Omokri Is Suffering From Multiple-Personality Disorder

By Kikiowo Ileowo

My attention has been drawn to the rant of one Wendell Simlin, better known as Reno Omokri, disparaging the person of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola over facts revealed by the Osun governor on how former President Goodluck Jonathan and his cronies pillaged our national resources before he was eased out by vigilant Nigerian voters.

Reno’s outburst against Ogbeni does not deserve a response and the reasons are not far-fetched. Recall Omokri in a desperate bid to justify the petro-dollar looted under his boss, or perhaps diverted to his office, had lied by taking up the now infamous Wendell pseudonym to slander the former governor of Central bank by accusing him of sponsoring the Boko Haram terrorist group. It goes without saying that, for anyone with a multiple personality disorder, nothing is off limits in their books to justify their pay; hence, the end justifies the means.

For ease of understanding, multiple personality disorder is a severe form of dissociation, a mental process which produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. Omokri is obviously dissociated from reality; living a lie, surrounded by unseen forces, and believes in a distorted historical fact of a government he once actively participated in.

For the sake of clarity, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola whilst hosting a team of delegates from the Federal Government on the Digital Switch Over project explained how Nigeria got into this sorry state. Three indisputable facts given by the governor for the payment of modulated salary in his State are the following; economic downturn induced by brazen corruption, wanton theft of crude oil and mismanagement of the country’s resources by the Peoples  Democratic Party (PDP) led Federal Government under Goodluck Jonathan.

Has Reno forgotten so quickly that at least $20bn disappeared into thin air under his master’s watch? Lest we forget, never has Nigeria’s resources being plundered like was witnessed during the Jonathanian era. The brazen theft of cash and unprecedented looting of public funds under Goodluck Jonathan is an historical one since the entity called Nigeria was created. Obviously, Jonathan and his gang of thieves were obviously trying to outdo the colonial masters and all his predecessors combined. The Goodluck Jonathan led administration single-handedly redefined corruption in government.

Lest we forget, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala went on a borrowing spree to pay salaries of federal government workers shortly after she revealed over 400,000 barrels of crude oil was being stolen daily by government protected-plunderers, whilst her colleagues in other ministries busied themselves with thieving what was left in the treasury.

In fact, one of the notorious bandits that made up Jonathan’s cabinet was said to have chartered private jet at will to cater for her housemaid, whilst another abused her office by instructing agencies under her to purchase multi-million naira armoured vehicles for her leisure ride.

I will not belabour the issue of the ruin and destruction the Goodluck Jonathan era brought our way; however, my prayer is that may Nigeria never have to be governed by another president whose singular objective in leadership is to balkanize Nigeria.

Since Reno lacks the requisite knowledge on how governance works in Nigeria, let me take a moment to school him. Theoretically, Nigeria practices federalism. Except the Nigerian Constitution is amended, States within its domain will continue to depend on the federal government for sustenance, except for a few. Many of the resources are locked up in the hands of the federal government. Interestingly, there are 68 items in the exclusive list, with just around 30 on the concurrent list in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Osun for example has enough gold deposits, whose income can cater for a minimum of 50 years budget, is forced to go cap in hand to the federal government because the constitution acts as a major impediment to achieving our dreams as a State.

Beyond the rhetoric, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola continues to deliver on key infrastructural projects that will shape Osun’s landscape for the next 50 years. The Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration met a State in comatose, but will be leaving it come November 27, 2018 better than when he took over the reins of power. When he was sworn in, the IGR was an abysmal N300m; now, the State generates around N1bn monthly. Can things be better? Yes, and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s administration is working tirelessly to ensure that his Six points integral action plan is realised in order to improve the standard of living in the State of Osun.

Aregbesola’s Bulletproof SUVs: Five Questions For PUNCH Newspaper, By Kikiowo Ileowo

Having fervently followed Punch Newspapers as a neutral observer for the past 10 years, I am amazed by how often they throw professionalism into the dustbin when the state of Osun and Ogbeni becomes the subject.

What axe does the paper have to grind with the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola? When and how did he offend its management, and why does it often abandon logic and reason in a bid to rope the governor in scandalous issues? It seems Punch Newspapers go out of its way to drag the name and legacy of Ogbeni in the mud anytime the opportunity exists and sometimes deliberately instigate the reading public against him with its captions and banal headlines.

I have read with utter dismay, some stories, articles and features in the Punch where screaming, damning and outlandish headlines against the person of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola were used without relevant bylines and contents for the caption. It is as if the Punch relishes sensationalism and personality attacks for pushing its sales, rather than educating the public.

In its latest attempt at ‘investigative journalism’, the paper through a front page article in its edition of 24th September, 2016 with a screaming caption ‘Recession: Governors lavish billions of naira on bulletproof cars for selves, wives’ claimed that “A security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, listed the vehicles [owned by Osun Government] as three Mercedes Benz product, a bus, G-Class, and a 4matic and two Toyota Land cruisers. It was also gathered that the state deputy governor, Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori, has one armoured Toyota Land cruiser.” Emphasis is mine.

From the report, there is no coherent link between the banal headline and the content. An anonymous source listed vehicles in the government house pool without providing the source and a supposedly credible national newspaper used it as a scoop to malign and instigate public opinion against Ogbeni!

To be sure, Ogbeni had a couple of used bullet proof vehicles long before assuming office as the governor of Osun. These vehicles came as contributions from sympathizers and well-wishers during his campaigns for the office between 2004 and 2010. Whereas Ogbeni had two of such vehicles before the unfortunate ferocious attack against his person and aides at the 2007 Oroki Day Festival in which the lives of himself and driver were threatened with high calibre assault rifle shots, but saved by the armored vehicle conveying them.
aregbesolas-personal-suv
On that fateful day, the heart of the driver was targeted and shot at while the head of Ogbeni was equally targeted and shot at. It was the reinforced glasses that prevented direct hits and consequent fatality. The bullets marks are evident on the vehicle till today. His friend and financier Alhaji Hazzan Olajokun was not that lucky, he had earlier been ambushed at Gbongan junction and brutally shot and killed in May 2005. These incidents were well covered and reported by major national newspapers including the Punch.

However, in twisting logic on its head, Punch approached a so-called source without adequate information in his/her kitty to form an erroneous conclusion. Fellow Nigerians, we all should ask Punch newspaper to show evidence of lavish spending on bulletproof vehicles by the Ogbeni. Maybe if the newspaper had stuck to professional ethics, it would have found out that bulletproof jeeps domiciled in the office of the governor belong to him and were presented to him by his financiers between 2004-2010.

Rather than purchase brand new bulletproof vehicles, the state governor in his act of prudency, commandeered his own personal vehicles for use in his official capacity upon resumption as governor.

Despite having access to security vote to purchase a replacement bulletproof vehicle when one of his became faulty, he brought other personal vehicles to use for public work, while diverting his security vote to pay the monthly allowances of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O-YES) Corp Members monthly allowance.

What I know of the Ogbeni’s administration is that he has refused to hand journalist posted to Osun brown envelopes at the detriment of workers’ salaries, little wonder they seem to always focus their misguided and misinformed intentions towards him.

Unlike many states in the South West, Osun owes two months’ salary arrears, while Ondo where I am from, disgracefully owes upwards of 8- 10 months’ salary arrears. Without being patronizing, Aregbesola has invested heavily in the people that matter, which is why he can freely work amongst his people even without the use of bulletproof vehicles.

What really matters now is for Punch to clear its name, and indeed proof that it is not being used by interested parties to wreck the reputation of Osun’s governor. The punch newspaper must let us know the answers to the following questions;
1. Did it double check its source of story and find them to be correct before publishing it as such?
2. Why create the impression that the governor took out of the limited resources in the state to buy bulletproof vehicles?
3. Why has Punch Newspaper consistently refused to speak to authorised spokesperson of the state government?
4. What was Punch’s motive of featuring Aregbesola boldly on the story’s feature image when evidence suggest the governor hadn’t purchased any bulletproof vehicle during his tenure?
5. Why the desperate attempt to malign and cause disaffection amongst the peace loving people of the state of Osun with such misleading story?

While we wait for the paper to clear its name on why it refuse to objectively report on Osun, let them from now on contact the right source when seeking government’s opinion on whatever propaganda it decides to engineer.

Quoting an unofficial source for views of the Osun State Government is nothing short of a disservice to the people.

Kikiowo Ileowo wrote in via [email protected] Engage him on twitter via @ileowokikiowo

Is Nigeria Ready To Pay The Full Cost Of Harnessing Power From Coal By Kikiowo Ileowo

With a population of over 180 million and growing, Nigeria with an average power generation of 4,500mw, requires 12,000mw megawatts to ensure steady power supply, but ultimately needs 200,000mw for all her electricity requirements. To meet this power need, the present administration has vowed to look towards other sources of producing electricity away from the hydro and gas-powered plants, which has been a source of epileptic power supply into the national grid.

The problems faced in the mentioned methods of power production are low level of water to drive the huge turbines at the hydro power plants and lack of gas to fuel the generating sets at the gas-powered plants which litter the Nigerian scape. To deal with this challenge, the government of President Muhammudu Buhari stated it will start producing power with the use of Coal – a decision which will see coal-powered plant contribute at least 30% into the current power-mix by 2030.

However, many questions exist: does the government recognize the full cost of harnessing power from Coal? If it does, is it ready with her partners to pay the price?

Answers to these questions and more were the focus of Global Rights in conjunction with Heinrich Böll Stiftung Nigeria, when the organizations presented a report on the Impact of Coal Mining and Coal Power Generation on Okobo and Itobe Communities in Kogi State.

According to Mrs. Tsema Okoye, a programme officer with Global Rights, Coal provides 40 percent of the world’s electricity, thus causing 39 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions which is responsible for rapidly depleting the Earth’s Ozone layer.

It may interest you to know that the destruction of the eco-system does not start at the point of using Coal to generate electricity; it begins at the point of mining the coal itself.

However, since Nigeria does not generate any power from Coal yet, we must ask ourselves the hard questions, such as: what commitments are we undertaking to ensure power would be produced from coal in a clean and efficient manner? How do we mitigate the negative effects of Coal mining on host communities, and many other questions?

A close examination of the report on visited coal mining site in Okobo, Kogi state tells the story of anguish, bitterness, resentment, anger, destruction, loss of livelihood, loss of life and suffering as expressed by community representatives who attended the event.

One of the major problems faced in Okobo community is access to portable water. The community members claim the company mining Coal in the area, Eta Zuma Mining Company which also had representatives in attendance at the event, had polluted their only source of water. Now, community members – usually women and children – have to travel many kilometers to get water fit for human consumption.

Mrs. Okoye noted that Eta Zuma had commenced coal mining four years prior to the study, and as a result, there has been weathering and leachate of the host rock. In fact, it was noted that a high quantity of heavy metals have resultantly dissolved into the water bodies around the mining site, making well water in the community highly acidic and unfit for human consumption.

Sadly, the report claims waste water collected from the mining pit was directly disposed into the community’s stream, which residents relied on for its domestic and commercial consumption. Thus, the only stream at Okobo has been polluted.

However, in a robust rebuttal, the mining company tried to shift blame, claiming they can’t take up the role of the government. Truly, in other part of the world, the government provides, roads, schools, electricity, water and other essentials of life the community is expecting the company to provide.

And in fairness to the company, they had dug at least three boreholes to source for clean water, but all the efforts failed; now they supply the community with clean water in tankers, thrice a week. The representative of Eta Zuma, its executive director, Ambassador Joseph Ayalogu stated that before their arrival, the quantity and quality of water available in the community had always been a problem. This assertion is understandable because of the large coal mineral deposits.

Another point of note is the death of a pupil who lost her life when a wall inside Okobo’s old school building collapsed while Eta Zuma was carrying out its Coal mining activities. The mining company has since built a modern six (6) classroom block for the community.

The effort of Eta Zuma in and around Okobo is generally commendable, owing to the fact they have no Community Development Agreement (CDA).

According to the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, a CDA is a formal agreement between the mining companies and host communities on obligations and terms of engagement of both parties. The document is a compulsory requirement before mining license can be granted by the supervising ministry.

The unavailability of the document four years after the company began mining legally in Okobo is an indictment on the Ministry of Solid Minerals.

Representatives of the ministry at the event claimed they are extremely understaff and underfunded. In fact, the Director Environmental Compliance Department, Ministry of Mines and Steel, Engineer Salim Salaam who attended the report presentation revealed that the Ministry of Information has eleven times the budget of his ministry – another indictment of the Buhari administration which had before now vowed to diversify the economy, using minerals resources spread across the country as alternative source of revenue.

It may also interest you to know that many licensed and unregulated artisanal miners in Nigeria have no plan for reclamation; neither do they give consideration to host communities.

So, in generating electricity through Coal, one must earnestly ask, is the federal government ready to pay the full cost of sourcing power through this means? In Nigeria, environmental laws are not strictly enforced, unlike the United States which produces about 1 billion tons of Coal annually, a little less than 12% of the world’s supply—second only to China and produces 40% of its electricity need from Coal.

In fact, U.S. mining companies have reclaimed more than 2.6 million acres of mined land over the last 35 years and have contributed nearly $10 billion for the reclamation of areas mined decades ago before reclamation was a common practice and legal requirement.

The case of Eta Zuma is a unique one – at least, they are engaging all the stakeholders. Most mining companies in Nigeria don’t. Though they are involved in one form of activity or the other that negatively impacts the eco-system, they are less concerned of the effects, and neither do they take conscious effort to mitigate the damage. Sadly, there is lack of political will to rein in their activities.

The Ministry of Environment can at best be described as clueless and confused. Representatives of the ministry at the event gave no articulate answers on what the ministry was doing to mitigate the destruction of the Nigerian environment. The role it plays in ensuring mining companies conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, before mining license is granted could not be discerned.

In view of the environmental damage associated with generating power from coal, this writer asked Mr. Umaru Gambo, representative of the Minister for Power, Works and Housing on the provision of clean alternative source of producing electricity, specifically the wind mill farm that has been lying fallow in Kastina State. The timid representative muttered some words that were unclear and incomprehensible.

Truth be told, the Nigerian government seems ready to access the benefits of coal mining, but have no clue as to how to mitigate the attendant effects of such activities across the country. In the next few months, the steps taken by regulators would determine how willing the government is on paying the full cost of generating power from coal.

Ileowo is the chief strategist at Revamp Media.

Re: A Prayer For Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, The Impatient Reformer

By Kikiowo Ileowo

In my few years of sojourn on earth, I have encountered diverse kind of people; but of all humans, Nigerians stand out!

Nigerians are a special breed of people. Our ability to stay satisfied with underdevelopment and even crucify those who dare change the status quo is unprecedented.

I read with amusement, an article put together by a citizen who heads an ‘organization’ calling for Renaissance in Ijesaland. Though the entire write-up betrays the very thing Renaissance stands for, I will try my best to analyze some of the issues raised in Oluwatomilola Boyinde’s piece titled, A Prayer For Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, The Impatient Reformer, published in The Cable online newspaper.

Though, I tried to identify some of the issues Boyinde raised, a large part of the article though laced with fine English, lacks a fair grasp and depth of the real issues facing the state of Osun.

Osun Salary

I will start by stating that Boyinde’s introduction was accurate, but at some point, he veered off reason and logic, dealing only in the realm of clairvoyance and Hocus Pocus that has kept  our people living the life of 1900s in the 21st century.

That Aregbesola started “with a steering mission, one deeply rooted in the vision of our heroes past; people-driven governance, reminiscent of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Bola Ige eras” is not in doubt, however unknown to Boyinde, Ogbeni remains focused in that path, despite genuine economic reasons to abandon ship.

In the mindset of many Nigerians, it is more than okay for a governor to pay salaries of civil servants for eight years; I bet that is optimum performance for many. In fact, before leaving office, public office holders who can do this consecutively during their tenures are showered with numerous award of performance, excellence, merit, distinction and other nonsensical appellations to massage their ego. We must refuse this narrative.

It saddens my heart that in a time when the world is moving at tremendous speed beyond technological advancement into sustainability, a citizen in Osun is clamouring the society craws out of the 19th century.

The Martin Luther Kings and many other reformers of this world, refused to accept the status quo, they stood radically for what they believed in, though it was against the norm of their time.

Aregbesola leads a unique government in Osun, a government impatient with backwardness, poverty and under-development. 8 years is too short to be ‘patient’ about reforming a state considered one of the most backward in Nigeria prior to 2010. The state needed a leap and that is what the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola rendered.

Boyinde in accusing Ogbeni of financial impropriety; ignored facts that are publicly available, dwelling only on fiction authored by the opposition to discredit a performing, but financially challenged government.

What are the facts?

The state of Osun has an over bloated civil service.

World over, no one sees government completely as a business entity, hence, the reason many in the Osun civil service haven’t being sack – in fact, no politician will dare touch this special breed of workers. Anyways, I see the Civil service in Nigeria as a Social Protection Scheme used for Cash Transfer to a privileged few.

With all due respects to professionals who are in the system, many others who are in the civil service have no business in government business. The proper thing would have been to sack over 60% of government workers, and save the state a huge cost.

I find it absurd for a segment of people not up to 1% of the entire state population; gulp more than 80% of revenue that accrue to the remaining 99%. It is unfair on other citizens and such is the case across states in the country.

Osun Government Expenditure Vs Impact

But despite this, Ogbeni’s Osun has paid its civil servants till date. In fact, the December salary was paid two weeks ago, days after the federal government shared the December 2015 allocation. Contrary to the wrong information in Boyinde’s piece, Osun Pays it’s Salaries.

This is the story of Osun many in the rank of Boyinde don’t want you to hear, while states like Ondo, Imo among others, still owe upward of 3-6 months salaries.

People Don’t Argue With Results!

In the game of football, you don’t rest your best players when you need goals the most. You encourage them to deliver results. Aregbesola despite the cash crunch continue to feed over 250,000 pupils in public schools daily. 3000 caterers have been empowered through Aregbe’s O-Meals programme alone, this excludes other citizens employed in the supply chain.

State of Osun O'MEAL Staff Feeding the Pupils
State of Osun O’MEAL Staff Feeding the Pupils

The O’Meals programme consumes 250, 000 eggs, 15, 000 chickens and 15 cattle heads on a weekly basis. This is about the protein contents. I am not talking about the carbohydrate content which sees 250, 000 loaves of bread also consumed by pupils on a weekly basis. And, as at today, the feeding is still ongoing. Little wonder school enrollment took a 25% leap in the space of 3 Years.

What’s More?

Old schools across the state have virtually turned to construction sites due to the reconstruction and upgrade of most of them. As at the last count, 22 elementary schools, 18 middle schools, and 10 high schools are at various stages of completion. These are projects embarked upon in the last two years alone. They do not include several elementary schools that have already been commissioned across the state.

Governor Aregbesola speaking during commissioning of Wole Soyinka High School, Ejigbo
Governor Aregbesola speaking during commissioning of Wole Soyinka High School, Ejigbo

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Unemployment dropped from 12.4% to 3% in 3 years.

It is no joke that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, recently declared that Osun is one of the states with lowest in poverty in Nigeria.

“The indication (in Osun) is that because there is a lot of investment on the people, poverty has been reduced and that is what we (the Federal Government) are trying to achieve in Nigeria,” Osinbajo said.

Osun, out of the 36 states, has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly among her teeming youths, due to the determination of Ogbeni’s administration to banish poverty and unemployment among its people.

Around 1o kilometers of roads have also been constructed in each local government in the state of Osun. I can go on and on reeling the achievement of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, but maybe some other time.

Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014
Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014
Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014
Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014

Osun is working with the World Bank and French Development Agency to fund the construction of 500km rural roads across the State. One of only 6 states being partnered on this. Osun’s rural road maintenance practice has been singled as a model for these 6 states and the Nation.

Conclusion – Osun, A Bright Future Ahead

Boyinde’s paradoxical article is what happens when citizens who ought to know better reduce a governor to a man elected to pay salaries for 8 years.

Equating Osun’s policy of promoting its cultural assets and freedom to Ogbeni abandoning his God, is nothing short of crass ignorance and deliberate wickedness. The Ogbeni I know does not joke with his God. He prays five times a day as a devout Muslim, and has continually allowed other religious beliefs to flourish around him.

Aside this mundane talk on religion, Osun’s Internal Revenue Service is being revamped for effective service, with a monthly target of N5billion in the next few months. The state itself is determined to be self-reliant on its agricultural assets and solid mineral resources.

I won’t be surprised if the state of Osun no longer relies on allocation from the federal government when Ogbeni is handing over come 2018.

This is Osun under Aregbesola. Osun may be financially challenged, but it is not a failed state. Osun still meets its going concern with the internal revenue it generates monthly.

The (social) media in Lagos may be unhappy with Ogbeni’s unusual style of governance or dressing, but that does not make Osun unviable or make the citizens hate their governor. On a recent trip to few local governments in Osun, I was shocked at the  people’s instinctive show of  love for Ogbeni. Testimonies abound on how he has transformed their lives. One wonder what is it that endear them to him this much even in these difficult times. It appears his commitment and Investments in the Human Infrastructure, School Feeding, Education  is unrivalled in the States history.

No government before him has brought so many economic opportunities and development for the people. When he leaves in 2018, he will be leaving a very big shoes for his successor to fill.

Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in a White attire (2nd right); his Deputy Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori (right); the Project Manager, Engr Ajibola Obakin (left). During the inspection of the on going Construction of Seventh day Adventist High School Ede on Sunday 31-1-2016Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in a White attire (2nd right); his Deputy Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori (right); the Project Manager, Engr Ajibola Obakin (left). During the inspection of the on going Construction of Seventh day Adventist High School Ede on Sunday 31-1-2016