Osun IGR: National Bureau Of Statistics Goofed! By Abiodun Komolafe

 

 

Lies, when told too often, unchallenged, have the capacity to be mistaken for the truth. As an indigene of the State of Osun, a key stakeholder in the Osun project; and as a living witness to Rauf Aregbesola’s judicious use of the taxpayers’ money for the development of the state, surprise was a better word to describe the recently-released Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) status of Osun for 2017 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

 

In the report, NBS stated that internally generated revenues for Osun declined from N8,884,756,040.35 in 2016 to N6,486,524,226.45 in 2017, representing a -26.99% drop. But, in what could be considered a swift reaction, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenues Service (FIRS) and Chairman, Joint Tax Board (JTB), Babatunde Fowler, disclosed that the Aregbesola-led administration raised the state’s IGR by over-30% in 2017. Contrary to the Bureau’s misleading position, facts at the disposal of yours sincerely did reveal that the state’s actual full year IGR for 2017 was N11.9 billion. Of course, it could have been much more, but for the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ tax audit outstanding, totaling N4 billion, to the state.

 

Established by Section 86 (1) of the Personal Income Tax Act cap. P8 LFN 2004, findings also revealed that JTB is the body statutorily mandated to contribute to the advancement of the tax administration in Nigeria”, especially “in the area of harmonization of Personal Income Tax administration throughout Nigeria.” Well, one can only hope that appropriate quarters would use the circumstances in Osun to resolve needless conflicts in job descriptions between NBS and JTB.

 

As Aregbesola remarked while declaring open the Board’s 140th Quarterly Meeting in Osogbo, tax payment is about the most important component of any civilized and forward-looking society; because, “without taxes, there’s no government.” Essentially therefore, sustaining any government involves active participation of the people; and the way to it is taxation! Well, though Osun is at the moment not there in terms of IGR and tax remittances, it bears repeating that the present administration has done well in growing the state’s IGR base from a miserable N300 million monthly average in 2010 to where it currently stands. It is therefore believed that, if the taxable population is mobilized to pay its dues “adequately and sufficiently”, the state will no doubt be better for it.

 

Let’s come back to the Bureau and its inaccurate information! When Benjamin Disraeli wittily painted “lies, damned lies and statistics” as three kinds of lies troubling our world, he probably might have had our NBS in mind. This is because inaccurate information distorts facts and misleads the people. It exaggerates accomplishments and stigmatizes performance in subsequent tasks. It impinges on the evaluation of the government in power and habitually sets the led against their leaders.

 

Though endowed with human and natural resources, Osun had never come close to fulfilling its potentials until Aregbesola assumed office as governor. A classical example of impressive performance and impactful governance in times of an unstable economic situation, it is interesting to note that, right from his days in the Bola Tinubu-led administration in Lagos State, Aregbesola has been a passionate advocate of efficient taxation in Nigeria. That he has conspicuously and consistently deployed his unwavering resilience, unmistakable commitment, innovative ideology, administrative ingenuity, political prowess and determined efforts towards making Osun a good example to showcase to the world that taxpayers’ money can be used to develop a society for good did not come as a surprise.

 

Information feeds democracy! Beyond NBS inaccuracy and cynics’ duplicity, one can easily see that Osun taxpayers’ money is working! For instance, no fewer than 13,000 persons have accessed the Free AMBULANCE services and no fewer than 250,000 students in 1,382 public primary schools across the state have been covered in its one-free-meal-per-day policy since its inception. So far, so impressive: primary and secondary healthcare services at public facilities, including anti-retroviral medication, are being rendered free-of-charge. This is in addition to free laboratory services and surgery for pregnant women, children under the age of 5, and elderly persons in 876 Primary Healthcare facilities and 51 Secondary Health facilities across the 67 Local Government Areas, Local Council Development Areas, Area Councils and Area Offices in the state.

 

Between 2010 and 2017, more than 50,000 qualified youth have been employed and empowered under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) and no fewer than 100,000 smallholder farmers have so far benefitted from the state’s ‘Agric Land Bank’ programme. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 7,000 farmers from 500 cooperative societies have benefited from the state’s low interest loans under the Quick Intervention Programme (QUIP). Besides, Osun Rehabilitation Programme (O’REHAB) has succeeded in treating no fewer than 100 persons with mental disabilities, particularly those who had been living on the streets while 1,602 elderly persons of age 65 and above, who met poverty criteria, have been receiving N10,000,00 monthly for their upkeep, in addition to medical care, under the ‘Agba Osun’ scheme.

 

While Aregbesola’s unprecedented revolution in infrastructure development and massive road construction are visible to the naked eye, I had probably underestimated the differences between the education system in Osun and elsewhere in the country until Abiola, my 8-year old boy, had a taste of its carefully-planned academic programme. At a stage, I was close to confronting his headmaster when I learnt of the ‘hurdles’ my little boy would have to cross on his way to qualifying for the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination.

 

With these tip-of-the-iceberg achievements, one would have expected a data-dependent organization and statistical information provider of NBS status to be without blemish in the discharge of its responsibilities to the public. However, obviously imprecise information like the one on hand cannot but compel one to ask if Osun is a state against itself in terms of timely release of facts and figures to relevant agencies for processing. Or is it a case of some prodigals and prostitutes, somewhere, mightily profiting from making dear state a systematic target of slippery, sloppy rumours and conspiracy theories?

 

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in the State of Osun!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

The Road Once Travelled! By Abiodun Komolafe

 

Osun Local Government election has come and gone. Evidently, it has been won and lost! Winners have been declared, magnanimous in victory; and losers have emerged, graciously accepting to lick their wounds for some time to come. According to Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC), 318 councilorship candidates were returned unopposed while election took place in 71 wards. In all, 6 political parties participated in the election, adjudged to be free, fair and credible by election observers.

 

As a people, that we are now far better than having to move backward is no longer in doubt. With the level of development that has enveloped Osun in the last 7 years – in spite of the country’s overwhelming economic bunk, not by the aid of it -time is no longer on our hands to experiment political leadership with the dreamers and the adventurous whose sole mission is to practically reduce the masses to perpetual slum dwellers and the forgotten people.

 

Albert Einstein describes politics as a “pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.” I have argued elsewhere that success at the Local Government poll may not result in victory on September 22, 2018 unless purposeful political reengineering is undertaken where necessary. Similarly, that the ruling party somehow missed it on July 8, 2017 does not translate into lost hopes for its adherents. Not unexpectedly too, attempts at supplying answers to some probing questions are likely to end up throwing up more questions.  For instance, what kind of political leadership should Osun expect as from November 27, 2018 and how can the state build on the huge success recorded on January 27, 2018, preparatory to the bigger battle, slated for the latter part of the year? How do we sustain Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s responsive and human-centred efforts at making life uncommonly meaningful for the people and who do we run to, in case our assumptions fail us?

 

Stated in unambiguous terms, those who are expecting the governor to stand aloof or play the second fiddle in a matter as important as the choice of his successor are only trying to insult our collective intelligence. While this is a topic for another day, I am most convinced that an insider who understands the internal workings of the government and one who can continue the Aregbesola tendency will be most suitable for the job.

 

But then, if the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, then, this is where our newly-elected Councillors have a lot of work to do. It’s time they took concrete steps, aimed at demonstrating leadership, ingenuity, creativity and courage in running the affairs of their Councils. Nigerians are in a hurry and are no longer interested in those who create excuses for non-performance. Willingly or by happenstance, Nigeria has also joined a ‘changing world’ where ‘greening the street’ is expected to be complimented with‘greening the stomach’, lest an ‘ungreened’ stomach lead the battle for the ‘disgreening’of the greened street. So, rather than surrender to the vagaries of stunted monthly allocations from the Federation purse, our Councillors should work towards shoring up the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR),.

 

Wrangling is not alien to democracy. Curiously, post-Osun West bye-election has compelled some quarters to erroneously conclude that party politics is dead in the State Chapter of   All Progressives Congress (APC). However, those who are familiar with the stories of David and Shimei (2 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 19: 16-23; 1 Kings 2: 13-25) and Solomon and Adonijah, his brother (1 Kings 2: 13-25) will admit that political sins are rarely overlooked. They are seldom forgiven. But this is Nigeria!  In the spirit of sportsmanship therefore, elected officials and those who wish the party well must strive to bring back into the APC fold the aggrieved, the disgruntled as well as the “Internally Displaced Politicians” who, at one time or the other, were either rumoured,  even  seen to have worked against the party. Most importantly, a party that wants to beat the opposition to its silly tricks must take urgent steps to upgrade its winning streaks when such a step still has honour. Interestingly, part of what distinguishes Aregbesola’s Social Welfarepoliticsfrom, say, the late Isiaka Adeleke’s“Stomach Infrastructure” can now be seen in the price per plot of land on ‘Ona Baba Ona’ in Osogbo and ‘Oke Gada’ in Ede, both in the State of Osun.

 

Strategy must have continuity! It can be restructured, repackaged, even constantly reinvented! Again, this is where political will, not politics, comes into play! For instance, had Obafemi Awolowo’s ship of Universal Free Education not been forced to sink mid-sea, one is not in doubt of what Nigerian youth would  have year-after-year made of its generosity to evidently predict their future! Similarly, had Larry Koinyan’s Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) not been shot to extinction somewhere along the line, its marked shift in focus from previous policies as a result of its unprecedentedly wide scope would have taken Nigeria’s rural infrastructure development to the Next Level. Once upon a time in this country, ‘Vision 2010’, and ‘Better Life for Rural Women’, among others, happened to us like a thief in the night. But, since the Nigerianness in us is one in which the image of motion is always mistaken with the idea of progress, these programmes flew away immediately their promoters left office.

 

Lastly, is religion, which unfortunately has now become as natural as the blinking of our eyelids, our bane in Osun? Is it our population? Or zonal arrangements which, curiously, have suddenly become Nigeria’s war games? Or the advantage or otherwise of age on the part of our political gladiators? Well, while  religion deals primarily with man’s relationship with his Creator, Donald Trump and Dimeji Bankole have shown that exploring age as a parameter for gauging demonstrable leadership is not only castrated, it also occupies the backwaters of the truth.

 

In all, while no one can blame self-seeking, self-serving and ill-assorted cynics for their inability to crack the code, thank God: Aregbesola as a man of ‘talent and potentials’ has shamed all-whip-and-no-hay bigots who once tagged him a religious fanatic on a mission to Islamize the state.

 

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Osun!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

 

A New Year Prayer For Osun!

Goodbye 2017! May your soul rest in peace! Welcome 2018, the year Pastor Enoch Adeboye has prophesied would be “far better … for the country.” While the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration sees 2018 as “pivotal” in Nigerians’ quest for “Change”, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua describes it as a year of battles, a “warfare where the serious-minded will be victorious.” In the State of Osun, it is better referred to as the Year of the Politics of Power, when the Rauf Aregbesola-led government will relinquish power, in consonance with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended). Coincidentally, Adeboye’s message of hope came on a day National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced Nigeria’s economy’s final exit from recession, following its contraction for five consecutive quarters.

Like Adeboye, whose target on assumption of office as General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was to “put a church within five minutes of every person on earth,” Aregbesola assumed power at a time things were not looking up for dear state. But, being a man on a mission to succeed, the governor promised responsive, responsible and capable government in strict compliance with the Six Point Integral Action Plan. Commendably, more than 75 per cent success has been recorded.

Within seven years in office, he has added new, state-of-the-art buildings to existing school structures and refurbished several others. He has constructed more than 1000 kilometres of roads and empowered several thousands of our youth. The Health sector has benefitted immensely from the contents of his administration’s large heart while Agriculture has also had a feel of the efficiency of his intellect. Aregbesola touched the lives of the widows and people with special needs were not left out. To demonstrate his fairness to all religions, this administration has since 2013 been declaring ‘Isese Day’ as a public holiday which allows advocates of traditional religion to come together for their annual celebration. Leadership is described as the ability to transform dreams into realities. However, Nigeria’s search for relevance in a hurting world remains one of a compartmentalised bag of mixed fortunes where winners embrace the interesting accent of ‘Hallelujah’ while losers heap their misfortune on marginalisation.
The North is right at the moment infested with the dysentery of terrorism and has as such not been able to recognize its location while the South is bogged down by the stench of restructuring and has all along been all grunt, no bacon. The corrupted illogicality and the inability of the judiciary to serve as a moral compass for a nation that is stuck in a rut, coupled with the generation of a whirlwind of identity politics among the electorate, are some of the tragic manifestations of our beingness as Nigerians. Why is Nigeria this fated? First and foremost, money is scarce in circulation. Secondly, crude oil is in short supply, thereby leading to a sharp reduction in oil prices, and … accruals. Thirdly, crude oil as the cash cow is fast approaching a state of depletion and uselessness! Fourthly, once upon a regime, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) gluttonously ate all of Nigeria’s honey as if it already had a premonition of defeat in 2015.

Fifthly, from the look of things, it’s as if the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) got it wrong in terms of election promises. Little wonder the party has been scavenging for solutions to Nigeria’s multi-dimensional problems! Added to the above is lack of political appointments into offices by the party in power. Last but not the least is the opposition’s satanic grip on most of those offices expected to have long been taken over by APC. All these have not only made empowerment among party members and loyalty to the party thin on the ground, they have also continued to make 2019 look as if it’s 1000 years away.

But God wills us to “give thanks in all circumstances” and “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” So, Lord, we pray: in this New Year 2018, let Osun’s land yield its harvest and let openness, good health, employment opportunities, security of lives and property define our state. Create in us a new spirit; a new spirit that recognises worth and appreciates performance. Teach our leaders to understand that satisfaction of the people encompasses the acknowledgment of significant accomplishments and the utilisation of personal prudence. Grant them the wisdom to know that fulfillment yields smooth work, better relations and greater achievements and that enjoyment helps in restoring lost and unexploited thoughts, reciprocated alertness and proficiency. Consolation of Israel, rest the souls of the faithful departed and discourage the living from having to seek the dead among the living (Luke 24:5). Instead, teach us always to remember that death is “only a horizon” and that “a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”

Jehovah Rapha, the socio-economic waves which have been beating Nigeria to different, unimagined shores has considerably impacted its federating units. Take for example, my state is now Nigeria’s 13th most secured state. In my view, this is not too good for a state that is now her 2nd richest state. The God Most High, who raised the lost axe-head (2 Kings 6: 1-7), correct our steps and let there be abundance in Osun. Disabuse the dreamers and the adventurous of their using the state as a front for unnecessary confrontation between God and glamour.

El Elyon, You who, in Your omniscience, arranged for a coin to be found in a miraculous way (Matthew 17: 24-27), express Your divinity and spiritual power again in Osun’s state of finances and lead enemies of development up out of their poorly-mapped seas so that they will stop using the state’s ‘within manageable level’ debt stock as a tool for the national salary impasse. By Your power, deprive the do-nothing-but-rail-from-morning-to-night elements the privilege of mistaking a dimple for a pimple whenever issues relating to social welfare and ‘stomach infrastructure’ are raised.

Finally, Lord, You’re the God who chooses the “foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” We beseech Thee: lead us to elect a worthy successor to the incumbent governor and let not our land return to those locust years of insidious logic of uncertainty and ravenous culture of impunity.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
Komolafe wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.

Between Mediocrity Comments And Aregbesola’s Commitment

By Abiodun Komolafe

American minister and author, Norman Vincent Peale famously stated that the magic in enthusiasm “spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”

Peale’s statement above brings to mind the State of Osun’s very slippery slope, pre-2011; and Rauf Aregbesola’s conscious efforts towards remedying a system that had grown bad over time.

Much as it is impossible to deny Aregbesola’s place in history, there are those who, out of sheer ignorance, argue that the governor’s great strides could only have been made by a mediocre leader. On the pages of this argument lies a succession crisis which, lately, has been making some people act on fantasy and banking on the opportunity presented by 2018 as a fig leaf for deepening threats to stability.

There are even those who comically opine that the governor’s troubles started with the sudden death of Isiaka Adeleke and only peaked with the eventual defeat of Mudasiru Hussein at the battle of Osun West on July 8, 2017. Well, though space constraint may not favour the enumeration of confused and erroneous opinions prevailing at a time like this, one is not in doubt of the fact that Adeleke’s tragic fate served as a reawakening balm for the ruling party and one can only pray that it would make a good use of this unfortunate-yet-rare opportunity.

By convention, a mediocre leader is inaccessible and torpid. He is nippy, reactive and insensitive. Since he has a reputation for following the herd, he neither delights in improving the lives of the people nor dares to broaden the socio-economic landscape of the community he’s elected to lead.

Contrast this with a first-rate leader whose relational glue is limited to “a small number of specific people”, not “a lot of people”. He is a team leader who draws inspiration by discovering a deeper level of intimacy and new aspects of the people’s moral fiber.

With delicious ambiguity, a mediocre mind will be quick to condemn the provision of school uniforms and other education materials to 750,000 pupils of government primary and secondary schools in Osun but will rather display hereditary prejudices to support the sewing of Christmas cloths for 20,000 children in Ekiti.

Destined for unrhymed poems and unclear stories, the opposition won’t only describe the efforts of this ‘repository of trust and confidence’ at giving Osun a cargo airport as a ‘bogus project’, the it’ll also prefer ‘stomach infrastructure’ to a feeding programme which currently consumes N12.7m daily to feed 254,000 school children for 200 days in a year.

It is nothing but amiable mediocrity to see “so much hunger, disease, poverty” in Osun, when available indices point to the contrary: 2nd only to Oyo State in poultry production; 2nd richest state in Nigeria; 5th largest economy in Nigeria with its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing at 7.3% per annum; and 13th crime-free state in Nigeria.

Furthermore, the state is 2nd in Human Capital Index and has maintained 2nd position in four years in a roll in the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

A government that productively engaged more than 40,000 youth and impacted no fewer than 20,000 of its indigenes with requisite skills in Information Communication Technology couldn’t have been led by one whose portion is in the beaten tracks. More importantly, an administration that revitalized the education sector in all ramifications would never succumb to the trivial, misguided and unmeasured campaigns of a crowd of traducers.

With free health services at all levels, provision of drugs and Ultrasound Scanners for its hospitals, construction of 80 new Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Tuberculosis Control Laboratory, coupled with the refurbishment of 9 State Hospitals, among others, the Health sector cannot deny having had its own fair share of Aregbesola’s attention. The administration’s massive road construction for the rapid and infrastructural development of the state is visible even to the blind while its social protection programmes have also gone a long way in reducing poverty and hunger as well as improving healthy living.

His encouraging intervention in Agriculture was geared towards arresting “the imminent fear of political disenfranchisement, economic stagnation and socio-psychological insecurity.” It was meant to guarantee food security, target and create employment for the youth as well as support partnership and investors in agriculture.

Oyo! Benue! Ondo! Kogi! Kwara! Ekiti! Edo! Even, Bayelsa and Delta States! But then, why does the opposition delight in using the salary bug as a narrative to insult our collective intelligence even as Osun has fulfilled its side of the bargain with Labour?

At the moment, more than 15 states are under the yoke of the salary ruckus. Without doubt, this is where enemies and doubters have again missed it. For example, how much is Osun generating monthly compared to what an economically viable state like Lagos rakes in daily? What was the size of Nigeria’s exports of crude oil and petroleum products some 3 years back compared to what we are now cosmetically priding ourselves in? What was the exchange rate in 2013 and how has it fared in 2017?

Again, there can’t a better opportunity for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to wake up from the witches-and-wizards slumber currently threatening its success stories. Behaving as if 2019 will be a ‘go-it-alone’ affair without votes input from its political appendages will not help matters. As things stand, Nigeria is under intense pressure because the only business currently making waves – and the only valuable means of livelihood – in this part of the world is politics.

The sickening reality is that ours is more of a political economy that spends so much in tending to the struggles of bureaucracy and the frictions of administration even as our tax regime is poor.

Agreed! Civil servants have all along been the state’s greatest asset without whose support this administration wouldn’t have gone this far. But, settling down to the stark realities in which the state has now found itself, can it make any meaningful on the salary challenge without progressive thoughts on staff rationalization? On the other hand, how best can the electorate reciprocate government’s good gestures, bearing in mind that to whom much is given, much is expected?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

Transcorruption Agenda And A Critic’s Blunders! By Abiodun Komolafe

Reno Omokri would not stop amusing Nigerians! Maybe it is the nature of the Jonathanists to regale us with aimless cuts oftentimes synonymous with poor understanding of socio-political issues around them.

In a conflicting and confusing tirade against Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun recently, Omokri mistook Aregbesola for a “lazy talkative” and a “confused man suffering from verbal diarrhoea” for daring to expose former President Goodluck Jonathan as a man too incompetent and obsessively profligate to run the affairs of a country as rich in resources as Nigeria.

Well, let me start by reiterating that, just as truth hurts, Omokri’s unceasing whimpering almost three years after Nigerians have spoken with their thumbs has shown that, if not properly managed, the pain of defeat could last a lifetime. Little wonder our friend has continued to caress terrible information which he knows in reality are untrue. In any case, that his “phones no longer ring” deserves our sympathy, not an outpouring of euphoria! But, while the politrician in him is at liberty to fantasize that Nigeria “witnessed an era of unprecedented growth” under Jonathan, any attempt to blackmail Aregbesola for reminding Nigerians of their experience under the former president will be tantamount to rewriting history.

Back to the brass tacks, Omokri’s assertion that “calamity did not strike the Nigerian economy …  at any … time that former President Jonathan governed Nigeria” is nothing but an insult on our collective intelligence. Let it be noted that Nigerians were not ignorant of the price per barrel of crude oil during Jonathan’s era as well as how much of our commonwealth went into private pockets from which consequences Nigeria is yet to recover. As fate would have it, militancy and terrorism added their own flavour to Nigeria’s cup of woes and it was as if the gods were angry! As things stand, our situation is likely to be compounded should world powers like China, Europe and USA make good their “threat” to fully embrace plug-in electric vehicles in the near future.

While Omokri might have forgotten that most of the states which currently appear healthy are only so on the surface, his weak and sickly categorization of an oil-producing state like Anambra as one that “… has creatively come up with ways to generate revenue without taking loans or the bailout”  calls to question his belief in his political party. Does it mean that People’s Democratic Party (PDP), fittingly described as ‘a blind giant groping in the dark’, is in want of governors with “producer mentality”? Well, with Anambra’s touted fortune which has all along pitched the godfather against his godson, it’s like ‘Nigerians ain’t seen nothing yet!’

Quite frankly, Omokri’s friends should wake him up from deep sleep on the issue of “$25 billion scam at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation” when such a gesture still has some semblance of honour in it. Having said that, rather than strike Nigerians with shock, our friend’s puerile, 10-for-10 kobo tantrums should be a wake-up call to the electorate that it is not over until it is over! After all, the cumulative impact of the PheeDeePhee’s contribution to the decline of democracy in Nigeria was so devastating that it shouldn’t be given any opportunity of resurrecting in Nigeria again; not even in Osun! Essentially therefore, All Progressives Congress (APC) needs to, as a matter of urgency, upgrade its political arsenal in line with international best practices. Instructively, post-Isiaka Adeleke controversies have compelled Nigerians to tie the party’s success in future elections to its ability to prevent any internal squabbles from imploding into unmanageable conflagrations.

“The purpose of life,” according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that” one has “lived and lived well.” It is interesting to note that Kehinde Agboola as the man at the centre of it all has over the years discharged himself as a man of honour – always as plain as the nose on his face. As a matter of fact, our friendship dates back to our days as students and hall mates at the University of Ilorin where his candour and forthrightness eventually led him to become the president of the institution’s Student Union Government. Yours sincerely ended up serving as Editor-in-Chief in that government. Aren’t Nigerians surprised therefore that the lawmaker and Omokri belong to the same political party?

But then, why did Prophet Elijah, once credited with slaughtering prophets of Baal in their hundreds have to speak to his legs on mere threats from a woman? Well, this is where Muhammadu Buhari’s roles as president and leader of the party come in! Frankly, the APC-led national government needs to do more, especially, in the area of strategic marketing of its policies, programmes and achievements. In my candid view, constructive engagements on how to exit the salary quagmire which has the potential to become a national embarrassment if not carefully handled ought to have been populating the space by now. Yes, the president’s“frowning at the inability of state governors to pay outstanding salaries” of their workers is right on point. However, accompanying it with a good measure of extreme caution is also important, taking into consideration the dead-and-about-to-be-buried opposition’s capacity for shameful inequities.

Again, what’s Aregbesola’s sin? Put in strict terms, it is either the Jonathanist was not well-informed about Aregbesola’s huge impact on the state’s economy or he has willfully acquired a certain notoriety for walking where success fears to walk.

For the avoidance of doubt, the governor is a confident administrator and sure carrier of hope whose achievements have propped up Nigerians’ belief in themselves.

Lastly, let Omokri be reminded that PDP-controlled states like Ekiti, Enugu, Abia, Taraba, Ebonyi and Bayelsa are also captured in this witches-and-wizards-created salary turmoil. From the foregoing, subscribing to such silliness as Aregbesola having “tens of cars in his convoy” will always remain the exclusive preserve of ‘narrow thinkers.’

And Reno refers to our governor’s performance as “massive failure”? Honestly, facts on ground point to the contrary!

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, scatter!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

 

Osun And The Gospel Of Parliamentary Democracy

By Abiodun Komolafe

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, local government elections will hold in the State of Osun on January 27, 2018. At least, 332 councilorship slots will be up for grabs in an election scheduled to be the first of its kind in the life of the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration. Not only that, it will be the first in the history of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic that parliamentary practice will be given a shot at the Local Government level.

While some professional doubters may wish to liken Osun to an administrative jungle where laws are brazenly breached and, constitutionalism, flagrantly abused, Section 22 of the Local Government (Administration) Law Cap 72A, Vol. 4, Laws of Osun State 2002 as amended states as follows: “There shall be for each Local Government a Chairman and a Vice Chairman who shall be elected by the councillors of the Local Government Council from among themselves. The Chairman and Vice Chairman shall only be elected among the councillors of the political party that has majority seat in the Local Government Council.” So, why parliamentary system in  Osun?

By the way, what does Aregbesola stand to gain by daring to walk with clear  conviction where  even  angels dare  to  tread and what roles does has the “inchoate” problem associated with Local Government creation in Nigeria {ref: Supreme Court’s judgement in AG Lagos v AG Federation (2004) 20 NSCQLR 99A} got to play in all of these?

Without doubt, the creation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), Area  Councils and Administrative Offices in Osun was a political masterstroke by this government and Aregbesola deserves commendation for giving Osun a sense of direction and purpose. Lest we forget,  ‘Ogbeni’, as he is fondly called, was a prominent member of the Bola Tinubu-led team that midwifed the  LCDA  system in  Lagos State. That he is again finding a new path to rehabilitate our democracy in line with the views and position of the people clearly attests to his valued intelligence, unquestionable optimism and endless hope for a better Nigeria.  One can only pray other leaders would tap into the sheer force of his personality and the power of his ideas.
Again, why the introduction of parliamentary system in Osun and where do we go for succor, in case our cherished system becomes captivated by the culture of corruption and inefficient management system usually associated with our Nigerianness?

By design, parliamentary democracy is meant to encourage quicker legislative action, primarily because the executive branch is a product of the support of the legislative branch which in turn “includes members of the legislature.” In an environment like ours where ethnic, racial, even religious and ideological animosity has been elevated into statecraft, parliamentary practice serves as an effective instrument for direct political participation and even distribution of power. Also, the likelihood of a drastic drop in the rush for; and friction at the centre under parliamentary practice is high. And, apart from its ability to carry along with it a spectacular increase in political activities across the state, Aregbesola’s innovative revolution is most likely to generate robust discussions on the way forward for a democratic Nigeria.

Quite clearly, it is because we have failed to test our laws that dysfunctional political system has become commonplace scandal in Nigeria. Contrary to projections, parliamentary system runs the risk of becoming a mere fig leaf by which Nigerians seek good governance and socio-economic liberation unless the fine issues of its cumulative impact are clearly defined. In any case, this is where the involvement of critical stakeholders likes the youth, traditional institutions and civil society groups in exploring all the opportunities that  an election of this nature and timing presents comes in. Church and  State must also collaborate in the overall interest of the electorate’s exploring the strengths and inspirations that the exercise will be throwing open. Essentially, political parties must read the signs right by going into the contest with their best, votes-worthy candidates.

Walter Bagehot famously describes ability to do “what the people say you cannot do”  as “the greatest pleasure in life.”  Like a field of driven snow, Osun governorship election is  less than a year away! Agreed! No two elections are the same. However, the tragedy of victory is that success at the January 2018 poll may not necessarily translate into  victory on September 22, 2018 unless some purposeful political reengineering is done where necessary. On the other hand, the fact that All Progressives Congress (APC) got it wrong on July  8, 2017 does not mean that all hope is lost for the party. All the more reason the Aregbesola-led administration must pray towards turning the counsel of the Ahithophels to nought! Truth be told:  Nigerians are hungry and their quality of life has become so unimpressive that, should the opportunity present itself again, one is not in doubt of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recalibrating  the illusion of ‘belonging to nobody’ and “everybody”. Sad therefore that Osun is being treated as a case in isolation!

At a time like this, clarifying extant confusions troubling Nigeria’s Israel may tend to suffer from conceptual impressions. Petty quarrels among brothers also have the capacity to snowball into politically-motivated eruptions of cataclysmic proportions if not accorded the honour of fragility it deserves. To this end, necessary steps must be taken to urgently address all ideological disputations that may want to pitch APC members in the tents of Us versus Us. Most importantly, the salary dislocation which has so far proved to be no respecter of party, racial or gender affiliations must be courageously confronted in a way that will ultimately  leave all parties convinced that the country’s present pass truly has an expiry date.

Let me by way of conclusion state that, on a good day, an election of this shape and size should afford members of the ruling party a rare opportunity of closing ranks for the purpose of retaining the state for the party in 2018. The hope is that events as they happened in Edo State on September 28, 2016 and Ondo State on November 26, 2016 would provide lessons sufficient enough for the ruling party to deactivate opposition’s fantasy that it is the party of choice in Osun.

May the Strength of Israel grant our leaders the wisdom to lead us aright!

*KOMOLAFE  writes  in  from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria  ([email protected])

Lessons From Ijebu-Jesa, By Abiodun Komolafe

 

“Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.”     –            Henry Ward Beecher

Ijebu-Jesa has a new king and his name his Oba Moses Ilufemiloye Agunsoye II! May God’s name be praised!

Before his appointment, I doubt if I  had the  opportunity of  meeting the late Oba Taiwo Aribisala before  his appointment as  Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa in the State of Osun. However, what influenced his eventual choice as successor to the throne  of Agigiri Egboroganlada has been eloquently summarized by Oyeniyi Ajifowobaje: “When you live in Lagos, work in Jos, still worship at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew’s, Ijebu-Jesa every Sunday; when you’re a director in a Federal Government parastatal, still, you relate with the young, old, rich and the peasants of Egboroland; … when the door of your house is wide open to the needy; when your house in Mushin is secretariat and hostel to applicants  of Ijebu-Jesa descent in Lagos”, then you’re the people’s choice for the throne.”

With the passing of Oba Taiwo Aribisala on March 11, 2017, the Elegboro stool became vacant, which in turn opened the space for the ruling houses in the ancient town to vie for the exalted throne. Oba Aribisala was from the Ajigiteri Ruling House and he was the 23rd Oba of Ijebu-Jesa. He was 88 years!

Let me start by congratulating Governor Rauf Aregbesola for ensuring a level playing field while the process lasted. In my view, that’s one of the important attributes of a good leader. That the people celebrated its outcome was a confirmation of Oba Agunsoye’s approval by our ancestors.

At a time like this, it is pertinent to thank God for the life of our king. For the avoidance of doubt, Oba Agunsoye has paid his dues. Thank God: providence has now crowned his efforts. A man of unmistaken vision who prefers to lead by example, Agunsoye is tantalizingly rich in humility and unquestionably plush in generosity. In his own little ways, Kabiyesi now belongs to the class of the Nelson Mandelas, Oscar Romeros, Jamie Cardinal Sins and Oladele Olashores of this world who, even at great risks to personal comfort, opted to side with the downtrodden.

Nikos Kazantzakis once prescribed belief in one’s capacity as a prerequisite for success.  My journey through life has brought me face-to-face with how ignorance could prevent some people from having a human face. For instance, it was Oba Olashore who sponsored my first degree (Ref: ‘Oladele Olashore at 70’, ThisDay, February 18, 2005); while Akin Fatodu of ‘Olufemi Fatodu Foundation’ lent a helping hand during my postgraduate studies. Archbishop Olukayode Akinyemi and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah’s contributions on my way up the ladder were also immense.

If I may expand my argument, twice I wrote to the late Umar  Ali  Shinkafi  (on  November 7,  1994;  and December  24,  1996)  to seek financial assistance for my first degree programme. In two separate letters, dated  December  14,  1994  and January 20,  1996;  and signed by Ngozi  Asoya,  his  Special  Assistant, Marafan Sokoto merely conveyed  “best wishes”. My letter to Oba Otudeko, dated January 8, 1991 and a  follow-up chat with one Seyi Oduntan at Honeywell’s Ilupeju, Lagos office ended at the level of opening a file!

Earlier, I had written to the-then Colonel Abdul Kareem Adisa in his capacity as the Military Governor of the old Oyo State. Adisa was so “concerned” about my “plight” that, in a letter dated April 25, 1991 and signed by one T.A. Oyeleye, he directed me to my Local Government for assistance. I did as directed, but nobody did anything! For the constraint of space, let me stop here!

I decided to tell this story to show how small-but-constant drops of water could help make a hole in a stone. For instance, Oba Olasore’s total financial support for my pursuit was N19,000, spread over a period of four academic sessions (1992 – 1997); and Fatodu ‘supplied’ N23,500 during my postgraduate studies (2000 – 2003). In truth, but for these Good Samaritans’ interventions, I probably would have ended up a dropout in life.

Well, this is the kernel of my argument. Olashore did not fight for Ajagbusi-Ekun stool after the death of his father before his antecedents bequeathed it to him. Even, after Oladele’s passing, the stool was reportedly reserved for his eldest son. It was after all entreaties to persuade Olakunle failed that the kingmakers contemplated a replacement. In like manner, our preference for Oba Agunsoye is a call to higher service to humanity.

Unimpressed by the state of our youth in Ijebu-Jesa, I was once compelled to write a letter to the late Oba Aribisala. In the letter, I pleaded with him to rally the rich and the affluent in the town with a charge to rise to the plight of our youth. On December 31, 1997,  I had the honour of meeting the late monarch in his private residence and he assured me that all hands were “on deck” to ennoble  “the young  and the old”. On an auspicious occasion like this therefore, one can only enjoin Oba Agunsoye to look into the plight of our teeming youth who, though employable, remain terribly unemployed, primarily, due to the selfishness of the socio-economic and political leeches who latch around the corridors of power for transient, pecuniary conveniences.

Like Nigeria, our major challenges in Ijebu-Jesa are not unconnected with poverty, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness. But how can the Ijesaness in us shun the expression of pains and anguish in a chat-show of fluidity, pettiness and emptiness?  Why should we continue to pray with empty stomachs in the wilderness of abandonment and a terrain replete with vanity and debauchery?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant our king the wisdom to pursue the prosperity of the people of my Native Nazareth!

APC: Their Party, Their Enemies By Abiodun Komolafe

Nigeria is out of recession! So, let all men of goodwill clink glasses in celebration of the valuable worth of a country that will neither wear out nor rust out!

Having said that, to say that all is well with party politics in Nigeria, especially, as 2019 draws nearer, depends on which side the observer is looking at. Like Siamese twins, things are scarily looking up for the ruling party and the opposition is closer to fire than it is to frying pan.  The political lion and the economic bear are strategizing; even the wolves and the hyenas of our ethno-religious belongingness are waiting in the wings, desperately hoping to devour whatever remains of the country called Nigeria. It is therefore time Nigeria’s David woke up to the responsibility of killing the uncircumcised Philistines before they kill Nigeria dead. In my considered opinion, such an important task must start from the State of Osun!

With only one year to the end of the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration as governor of Osun, it’s expected that the party in government at the national level would have examined all its cards in the overall interest of retaining power in the state. The challenge of power-shift, the sudden death of ‘Serubawon’ and the replacement of Adeleke with Adeleke, among others, have further underscored what needs to be done to rescue its Israel from losing focus of what lies ahead.

From the look of things, the configurations are somehow unsynchronized and, if the permutations are not carefully handled, they may lead to conflagrations of unimaginable proportions which one can only pray would not consume the party. For all I care, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) brought us to this sorry pass and it shouldn’t be allowed to take us for collective amnesiacs. Essentially therefore, genuine plans by All Progressives Congress (APC) to remain in Aso Rock in 2019 should start with retaining Osun for the party in 2018.

On the road to this all-important victory, there may be some thistles and thorns which must be clinically uprooted before things get out of hand. For the constraint of time and space, I will restrict myself to only a few. First is the issue of salary, pensions and allowances of its workers which must be proactively resolved in order to prevent the ravenous, drained and docile opposition from wickedly feasting on a national stench to rubbish Aregbesola’s achievements. Apart from the fact that more than 20 other states in the country are also caught in this web, the recently-held peaceful protest by retired military pensioners in Abuja to, among other things, demand “the payment of balance of gratuities of contributory pensions” and University College Hospital(UCH) doctors’14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, also on salary- and allowances-related matters are indications that the challenges being faced by Nigeria’s workers are not limited to Osun. Also in this group are Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU).

To be fair to him, Aregbesola saw this coming as far back as 2013 and immediately took measures to confront it through salary apportionment. But, rather than appreciate his foresight, the governor was needlessly vilified and unnecessarily pilloried. As Nigerians can now see, the road once forthrightly travelled by Osun is what is now giving some states like Kogi, Ondo, even Bayelsa States a lot of hassles.

Secondly, APC must avoid becoming victims of its own wrong choice. All over the world, cutting the nose to spite the face as a way of resolving differences has never been found to work wonders. Those who doubt this assertion had better ask members of the now-expired President Goodluck Jonathan’s party how it feels to be on the other side of the rung. Indeed, this is where those insisting that Aregbesola should “play aloof” in the succession battle but are in turn hobnobbing with men of questionable characters who spend more time in the courtrooms, attending to one allegation of impropriety or the other than they do to their constitutionally-assigned responsibilities, also owe Nigerians some explanations!

At a time like this, regular meetings and wide consultations aimed at gestating and fertilizing ideas on how to move the party forward cannot be said to be unimportant. Impliedly, if the government has not been blowing its trumpet well enough, it is time the Esther in APC who first saw herself as a mere housewife was woken up by its Mordecai. And this is where the involvement of committed foot soldiers, especially, the youth, becomes relevant.

Thirdly, complacency at a time like this may be dangerous, both for the ruling party and Nigerians. The realness or otherwise of the claim that empowerment has always been a scarce commodity within the progressive camp must also be critically looked into in the interest of the party. In my considered opinion, positive steps must be taken to correct wrong or negative impressions so as not to confer an undue advantage on the opposition.

But all about Osun is not a tale of woes. As a matter of fact, the state has gone too far to look back and credit must be given to the forward-looking governor. Within a very short period of seven years, Aregbesola has given a new hope of a state gloriously conquering, not miserably failing! For example, while the state continues to pay sufficient attention to the education of its students,  every teacher on its payroll now knows that he or she has the potentials to rise up to the topmost level of his or her career. Through activities of the Osun Broilers Outgrowers Programme Scheme, aka OBOPS, the state has not only “placed Osun second to Oyo State in broiler production in the country”, “about 1,000 farmers and over-3,000 food vendors” have also been gainfully employed. In Osun, cases of Poliomyelitis are now consigned to the past due to the administration’s effective and extensive immunization initiatives. It will also interest readers to know that the state came 9th in the just concluded National Youth Games with 9 Gold (including 3 Non-Scoring), 5 Silver and 4 Bronze medals, the first of its kind in a long while.

All said, who is a better politician: one who builds bridges across the Niger through provision for, and investment in his people or one who merely constructs bridges across the stomach?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, backfire!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

 

Education: Our Take in Osun

By Abiodun Komolafe

Festus Adedayo’s article, entitled “WAEC results: Of Awo’s mud houses and governor’s model greed’ (Sunday Tribune, August 20, 2017) refers.

Let me start by congratulating Adebayo for confessing the roles of “societal ills like fixing of results, hiring pliable invigilators and allied ills” in states’ actual performance in education. At least, rational minds can now understand why Osun prefers year-on-year performance in the West African Examinations Council (WAEC)results to WAEC rankings for planning purposes. Again, even if the writer was not bold enough to come clean on the state which, in his reckoning, “towers from behind on WAEC’s score sheets”, I have no doubt in my mind that his ignorance about developments in Osun needs some form of education.

That said, had Adedayo carried out a specific, not generalized evaluation of students’ performance in Nigeria, he most certainly would have realized that the case on hand and a hunchback’s awkward movement are identical. For instance, Rauf Aregbesola came into office as governor when almost all things were dull and ugly. Specifically, our school buildings were in such dilapidated forms that they were only fit for habitation by pests and rodents. As at 2010, the ‘performance level of students in WAEC’ was a miserable 15.7%. With this sorry state of development, Aregbesola’s administration was of the view that, if our students must go to school at all, there was an urgent need to move from where we were to where we were supposed to be! In other words; and, for economic reasons, there was an urgent need for the administration to erect new structures, not only for the moment but also for the future. Of course, that was it all started!

Interestingly, these interventions have started bearing fruits. For instance, as at 2016, Osun’s performance level in WAEC has risen to 46.3% which is quite a huge jump in the number of students with credit passes in English and Mathematics. A better performance is being keenly expected in 2017. Similarly, Osun has, since 2013, been featuring prominently between the 1st and 3rd positions in the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) matriculatable students in Nigeria. Added to these is the higher level of enrollment and retention at the elementary school level which is due, largely, to the positive impact of the School Feeding programme, aka O’MEAL. The totality of all these interventions has been a consistent increase in school certificate results since 2010. Yes, Osun is not there yet! But, with various interventions in the sector, it’s only a matter of time before ‘Hallelujah’takes the centre stage!

For obvious reasons, Adedayo would remember World Bank’s recommendation of Peter Obi’s “model for Africa and other developing countries” but would easily forget the laurels, commendations, even recommendations garnered by Osun in appreciation of its laudable initiatives, latest of which was the recommendation of its O’MEAL scheme to other Nigerian states by United Nations International and Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Was our friend not in Nigeria when WAECalsorecommended Osun’sTablet of Knowledge (Opon Imo) to other states?A case of different strokes?

It is also “poor logic” on his part to have concluded that the learning environment has no bearing on the improvement in performance. On the contrary, if the former is conducive, chances are that the latter will be positively affected. Again, if Adedayo could condemn Aregbesola’s modest contributions to Nigeria’s education sector, one can only wonder what differentiates him from those “critics” of 1954 who accused Obafemi Awolowo of “opting for ‘substandard’ buildings.” Not only that, if “400,000 pupils turned up” for Awo’s scheme in 1955, “contrary to his projected 175,000”, has he carried out an assessment study of what O’MEAL has done for education in Osun?

The Columnistcontradicted himself when, in one breath, he likened Rotimi Amaechi’s “structures of primary and secondary schools” to“private universities in the West” while in another, he condemned Aregbesola for erecting “cozy buildings” in Osun! He also goofed when he brazenly accused“a governor in one of the South West states” of being  “so obsessed with structures that he demolishes old school structures”. We challenge our friend to come real on those schools that were ‘demolished’ and the reasons behind their demolition. To the best of my knowledge, no school was demolished for the building of DTTC Middle School in Ijebu-Jesa; and I doubt if any“old school structure” was removed in Osogbo to pave the way for Osogbo Government High School. On ‘school uniform’, I believe that has been sufficiently addressed in Bola Bolawole’s column(See Sunday Tribune, August 6, 2017).

Let Adedayo also note that more than 12,000 new teachers were hired in 2012 to replace those who quit the service due to their disinterest in the Contributory Pension regime.And, in addition to streamlining and decentralizing the management of education for optimum performance, Aregbesola’s administration has also added 23 Elementary Schools and 22 Middle Schools to the existing structures while 4 out of 12 High Schools structures – all high-capacity schools – are already in use. More than 40 schools have also been completely refurbished in order to enhance the learning environment. The creation of three tutors-General and the about-to-be-created nine Headmaster-General positions, are aimed at paying sufficient attention to the early-stage development of pupils.

Of course, Adedayo failed to tell Nigerians what the once-rejected Awo’s Free Education went through – even in the West – before it eventually became the corner piece. He also erred in branding some states as champions in education! For God’s sake, is he aware that Edo and Ekiti States are far behind in the payment of pension allowances and salaries to their teachers?

Lastly, if Adebayo thinks that erection of“cozy structures” or “construction of roads and bridges”are synonymous with making “substantial billions of naira kick-backs”, then, Nigerians are expecting his better ideas.’ But who will take our friend through some tutorials in building technology, especially, with regard to the expansion and contraction characteristics of mud which limit its lifespan to a maximum of40 years?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, scatter!

*Komolafe writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State ([email protected])

Succession Politics And The Limit of Ignorance

By Abiodun KOMOLAFE

Osun West Senatorial bye-election has come and gone, not unexpectedly, with its twists and turns; sounds and bites. Victors have since July 8, 2017 been counting their blessings while losers have also been unrelenting in licking their wounds with threatening affection! On the whole, June 21, 2014 has again happened to the progressive camp in the State of Osun and one can only pray that appropriate lessons from whatever remains of its wacky outcome would not be wasted on the altar of ego and sycophancy. It is also believed that ingrates and renegades who have turned the misfortune brought upon the state by Isiaka Adeleke’s sudden death into a ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ personality clash will ‘sheathe’ their swords for the good of the party and country.

Except we want to be economical with the truth, what played out on July 8 was the opposition’s way of telling Nigerians that, given the opportunity, it can still use the weapons of rice, money and other instruments of ‘stomach infrastructure’ to spring surprises on soft targets. Unfortunately, the ruling party’s inability to keep its house in order nationally, plus economic reforms that have, for want of a better expression, been struggling to put food on the table of the common man are rubbing off on the states and may affect the party’s fortunes in future elections if concrete steps are not taken to address the situation. All Progressives Congress (APC) needs to wake up from its slumber, cutoff the pretence and carry out clearance operations before it is too late.

Nigeria is in tough times and all eyes can see it. The political turf is heating up as we gradually approach another election year and it is as if those who never wished Muhammadu Buhari and his government well have now had their prayers answered. The economy is bleeding and it seems as if the national government is satisfied with snoring on a mattress overstuffed with excuses as a way out of the socio-economic logjam. In politics, little things count. Taking refuge in short-term measures, even when they are energy-sapping or funds-demanding, go a long way in addressing the nasty tragedies, extant confusions and conceptual impressions that have been threatening the fragility of the egg called Nigeria. Behaving as if 2018 is 1000 years away,or as if 2019 will never come, will not help a ruling party that is already being derided as ‘can do better as an opposition party.’

At a time like this, Osun comes to mind. APC must do all it takes, lawfully, to remain in power so as to prevent a reversal of the gains of the last seven years. Osun cannot withstand a repeat of the disaster of the years eaten by the locust, when our common patrimony was used to cater to the needs of some selfish few. It is common knowledge that all the gratuitous attacks, barefaced lies and harebrained fabrications against the Rauf Aregbesola-led government are mere samples of what to expect in next year’s governorship election. To be honest with ourselves, APC’s defeat in the last bye-election was facilitated from within by the Judas Iscariot who embraced coded languages to give performance a new meaning.The challenge of change, salary quagmire, even pensioners’ palaver played secondary roles.

With regard to 2018, all I see for the progressive in Osun is victory; and Aregbesola’s outstanding performance in office is an indication that the battle has already been won! But this is not to say that there won’t be challenges on the road to this assured victory. In any case, that’s the beauty of democracy! Anything short of that is a recipe for chaos! For instance, while no government has ever done a quarter of what this administration has done for Osun since its creation, it is rather unfortunate that Aregbesola is seen out there more as a ‘salary unpaying’ government than one that has turned the state into ‘construction site’. Sadly, too, while issues surrounding the salary challenge point in the direction of a national crisis, that some ‘food-for-the-stomach’, false democrats are insisting that Osun’s should be treated as a case in isolation is a mystery for students of political history to unravel.

So much has been said about democracy described by Abraham Lincoln as “the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But if this system of government thrives in a society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges, why do Nigerians continue to suffer, irresistibly, from what Pius Adesanmi once referred to as “acute malaria”? When, for instance, KunleOlogundudu accused KayodeFayemi of using state funds to build mansions as well as run a private university, why did the electorate gullibly subscribe to the untruth without raising a finger? Similarly, why has Osun suddenly become the rumour capital of Nigeria and what’s being done to present issues as they are? When has it become a crime to democratically avoid the resurrection of a deadly Wike/Amaechi crisis or the replication of a ‘Tarka-me-I-Daboh-you’ Kwankwanso/Ganduje face-off in Osun? Apart from other laudable programmes undertaken by this administration, have we forgotten its noble contributions to the triumph of no fewer than 50 of our medical students in Ukraine?

More importantly, why have some quarters not appreciated Osun’s innovative means of alleviating the plight of its workers through its salary apportionment approach? With this regime in place, only a section of workers on grade level 12 and above (that is, about 20% of the state’s total workforce) have been receiving 50% of their gross salaries based on an agreement between the government and the labour union. “Outside that, officers on levels 8-10 receive 75 percent of their salaries while officers on levels 7 and below who constitute about 65% of the workforce receive their full pay.” Good to note also that “all workers in the state have received their salaries up to” July 2017 “in line with the agreement the government has with workers.” The fulfillment of its promise to pay the outstanding as soon as the financial fortunes of the state improve can be seen in the judicious disbursement of the second tranche of the Paris Club refunds.

Let’s come to the issue of “the same uniform”, a policy which, in more than a manner of speaking, elicits interesting ideas that should naturally tempt one into scrutinizing some important assumptions. Ignorantly or mischievously, Aregbesola’s traducers have not only forgotten the advantages that attended its implementation, they have also gone a step further to describe it as an ‘it can only happen in Osun’ affair. For the avoidance of doubt, “the same uniform” policy has long been in existence in countries like Australia, Brazil, Cambodia,Chile, China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

If the aforementioned countries are examples too far to cite, what of Ghana and Benin Republic, our next-door neighbours?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, scatter!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, NigeriaKOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

Abiodun KOMOLAFE,

020, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.

Death And The Governor’s Mother, By Abiodun Komolafe

“Life levels all men. Death reveals the eminent.”

– George Bernard Shaw

Rauf Aregbesola must be an extremely sad man, feeling empty and alone, as we speak. This is because, in a spate of two weeks, the governor of the State of Osun has lost two particularly dear friends to the cold fangs of death. First to answer the final call was Olu Abiola, a foremost industrialist, socialite and philanthropist who was not only “an invaluable asset in the business world”, but also “gave his all to the cause of” Aregbesola’s administration. Abiola gave up the ghost on July 16, 2017 and the world mourned the passing of a patriot! Two weeks after, precisely, on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, the matriarch of the Aregbesola family in Ilesa, and the governor’s mother, Alhaja Saratu Aregbesola, also exited this sad, sick and insane world of war and the vagaries of its sinfulness. Rauf lost her beloved mother and a chapter in the history of his events-filled life came to a close.

Though grieving is a natural reaction to a loss, the solace in these two sad events is that both grew relatively old before accessing the hereafter. Like Abiola, Iya Olobi, as she was fondly called, will be sorely missed by the governor. Just recently, the governor informed a stunned audience that he has three homes in Osun State. First is Government House at Oke Fia in Osogbo, his official residence. Second is her mother’s, in Ilaje, Ilesa. And third is Abiola’s house in Oke Omiru, also in Ilesa. Now,  two of  these ‘homes’ are bereaved and one can imagine the gravity of the governor’s grief.

As we all know, being a governor’s mother, especially, in this part of the world carries along with it a lot of responsibilities. The ‘challenge’ of that office is so threateningly enormous that, once upon a time in Nigeria, a ‘Mother Excellency’ almost seized control of the powers constitutionally vested in her son as governor of a state. But Aregbesola was with a difference! I doubt if she ever interfered in governance issues in Osun. And it’s not recorded anywhere that she ever used her influence to curry favour anywhere. The present state of the road on which her house in Ilesa is situated bears eloquent testimony to this.

But, what is life that its “meter just keeps a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or just standing still”? On the other hand, why is death described as “a gift to have more life” and why did Walker Scott see it as “the final awakening”? Of course, that’s why I seriously disagree with Will Rogers that being a hero is more of knowing when to die because “prolonged death has ruined more men than it ever made.” For instance, were Rauf to have a choice between losing his mother now, when the possibility of the state shutting down to accord her a befitting burial is high, and letting her live longer till say, when “the phones no longer ring”, I’m sure he’d have opted for the latter. That goes to explain the importance of parents in a man’s life!

Iya Olobi’s vision of life was remarkable. She trained her children, sometimes, through the seeming endless valleys of travails, to become responsible citizens in the society. She neither wavered nor faltered in nurturing them, sometimes through the physical thistles and the psychological toughness of a journey of life which, in many instances, attempted to dilute her faith. Despite the winding and the wearisome nature of the journey, she did all that’s worth doing  to give her children’s future a meaning.

“Life”, in Marion Howard’s words, “is like a blanket – too short.”  This  “mutual hostility” is also said to be about wars; you win some, you lose some. Sadly, but with total submission to the will of Allah, Iya Olobi has lost the final struggle of life to death! So, rather than grieve over what’s inevitable, the governor and his siblings should reflect and, with hearts full of praise, appreciate God for having such a wonderful mother who has in no small way added value to their lives. More importantly, the governor should be thankful to the Allah for letting his mother see him through success, notably, as an engineer, a ‘chattered politician”, and “an astute administrator with a vision, one blessed with the ability to picture into the fortunes, hopes and desires of a future which best is yet to come for dear state.”

Like mother, like son! Japheth Omojuwa describes him as a “seemingly ordinary man with the proven extraordinary abilities” while Joe Igbokwe sees him as “a repository of trust and confidence among his followers.” Aregbesola has helped a great deal in the transformation of Osun from the shameless sensualities of the Ancient Times and the ruthless ferocity of the Dark Ages into “a developed, cleaner, safer and more beautiful state” that, in another 30 years, Osun will no doubt be a reference point to other states in terms of infrastructure development. His promise of a brighter future has been unsurpassable in the history of the state. Little wonder Aregbesola is one of the most outstanding and credible personalities the Nigerian nation has ever known.

In 1890, Crowfoot on his deathbed famously referred to life as the “flash of a firefly in the night“; “the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime“; and “the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Without doubt, Iya Olobi’s life brings to memory All Progressives Party (APC), interestingly, a political party co-founded and nurtured into adulthood by his governor-son. Truth be told, APC is fractured in not less than 10 states. Wolves in sheep’s clothing and politicians with no fixed identity are threatening the survival of the party and it seems as if the Father Christmas of our immediate past has lost the essence of his gift. But I believe that this challenge is not insurmountable if only the leadership can learn some salient lessons from the life, travails and the triumph of Rauf’s mother. Her inspiring life and unwavering commitment to excellence have shown that living in questionable submission to the fatal fantasies of life is not always an option.

May Allah grant the soul of the faithful departed Al-Janat!

Ameen!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State ([email protected])

Abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.