The Swearing-in of the new Gorvernor of Osun Staste, Engr. Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola took place at Techinical College, Osogbo, Osun State, by Justice George Olaniyi Ojo, Chief Judge of Osun State. He has assumed the reins, after a fierce 42-month legal battle to reclaim his stolen mandate.
At 3 p.m exactly, the Chief Judge, Justice Olaniyi Ojo, was ready for the task of the day. First to be sworn in was Laoye-Tomori, the deputy governor. After taking the oath of office and allegiance, she moved back to her seat with dignity. Her colleagues, Sosan and Olayinka, who embraced her, welcomed her to the fold.
Before taking his turn, Aregbesola’s mouth was ajar. He burst into singing, thanking God and warning his foes against electoral robbery. His Lagos supporters repeated the anthem they sung for Tinubu in his honour.
At exactly 3.10 p.m, the mantle of leadership fell on his shoulders. He pledged to defend the constitution and discharge the duties of his office in accordance with the law.
That was in the realm of rhetoric. But his fairly long speech gave a clearer picture of the direction of the administration. “I accept the office of governor and all the responsibilities that go with it…We are here to resume the journey the Southwest commenced with Awo’, he said, pausing to allow the audience to listen to the recorded anthem of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Awolowo’s voice on progressives’ mission, in order to refresh their memory.
Aregbesola promised that he would redeem all his campaign promises and rebuild the state.. But he said that “we must first clean the polluted Augean table”. The new Governor ordered the immediate frozen of all public accounts at all levels in the state, calling on the Accountant General of the state to present details of state account till November 26, to his office immediately, saying his decision to freeze the state account was not to punish anybody but to get “a clear picture of the ambiguous finances of the state.”
The governor attributed the power shift to the “goodness of God’ and thanked the progressive leaders who rallied round him until the dream came to pass. “It is God and God alone who has allowed us to have gone far”, he added.
Aregbesola dwelt on the import of the change of government in the State of the Living Springs’. He warned that the misuse of incumbency power could herald a revolt. He said: “Those that attain power legitimately or illegitimately are temporary holders of power”, lamenting that, unfortunately, the tragedy of the interlopers have blurred the vision of the people. He frowned, especially at the subjugation of the peoples will by conservatives who imposed themselves on the people.
Going down memory lane, he recalled his political labour in the vineyard of the people, stressing that the peaceful and energetic campaigns were not motivated by by personal ambition , but by the need to return the state and Southwest to a new era characterised by “Progress for all, Life More Abundant”.
The governor reminded the geo-political zone that they owed their past glory to Awo, a man of exemplary leadership, whose political offspring, including Akande, a man of fiscal discipline, managed the affairs of Osun State as a prudent administrator.
Like Awo, Ige and Akande did, Aregbesola said that he would rebuild the moribund schools, provide employment and pipe borne water, ensure modern planning and urban renewal, uplift Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba as a tourist centre and foster unity.
Aregbesola described governance as a joint responsibility, urging the three arms of government, traditional rulers and entire people to collaborate and cooperate with his administration, so that the forces of retrogression can be effectively combated in the state.
The governor heaped encomium on the judiciary, saying that the jurist at the Appeal Court gave hope to the people.
He used all the superlative adjectives in the world to describe his mentor, role model and motivator, Tinubu, a dogged fighter and soldier of democracy, and his wife, for their support before, during and after the protracted battle.
Aregbesola owe a debt of gratitude to may people in his life. He paid his tribute to the monarchs, party leaders-Akande, Adesina, Osoba, Olusi, Adebayo, Olatunji Hamzat, Akanni Suara, Abiodun Ogunleye, Adeoti, Famodu, Oshun, Sunmola, Adefuye, Laka Orelope and the deputy governor, Tomori-Laoye.
The governor remembered those who fell in the battle: Hassan Olajokun and other martyrs of democracy in the state. He thanked his mother, “Mama Ologi, who was harassed, not because is a politician, but because she gave birth to a politician.
IT was a huge crowd that gathered to witness the dawn of a new era. In Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, it was wild jubilation by a people set free by a just verdict. For Governor Rauf Aregbesola, it was a glorious moment. For the Southwest progressives and their colleagues across the federation, it was historic.
From sunrise, the open field at the Government Technical College, along Ede Road, was aglow with festivities. Thousands came in buses and lorries from Lagos and neighbouring states. The unprecedented traffic snarl gave the policemen a tough time. Party supporters adorning customised T-shirts and caps, and towns people who trooped out to witness the swearing in ceremony, rejoiced as they danced to the tune of the Fuji musician, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde, who turned the scene into a carnival.
Banners and giant billboards erected at various entry points to the city by faithful disciples and associates-Bola Ilori, Niyi Aluko, Adelabu Onibiyo, Bisi Yusuf, Akin Bashiru and Dayo Osinowo-welcomed guests from far and near. One of them read: “Victory at last”. But another one with the bold statement, “Here comes the emancipator”, captured the peoples’ true feelings and expectation.
Esteemed political leaders who had been steadfast stormed the venue one after the other with funfair. As the Master of Ceremony, Dele Alake, former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, and Gbenga Adeyinka announced their arrival, the crowd cheered them, waving their brooms.
It was a triumphant return for Chief Bisi Akande, Asiwaju of Ila, National Chairman of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and former governor of the state, who was ousted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2003 election.
“Peace, joy and happiness have returned to Osun State and development will follow”, he said, waving at the people who had missed a progressive administration for seven and half years.
His compatriots in the struggle-Alhaji Lam Adesina, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Chief Michael Koleoso, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, Senator Biyi Durojaye, Prince Tajudeen Olusi and Cardinal James Odunmbaku- who were in high spirit, nodded their heads.
So also was the Esa-Oke-born architect, Muyiwa, son of the slain colourful politician, Chief Bola Ige, who, many believed was brought down so that Osun and, indeed, the entire region, could be subdued. He beamed a hearty smile, in endorsement of Akande’s assurance to the indigenes.
His father’s portrait, and those of his leader and other colleagues; the indomitable Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Abraham Adesanya and Akande, stared at the crowd from afar, reminding the new helmsmen in Yorubaland that governance could not be business as usual.
The new picture of the Southwest and its environment unfolded as the AC N governors- Babatunde Fashola (SAN), (Lagos State), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Adams Oshiomole (Edo), and Labour Party (LP) Governor of Ondo State, Segun Mimiko-arrived at the venue. The atmosphere changed and local drummers, brigade bands and the fuji maestro burst into different songs entertaining the dignitaries.
The high table was jampacked and it took some minutes before the Chief Executives and their deputies, Sarah Sosan(Lagos), Funmi Olayinka (Ekiti), Lagos House of Assembly Speaker Yemi Ikuforiji, Lagos State First Lady, Mrs Abimbola, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Chief Femi Lanlehin, Senator Bayo Salami, Senator Bode Ola, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Prof Wale Omole, and Chief Oyebisi Ilaka, Ladilu of Oyo, could find seats.
Commoners mingled freely with big shots, unmindful of their differing status. At a time, the high table shook, threatening to collapse. Some heroes of the struggle, including Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), one of the counsel at the Appeal Court, Chief Layi Oyeduntan, whose residence in Osogbo was invaded by suspected assassins, and Osun State ACN chairman, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, who was allegedly on the PDP liquidation list, observed the ceremony by standing throughout.
Former Anambra State Governor Chris , Ngige, who exchanged banters with all that mattered was immediately offered a seat. As people were overcome with of joy, ideologically inclined politicians like the Third Republic Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Wale Osun, Pa Abiodun Sunmola, Chief Tajudeen Bello, Comrade Sola Iji, Mr tokunbo Ajasin, Senator Tony Adefuye, and Dr Usman Bugaje, were in a reflective mood.
It was a convergence of progressives seized by excitement. In happy mood were Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Wale Edun, Tawa Williams, Ganiyu Johnson, Iyiola Oladokun, Prince Rotimi Agunsoye, Opeyemi Bamidele, Muiz Banire, Jayeola Ajatta, Sam Omatseye, Toyin Hamzat, Dupe ajayi-Gbadebo, Folake Oseghale, Kaoli Olusanya, Segun Adesegun, Joke Adefulire, Bosun Jeje, Dele Ogunsakin, Tayo Ilupeju, Abiodun Mafe, Ademoorin Kuye, Hon. Olabinjo, Ayo Afolabi, Amida Abudu, Bayo Osinowo, Segun Mayegun, Kunle Abimbola, Kunbi Fakeye, Lateef Raji, Tunji Abayomi, Remilekun Bakare, Toke Benson, Famoriyo, Mutiu Are, Sunday Akere, Wasiu Eshinlokun, and Jumoke Ogunkeyede..
The environment became more electrifying with the arrival of the former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, who flew into the field in a chopper, like Aregbesola and members of the “first family”. Shouts of “Asiwaju of Lagos”, “Asiwaju of Southwest:, “Aare Ile-Oluji” and Jagaban Borgu”, filled the air. Predictably, the Lagos political congregation sang their familiar anthem: “Bola, on your mandate we stand”, for their leader.
Tinubu was accompanied by his hearthrob, Oluremi, who, along with the new deputy governor, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, Mrs Fashola, Mrs Sosan, Mrs Olayinka, Mrs Abimbola Adegeye and Mrs Funmi Tejuoso, formed a ladies’ circle on the high table.
When Aregbesola, the man of the moment, stepped into the venue around 2.35pm, there erupted a thunderous ovation and shouts of joy. The non-flamboyant politician was decked in an austere white lace; accompanied by his wife, Alhaja Sherifat, and his Cuba-trained son, Kabiru, who looks like a twin brother to his father.
A short prayer by Ajibola Bashiru, a lawyer, formally marked the kick off of the programme around 2.45pm. It was followed by a short welcome speech by Adeoti, the coordinator of the battle at the home front. He merely thanked the audience for the honour they had come to accord Aregbesola and he enjoined them to listen to leaders that were slated to speak at the ceremony.
Fashola, who spoke briefly after Akande, congratulated the people of the state for a dream come true. He lauded the ACN for enlarging its coast, saying: “Three years ago, I was the only AC governor. When I look at both sides of me, I see “jegudujera” governors. We were hopeful. Later, we claimed Edo and Ekiti. Now, we have claimed Osun.”
Like Akande, he vouched for Aregbesola, his former colleague in Tinubu’s cabinet, assuring that ‘there will be development, improvement and peace in Osun State”.
“You should cooperate with your governor. He cannot do it alone. You will have to be patient with him as he repairs the damage that has been done”, Fasola added.
As his Ondo State counterpart, Mimiko rose to speak, there were shouts of “Iroko’, his nickname. He knew where the shoe pinched, having fought like Aregbesola to claim his mandate. Mimiko sung a sang of praise to the Lord. He said: ‘by the grace of God, Osun will move forward an there will be no vote stealing again”.
Tinubu hailed the new governor for his audacity of courage and perseverance. He urged the people to cooperate with him, assuring that, “given his antecedent, he will never disappoint them”.
Observers believe that the euphoria should whittle down within weeks so that governance can take a firm root. Many challenges await the new administration. One of them is the challenge of setting up the political machinery for governance. Many are on the queue for political appointments, but the slot are few. Some of them perceive the cabinets seat as the continuation of service. Others see it as reward for labour. But generally, Aregbesola is expected to set up a cabinet of talents. He is expected to preside over an efficient and incorruptible administration, like Awo, Ige and Akande, who had ruled the states at various times. He is also expected to implement the progressive programmes that would uplift the state.
Osun is not a divided state in the real sense of the word. There is unity among the masses who appreciate the new dawn. But there is division among the elite who fall into two blocs-progressives and conservatives. These conservatives in the PDP appear to be in the majority in the House of Assembly. He was not oblivious of how their counterparts in Edo attempted to thwart the effort of Oshiomole before ACN gained hold. Observers say the Edo formula should not be ruled out because a peaceful legislative/executive relationship is germane to good governance.
At the grassroots are PDP chairmen of local government councils who got to office without challenge from AC. The ruling party had lost confidence in the ability of the electoral agency set up by former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, to conduct the council polls without partiality. The relationship between the state and councils may be frosty for partisan reasons.
In 2011, AC N and PDP are expected to meet on the field during the federal and state parliamentary elections.
Many towns and villages thirsty for development may be impatient. The onus, observers say, is on the governor, through judicious allocation of resources, to rekindle their belief that the government they legitimately elected can meet their aspirations.
Reports compiled by Emmanuel Oladesu and Gbenga Olarinoye
Culled From The Nation and PUNCH Newspapers