By Abidoun Komolafe
In less than a year from today, Rauf Aregbesola’s tenure as governor of the State of Osun will come to a close. A time like this therefore presents an opportunity to review his performance in office, vis-à-vis, his administration’s Six Point Integral Action Plan.
Although, it has become fashionable for the opposition to look for partners in its dubious search for raw materials to power its odious charades, a closer assessment of the specifics will lead Nigerians to draw appropriate conclusions on the success or otherwise of Aregbesola’s government. For instance, if the governor’s desire was to move the state from a public service economy to its rightful place as an agrarian state, how has he fared in activating market-driven value chain? If his vision and mission found solace in setting Osun on a genuine path to socio-economic development, hasn’t he done well in plucking a coin out of the mouth of the fish? What was the state of our roads before Aregbesola’s inauguration and why has his desire to make Osun the food hub of the Southwest been misconstrued for avenues to siphon funds out of the state by a misguided and disgruntled clique? How has he been able to provide a soft landing for the salary bug, which no doubt has also caught up with Abuja?
Again, has Ogbeni betrayed the trust of his people or is it a case of his traducers woefully failing to purge their dirty excesses before coming to the table to seek equity? Is it an issue of the achiever, unsuspectingly shifting away from blowing his own trumpet loud enough to wake even the dead or that of the audience provably imprisoned by mute indifference? Perhaps, more importantly, is it one of unreconstructable spinners notoriously trying to destroy the threads of communal togetherness woven together over a long period of time?
With a motivation to rapidly develop the state in all ramifications as well as enhance the capacity of the people, Aregbesola’s government has in the last 7 years delivered “all round” development to at least 75% improvement on what it met in 2010. While the administration has been consistent in its investment in infrastructure without undermining welfare, lives of children, youths, adults, aged, the weak have also been positively impacted in line with its Social Protection programmes. In addition to ‘Opon Imo’ (Tablet of Knowledge), this administration’s ‘O’ Series have not gone without bearing positive fruits.
As we all know, Aregbesola’s intervention in the education sector is not limited to provision of infrastructure as government has so far been training a third of teachers in its public schools on a yearly basis. Besides, the state’s sterling performance in the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) is better understood from the context of where we are coming from. As at 2010, the performance level of students in WASCE was 15.7%. Within the last 7 years, Osun has recorded as high as 46.3%, which is quite a huge jump in the number of students with credit passes in English Language and Mathematics. The state’s position (between 1st and 3rd, since 2013) in the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) interms of matriculable students in Nigeria has rubbished the premise that WAEC rankings of states alone should be the basis for judging performance.
That Aregbesola has succeeded to a very large extent in all the critical indices is already settled. For example, within the last seven years, Osun has ranked 2nd on Human Capital Index and has maintained the 2nd position in four years in a roll in the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Besides, it is now the 5th largest economy in Nigeria with its GDP growing at 7.3% per annum. And, as we speak, Osun is the 2nd richest and the 13th crime-free state in Nigeria.
Enrollment rate for the state’s children in primary school hovers between 70% and 80% – no doubt is about the highest in the country – while its performance ratings in NECO has also been in the units. In broiler production, Osun is now 2nd only to Oyo State. It also came 9th in the recently-concluded National Youth Games, a feat that has for a long while eluded the state. Predictably, Latifat Abiola Oyeleye and Alabi Philip Toluwalase have demonstrated that government’s transformational investments in the education sector have not been in vain.
Lest we forget, Aregbesola’s civil servants-friendly disposition could also be seen in his commitment of more than N200 billion to salaries, pensions and allowances, compared to less than N60bn spent on infrastructure. It is also worth mentioning that, under its O’MEAL programme, government has so far committed more than N10 billion to providing over-200 million plates of highly nutritious meals to students in its Elementary Schools across the state.
Pre-November 27, 2010, Osun could not boast of a recreation spot anywhere in the state. Now, Nelson Mandela Freedom Park in Osogbo has added flavour to more than 80 Tourist centres, scattered all over the nooks and crannies of the state for fun-seekers to make merry. And, with more than 200 hotels, some of which can compete favourably in the comity of hospitality business, the state’s revenue base is assured of a huge boost. The signing of a N216 billion investment in Industrial Park with a Chinese firm, Jiangsu Wuxi Taihu Cocoa Food Company Limited, also points to a ”fresh deal” for transforming the state’s ”industrial base.”
Of course, the governor deserves commendation for leading a new understanding in parliamentary Local Government administration in Nigeria. When fully operational in the 1st quarter of 2018, facts are that it will, among other advantages, help in expanding the potentials for accountability, transparency and societal capacity building.
Well, this is where Aregbesola’s accusers deserve some tutorials on the politics and the complexities of capital city centres. As an illustration, though Obafemi Awolowo hailed from Ikenne-Remo, he chose Ibadan as capital of the then Western Nigeria to concentrate the greater part of his development efforts. Gawain Bell who served as governor of the old Northern Region between 1957 and 1962 was a South African, while Ahmadu Bello, his premier, was from Rabbah in Sokoto. But that never deprived Kaduna its privilege as the administrative capital of the Northern Region. Ditto for Enugu under Michael Okpara whose source was Umuegwu in the present day Abia State.