Aregbesola And The Armchair Critics

By Kunle Owolabi

Everything has got its own time and season.  The season of politics in the State of Osun is here. Contestants are warming up.  New alignments are being forged. In other places, old ones are being resuscitated. Forces are gathering, all towards the 2018 governorship election. Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s tenure is gradually coming to an end.  Dozens of aspirants are targeting this number one seat. All these contestants want to outdo one another in the ascendance to the throne game.  One weapon they have and which they are using is propaganda.  They will perform more than the incumbent if given the opportunity to serve. They have now turned virulent critics of the Ogbeni Aregbesola government. 

They brazenly alter statistics. Fabricate figures which are non-existing and justify what ought not to be, all in the name of wanting to give the administration of Aregbesola a bad name in order to hang it.  But the people of Osun do have very good memory.  They do not suffer from collective amnesia. They know.  They see. They also feel what Aregbesola did and is still doing in the state.

One of the supposed governorship aspirants recently said the state of education in Osun is in a bad shape. He noted that there was a disconnect in the provision of infrastructure and economic development, promising that he possessed the magic wand to synergise the two and fix the education. He said: “My governorship ambition will aim at turning the state’s fortunes around, especially in “moment of crisis’ which its education had found itself. Osun State is in a moment of crisis as its educational sector is also in a bad shape and the quality is no longer there. “The infrastructure and economic development will change if given the opportunity to govern the state. Osun is in a critical position; it must not be left in the hands of charlatans. If you’re a governor or aspiring to be governor and you say you have 6 points agenda or 9 points agenda, its rubbish, I’m very sure of that. Another aspirant was milder in his criticism. He opined that Aregbesola performed very well but made certain mistakes that he would correct if elected governor.

But if a calabash isn’t broken, do we employ someone to still fix it? One of Aregbesola’s critics cited above was fortunately part of the education summit called by the governor in 2011 to fix the education sector ran aground during the seven years of misrule of the administration before Aregbesola.  This critic was not a governorship aspirant then and he did not see that education was in shambles. Even at that, he was privileged to serve in the summit with the Nobel Laureate,  Professor Wole  Soyinka.  The outcome of that brainstorming at the summit produced the template with which the government tailored its restructuring. And today, the state has witnessed tremendous improvement in all ramifications as far as education is concerned in the state.

The criticism must have stemmed from the utter lack of knowledge of performance charts and attention to details commonly exhibited by those who do not want to see anything good attributed to the Aregbesola administration.

Before one goes to reel out statistics on physical performance in the education sector such as provision of infrastructure, let us take a cursory look at the performance of the student of the high school in the state in the last three editions of the external examination,  West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

These past records and statistics of students supplied by WAEC in the past years have shown that there is significant improvement in percentage of overall results of the student compared to the 2010 performance pre-Aregbesola era. To start with, a comparison between pre and post Aregbesola administrations will put the records straight. In 2007, the state registered 36,171 candidates for WAEC examination out of which 2,483 representing 6.86 per cent had credit pass in five subjects, including English and Mathematics.

In 2008, it was 37,715 candidates with 3,813 pass, representing 10.11 per cent. In 2009 it was 39,676 candidates, with 5,545 pass, representing 13.98 per cent. In 2010 it was 43,216 candidates, with 6,777 pass, representing 15.68 per cent. If you put these four years together, you will get an average of 15.68 per cent. Put side by side the above four-year performances with that of Aregbesola’s administration when government started sponsoring candidates for WAEC in 2011, one would glean the wide gulf in performances of both governments.

In 2011, and the first year of test of Aregbesola’s government, the state fielded 53,293 candidates, had 11,672 pass, representing 21.98 per cent.  In 2012, government fielded 51,463 out of which 11,431 passed, representing 22.21 per cent. In 2013, it also fielded 47,013 candidates, recorded 9,301 pass, representing 19.78 per cent. In 2014, government sponsored 47,672 candidates, 9,316 of them passed, representing 19.54 per cent.  Taken together,  the average performance for Aregbesola’s first four years was 20.88 per cent. Compared with the average performance (13.26 per cent) of the three years that preceded it, the percentage improvement in performance during Aregbesola’s tenure is put at  an impressive 57.46 per cent.

Thus, those who said Osun is declining are not being honest. The above data will show that their claims are totally unfounded. The performance of pupils has not gone down under the watch of Aregbesola. This significant improvement in performance was nothing other than an outstanding result brought about by careful and strategic planning by the administration. The percentage of performance has kept improving since then. One, therefore, was miffed by the spurious claims of critics about education being in bad shape in the state. This same education sector!  Coming to infrastructural improvement,  it is in this same education sector where, as at last count, a total of 55 new state-of-the-art structures, comprising 20 Elementary, 22  Middle, and 13  High School have been added to existing structures while a total of 82 school blocks, comprising 1,534 classrooms across the state have been refurbished by his administration.

The same Aregbesola administration established the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (O’MEALS) which, apart from providing pupils in Elementary 1-4 with highly nutritious meals every school day, has also succeeded in reducing unemployment by absorbing no fewer than 3,000 food vendors?  Another innovation of the administration is Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) which, with its mopping up of more than 40,000 youths off the streets and productively engaging them, has succeeded in reducing the scourge of unemployment among our youths.

Aregbesola has also performed creditably well in bringing government closer to the people, especially through the creation of additional 31 Local Council Development Areas, 3 Area Councils and two Administrative Offices.  On security, with the procurement of 25 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) and 100 Patrol Vehicles among others, he has greatly helped in the making Osun one of the safest states in Nigeria.

Without security, can there be any development? Those who easily find a disconnection between infrastructure and development in Osun must have been living  outside the state. The above is just a tip of the iceberg of the development that occurred under Governor Aregbesola, which his most avowed critics could not even deny.

The conclusion one can draw from these aspirants turned critics is that because they wanted Aregbesola’s job, then they must malign him to curry the support of the people.  This kite will not fly any time any day again as the people of the state are abreast of what the governor has done for the state.  No amount of lies will ever deceive and stop them from following the people’s governor.

Owolabi writes from Osogbo

Re: Now That PDP Is Back…

By Abiodun Komolafe And Kunle Owolabi

Bola Bolawole’s article, entitled, ‘Now that PDP is back …’, published in Nigerian Tribune, July 16, 2016, refers.

In his postmortem of how Osun West Senatorial bye-election was lost and won, Bolawole identified three important factors, which, in his opinion, resulted in the loss of the Senatorial District to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) by All Progressives Congress (APC). These factors were: the controversy surrounding the death of the late Isiaka Adeleke (an accusation which was laid at the doorstep of the Government of the State of Osun); imposition of (Mudasir Hussain) as the party’s candidate; and the supposedly abysmal performance of the governor of the state, Rauf Aregbesola.

To start from the foundation of his prognosis, the controversy surrounding Adeleke’s death no longer exists as the coroner inquest into the cause of the deceased’s death has laid it to rest. So, we need not belabour that issue again! But this does not detract from the fact that Adeleke was an illustrious son of the State of Osun and his demise will forever remain an irreparable loss to the state and its people.

 

Again, the postulation that PDP’s victory in the bye-election was as a result of Candidate Hussain’s imposition is a lie straight from Dante’s inferno! And his submission that the loss is a bad omen for the ruling party is not only false, it is also an inaccurate interpretation of the whole political system; nothing but a columnist’s blatant misreading of the situation.

 

On a serious note, one wonders what some Nigerians stand to gain by deliberately engaging in the misuse of terms. Essentially, if fielding the best candidate for an election amounts to imposition, then something must be utterly amiss. Maybe Bolawole has forgotten that, in the said bye-election. there was no question of imposition in the APC as was wildly claimed by a sectional few. If we may ask, do you talk of imposition where there was a primary to choose a candidate for an election?

In as much as nobody would want his child christened Judas, Christians still reserve the right to appreciate God for Iscariot’s life; for, without Judas, there probably would have been nobody to betray the Stone of Israel. And, without this betrayal, there certainly wouldn’t have been crucifixion and, we doubt if Jesus Christ’s mission on earth would probably have been complete. Had Bolawole feigned ignorance, especially, with respect to issues relating to the emergence of the younger Adeleke, who was never a card-carrying member of the APC, then, his sins would have been forgiven. Had he come to terms with the fact that it was only the late ‘Serubawon’ who once sought succour in the party when the situation in PDP was getting threateningly deadly for him to withstand, we would have understood where the commentator was coming from. Notwithstanding, wasn’t it disloyalty at its peak for Ademola to have connived with some APC ingrates and renegades for the sinister purpose of making him the only candidate in the primary. For God’s sake, what imposition could be more than this?

For Bolawole’s information, the Screening Committee disqualified Hussain; and the Appeal Committee upheld the disqualification, on the ground that the electoral law mandated him to resign one month before the primary. That no doubt was another mis-reading of the letters and the spirit of Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which specifically states in Section 107 subsection (f) that, if (an aspirant) ‘is a person employed in the public service of the Federation or of any State or Area Council (other than a person holding elective office) and he has not resigned, withdrawn or retired from such employment 30 days before the date of election; then he stands disqualified from the election.” It is the law that has spoken here! So, neither Bolawole’s misinterpretation nor his hues’ grievous error of opinions counts! Thanks to the National Working Committee of the party which, in its wisdom, upturned the decision of the Appeal Committee on the ground of ‘error of law.’ On the other hand, what other name should we call a man who got a party’s nod to contest a major election, even when he was less than 6 hours old in the said party?

Sad that Nigeria’s major shortcoming as an independent nation is her clashing contradictions. Nigeria is one such enclave where world changers who are capable of being in effective interactions and competitions with their counterparts globally are reduced to mere means of self-satisfying ends. So far, ours has been a case of “bread and butter” gastro-politicians exploring the womb of primordial innuendos with acidic fundamentalism, geo-political absurdity and socio-economic silliness. Well, one may blame APC and the governor for removing the disgraceful robe bedecked Adeleke by the PDP buccaneers. But to say that Aregbesola sought Adeleke’s help to win the 2014 governorship election is not only fallacious, it is also an attempt by false friends who delight in mischievously and deliberately writing history based only on their standards and viewpoints.

Curious also that Bolawole even chose to refer to some of this administration’s projects as “elephant projects.” He blatantly lied that some schools were demolished and that they were yet to be rebuilt. Funny enough, he did not mention where those schools were located! But facts on ground proved him wrong! If only he could venture out of his cocoon and visit locus in quo instead of relying on some “good friends, who always called me or I phone them to confirm whatever I hear from Osun.” Sitting down in Lagos or elsewhere and passing fatwa on a man everybody – home and abroad – showers encomiums on for his sterling performance is in contradistinction to the ethics of his profession, which pronounces truth as sacred. The imprint of the governor’s performance litters the state and only infantile minds can dispute it.

Aregbesola’s social protection programmes alone have become so attractive to other state governments and international agencies all over the world that a couple of months back, United Nations International Children Emergency Funds (UNICEF) brought fifteen states in Nigeria to Osun to understudy the state’s School Feeding Scheme, aka O’MEAL; the programme for the vulnerable elderly, popularly referred to as Elderly Welfare Scheme); the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES); welfare scheme for the widows, called O’widows’ and the rehabilitation of the mentally-challenged persons in the state (O’Rehab). He has so far constructed close to 2000 kilometers of roads and added more than 50 new structures to … Funke Egbemode rightly captured the mood of the moment when she remarked, recently: “One thing is obvious: whether you are in Osun or you are outside the state reading about Osun, you definitely have a feeling that it is a secured state. And one good thing about a peaceful and secured state is that it attracts investors to the state because a peaceful and secured environment helps business to thrive.”

What other confirmation of performance does any armchair critic require?

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

abiodun KOMOLAFE & Kunle Owolabi,
Osun State.

Atewogbeja: The Story Of Osun’s Emerging Beautiful Landscape, By Kunle Owolabi

Cities all over the world acquire reputation of being visitors’ and tourists’ haven because of their beauties.
And cities are not just beautiful but are products of careful planning by the leaders or rulers of such cities.

Today, people celebrate Dubai. The city, in the heart of the Middle East, rose to prominence less than two decades ago.

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That the city of Dubai now plays host to tourists, business men and women, world top sporting activities, political, economic and education summits is a testimony to the vision and planning virtuoso of one of the country’s greatest leader, Sheikh Rashid Makhtoum.

Not quite long ago, we used to hear the phrase: ‘See Paris and die’. It was nothing but the planned beauty of the French capital city.

So also for the outstanding recreational and aesthetic beauty of Orlando’s Disney World in Florida, United State, which attracts millions of tourists yearly from all over the world.

This is perhaps the motivational force that propelled the government of Osun to embark on total reconstruction and planning of some of its ancient cities for upward upgrade to modern cities that will attract visitors and tourists alike.

This turnaround of the ancient cities to modern ones is part of a massive Urban Renewal project of the Rauf Aregbesola administration in the last five years.

Nine cities were penciled down for renewal at a go, a massive and ambitious project indeed for a state like Osun.

This giant initiative has once been described as  the biggest exercise in the whole of Nigeria since United Nations’ Habitat began a collaboration with states in Nigeria.

Under this programme, cities in Osun will witness a telling turnaround in planning, beautification, aesthetics, social facilities.

Today, Osogbo, the capital of the state is gradually shedding its ancient toga and metamorphosing  into modern city.
To say that the city is undergoing noticeable change in a seamless fashion might just be an understatement.
Anybody who has not visited for some time now is bound to be taken aback by the consistent change the city now wears.

One huge area of change is the center point of the city. Called old garage, the place used to be an hideout for criminals and miscreants. Dirty, unkempt and haphazardly planned!

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It was an eyesore of the city and unattractive to both towns’ people and visitors. But that was years gone bye.
The situation has changed dramatically that people, who have not visited couple of years now find it difficult to maneuver their ways round the city.

No longer the dirty Old Garage but newly beautified Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, this recreational arena has astoundingly changed the terrain and landscape of the city.

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The usual dark, waterlogged, dark-alley, bloodshot-eyed hemp smoking youths pictorial views have all disappeared.
Days and nights are no longer easily distinguishable in this city center any time of the day one visits.

Pleasantly expansive, the whole Freedom Park has been tarred and street-lit. Equipped with a big hall for restaurants, events arena and a water fountain called the Atewogbeja Water Fountain, there park seats for people to sit down and relax, enjoying the undiluted and pure air. The emerging scenery is arresting even at its stage nearing completion.

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The park has also been landscaped with lush green grasses and trees to make it environmentally and healthily friendly.

The place is equally equipped with a garden and play ground for people around the area as well as visitors.

Besides, the park now serves as veritable venue for rallies, social and political events in the state – very large, accommodative and well equipped for such occasions. Indeed, the Freedom Park has a hotel for visitors who want to spend their time entirely within this cosy environment.

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It serves for other social purposes as motor park for travelers, who do not wish to go in their personal cars. Now it is easier for them to drive into the park and take tickets for the custody and security of their cars by the park management until they return.

And opposite the park is a motor park to wherever a commuter is going, make this a sort of business district while still performing the socio-recreational functions.

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Beyond the intended renewal, beautification, recreation, the Freedom Park creatively attracts people and tourists and serve other commercial purposes that are expected to bring revenues to the coffers of government.

It is this new innovation that the government of Aregbesola intends to extend to other eight cities in the state so that wherever a visitor to the state finds him or herself, he or she feels comfortable and finds where to relax and rest.

This is a project to change the face of Osun State finally, transforming it into a modern city. Not one, not two, nine cities in the state!

Owolabi writes from Osogbo in Osun State.