Adeleke Sikiriu, claiming that neither the chairman and his vice was qualified to contest the polls.

The petitioners prayed the court to nullify the election and declare them the validly-elected chairman and vice chairman of the council area on the ground that the first respondent (chairman) had been indicted of financial misconduct when he was a councillor in the council area by the office of the Auditor-General for Local Governments in Osun State.

The petitioners further claimed that the second respondent (vice chairman) was not qualified to contest the election, arguing that the vice-chairman did not register in his unit, where he claimed to have hailed from.

Adeniyi and Alabi further explained in the petition that the election was marred with irregularities and malpractices, a situation that they said denied them victory at the election.

The ANPP candidates however prayed the court to declare the election of the controversial chairman and his deputy null and void; and declared them (Adeniyi and Alabi) as the validly elected candidates at the polls.

In their reply to the petition, the first and second respondents claimed that they were nominated and cleared by the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSSIEC), having applied in compliance with the state electoral law, claiming that they were qualified to contest the election.

Other respondents in the petition, OSSIEC, the Chief Electoral Officer; Ede North Local Government Council area and eight others also opposed the petition, denying all the allegations of the petitioners.

At the hearing of the petition, the petitioner called seven witnesses, the first and second respondents called three witnesses, while other respondents called none.

One of the witnesses called by the petitioner, who was on subpoena testified on the indictment of the council boss and tendered the report of the indictment, which was admitted as exhibit by the tribunal.

While delivering judgment on Monday, Justice O.D. Afolabi-led panel admitted that a document was tendered to substantiate the claim of the indictment of the council boss.

The panel chairman held that he lacked jurisdiction over the matter of the indictment, arguing that no-evidence was laid before the court to the effect that the first respondent had been challenged before an appropriate court for such alleged criminal offence.

On the vice chairman, the court admitted that a document was tendered by the petitioner to the effect that the second respondent did not formally register in his polling centre, but his name was only written with biro in the voter’s register.

The court held that since the document had been certified, it considered that the second respondent properly registered for the election in his unit.

The tribunal further held that the petitioners had failed to discharge burden of proof placed on them by law, arguing that they have not proven the allegation of irregularities and malpractices as claimed in the petition.

It however dismissed the petition accordingly.

Reacting to the judgment, Adeniyi urged his supporters not to panic, saying that he would appeal the judgment.

The ANPP candidate said that the judgment was not in any way acceptable to him, saying that justice has not been done to the matter.

He said that he had to proved the alleged non-qualification of the first and second respondents with the backing of necessary documents, arguing that the panel deliberately ignored the evidence.

“In the history of Nigeria, this is the first time I will be hearing that somebody who does not register was being voted for. The judgment is unacceptable to me and the people of Ede North Local government council area generally,” he said.

By KAZEEM MOHAMMED

Rights Groups Fault Oyinlola’s N88.2b Budget

Criticism trails 2009 Osun State BudgetCriticisms have continued trail the N88.203,885,780 2009 fiscal year budget, presented to the Osun State House of Assembly, by the state Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as a human rights group faulted the governor on stagnant of development in the state.

The State Coordinator, Campaign for Democracy and Workers Rights (CDRW), Comrade Waheed Lawal in a telephone interview with OSUN DEFENDER, said the budget was unfriendly to the people of the state.

According to Lawal, in any budget of a state, there must be provision for the the common man (that is the less privileged people) in adding that Oyinlola budgeted such huge amount to loot the treasury of the state.

He said: “The budget is so vague and unfriendly to the common man. How many housing units were built for the common man from last year’s budget?

“Was water supply regular in the state? Are we having good roads in the state?” What has Oyinlola done to the epileptic electricity supply since he assumed office in 2003?

“Despite the entire huge amount committed to these sectors, there is no improvement or development in the state,” adding that the state has been witnessing stagnant development since the inauguration of Oyinlola in 2003.

The human rights activist stressed that the last five years have been a curse on the people of the state, as they are witnessing stagnant development and abysmal living standard.

In a related development, another human rights activist in the state, Comrade Amitolu Shitu, who commended the governor for presenting the budget early, said unspent monies in the last year budget should be returned to the state treasury.

Amitolu lamented over the shoddy work executed by an unknown contractor handling Gbongan/Akoda dualisation road project, maintaining that the road is in a terrible shape.

He said: “The governor should not take the advantage of people keeping silent, it is because his time is running out and that is why people are not responding to his satanic behaviour.

“What happened to the huge amount of money committed to road construction and rehabilitation in the last five years? Oyinlola has no interest in developing the state, he is just adding to the problems of the masses.

“Economically, Osun State is no where to be found. Talking on infrastructure and other developmental projects Osun State is behind other states. Everybody knows the development we witnessed during the four years of the former Governor Bisi Akande.

“What legacy does Oyinlola want to leave except inflation of contracts? The 2009 budget is a fraud. What kind of government are we having? Oyinlola is not listening to the suffering voice of the masses.

“Education and health should be given priority attention in every budget because if you are not healthy, you can’t do anything.”

Speaking on the education sector, Amitolu lamented the recent increment in all the state-owned institution fees, saying that Oyinlola has no programme on education.

By SHINA ABUBAKAR

Court Grants AC Chieftains Bail

An Osogbo High Court presided over by Justice Yinka Afolabi yesterday granted bail to two chieftains of the Osun State Action Congress (AC), Alhaji Lai Oyeduntan and Mr. Sunday Akere.

The judge, while ruling on the application for bail argued by Messrs Wale Afolabi, ordered that Oyeduntan should go and produce a surety of N1 million equivalents either in building or land.

However, the bail condition stipulated for Akere appeared stiffer as he was required to produce a member of the Osun State House of Assembly in addition to a legal practitioner of 15 years standing who should deposit his certificate with the court as surety.

While Oyeduntan was expected to breathe the air of freedom yesterday, Akere might have to remain in prison custody as all the eleven AC lawmakers have travelled abroad alongside their colleagues of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus.

While Oyeduntan was arrested on October 18, 2008, Akere was taken into police custody the following day and were charged to court on Monday October 20, 2008 when they were remanded in Ile-Ife Prisons custody.

Their case was not assigned by the State Chief Judge, Justice Fasansi Ogunsola until November 3, 2008 while Justice Afolabi began entertaining the case one week after.

At the last hearing on November 13, 2008, the judge fixed Wednesday November 19 for his ruling on the bail application.