Osun State In The Last Six Years, By Abiodun Komolafe

In one of his essays, American author, Wilfred Peterson wrote: “big thinking precedes great achievement.” With the benefit of hindsight, Rauf Aregbesola has left his marks on history and his successors will have to do a lot to rival his achievements. And, as the governor marks six years as Osun State helmsman, an attempt at appraising his stewardship is, in my view, not out of place.

Let’s start with the Education sector where Aregbesola’s rich, nurturing, and healing contributions are well known to students of political history. In the last six years, his administration has successfully completed about 100 out of the promised 170 mega schools. Others, though delayed due to obvious reasons, are more than 60% completed. With the employment of about 7,350 teachers, professionally trained and equipped to improve learning in public schools; and with the retraining of more than 5000 others, one is not left in doubt about the “remarkable improvement in the pass rate of students presented for the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE)from 6.86% in 2007 to 46.3% in 2016.”

With the creation of Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency, Aregbesola’s government has also succeeded in restoring high quality education, discipline and morality into our schools. And, apart from being the only state in the country that has so far been providing free, nutritious lunch for its primary school pupils through its now-repackaged Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Scheme, the programme, alongside others such as youth empowerment and elderly welfare schemes, have been adopted by the Federal Government.

Pundits will agree with me that, in a recessed economy such as we have found ourselves, diversification is one sure way out of the woods. Aregbesola creatively recognizes the importance of agriculture as the ‘future of Osun State’. Little wonder he has visited no fewer than six farm settlements in recent times. In simple language, a visit of this size and shape will not only aim at reviving the glory of the sector, it is also an avenue to get first-hand information from the farmers with a view to improving the revenue base of the state. It is also in a bid to make Osun State the food hub of the Southwest region that 20 of its youth were recently sent to Germany, a country renowned for her industrial and technological edge, to learn the science of mechanized farming.

At a time like this, we need to challenge those who claim to have been championing our cause to reveal to us the structure and the nomenclature of our cause. Quite frankly, I’ve always wondered why a 25-year old state like Osun could not boast of at least 25 first-rate, world-class industries! In truth, that was the sorry state of the state before Aregbesola changed it for good. RLG Technology Institute, Ilesa; Omoluabi Garment Industries, Osogbo; and Bola Ige Mechatronics Institute, Esa-Oke among others, have not only come to stay, they, alongside the once-moribund-but-now-revived Cocoa Products Industry in Ede are now adding to the state’s revenue base.

Again, we shouldn’t forget in a hurry his bold step in according Osogbo its pride of place in the comity of state capitals in Nigeria even as he deserves commendation for his intervention in local government administration in the state. With the creation and successful take-off of 61 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs); 3 Area Offices; and 2 Administrative Offices from the former 31 Local Government Areas, Aregbesola has succeeded in bringing government closer to the people, apart from the encouragement of even development of towns and villages within the state and positive improvement in the state’s revenue base.

Kudos to this visionary leader for the importance his government attaches to the socio-economic revivification and huge infrastructural development of the state! Aregbesola’s quality leadership could also be felt in the rehabilitation and equipping of government hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities. Apart from the building of Diabetes Centre at Ede, in collaboration with some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), state hospitals all over the state were also upgraded in line with global standards; and procurement of drugs from our hospitals have become so simplified that patients can now walk in and get drugs without the usual bottlenecks hitherto attached to the process.

Welcome ‘OponÌmò’, the stand-alone, e-learning device, which has unfortunately become an object of needless, benighted controversies. While Aregbesola’s traducers characteristically see it as yet another in the series of successive governments’ phony projects though which funds are senselessly siphoned into private pockets, it must be noted that, economy-induced challenges notwithstanding, not less than 23,000 units of the customized computer were distributed to pupils in Osun State-owned schools during the first phase while the second phase which took effect in November 2015 is still in progress. As we speak, those already retrieved from outgone students are undergoing reconfiguration to give students newly-promoted to SSS 3 class the equal opportunity of using the ‘Tablet of Knowledge’.

Democracy hath no fury than a people abandoned! Give it to the astute administrator who has succeeded in building a productive and workable system. Today, issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) goes for as low as N30,000.00 as against N100,000.00 for a piece of land measured 15 by 30 metre (50 by 100) and it can be got within 3 months. We have the ‘Omoluabi Scale’ (Osunwon Omoluabi), put in place, principally, to eliminate cheating and leverage on the control of commodity pricing while not overlooking its advantageous health implications.

The politically-motivated Hijab narrative! The economy-induced salary palaver! The storm-in-a-teacup merger of schools! The ridiculously over-bloated Osun debt profile! And, of course, the alleged Islamization agenda! As Aregbesola’s government is midterm and sort of winding down, one cannot but expect more of distracting surprises from closest allies, distressing betrayal from false friends, willful nonsense from hitherto party members, obsessive egotism from the narrow, uneducated mind, deceitful drama from the weird, stunningly ignorant whose portion is in beliefs that reject persuasion; and frustrating innuendos from the “foxes, the little foxes” scandalously scheming to pitch the governor’s administration into turmoil. In any case, these are some of the hypocritical ingredients of the ‘nothing-goes-according-to-plan’ political broth and only focussed governance can serve as antidote!

In 2013, Osun emerged with lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria! But how come we are where we are and where do we go from here? The truth, the bitter truth is that Nigeria’s current economic situation and its attendant complications are signals sufficient enough to warn this notoriously extractive, not productive, system that something needs to give before it is too late! As things stand, no fewer than 33 states are struggling to pay their workers’ salaries and more than 25 of them are prisoners to the bailout loans given to states earlier in the life of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. Should Federal Government deem it fit to cancel these loans, allocations accruing to states from the Federation Account will heave a sigh of relief and Osun will be better for it. Furthermore, with right regulations and incentives, coupled with efficient monitoring of loans disbursement to farmers, it’s just a matter of time before agriculture regains its lost glory in the state.

Similarly, if the national government can actualize its promise of employing 200,000 youth before the year runs out, its trickle-down effect will in no small measure impact on the state’s economy. Over and above all, eventual formation of state executive council and constitution of local government administration will go a long way in creating the prosperity we desire in Osun.

All said, with Aregbesola’s honourable intentions, innovative interventions and crowning achievements, won’t we rather agree with Anthony Udofia that “it is globally acceptable to borrow money to do capital projects”?
May powers and personalities assigned to derail Osun’s beautiful destiny, scatter!

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

APC Imbroglio: Is Bola Tinubu Guilty? By Abiodun Komolafe

Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s call on John Odigie-Oyegun to resign as National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly derailing from the path of progressives continues to generate diverse opinions in the polity. The call, rather than being misconstrued by Tinubu’s antagonists should be seen for its altruistic value and content. It is about saving the soul of a ruling party that is still in its embryo.

But, while waiting to see how circumstances eventuate, some questions keep bothering me and if they are answered dispassionately, they may help put the understanding of the issue in proper perspective. Before all else, was Tinubu wrong in endorsing a candidate? Better put, did he, as the National Leader of a foremost party, do something he ought not to have done by allegedly asking all the aspirants to work for his preferred choice (Punch, September 3, 2016)? Also, and, in fairness to the facts, is Tinubu gradually losing out in Nigeria’s political space and what is the way out? As a matter of fact, what has become of the ruling party in so short a space of time and where lies the place of its founding fathers in all of this?

Well, while I may be insufficient at supplying answers to these troubling questions, until proven otherwise, I hold the notion that Odigie-Oyegun was either misunderstood, misrepresented or used by some principalities higher than him. Again, until there is evidence to the contrary, I am also of the firm belief that President Muhammadu Buhari is too decent a leader to be involved in this messy and rather childish tricks that take nobody anywhere.

Having said that, Nigerians will agree with me that, on a good day, the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State is a rare privilege for APC to present itself as a party of choice to the electorate. It is also an opportunity to test the waters a la Nigerians’ acceptance of its policies and programmes, preparatory to 2019. With the situation of things however, one can only pray it would not mess it up on the altar of some unbelievably self-inflicted wounds. From all indications, Mimiko as the Contestant-in-Chief looks well-prepared for the battle ahead and this ought to have spurred the opposition into going into the race with a formidable team for the overall purpose of enriching our democratic process. With Eyitayo Jegede, from a Senatorial District which, among other considerations, is noted for having the largest chunk of voters, as People’s Democratic Party, PDP’s governorship candidate; and John Ola Mafo, from an axis notorious for political characterizations similar to Alimosho in Lagos State, Oke Ogun in Oyo State and Florida in the United States of America, tentatively as Jegede’s deputy, the battle line is already drawn! While the import of these should not be lost on objective observers, we also need to bear in mind that Goodluck Jonathan, as fate would have it, is no longer in power. Impliedly, November 26, 2016 will most certainly follow a path different from the experience in Ekiti and Osun States in 2014. Little wonder the outgoing governor has been running ‘upandan’ to bung any inadequacy that is within his powers.

Kazi Shams was right when he described “half a truth” as “a whole lie.” From a state of denial to an overflowing scourge of anger, the troubling truth is that we deceive ourselves a lot in this country and this adds more confusion to the course of questions! Much as we would pretend not to know, life itself is full of lessons. It is also full of surprises. But, if care is not taken, one may concentrate more on the ‘surprise’ aspect of life to the detriment of its lessons. Anyway, since memories are real, those who wish to be unnecessarily emotions- and sentiments-driven should pause a bit and ponder the roles of Pharaoh in the life of Joseph (Genesis 45:46); King Xerxes in Mordecai’s (Esther 10:3); Melchizedek in Abraham’s (Hebrews 7); the Widow of Zarephat in Prophet Elijah’s (1 Kings 17: 7-16); and ask Nigeria’s exceptionally good liars and professional pretenders what they would do better should they find themselves in Tinubu’s shoes before casting the first stone.

Again, if history is an oracle we must consult in order to determine the future, then, we need not forget in a hurry that, once upon a recent experience in Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida, in crude and rude connivance with some military top brass, not only endorsed Olusegun Obasanjo, they also ensured that he succeeded Abdusalami Abubakar as Nigeria’s president. Adams Oshiomhole stood by Godwin Obaseki at the just-concluded governorship election in Edo State. Even, Rotimi Akeredolu, the man in the eye of the storm, reportedly had his campaign “bankrolled by Atiku Abubakar and some APC bigwigs” (Vanguard, September 28, 2016). But for the luxury of time and space, one can go on and on! So, who’s fooling who?

To some schools of thought, Tinubu ought to have read the tea leaves correctly, especially, given that the contestants paid to obtain Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms. Well, since the rules of natural justice are so fundamental that they don’t have to be legislated, Odigie-Oyegun’s interview in Punch, August 21, 2016, has, in my considered opinion, settled that!

Yes! Nigeria is in challenging times and conventional prescriptions for her ailments ought to be of interest to us as Nigerians. But, in the midst of the monstrosity of the corruption that has tragically become Nigeria’s defining characteristic, Tinubu comes about as one leader who has given deep meanings to democracy. Like him or hate him: he is a politician who has attained an unprecedented level of political sophistication that can radically influence the perception of governance in this once-so-beautiful-but-now-badly-damaged microcosm. His gift of being able to make the right choices is superb as one could see in his preference for Babatunde Fashola and Rauf Aregbesola as Lagos and Osun State Governors respectively. With the benefit of hindsight, Fashola not only performed, he eventually became the APC poster boy in the last election. And while Aregbesola, on his part, has succeeded in unselfishly redefining governance in my home state, he is also patriotically preparing the ‘Land of Virtue’ for the future and, when its fruits blossom forth, they will be to the gapes of Nigerians.

Another worthy example of Tinubu’s ability to identify talents is his choice of Akinwunmi Ambode as Fashola’s successor. Surely, Ambode’s ongoing silent revolution in modernizing Lagos, especially, with the expansion of road networks and redesigning of bus stops to ease traffic congestion, is a step in the right direction. Kudos must also be given to this forward-looking Nigerian for making Buhari’s aspiration possible after three futile attempts. And, do we need to discuss the success of his business ventures? Without being immodest, facts on ground have already spoken! For the patriotism he has expressed as well as his enormous contributions to the development of democracy in Nigeria, methinks this sagacious and perspicacious politician deserves encouragement, not disparagement; and solidarity, not brickbats.

From my perspective, politics as a game of interest and numbers goes beyond vote casting and party affiliation. Maybe that’s why some people see politics, especially in Africa, as ‘the shortest road to financial freedom.’ The point I am trying to make here is that though, the system in vogue in Nigeria may at the moment be defective and frustrating, all through history, those who who came out of it smoking were those who were able to master its ‘by-the-minute’ difficulties, frustrations, and, not unexpectedly, its success stories while those who could not have always had themselves to blame. And that’s the real deal!

Finally, let’s pray that life, times, even travails of Bola Ige would treat our leaders to some salient lessons in season.

May powers and personalities, assigned to derail Nigeria’s beautiful destiny, wither!

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

Aregbesola’s Hidden Treasure In Osun, By Abiodun Komolafe

“I hope that my achievements in life shall be these – that I will have fought for what was right and fair, that I will have risked for that which mattered, and that I will have given help to those who were in need that I will have left the earth a better place for what I’ve done and who I’ve been.” – C. Hoppe

Everything in life starts with a promise!To us in Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola represents a new generation of leadership who believes he is accountable to the people he’s elected by providence to govern. Mentally sharp and people-focused,he saw an opportunity not only to provide leadership that inspired trust but also the need to leave an extraordinary legacy that would no doubt outlast this generation. With his patriotic, imaginative and unselfish arrest of the socio-economic root cause of infrastructure poverty which had limited the state’s ability to create wealth, it is obvious that a revolution, which will,in the not too distant future, change the state of the state, is in the offing and, when it blossoms forth, its glory will shine to the ends of the world.Beyond the shadow of a doubt,his modest performance has to a great degree shown that Nigeria’s politics is not dirty as people are wont to insinuate;only that we have some people in politics whose minds are dirty and that’s not unexpected!

To start with, Nigerians will agree with me that the governor has excelled in the construction of mega structures in most of the schools in the state, an indication that the future of education in Osun State is taking shape. Though, no one can change the past, one can only advise old students who have hitherto cultivated the habit of leaving without looking back at their alma matertohave a rethink before it is too late, lest they become strangers to institutions that opened their ways of thinking and knowing,courtesy of Aregbesola’s MegaSchools programme.

Also worth mentioning is the school feeding programme,now known as Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme (O-MEALS),initiated by his government, which has become a template for the Federal Government’s Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme. Added to the list are two libraries he commissioned recently in Ila-Oragun and Ode-Omu which, again, is a demonstration of his unrivaled passion for the development of education sector in the state. Well, though the results of his inputs into the sector may not be fast in coming as expected, one can be rest assured that Osun State in the next four to eight years will be a state that everybody will be proud of. After all, success in an examination is a product of many factors! Another important area of Aregbesola’s intervention worth mentioning is the appointment of Yusuff Alli as Chairman of the Governing Council of Osun State University. In my considered opinion, this thoughtfully planned and skillfully processed step is aimed at replicating what Afe Babalola and Wole Olanipekun did as Chairman of the Governing Council of University of Lagos and University of Ibadan respectively. No doubt a man of means and contacts, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is expected to use his wealth of experience and influence to add value to the citadel of learning with a view to upgrading it to a world class institution in line with the dreams and aspirations of its founding fathers. Of course, this is an innovative departure from the old, somewhat-traditional-yet-unproductive ‘job for the boys’ arrangement which had oftentimes ended up in appointees needlessly drawing from the institution’s avoidably-lean purse.

In a similar fashion, the approval nod recently given to the state by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) forthe proposed construction of a power transmission substation to be located at Dagbolu in Osun State is yet another in the series of the administration’s many efforts at strategically repositioning the state as another commercial hub in the Southwest while the procurement of security hardwares, which has led to a sharp reduction in crime rate recorded in the state since his inauguration was an initiative which benefits should not be overlooked.

As a matter of fact, I doubt if the near-completion state of the Bisi Akande Trumpet Bridge at Gbongan wouldn’t have by now shamed educated derelicts and apathetic politicians who, over time, have acquired a notorious reputation for developmental and ideological setbacks. Personally, I see Aregbesola as an achieving and engaging governor who is always in touch with his people. In my candid opinion, his’I will succeed’ intervention in the Agriculture sector is not only geared towards repositioning the state as the food hub of the Southwest, it is also aimed at cushioning any bitter or biting effects of the economic recession currently unleashed on Nigeria, thanks to the global economic meltdown. In the same vein, the new lease of life given to the hitherto moribund Cocoa Products Industry in Ede can be viewed as being in line with his election promise of creating employment opportunities as well as attracting investors to the state. The Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), through which thousands of youth have been engaged, was another way of helping the people’s lives connect to a cause while the presentation of N1.8bn retirement bond certificates to 266 pensioners in the state was a demonstration of the depth of his love for the state’s civil servants.

Contrary to some erroneous beliefs, great nations are where they are today because their leaders were prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty to confront situations that at one time or the other attempted to bribe, trick, threaten or suffocate their countries’ existence.For instance, available information reveal that United States of America’s debt is, as we speak, on the other side of $19tr. Still, America is world’s largest economy and greatest nation. InJune, $10bn of Chicago’s municipal debt was downgraded by Fitch to ‘one level above junk’about the same time China’s debt had become so “fatal” that experts feared it could destroy the country if some “timely fashion” actions were not taken to remedy the situation. Notwithstanding, China retains her enviable position as world’s second largest economy while the Windy City is, at this very moment,America’s third largest city, with the third largest gross metropolitan product and the most balanced economy in the United States. Coming back to Africa, South Africans were two years ago ranked world’s biggest borrowers. Today, South Africa has beaten Nigeria into second place as Africa’s largest economy.Apparently, had Aregbesola not taken loans at the prevailing interest rates at the time in question to turn the fortunes of Osun from a blight of wrongs into a progressive and trailblazing state, I doubt if the situation wouldn’t have been worse!

All things considered, even if his actions are sometimes bound to be misconstrued and misinterpreted, this is not to say that the governor might not have made mistakes in the course of discharging his duties. After all, he is human, with all the emotions, weaknesses and failings characteristic of the human nature! Seemingly, his major mistakes are default in payment of workers’ salaries and late delivery on projects.Others are neither here nor there! But these can be excused in that they have assumed a national outlook as a result of current realities. All the same, that Aregbesola has, in spite of his human frailty, remained focused and progressive in his practices, attitudes and approaches is commendable. To be fair to good governance, the change we voted for in Osun State was a divine platform for the radical transformation of the state from the sleepers and the shadows of the past into the present filled with joy and happiness and a future of hope and fulfillment.

In the words of Napoleon Hill, “the starting point of all achievement is desire.” According to him, “weak desire” leads to”weak results.” The late President John Kennedy corroborated Hill’s views when he averred that economic growth without social progress is a magic formula for poverty. Aregbesola’s strides bring to memory Obafemi Awolowo’s introduction of Free Primary Educations cheme in Western Region in the 1950s. Controversial and at a considerable cost, Awolowo was initially derided for what would eventually turn out to be an indelible imprint in the annals of education as well as the focal definition of governance in Nigeria and beyond. So, for us in Osun State, the journey to socio-economic recovery has just begun and how far the Aregbesola-led administration can go is a different matter entirely. Again, whether or not the governor acts Moses or Joshua on this all-important journey, it needs to be noted that he came at a time the state’s political space was engulfed in the horrible and deadly danger of indescribable grief and paralyzed potentials. May powers, assigned to rubbish the legacy of our leaders, BACKFIRE!

Abiodun KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.

Aregbesola And Good Governance In Osun, By Abiodun Komolafe

Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s stewardship in Osun State has been generating all manner of comments in recent times. From the indefensible, infantile, misinformed and misguided viewpoints to the impressive analyses of his actions and inactions, the comments reveal a lot about this man of many parts who has not only done very well for his people, but has also been fair to all sections of the state in his policy implementation. Although Aregbesola is frequently the butt of criticisms, there is no doubt that he means well for his people and does what he sees to be in their best interest at all times.

While some of the electorate’s high expectations from Aregbesola’s second term in office have, to an extent, not been met, it is glaring that Nigeria is experiencing grave socio-economic difficulties from which Osun State is not immune.
The situation of the state and the entire country is getting precarious and urgent steps need to be taken to address the problems. Problems of corruption, looting and mismanagement of funds and their disastrous consequences have virtually brought Nigeria to its knees. Worse still, unable to translate her childhood success into adult glory, Nigeria has become a terrain where misconceptions and logical inconsistencies are elevated as the best strategies for survival. That has always been the story of Nigeria.

In responding to the peculiarities of the moment, however, I have no doubt in my mind that blackmailers who once relished making distasteful comments about Aregbesola would by now have started counting the beans of their collective selfishness, while those who, out of pure mischief and political miscalculations, presented his government as lacking in speed and vision, would have been found out as pathetic naysayers whose negative pronouncements cannot change the people’s views about this remarkable governor.

The governor deserves commendation for his sound economic decisions that midwifed a fresh agenda for value-based leadership in Osun State, especially, at a time that “stomach infrastructure” has become the parameter for gauging performance. He deserves appreciation, not only for making the best use of the opportunities that these hard times present, but also for using his immense experience to help a great number of his people and for making the state among those to be reckoned with in matters of good governance.

It is, indeed, gratifying that his prescriptions for the problem of unpaid salaries have now become a template for dealing with that issue in other states of the federation.
In fairness to Aregbesola, Osun State has in the last six years been led on the path of good governance marked by transparency, prudence, high level of probity and accountability.

With this in mind, the reason the governor is being used as a scapegoat by some comic heroes and surrogate actors is difficult for me and many other stakeholders in the state to grasp. For instance, since agriculture was seen as a viable alternative to oil, Aregbesola’s government has succeeded in revamping farm settlements and ranches for animal production. Thousands of hectares of land were cultivated by the government to aid massive food production of crops like maize, beans and melon. In order to meet the school-feeding needs of children who consume over 150 crates of eggs per week, as well as other nutritional needs in the state, his government embarked on poultry farming and cocoyam cultivation.

This is in addition to the sum of N851, 669, 532.53 given to farmers as loans under the Quick Impact Intervention Programme (QIIP) 1 and 2 Schemes. Through QIIP, fertilisers were sold to genuine farmers at subsidised rates. Pesticides were also made available for the purpose of boosting harvests. O’Honey, O’Ram, and O’Fish schemes have also been reinvigorated with a view to meeting the needs of the people.

With the present paucity of funds occasioned by dwindling allocations from the Federation Account and the sharp drop in Internally Generated Revenues (IGR), Osun State government has built over a thousand kilometres of roads across the state. Ongoing are about ten different projects traversing different parts of the state. Among them are Old Garage – Ila-Odo/Kwara Boundary Road; Bis iAkande Trumpet Bridge; Gbongan – Akoda East Bypass; and Olaiya – Odi-Olowo -IsaleAro Road. While Ataoja High School is completed and waiting for commissioning, Osogbo Government High School is almost completed and will hopefully be commissioned in the coming weeks.

But, important as these achievements are, there is still room for improvement. After all, the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) in the state won the confidence of the people on the platform of a set of promises which must be fulfilled. As I have always said, preparations for the next election started the very day the last election was won and lost. Impliedly, for Osun State, the road to 2018 actually began on August 9, 2014!
Therefore, even as we appreciate the trees and green pastures in Nigeria’s polity, the possibility of failure should continue to challenge the government towards tackling the immense religious, social and economic problems that have become an unfortunate blot on our democracy.

The hijab brouhaha, rightly described as a pseudo-storm, is not an exception! Not only that, the people need to be reminded that this unfortunate pass is not peculiar to Osun State. It is being championed by some people in high places, for pedestrian reasons and transient pleasure. In spite of this temporary setback, the state still has potentials for greatness.

*Komolafe writes from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, via [email protected]

Osun LCDAs: Matters Arising! By Abiodun Komolafe

IT’S no longer news that some 31 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), 3 Area  Councils and two Administrative Offices were recently created in Osun State  by the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration. As Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in the Bola Tinubu-led administration when Lagos State had its LCDA experience, one can safely state that Aregbesola has garnered experience sufficient enough to help him drive the newly-created lower-tier administrative units in Osun State.
At a period of global financial failure like this, fears on the part of the people cannot be said to be misplaced. It is therefore comforting to know that the governor has assured Osunians that the new councils were created primarily to bring “development to the people”, manage “the markets”, and generate “more revenues, amongst others.” Good also that he has allayed the fears of human and material resources with which to power the third tier of the administrative structure, taking into consideration the socio-economic and geo-political realities on ground in the country. With these additional administrative council areas in place, one expects that local government administration will be brought nearer to the people.
Again, while not conceding its comparative edge in administrative purposes over the building of a pattern of dominance, it will also go a long way in removing some of the inconsistencies and confusions associated with local government administration. And, since the system is participatory in nature, opportunities for broadening the potential for societal capacity building, accountability, transparency and openness cannot be overlooked. Above all, the glorious roles of our traditional rulers as the embodiment and custodians of their community’s customs and traditions, which successive constitutions have tragically failed to appropriately clarify, will by this laudable step become enhanced.
However, beyond the politics and emotions usually associated with great ideas like this, the question before careful political observers is: has the governor breached any law of the land by creating these lower administrative centres? In my unlearned estimation, the ‘inchoate’ judicial pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney General of Lagos State v Attorney General of the Federation (2004) 20 NSCQLR 90 on the operation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in Lagos State and, by extension, Nigeria has settled that! This is even as Nigerians are of the view that the refusal by the National Assembly to do the needful as required by law tends more towards the political than the  altruistic.
I have commented in one of my previous interventions that being a governor and a paymaster is a matter of choice. Without doubt, each has its rewards. But it depends on how one wishes to live and be remembered! Harvey Firestone put it beautifully when he wrote: “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” Needless to repeat that Aregbesola has opted for the noble path of serving his people with all of his might and has so far discharged his responsibilities creditably. Essentially, while the benefits derivable from the governor’s action should not be lost on Nigerians, kudos must be given to the government that has, in spite of all odds, been struggling to meet the demands of its people, especially at a time when what comes into the state’s coffers from the Federation Account is not even enough to pay for 20% of the state’s workforce.
Progressive-centric propensity notwithstanding, sentiments and emotions are essential ingredients of politics.  So,  how long is an ‘inchoate’ journey of Local Government creation and who do we blame for the fate of Lagos State? why are we our own enemies  and  where are those powers that are using the good things of life to deny the South its pride of place in Nigeria? Even, if our fathers have eaten sour grapes, for how long shall the faults and evil propensities of the parents, not only transferred to the children, but also punished in them? Where are the popular superstitionists and  perennial deal-fixers who are using the good things of life to curse us in the South? In like manner, where are the professional pacifists who see and take Osun State as a gorgeous hall and concert room where sorrows are carelessly  danced away? As a matter of fact, who would ever have thought that the road linking Ijebu-Jesa with Ijeda-Ijesa which had become impassable to motorists since the early 1980s would take more than two decades to fix?
Olusegun Obasanjo spent eight years as Nigeria’s president but ended up as the worst enemy of the South. Goodluck Jonathan, another victim of good luck, spent six years without caring a hoot about righting the wrongs of  his lord and master.  Ernest Shonekan who, from all indications, was only anointed for snail and tortoise assault on our psyche did not even stay long in office to fulfill his pseudo-democracy destiny.
Come to think of it, close to threescore years after independence, Nigeria remains a strange nomenclature mendaciously concocted by her colonial manipulators. Like a barber’s chair, motioning perpetually without any monumental movement, dear country is fast becoming a disintegrating enclave, a culture of discordant policies and a hutment  of prosperity in a quicksand of adversity; nothing but a game of dubious smartness, or smart dubiousness. Little wonder every shed and hamlet in the North is shredded as Local Government Areas while towns, even cities in the South are falsely lumped together as one Local Government. For instance, I observed during my national youth assignment in 1997 that what constituted Talata Mafara and Bakura Local Government Areas in Zamfara State hardly extended beyond Talata Mafara and Bakura townships and I doubt if the situation has changed.
A country without values has no future. What more? Democracy allows for openness and inclusiveness. In other words, while it may be difficult to have a proper grasp of the nature, structure and texture  of political patterns  and trends without understanding her colonial legacies, it is only when the vestiges of inherited colonial structures and legacies are exorcised that an independent Nigeria can become truly redirected along the principles of justice, efficiency, equal opportunity and freedom in socio-political relationships. Stated in clear terms therefore, if creation of LCDAs is at a time like this in the history of Nigeria capable of meeting the governance and development needs of the people, what stops Aregbesola from acting in the interest of his people?
May powers, assigned to waste the efforts of our founding fathers in Osun State, backfire!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])
 
abiodun KOMOLAFE, AMNIM,
020, Okenisa Street,
PO Box 153,
Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.