A Witness To Excellence

A reflection by Abdul-Hakeem

Abdul-Lateef on the progressive intervention in the affairs of the State of Osun.

It is with a joyful heart and profound gratitude to Almighty Allah that I write this piece, on Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, from the deepest recesses of my  being as he approaches the end of his momentous, eventful and unprecedented two-term tenure as Executive Governor of the State of Osun (2010-2018). I thank the Almighty for granting him the life, good health, wisdom, sagacity, prudence, vibrancy, energy and dynamism with which he has maximally utilized this office to turn around the fortunes of what used to be regarded as one of the most underdeveloped rural states in the country with little or no potentials for radical transformation.

His tenure in office as governor of the State of Osun has helped to uplift millions of the poor and deprived from the humiliating depths of poverty while laying a firm foundation for and laying new vistas of previously unimagined opportunities for the future development

of the state. I make bold to say with all sincerity that His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s political career brilliantly exemplifies the great sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s assertion that “the glory of a king lies in the welfare and wellbeing of his people”. For the last seven and a half years, his driving passion has been the upliftment of the State of Osun to a higher pedestal of progress and modernity, enhancing the material and existential circumstances of the ordinary people and imbuing the people of the state with a new sense of self-esteem, confidence and self respect.

In closely observing and contemplating his conduct, underlying philosophy, selflessness, courage, commitment and sense of purpose in public life over the last two decades, he reminds me of the immortal saying of Martin Luther King (jnr) 0n June 23, 1963, that “There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live”.  As a student union leader in his youth, he was at the forefront of the black power movement that uncompromisingly advocated and struggled for the liberation of South Africa and the entire Southern African region from the stranglehold of apartheid. At the same time, in line with his democratic socialist beliefs, Ogbeni played an active role in movements and organizations working for radical social change in Nigeria and the abolition all forms of injustice, inequality, poverty, indignity and inhumanity of man to man in our society.

It was thus not fortuitous that it was in the trenches, during the struggle against the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election won by the late Chief Moshhod Kashimawo Abiola specifically and military dictatorship in general, that he struck a close working comradeship with our phenomenal leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Both he and Asiwaju have consistently shown the rest of us the light to enable us find the way to a land where liberty, equity, justice and democracy reign supreme. These are values, which the Ogbeni showed a willingness to die for if need be for the greater interest of Nigeria, Africa and humanity.

When he became the second democratically elected Governor of Lagos State in 1999 after Alhaji Lateef Jakande (1979-1983), it was no surprise that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed Rauf as Honourable Commissioner in the strategic Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. Asiwaju had, no doubt, noticed his industry, versatility, doggedness and incomparable commitment to the public good during the dark and dangerous years of the struggle for democratic restoration in Nigeria. Ogbeni’s sparkling and undeniable success in that office for eight years, made the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure the flagship and point of reference of the Tinubu administration. It is to his everlasting credit that the Ministry laid the foundation for the radical modernization of roads and ancillary infrastructure in Lagos state that succeeding administrations have been building and improving upon so remarkably to the benefit and glory of Lagos State.

There is, therefore, no doubt that Ogbeni Aregbesola assumed office as Governor of Osun, after a protracted and herculean legal struggle, with impeccable credentials of competence, character, integrity and indelible achievements in public service. It would have been so much easier and more convenient to set very low standards and be content to leave the State as he met it. He could easily have opted to let the state remain dependent on monthly allocations from the Federation Account while being content with simply paying salaries of government workers as well as pensions and letting the State of Osun remain what it had always been – a civil service state lacking in dynamism, virility or creative governance.

Demonstrating great courage and audacious vision, this man of honou said ‘no’ to a path of ease, complacency and indulgent leadership. He said no to the broad and easy path of perpetual dependence on hand outs from the Federation Account, preferring to lead the State of Osun along the narrow and demanding path of laying the foundation for self-reliant development with the prospects of future prosperity despite unavoidable short-term hardships. The path he chose: that of hard work, sacrifice, pain and hardship in order to realize the dream of ‘abundance for all’ in the long run, reminds one of the poem, ‘Give us Men!’ by Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881):

 

“God give us Men!

Men-from every rank,

Fresh and free and frank;

Men of thought and reading,

Men of light and leading,

Men of loyal breeding,

The Nation’s welfare speeding;

Men of faith and not of fiction,

Men of lofty aim in action;

Give us Men – I say again,

Give us Men!’

 

At that critical juncture in history, God indeed gave the State of Osun that man of vision, courage, commitment, compassion and positive action in Ogbeni. He boldly set forth a ‘Six Point Integral Action Plan’, which encapsulated banishing poverty, banishing hunger, banishing unemployment, restoring healthy living, promoting functional education and enhancing communal peace and progress. In enunciating such an ambitious developmental agenda in a state widely believed to be irredeemably poor, many of his critics and even supporters thought His Excellency was out of his mind. Where, many wondered, did he expect to get the resources to realize these objectives? But then, he was, even if subconsciously, obviously motivated by the immortal words of the poet who declared:

 

‘The man who misses all the fun

Is he who says “It can’t be done”.

In solemn pride he stands aloof

And greets each venture with reproof.

Had he the power he’d efface

The history of the human race;

We’d have no radio or motor cars,

No streets lit by electric stars;

No telegraph nor telephone,

We’d linger in the age of stone.

The world would sleep if things were run

By men who say, ‘It can’t be done’.

 

Because Ogbeni believed the revolutionary transformation of the State of Osun could be done, he was bequeathing to the state a legacy of breathtaking infrastructural modernization and service delivery. These include a vast network of modern roads that cut across the nooks and crannies of the state as well as state of the art schools and health facilities that are the envy of many better endowed states in terms of financial resources. By deliberate state action in the provision of infrastructure, his administration has impacted positively on agriculture including forestry, food production, cash crop production, animal husbandry and fishing.

His administration’s provision of free uniforms for school children, free nutritious meals once a day for school pupils, creation of Sanitation Gangs, Osun Sheriffs, Public Works Brigades, Osun paramedics, Traffic Managers as well as the modernization and improvement of markets have helped to boost economic growth, generate employment, uplift living standards, alleviate poverty and lay a solid and irreversible transition of the economy of the State of Osun from one that is essentially civil-service based to a dynamic, vibrant, relentlessly expanding and self-regenerating economy. It is, of course, impossible for one to comprehensively expatiate on the monumental impact his administration has made on governance in the State of Osun.

Of course, the road has been tough and hazardous for the state under Ogbeni’s revolutionary leadership. He has had to contend with the diversionary and distracting antics of fierce, reactionary forces, the unpredictability of a macro Nigerian economy within which the State of Osun is forced to operate, a defective federal structure that disenables states and prevents them from maximizing their potentials for the benefit of their people as well as the consequences of lack of visionary and competent leadership at the national level particularly in the immediate past political dispensation before the 2015 elections.

Nevertheless, he has soldiered on bravely and confidently, assured that he is leading the State of Osun on the right path towards the attainment of her immense potentials. He has raised the bars of public governance, which those coming after him will have no choice but to strive to maintain and surpass if they are not to incur the wrath of the people. I do not write these words for flattering. That is utterly unnecessary. History will always vindicate the just no matter what human beings say or write.

Rather, I only wish to add my humble voice to those who value and are truly appreciative of what Ogbeni has come to symbolize in our country’s public life. Rauf Aregbesola is like a city on a hill whose example inspires many of us to seek to emulate his example in dedicating our lives to promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of our people. Equally important is the fact that, as a person who shares Ogbeni’s deep Islamic faith, I am inspired and deeply moved by his practical example and demonstration of what the Holy Koran enjoins a true believer in Allah to be when put in positions of leadership.

If these words gives Ogbeni a renewed encouragement, (in case he reads them himself), that his efforts and exertions in public service have not gone unnoticed while motivating and energizing him in his future endeavours in the pursuit of his unalterable destiny as he continues to render unalloyed service to humanity, I would have achieved my objective.

EDITORIAL: ‘Raufnomics’ Revisited

The third edition of the Raufnomics symposium rhymed with the counting down of the days to the end of the path breaking administration of the Ogbeni Governor, Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in the State of Osun. It is regrettable that the event did not receive the media coverage it deserved. This unfortunate lapse should be corrected in future editions. This is because the fusing of theory into practice which Raufnomics represents should be codified, in our opinion into a coherent practical philosophy of government.

This year’s theme is located in the decisive question of our time which centers around the development of the most important part of the development process of enhancing human capital. This year’s theme captures it well, “Functional Education as a Tool for National Development and a Gateway to Freedom”. Even before the widely commented upon remarks by the philanthropist Bill Gates, the issue of education in the development of human capital has been on the front burner.

In the State of Osun, the guiding philosophical thrust of Raufnomics has resulted in positive, hopefully irreversible gains.

The Osun State deputy governor succinctly captured the positive thrusts by pointing out amongst others, the Osun elementary and school feeding programme [ O’Meal], the reclassification efforts and the over 46 per cent pass recorded in the WASSCE results. Significantly, the O’Meal programme has captured national attention and is now the most often cited plank of the Federal government’s social intervention programmes, giving kudos to Raufnomics by confirming the adage that imitation is the best form of flattery.

Raufnomics has certainly played a key role in altering the direction of policy options in our country. Through theory translating into implementation, it has put the overarching need for balanced development back into the nation’s policy agenda. It has become a veritable tool in the fight back against the rentier state. Fundamentally, Raufnomics has helped to make the progressive position fashionable again and put it at the center of the nation’s development agenda. This has been done by upgrading the  ”life more abundant “ thrust of the Action Group’s manifesto of the early 1950’s with Bashorun MKO Abiola ‘s  1993  ” Farewell to poverty “ and weaving it into a national development agenda.

Raufnomics will continue to be even more relevant for the decade 2020 – 2030 will be make or break for our country. The issues of a looming population cataclysm, inadequate social and physical infrastructures as well as the fiscal imbalances mitigating the creation of jobs and sustainable development will have to be tackled head on. We are of the opinion that Raufnomics will be at the heart of the policy response.

 

 

Aregbesola At 61: An Inventor Of Modern Osun

Beyond the Adjectives of all languages of the world, I chose to describe the governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the word of Robert Green Ingersoll that; “A great man is a torch in the darkness, beacon in superstition’s night, an inspiration and a prophecy”.

Though, there are countless political philosophies and ideologies globally, the particular one embraced and deployed by the Symbol of good governance, my mentor, the creator of the modern State of Osun, Ogbeni Aregbesola is still unknown to other Nigerian politicians especially in his class as they are witness to his political might.

While examining the personality of our amiable governor, especially as touching his roles in Lagos, Osun and Nigeria’s political scene at large, one would be left with no other option than to agree with the word of elders that says, “the Head of an Elephant is not a load for the young”.

Through good governance and exemplary leadership, Ogbeni Aregbesola has been able to create a prosperous state out of the previous Osun with infrastructure development at its lower ebb.

In both his first term and the ending second term as Governor, this achiever has retooled the state and gave it an enviable economic strength, so strong that the state now rank among the prosperous states in the country, particularly as one of the states with lowest unemployment rate.

In whatever manner you peruse the life of this giant of kindness, whether as a husband, or a father, an engineer, a politician, a democrat, a master strategist, a great investor, a philanthropist, an optimist, a dogged fighter, you are confronted with rainbow in its full splendour.

Like the National leader of our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, countless leaders and future leaders have emerged and are still emerging from the camp of Ogbeni Aregbesola, one of which I am.

He is a determined friend of the masses and benefactor of many. Ogbeni radiates a life of captivating literature, and his comportment appeals to the lofty, the intellectual and the inspirational.

Beyond his political sagacity, his administrative acumen in unrivalled going by series of innovations he has introduced to governance which the people of Osun will continue to appreciate.

It will forever remain in history that Aregbesola is one governor that is aggressively aggressive to develop his territory in a hurry, irrespective of hindrances, particularly as touching finance.

His agenda for development is not for Osun alone, it is for the entire Yoruba states and even Yoruba race and Africa in general. This is the highest form of demonstration of commitment that can be exhibited by any individual, either private or public.

There are testimonies here and there that our Ogbeni, the symbol of good governance has brought unprecedented development to the territory called Osun within the last seven years in all sectors of governance, talk of education, infrastructure development, security, economic re-engineering, rural and urban development, agriculture, youth and women empowerment, environment, healthcare delivery system and others.

There are also several social intervention programmes for youths like Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme (OYES) that has engaged over 40,000 youths and made majority of them self-dependent; you want to talk of the Ambulance Scheme, which has saved about 12,171lives; the School feeding programmes (OMEAL) through which school children are being fed and had in turn increased enrolment into public schools; what about the rehabilitation of the mentally challenged people; Agriculture Youth Academy through which several youths have been empowered in faming; what of the massive construction of schools from elementary, middle and high schools which can withstand any school at that level anywhere in the world, and many more.

Under Aregbesola, Osun has always remained a reference point for several states of the federation and even the federal government on series of his developmental interventions. Most pronounced of such interventions are the OYES and O’MEAL. If not for the ingenuity in the programmes, it is very rear in history, particularly in Nigeria for a Federal Government to adopt programmes instituted by a state government.

No doubt, the man that has changed the face of governance in Osun and Nigeria is worthy of celebration and must be celebrated in grand style, more so that his two-term administration is winding down. What has been baffling many is how to ‘reproduce’ another Ogbeni, that would be empowered and loyal to the course he has set.

As one of those leaders that have emerged and since been growing in the Aregbesola’s political lineage, it is a honour to join millions of friends, associates, politicians, family and other people nationality and internationally to say a very warm ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Symbol himself at 61 while I wish him a long life and prosperity.

 – Olatunbosun Oyintiloye is the Chairman, Osun House Committee on Information and Strategy and represents Obokun State Constituency.

 

Man Of History By Olakunle Abimbola

My dad, before he died, always told his children to be wary of a child hustling to be sent on a particular errand.  ”If he isn’t expecting something,” he would warn with that native Yoruba wit, “then something is expecting him.”

The street-wise moral is clear: people seldom embark on a mission without some motives, most times, un-altruistic.

I wouldn’t know what Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, governor of Osun actually, wanted by seeking to govern a run-down state like Osun, when he had his political future virtually secured in Lagos, in both the politics of mobilization and the policies of development.

In the old Alimoso (the most populous local government area in Nigeria), he was the mobilizer-in-chief.  Politically, Lagos calls that zone, teeming with voters, “Tinubu’s Country”.

As Infrastructure czar, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, the Lagos infrastructure renewal of the Bola Tinubu governorship era (1999-2007), had his clear signature, in those critical days of harsh Lagos rebooting.

Why then the virtual Osun suicide mission?

Suicide!  Even well before running for office in 2007, he could easily have been felled.  It was a tale of flying bullets during an Oroki Day, the Osogbo yearly celebration of glorious community.

The Aregbe side claimed it was an assassination attempt to, once and for all, eliminate the nuisance, before it attained its full value.  But the incumbent government counter-claimed it was a security breach; since Aregbe, with the infectious political moniker of Oranmiyan, sauntered in when the governor was already seated.

Whichever claim was true, the cold fact was that Aregbesola could have been history, had things got awrier!

But if that Oroki Day event was reported and controversial, I was right there, on another occasion, when death, hot death, again came whistling.

It was but a few days to the 2007 elections — yes, that same election that the outgoing President, Olusegun Obasanjo declared was a do-or-die.  We were all there, the Media team, that night at Oranmiyan House, Aregbe’s campaign headquarters, on Osogbo’s Gbongan/Ibadan road.

There was Roy Jibromah, head of the media team.  I was also there, with our team.  I can’t remember now if Gbenga Fayemiwo, the hitherto Aregbe media czar, whose team the two “Tekobos” (Lagos émigrés) – Oga Roy and I – came to strengthen.  Of course, also there were Kola Olabisi, then the Osun Defender editor and his team, who had moved into Oranmiyan House, because of dire intelligence about the safety and security of their bungalow office, farther up road, on the stretch to Gbongan, on the same Gbongan/Ibadan road.  Outside was a mix of Osogbo denizens, enjoying free cinema, courtesy of a multi-media big screen by the Aregbe campaign, outside the campaign office.  The African U-17 championship was on in Benin Republic, and the Nigerian lads were playing a match and winning well.

Then, it happened!  Ra-tra-ta-ta-gbam!  Bullets started whistling from nowhere and from everywhere!  In panic, I clutched my laptop – in a laughable effort to protect campaign materials stored in there.  Then, direr news came: Kola Olabisi, Osun Defender editor, had been gunned down!

Rasheed Mabayoje, head of the broadcast unit of the campaign media, brought the shattering news.  In panic, we all bolted down the stairs – the Media Office and Osun Defender annex suites were on the first floor – when things quietened a bit.  Lo and behold, we ran right into Olabisi, confused, dishevelled and incoherent, the buba top of his reddish Yoruba two-piece attire in virtual shreds!

“Kola!” blurted I, “are you dead?”  What a question!  But he indeed looked like an apparition!

He wasn’t dead, of course – thank God.  But he had a frightening, near-death encounter, with bullets zipping through his top garment, grazing his belly, penetrating his Mercedes Benz 200 car but somewhat ricocheting off the fuel tank.  Had that happened, it would have triggered an explosion and perhaps a big fire!

But more dreary news was to come.  Snipers, perched on the adjoining hill after the Osun River bridge, had aimed at the head of the chair in Aregbesola’s office.  Since the four-storey Oranmiyan House sits in a valley, the summit of the hill is level with the building’s fourth floor.  Had Aregbe been there, and he was seated in his office, dozing as usual after a most punishing campaign, and the top floor crawling with party people of the defunct Action Congress (AC), the snipers would have neatly picked him out – him, with other party folks!  But thank goodness!  For the media team, on the first floor, the building was empty.

Talk of a suicide mission to govern Osun!  Those were perilous times!

The election itself – do-or-die, as Obasanjo decreed, living exactly up to that – would come and go; with its many murders in polling precincts (remember AC poll agent, Ayo Kemba, murdered in a most gruesome manner at Igbajo?); with its brazenly stolen mandate, triggering post-vote riots, to which the ham-fisted government response turned part of Osogbo and most of Ilesa into a war zone, for some three weeks after; with its long, long legal challenge, spanning almost four years; and the final mandate reclamation, when all hopes seemed completely lost!

That post-election terror!  We had all stolen out of town to escape arrest.  In my own flight to Lagos, travelling incognito in a public bus, like Peter thrice denying the Christ at the crow of the cock, I saw the Police occupy Oranmiyan House, dealing with the campaign staff trapped in there as prized criminals.  Oga Roy would later send chilling tales from the Ilesa battle zone, or more accurately military occupied territory, for daring to protest the brazen steal of their vote.

Talk of a suicide mission!  What does a mortal need to achieve greatness – wilful suicide?

I have gone to this length, exposing the perils of those times, to show the extent the Osun powers and principalities went to keep Aregbesola out.  They must have seen what mere mortals had not seen: a force coming to radically change the face of Osun politics.  Today, Osun people are the clear winners.

Aregbesola came when everything was broken down – schools, roads and even the general consciousness of basic governance, not to dream of a developmental one.

What now preens in Osogbo uptown as Workers Avenue, now shaping into a glittering and gleaming high street was, at some point, no more than serpentine twine, huddled on both sides by mud houses.  How does such geography, in a state capital, support a 21st century economy?

The Olaiya area was a railway junkyard, with ancient and indifferent shops and stalls.  Now, that has given way to the amazing Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, complete with  its grand phallic obelisk, shooting into the Osogbo serene skyline.  In the night, from that obelisk, magical, multi-coloured waters tumble down, from the mouth of a “fish”, into the Atewogb’eja fountain!

Atewogb’eja is the full stretch of Ataoja, the title of the Osogbo monarch. Why? that comes with a whiff of Renaissance.  Jimoh Braimoh, the master sculptor behind the obelisk, is Osogbo-born.  Osogbo, the age-old city of culture, with its famous Adunni Olorisa of the Osun grove (of blessed memory), meets its famed artist-son, at its new city centre!  History would recall, with relish, which governor was the glorious midwife!

And the schools!  Before, Osun schools were glorified scorched shells, from a war zone.  Now, the Aregbe era has birthed a new age of avant-garde school complexes that can compete with any, anywhere.

But even if you’re not impressed by brick-and-mortar, or even by IT-fired learning hardwares and softwares, as exemplified by the Opon Imo, Aregbesola Osun’s computer learning tablet that warehouses all textbooks in the syllabus, the junior school, beneficiaries of the Osun Schools Feeding programme, would never forget the governor that treated them as pupil-royals.

These Osun future would never forget that past governor, that invested the last family silver, in an age of vanished resources, to give them delicious and nutritious meals at school, even if they came from poor and vulnerable homes.  Nor would the local farmers, food vendors and allied caterers forget the governor that gave them new economic life, while others folded their arms and lamented about lean resources.

And the roads!  Those again are clear pin-points to track Osun history into Before Aregbe (BA) and After Aregbe (AA) era.

Well, BA, certainly there wasn’t the Ooni Adesoji Aderemi ring road, with its November 27 iconic flyover, on Gbongan road, among the three other bridges, and other glittering road projects.

Neither was there the Bisi Akande Trumpet Interchange bridge, at the Ibadan-Ife expressway-Gbongan junction.  Again, history will fondly remember the governor that collapsed this junction-grave, in which many a traveler had perished over the years, and replaced it with a tri-engineering wonder: saves lives, from routine auto crashes, beautifies the environment and gives the economy a fillip!

By the way, as all of these were happening, some newspapers were busy writing skewed news, mischievous editorials and tendentious opinions, complete with explosive headlines: over alleged ‘Islamization’ that never was; salary crises, that were a pan-Nigeria challenge, among sundry media rascalities.  Well, today, the people are wiser.  Besides, history waits: to vindicate the just and rubbish the wicked, among them were media owners and editors, profaning sacred trusts.

And if you want to know how far Osun has advanced in peace and security, just recall the recent terrible robbery at Offa, in neighbouring Kwara State.  That at Offa, danger was close, yet so far away, its no accident!  It is in fact a tale of two states: how one has advanced; how the other has regressed.

Still, the Aregbesola era, as sparkling as it has turned out, is yet, a work-in-progress.  The next stage would be to ensure an era of positive continuity, to proceed apace with the good work, to the glory of Osun’s future.

But to Ogbeni, the outgoing governor, marking his last birthday before stepping down, it is accolades well earned, more so, when all these were achieved in the midst of chronic economic crises, save the first two years, or so.

I still remember folks gathered at the then Protea Hotel, near Chevron, Lekki, Lagos, conceptualizing and fine-tuning Ogbeni’s policies, should he succeed in his Osun kamikaze adventure, back in early 2007: Pastor Segun Babatope, Ambassador Otunla, Dr. Charles Akinola, Femi “Sheriff” Ifaturoti, among others.  Many of these folks would later join the Ogbeni government, in one capacity or the other.

It would be interesting to see how these soldiers of faith measure against the model in their collective minds back then, with what have been achieved, after eight gruelling years of service to the Osun people.

But how would dad have put the Ogbeni fairy tale – the messenger bearing greatness, that willy-nilly sent himself on a tough mission to change Osun for good?  Wouldn’t know now, because the old man is gone!

Happy birthday and many happy returns, Ogbeni Governor!  May greater, developmental achiever come Osun’s way again!

 

Symbol Of The Progressive Thrust

We are not just saying happy birthday to the symbol of the progressive thrust in the State of Osun, we are commending him for a stellar intervention in uplifting the conditions of the many in the state. Rauf Aregbesola has certainly earned himself a positive place in the pantheon of the historical sequence of our time, he has however not done so “under circumstances he would have chosen or preferred”. This is why the achievements of the administration he has headed is all the more remarkable, as irreversible gains have been made largely in a period of fiscal stress and within the constraints of a defective quasi-federalism, it has been a triumph of determination and imagination.

In wishing him great achievements ahead in continuing good health, OSUN DEFENDER has put together a compilation of thoughts highlighting the rebirth of the progressive thrust which he has spearheaded. This includes: Man Of History, by Olakunle Abimbola, The Making Of A Leader by Wale Adebisi, Rauf Aregbesola: Architect Of New Osun by Murtala Agboola, Working Like A Hurricane by….. and An Inventor Of Modern Osun by Olatunbosun Oyintiloye.

There are great birthdays ahead, what is essential is that the solid foundations laid must be built upon. The best birthday presents are those which endure, and in this way, the best gift to our Ogbeni is a continuation of a mode of governance which has made a break from an under-achieving past and put the State on the path of sustainable development.

Happy Birthday

Kazeem Mohammed

Aregbesola At 61: Working Like A Hurricane

Banji Ojewale

American journalist and scholar Arthur Doak Barnett has recorded the unforgettable experience of a foreigner who went to Communist China in the 60s at the time the great Mao Tse Tung was establishing the foundation of what has become a superpower threatening to dethrone the United States of America as the world’s leading economy. Barnett, who could hardly be described as a friend of China’s ideological inclination, said the man, after his tour, went to Hong Kong and declared ‘with awe in his voice ‘: ‘’I never thought that human beings and society could be reconstructed so easily.’’

The impressed American journalist then added his own comments: “The plastic surgery that the Communists had been performing on Chinese society for over a decade had been painful indeed for millions of Chinese… The Chinese …have dramatically demonstrated that an effective…regime can achieve extensive social change at a breakneck pace.’’

Seven years ago when I went to shoot an independent documentary film on the first anniversary of the Rauf Aregbesola administration, I also concluded from what I saw that a template was in place in Osun for the delivery of the society of the future. What Aregbesola was seen doing then appeared chaotic, misty and cryptic.

As our film crew traversed the state, we were confronted with huge earth-moving machines that roared ceaselessly every time of our visit during the shoot. Overnight, as it were, the whole of Osun became a construction site. There were fetuses of mega schools that foretold learning centres kitted with state-of-the-art teaching techniques. Dilapidated structures that posed as government owned hospitals were pulled down to make way for those that would guarantee the balanced health of the society Aregbesola was creating. He widened and modernized the provincial roads he inherited, both in Osogbo the capital and in the hinterland.

Governor Aregbesola gave the land and its people no rest as he unveiled a 6-point integral blueprint to: banish poverty, banish hunger, banish unemployment (create work/wealth), restore healthy living, promote functional education and enhance communal peace and progress. He turned everywhere to realize this dream that he idolized. Then, he produced his Green Book with the title, My Pact with the People of Osun State. He said in the book: ‘’What I offer you…can be termed Government Unusual-A Government totally committed to unlocking the latent potential (of the people) since the glorious days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.’’

Part of this ‘unusual’ governance was the delivery of the unlimited benefits of ICT right into the homes of rustic teens. He gave them what he called Opon Imo, customized iPads that had the whole gamut of the secondary school curriculum. This was a radical departure from the pedestrian stone age education we dished out to our youngsters. Along with this came the Omeals scheme that offered free nutritious food to thousands of the children of the poor. The initiative has since been adopted by the federal government and some states as a strategy to boost school attendance and reduce illiteracy in our society.

Still more: at one fell swoop, the governor employed 20,000 youths under its groundbreaking OYES programme to fulfil one of his cardinal goals. Again, it was the first time we had a governor doing that.

One would be wrong to conclude that only those in government benefited from Aregbesola’s reforms. He has pursued a comprehensive policy in areas where he could capture the entire state. For instance, he cleared 1765 hectares of land to support farmers and committed N4b to assist them. He then moved to increase the public water supply so the farmers would not suffer the ill-effects of the vagaries of the elements common to the Nigerian condition.

Crowning all these is Aregbesola’s clamour that the philosophy of Omoluabi (pursuit of a good name, integrity, spotless conduct etc) must guide the lifestyle of the citizens of Osun. This is what distinguishes decent men and women from barbarians. In other words, real development in society occurs when you reform the citizen, when you invest in the people.

As it happened in China in the days of Mao, there have been pains in the lives of the citizens of Osun with the hurricane speed of the governor. Despite a big jump in IGR from N300m to N1bn, there is a debt portfolio; government workers and pensioners are owed months of salaries with the authorities forced to resort to modulated payment.

The governor’s critics have charged him with over borrowing, warning that he is preparing a loan burden for the future. But the point is that development and debt are inseparable.

When the illustrious Awolowo was erecting those great structures in the 50s and 60s that we are all celebrating today, some shortsighted people attempted to instigate the society against his government which they accused of securing heavy loans for wasteful spending. We all know what happened: the masses mobilized in peaceful protests and sang: Leave Awolowo alone to use our resources for development. He is working for our future. We are not complaining.

At 61 and with only a few months to leave the scene, Aregbesola should believe in the creed that the real leader and statesman is the one who builds largely for the future from the proceeds of today. We need to radicalize governance along that thinking.

— Ojewale writes from Lagos

Ogbeni Till Daybreak: Unveiling The Success Stories, Debt Position, Others

Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola last week Friday till dawn of Saturday addressed the people of the State of Osun through the state interactive programme tagged Ogbeni Till Daybreak. Osun Defender team was there. Excerpt

The Governor’s Tour To All The Nine Federal Constituencies

It is clear that the party that has been criticizing us for embarking on that tour is grossly incompetent and unfit to govern any reasonable state, because if you would not take people for granted, you must ensure that you engage them particularly on the things our administration has done over the years. Whichever part of Osun you are in today, there is a clear difference between Osun of pre-Aregbesola and Osun during Aregbesola. You don’t even need to stress yourself to notice these things, and because we are human, it is very easy to forget that Osun has moved by the speed of light within the period we assumed office. Interestingly, most people do not know that the period we have spent so far is 25 days less than the period the party we succeeded spent. We are yet to equal them in number of days spent in office, yet, we have so much surpassed them that whoever was here on November 26, 2010 will not believe it is the same state.

So, the movement round the state was to register this very clear and unmistakable difference between the impact of Aregbesola administration and that of the PDP. The tour was very successful, measuring from the response from our party members, the comments of traditional rulers and the people in the course of the tour.

Media Coverage Challenge

We are not in any way affected or bothered by their activities. I remain one of the few governors in the country that is still popular till now. How many governors can still move about their towns, street and compound and receive enthusiastic encomium and adulation from the people, not many. I am one of the few that attract ecstatic reactions from the people anywhere I go. I thank God for this. If they derive joy discrediting us, we will not be distracted. We will continue to affect positively the life of our people, and those media outfit that value good governance will celebrate us. Let those that are hellbent to run us down continue, life will not stop. We will continue to do things that have endeared us to the people.

West Senatorial District Agitations For Governorship.

The agitations for zoning should be left to me, I am a politicians and we know how to resolve this. Politicians know how to manage their problems and we shall manage it effectively.

Osun Debt Position

For your information, the debt can be segregated; we have the SUKUK which we used to fund the construction of schools, and the conventional one which went to the capital projects. By the grace of God, by November 2019, we will settle the conventional one, and there will be no kobo left of the N30b conventional bond. By September 2020, the N11.4b of SUKUK bond would be settled. What would be left would be the federal government bond which was actually the money we took as an over draft for salaries. You recall that, by September of 2014, the state could no longer pay salaries without taking over draft and by the time the government of Muhammadu Buhari government came into power, we had borrowed as over draft N25.8b on salaries alone. That one is structured to take a very long time and that is the only one that would be left which we are paying painfully. The buck of the money that we are paying is actually money borrowed to pay salaries.

Clearing The Backlog Of Salary Arrears.

The over draft we took to pay salaries between 2014 and 2015 was the bulk fund of the money converted to the federal government bond which is the most excruciating debt burden we have. To avoid such burdens was the reason we negotiated with the workers unions that the state could no longer owe to pay salaries. We do not have the capacity to borrow to pay salaries. To avoid any controversy, we put together a committee called apportionment committee. The committee under the leadership of a veteran Labour Leader, Comrade Hasan Sunmonu, meets every month to monitor all the revenues and assist on the proportion of the revenue that must go into salaries, capital and recurrent and that is how we have been running. However, we must leave on hope that our tomorrow will be better than our today and interestingly we have seen improvement in the economy from without and from within. We are witnessing improvement in our capacity to internally generate revenue. I am very confident with everything we have put to it that our state will gradually pay whatsoever it is owing and be able to pay the full salaries of our staffers as we are going on.

However, I will admonish our critics to be mindful of what they say. People forget about the history of our state, our state whether we like it or not was part of Oyo but now on its own and that happened in 1991. The bulk of civil servants in the western region before independence were from two states today – Ogun and Osun. When the Western region later became western states, even at that time the bulk of the civil servants were still from those two states. Ogun was created later as well as Ondo. When we were under the old Oyo state, 80% of the workers in the old Oyo state were from Osun until 1991 that Osun was created. The implication of this is that the state has a huge pension burden because of those that worked in the old western region that are from Osun and have not died; we cannot kill them and for as long as they live they must earn their pensions. On pension alone, we pay more than several states.

Two days ago, the critics that do not even know about government in spite of the fact that they were here for seven and half years, and have no clue about governance, came to challenge us that we are reckless. Beside the fact that the figure they gave was wrong, one other fact that will interest you is that in 2015, the year they referred to, when our total amount received from the federal government as allocation was N5.09billion, we paid as pension N4.99billion. For you to appreciate the enormity of our pension burden which has historical basis, in 2015 alone we serviced our pension responsibility alone with N4.99billion, while our receipt from the federation account that year was N5.09billion. So, when you are looking at our state, take into consideration the historical factors determining finance and management. If you are not sagacious, you cannot manage the finances of this state, and that is why such party must never be allowed to come near governance here. The question to ask is how have we been managing? Because if our receipt was N5.09b and our pension burden for that year was N4.99b, while salaries for that year at modulated rate was N18b, you must ask about the ingenuity we introduced.

Many workers have been crying that their salaries have not been fully paid, it is not so. The low salary earners are receiving their full pays. While I was referring to how we pay much on pensioners in the state, I must also add that the total numbers of civil servants we have is more than that of a lot of state, for instance about half of the amount we pay on salary is the total sum paid for all the workers in Kwara. We pay a lot on salary and that is why it has become a burden on us. So, as a result of constant talks with Labour, we agreed on paying the low earners in full, those that follow them are being paid 75% of their salaries while the high earners get 50%. For your information, in Osun, Permanent secretaries earn more than the deputy governor and if this is the case, then it means they earn more than the legislators and the commissioners, because that of the deputy supersedes theirs. Why I can’t talk about my own is that I do not receive salary and I will never do, hence, I do not know how much I am to receive.

As we pay the low earners in full and reduced that of the middle and high earners salaries, same we did to all political office holders. My deputy also receives 50%. Therefore, if the salaries are not enough to cater for the needs of our workers, our political office holders also share out of it. So, if they are complaining that I have been hard on them in term of finance, yes, it is true. It was very hard that we couldn’t purchase cars for them; they are using their personal cars because we are in a state of economic emergency.

MKO International Airport

The concessionaire of the Airport failed but that project is so dear to us that we pray by the grace of God we will complete it.

Regrets In Office

If I understand the concept, I will say I have no regret, but should I want to answer it philosophically, the only regret I have is that my administration coincided with the most irresponsible government at the centre under Goodluck Jonathan during my first term in office. Were I to have the opportunity of a responsible government at the centre during the period, it would have been phenomenal. Were I to enjoy a responsible government at the federal level the result here would have been something else. So, my regret is that I had the misfortune of being a governor with a totally irresponsible administration at the centre.

The Administration’s Performance

As to what we have been able to do here with so little, I give glory to God. Nobody can fix all problems except we would be deceiving ourselves. We must thank God for what he has done for us. Ask those who have been here before 2010 whether they believed that there could be an interchange bridge in any part of Osun. The only bridge built by PDP government that was there for seven and half years was just a two lane bridge across river Osun by Oranmiyan house. I said it before and I want to repeat it again that we are yet to spend the duration of years they have spent and we have delivered. On bridges alone, we have constructed five massive ones, each of which is better than the one they delivered. Let us be practical, if you were told that Gbongan interchange will no longer be a death trap, would anyone ever believe? Today, unless a suicide, we have eliminated avoidable deaths in the area. We have constructed an interchange that is phenomena; you can only have such in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano if we want to count the number of states that have this kind of interchange. We are not resting on our oars but honestly we are satisfied with our achievements.

Partnership With Nigeria Railway For Transportation of Agric Produce

None of our programmes has failed, except, you are not fully informed about the programmes. Our administration had prepare an arrangement with the Nigerian railway to take to Lagos agricultural produce of our farmers, but as a government we cannot coarse anybody to comply, up till today, the agreement still stands, but the Osun farmers are not willing to make use of the railway, they have shown lack of confidence in the railway system, you cannot blame our government for this. We never said we would be buying the produce, rather we said we would encourage the Osun farmers to export under our support to the Lagos market and this farm produce would be moved free of charge to Lagos market. On the other side of the agreement which involves the periodic festive movement of passengers from Osun to Lagos which has been running ever since then, we have never had enough space for those who want to travel to Lagos. So, we cannot be blamed for this.

On OYES Absorption Into The Civil Service

There was never a time we promised to employ or absolve all the participants of the OYES programme. What we said was that we would be using the programme to create jobs for the youths. Where would the over 40,000 cadets go into in government? Let’s be realistic, where are we going to put them? For us to absolve them into the government, we must discharge everyone currently employed in the state, and doing this, you are not solving problems you are only creating more. We never promised to engage all participants in OYES scheme, what we told the world was that we would create opportunity for employment of the best among them within the government and outside government which we are doing.

Development On Old Fakunle School Site

I am equally enthused by what is happening there. However, I said something last year that I will utilized everything we have to work for the people. We have 200 more days to go, those 200 days that the constitution permit will be filled with activities and what you are seeing at that spot is one of the very many things that will happen.  Calmly watch and you will see surprises. We are not done yet, when we are done, great things will continue even after I am gone. We called the place a city centre, we have done that of Orita Olaiya; when you are coming from Abere, we have done a little work on that on the right hand side which we call ‘Magnificent Mile’. We have done the upgrade of the city centre. We are not done with the Freedom Park yet, it remains a phase. When we are done with the other phase what will become of Fakunle will be mouth-grasping. From Fakunle, there will be a Pedestrian Bridge linking the Freedom park, which we won’t be able to complete, but I can assure you that my successor will. People will be able to walk on a beautiful arched pedestrian bridge, it will be awesome.

Evaluation of Agricultural Interventions

We are humans and as humans, we over rate ourselves. Nature recognizes waste, the amount of waste in procreation is so huge and yet nobody talks about it. As humans, it is not possible to be perfect, there are strength and there are failures in some of the programmes embarked upon, but on the whole we have succeeded beyond measures, and I will explain again that we have been feeding our school children with fish obtained through those people that we empowered to produce fish, so why aren’t we interested in looking at that. Go to farm settlements, all the interventions there are successful, there could be some shortcomings here and there but in all we have succeeded in our agriculture sector.

 

Ramadan: Remember The Poor, Sick In Prayers And Charity – Aregbesola

Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has urged muslims to approach the Ramadan season with best practices and remember the sick, poor in prayers and charity.

In a goodwill message to Muslims for the 2018 Hijrah 1439AH Ramadan released to newsmen by his Media Adviser, Mr Sola Fasure, Governor Aregbesola said Muslims should be more devout and committed to having the spiritual awakening that comes with the Holy month.

See the Full Statement Below:

I am most pleased to see the beginning of this year’s Ramadan. Ramadan is that period when Muslims worldwide engage in fasting – a physical and spiritual act of self denial, cleansing, prayer, fellowship and charity.

As one of the pillars of Islam, Ramadan is also a time of deep consecration to spiritual matters. It is therefore a time of spiritual awakening and commitment to the tenets of Islam.

I urge Muslims therefore to approach the season with best practices as we share love with fellow Muslims and our neighbours. Let us be sober and do all things with moderation. Let us remember the poor, the sick, the beleaguered and those in one difficulty or another in our prayers and work of charity.

As we celebrate this great festival of the religion of peace, may the peace and comfort of Allah SWT rest upon us, our family, community, state and nation.

This is wishing all Muslims Ramadan Kareem, with love and grace on behalf of the government and the good people of Osun.

Signed

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola

Governor State of Osun

Aregbesola, Akande Celebrate Olumaikaiye As Trio Preach Tolerance

First National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria, Chief Adebisi Akande and Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the state of Osun have jointly canvassed for religious tolerance and understanding among Nigerians.

Akande and Aregbesola stated that religion should not be placed above humanity and good character, saying that that is what defines human being.

The former and current governor of the state spoke on Monday at a reception organized for the Anglican Bishop, Osun North East Diocese, Reverend Dr Humphrey Olumaikaiye by Akande at his country home in Ila.

They made the statement just as Olumaikaiye called on religion faithful from both Islam and Christianity to stop preaching religion, if they are ready to address the various challenges facing the country.

Instead of preaching religion, Olumaikaye urged the faithful of the two religions to preach love, tolerance, understanding and peace.

According to Olumaikaiye, love supersedes every other preaching and remains the only way out of the various challenges confronting the country.

He said: “It is time we all stop preaching religion, we should be preaching love because the God we worship is a God of love. Love supersedes everything. We should all preach love, love together in love.


“If we love one another, this country will be great. If we live together in love, you will not harm your neighbour. If we live together in love, you will not be greedy. What is meant for everybody, someone will not corner it.

“We should strive to make life worth living for other people. That is the essence of life. After all, nobody is greatest to last forever. We are all on borrowed seat, another person will soon occupy it.

“Even when we retire, something will take us from this place and that is death. That is the more reason to come together and live together in love, do things in love, and by doing that, this country will be great.”

Olumaikaiye commended Akande for his religious tolerance, describing him as a bridge builder between Muslims and Christians in Ila and its environ.

He lauded Aregbesola for the the infrastructure development and transformation of the state, describing his administration is focused and progressive.

Speaking, Akande described Olumaikaiye as a godly, friendly, brilliant and distinguished personality who is enlightened beyond religious purpose.

Akande said: “When you see a distinguished gentleman, where ever he works, whatever his religion, you will appreciate him. Whatever you are, you are a nature of this world.

“Whatever you are and after you past on, people don’t forget you, you are a leader of the society. Bishop Olumaikaiye is a distinguished gentleman.”

In his address, Aregbesola said the world will be great if everybody relates to one another and as human being in good manner rather than religion.

Aregbesola said religion should not be a factor to determine the existence, stating that each and everybody should be defined based on his or her relationship with the people around him.

Repackage Traditional Products, Contribute Positively To Economy, Aregbesola Charges TRAWSO

By Shina Abubakar

Osun state governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola has called on adherents of traditional religion to add value to traditional medical products and services they offer.

The governor said when this is done, the adherents would be contributing positively to the nation’s economy and also solve some health challenges that could be addressed with traditional herbal products and services.

He also called for repackaging of, and reorientation about the Yoruba traditional religion and practice, so as not to lose valuable benefits inherent in them.

Aregbesola, who disclosed this at the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected executives of Traditional Religion Worshippers Association, State of Osun (TRAWSO), noted that, when traditional medical products and services are properly packaged, many more people will be interested in them.

Represented by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Wale Adebisi, Aregbesola was of the opinion that wholesale rejection of the Yoruba traditional religion could lead, in no distance time, to loss of identity by the race.

He said the warm hands of fellowship the West, in recent past, appears to be offering Yoruba culture, should send signals to the discerning minds within the race that there are several good things about the culture.

“But how are we, the owner of the culture treating it? Shabbily. We don’t value what we have and that is not the right way to go. We must guard our culture jealously and ensure we don’t lose it. Loss of culture means loss of identity and we must not allow that to happen.

“As a Yoruba man, I know many medical products and services offered by the Yoruba traditionalists are potent.  But lack of proper packaging has limited acceptance of these products by even we Yoruba people, let alone people from other parts of the world. That should be addressed. Once we package them well, these products will be contributing positively to our GDP and even earn us forex.

“I am suggesting as part of the way forward, that you leaders and adherents of the Yoruba traditional religion should not scare people away from the tradition, but package it and make it very attractive and more exportable,” Aregbesola concluded.

Newly elected officials of the association; Chairman, Oba Bamijogbin Alao, Vice Chairman, Chief Oyebowale Olojede, Secretary,  Dr. Oluseyi Atanda, Assistant Secretary, Apetebi Toyin Awolola, Treasurer, Oloye Ifasola Onifade and others later took oath of office.

Aregbesola Implores Students To Imbibe Culture Of Self-Help

The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has urged students to imbibe the spirit of self-help in all they do, just as he urged members of the society to engage in voluntary services to make their environment and community better.

He made the call while playing host to  members of the Volunteer Corps, Nigeria, Osogbo Government High School Branch, led by their Chairman, Sir Ademola Aladekomo, at Government House, Osogbo.

Governor Aregbesola attributed the inability of the three tiers of government to meet some critical needs of the society to lack of support from the people.

He said that certain things don’t work well in Nigeria’s system due to the lack of volunteerism to human and capital development as well as people’s negligence to civic responsibilities.

The governor  held that for Nigeria and Nigerians to meet their aspirations in all aspects of life, the citizens must begin to see selfless service and spirit of volunteerism as fundamental principles of existence.

He pointed out that the present economic reality has made it difficult for government to meet all its responsibilities to the people, hence, the need to be supported by all.

According to him, “our system is under-performing largely due to negligence of people who are directly or indirectly involved in the system.

“A society can only develop satisfactorily if her people are ready to come together to work for her growth and development.

“The needs of government remains insatiable, thus, informing the need for the people to champion any course capable of supporting  government in meeting her statutory obligations to the people and the society at large”, he stressed.

Commending the Corps for being supportive to government’s efforts on education, Aregbesola directed all to emulate the kind gesture exhibited by the leadership of the Corps.

He said his administration remains receptive to the course of volunteerism not only in schools but in all sectors of the economy as the spirit remains the catalyst to all round growth and development.

“This Corps has shown to the world that through volunteerism, our society could be rescued from challenges which government may find difficult to solve due non availability of resources.

“ We recommend this for society, schools, students, teachers and organizations as we have seen good works that have been done through this scheme”, he added.

Governor Aregbesola therefore urged the students to imbibe the culture and ethos of Omoluabi, saying, “success is dependent on confidence, faith and work”.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of Volunteer Corps of Nigeria, Sir Ademola Aladekomo, said the scheme had impacted meaningfully on the lives of the students who hitherto did not believe in great things one can achieve through volunteerism.

Aladekomo who himself is an old student of Osogbo Government High School, disclosed that the Corps had renovated, refurbished and repainted different block of classrooms in the school.

He therefore implored all to gear up towards supporting the Government’s efforts by contributing individual quota to advance the required growth and development.