Aregbesola ‘ll Be Remembered For Development And Respect For Workers’ Interests – NLC

As Governor Rauf Aregbesola celebrated his last birthday in Office as the Governor, State of Osun, the state Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Jacob Adekomi listed the pains and gains of the labour movement in the last seven years in this interview with KEHINDE AYANTUNJI. Excerpts

OSDF: What can you say about government and labour relation under the leadership of Governor Rauf Aregbesola?

Adekomi: I came in direct contact with the governor while I was the President of the  Nigeria Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE), and one of the first thing I noticed in him was honour and integrity. He came at a time that the NULGE was yearning for carrier development in the civil services and at our first meeting, we demanded four good things from him, among which are; no Local Government Staff must  be retrenched, more local government workers should be appointed Permanent Secretaries, that we want a capacity building through local and international workshop, and that local government workers should be able to reach level 17 which he promised to do. During my first tenure as the NULGE President, he fulfilled all those promises, he appointed three local government workers as Permanent Secretaries for the first time in the history of the state,  local government staff are now reaching level 17 in the civil services.

So, I know him to be a man of his word, a man of honour and a visionary leader that loves workers.  When I became the NLC Chairman, I renewed the covenant that no one should be sacked in the civil services despite the financial crisis that confronted the state and I am glad to tell you that as at today, no one has been disengaged. So, I see him as lover of development and I wish him happy birthday.

OSDF: What are the important benefits that you think Governor Aregbesola would be remember for after leaving office?

Adekomi: Governor Aregbesola performance would continue to linger in the mind of the Osun labour movement, especially for resisting temptations to disengage workers despite daunting economic challenges. We all knew what happened in some other states where some state governors resulted to mass sack. The only area that the governor should continue to work on is the arrears of salary which he has promised to pay, he has started the process and we have confidence in him that he would pay the arrears.

Another outstanding aspect that the Nigeria Labour Congress would continue to remember is Workers Drive, the dual carriage road from Olaiya Junction to Ita- Olokan named after the workers in recognition of our sacrifice. He also named a Lake Resort after one of our own, the former Permanent Secretary who was killed on her way to Abuja, no government has ever shown such appreciation to the teeming workers in the state.

He would be remember for his depth on issues, he would be remember for his revolutionary solidarity and mutual respect for the workers, no matter the disagreement or governance pressure. He recorgnises   the cardinal responsibility of  labour leadership in agitating for fundamental welfare issues that directly or indirectly concern their members, his activism  background was brought to bear in governance as only the deep can come to the deep; he has tolerance for superior arguments and  strong opposing views. No doubt, his depth on labour matters and revolutionary synergy has assisted the state to progress in the face of intimidating economic challenges. I am bold to say that without the revolutionary synergy between the labour and the government, the story would have been different today.

OSDF: What is the situation on the implementation of the civil servants confirmation, promotion and conversion approved by the governor during the May Day celebration?

Adekomi: I can confirm to you that they are already distributing the confirmation and conversion letter. The governor has fulfilled his promises, all machinery has been put in place to ensure the implementation of Mr Governors’ directive and we are grateful for that gesture.

OSDF: As a Labour leader, what is your critical assessment of governor Aregbesola’s performance in office?  

Adekomi: No doubt, he has done his best and he is still doing his best, he has tried, as you can see a lot of infrastructural development in the state of Osun. The only question mark is the area of the salary arrears which I am aware that he is working very hard to pay; outside that, the governor has set a standard that will be practically impossible for anybody to reverse.  We are praying for him fervently to be able to pay the arrears.

OSDF: By November 27, another governor will succeed Aregbesola, what is the interest of the Labour in the succession politics?

Adekomi: As a labour movement, our primary concern is a successor that will provide leadership by improving on what is already on ground, that will priorities the welfare of the people and protect the interest of the workers, we do not want a governor that will disengage workers, we want a governor that will respect the workers and see them as partners in progress in the development of the state. That is our interest and those are the issues that will serve as the basis of engagement.

OSDF: As a labour leader with NULGE background that is so keen about local government autonomy, with your demand to have more permanent secretaries and become head of services, is the agitation for autonomy not a contradiction?

Adekomi: When you are talking about local government autonomy, there is no absolute autonomy, despite that we are all agitating for local government autonomy. There are some areas that still need control, supervision and power to legislate on local government by the State House of Assembly as stated in the constitution. What is important is financial and administrative autonomy, such autonomy cannot prevent anyone from being a permanent secretary or head of service.

My Toughest Period With Baba Kabiru – Alhaja Sherifat

Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola, wife of the Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has been known to be a pillar of support for her husband through thick and thin. One of the few governors’ wives who do not believe in the gaudiness and contrived glamour of office, Alhaja Sherifat would rather complement her husband’s people-centric activities than compete for attention with him.

In this interview with the Progressive Focus Magazine, she reveals intimate details about her husband.

Your husband is seen to be tough; from being a relentless activist to his emergence as the executive governor of the State of Osun; how does it feel being his wife?

A tough man? You might see him as a tough man but I don’t see him as such. I see him as a friend, a husband, a companion and a good father to his children.

How has the journey been since you came together as a couple?

We met so many years ago and we got married exactly 30 years back. So far so good, as you know, there is no marriage that does not have its own challenges. My own challenge was only during the struggle for his political ambition. Even with that, we can be said to be the best couple in the whole world. The time of his political struggle was so tough, especially when he was detained and put in Yaba Police Station (Lagos). The one that really made me feel so bad was when my daughter was around. The subsequent ones, I was able to manage them because I was alone. But this particular one, our daughter was around. Her witnessing what we have been going through was really tough for me. I felt so bad. That was the only one that I felt so bad about. But thank God, we were able to manage it and victory came eventually.

So much happened during the struggle to reclaim Ogbeni’s mandate, especially when party agents were killed and he was being persecuted.

As his wife, were you not scared of his life?

Of course, I was. There were so many things that made me fear for his life. First of all, I really feel for those who lost their lives and I pray to God Almighty to be with their families. During the struggle, so many things happened but there was a particular one on the judgment day when his application was thrown out for the second time by the election petition tribunal in Osogbo here. That was before he went to the Appeal Court and won. I told him then that after this, there is no more appeal and nothing again.

I told him I meant it. He said if he goes for the appeal, what would happen? I said he should just wait and see, but insisted that I meant what I was saying. He asked if I was sure; and I said I was. He said okay, I have heard you, I won’t go for the appeal again.

Fortunately, he called Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (I call him Big Daddy), and told him what I said. In less than 15 minutes, Big Daddy called me. I didn’t have his number because I didn’t have any cause to call him. If I needed to talk to him, I would talk to my husband first. So that day, I saw the strange number but I didn’t pick it. Later, Mrs. Remi Tinubu called me and I picked. She said, ‘where are you?’ I said ‘I am home’. She said ‘your daddy has been calling you, why didn’t you pick his call?’ I said ‘I didn’t know it was him’. She said I should hold on for him. He (Asiwaju Tinubu) now said ‘Sheri awa n lo si appeal o, a ma a lo si appeal’ (Sheri, we would go to the Appeal Court). I said yes sir! ‘A maa fight e tan ni (We would make sure we finish the battle). I said ‘yes sir!’ And that was all. I later accused my husband of calling Asiwaju to talk to me. Later, Mrs. Tinubu came and met me crying and she asked why? I said I was fed up and that we should just forget about it.

She really encouraged me and to God be the glory today because we went for the appeal and God answered our prayer.

How did you feel when the news came that he eventually won at the Appeal Court despite your earlier warning against it?

I was happy because it was a Friday. Some days to the judgment, I already knew that something good was going to happen but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I kept on having the feeling that something was about to happen, but what it was, I didn’t know. I was just crying. I cried to the extent that my husband called Mrs. Tinubu to come over. She came and when she asked me what the problem was, I could not say anything. If anybody asked me, I wouldn’t be able to answer. Instead, I would still be crying. When you say ‘don’t cry’ I would start again. That was how I knew that something was going to happen.

But you knew that the Appeal Court was about to give its judgment on your husband’s matter?

In fact, I didn’t put my mind on the Appeal Court issue.

You couldn’t connect the two?

I couldn’t at all. I had erased the issue of politics in my life. I had erased it totally. So I was not thinking about the appeal court matter. But Mrs. Tinubu told me that some days to that day, God revealed to her that He had answered my husband’s prayers through that cry.

Please, tell us specifically what kind of a man Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is at home?

Whao! He is fantastic. That is a very good question. Sometimes, if I look at him, I ask myself, do I really deserve this man? He is a very good husband, a God- fearing person. I don’t know how to qualify him. He has the love of people in his mind. He is a free giver. If possible, he could pluck his eyes and give to another person. He cares for other more than himself. He is a very nice man. He is my friend, my husband, my father, my companion, and a good father to his children.

Can you take us back to how he proposed to you?

(Loud laughter) That was 30 years ago. Fantastic! That is good. How he proposed to me? He walked up to me and he proposed to me. Just as simple as that? Yes, as simple as that. He saw me, came over and said I’m Rauf. I said yes, what do you want? He said can we be friends and I said that is fine. That was all and that was how we parted that day. That was in Kaduna when he came for his mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

So, you met in Kaduna?

Yes, and after that I didn’t see him for the next three months. He came back later and said the Nigeria External Telecommunication (now NITEL) had offered him a job. According to him, his station would be in Oyo State but he refused and requested to be in Kaduna because of me. That was how we started.

Does he have a pet name for you?

Pet name? No.

He calls you by your first name?

Then, he did. But now he calls me Mama Kabiru.

What do you call him?

I used to call him ‘Brother’ when we started. He said he is not my brother, that he is my friend and my husband. When we got married, we had Kabiru. So, I have been calling him Baba Kabiru since. We don’t have any pet name.

What is his favourite dish?

He doesn’t have one. He eats anything I prepare for him.

Looking at his projects as the Governor of the State of Osun, which of them do you like most?

The one I like most is the infrastructural development, the road, building of new schools, health care for the children, upgrading the environment and all the others because they are all centered on the people he is serving.

You mean you like all the projects?

Yes, they are fantastic and are uplifting the State of Osun and the live of its people.

What would you advise him on governance if you were asked?

There is nothing than to tell him to continue to give his best to the people of the state. My concern now is for him to complete what he has started.

There is no area you think you can tell him to improve on?

I don’t think so. He is doing everything at once. If he asked me from day one, I would have asked him to start one and finish it before embarking on another. But I think politics is not like that. It is about doing everything at a time. When they see the infrastructure, agriculture, schools, and all are going on at the same time, they say you are doing well. You can see that even if I would have to advise him on governance, it would not go right.

Unlike many other first ladies, you don’t jump around to make noise about yourself and your pet projects. Is this the way you like it or it was by Ogbeni’s design?

First and foremost, let me correct the impression about the fact that others go up and down. There is no role for any first lady. We were not voted for, so there is no Office of the First Lady. The role of the first lady is to take care of the home front; take care of the governor, the family, his visitors and anything that has to do with the Government House. You can see that even if a first lady is doing a particular programme, it is just to keep herself moving so that she does not sit at home doing nothing and get bored. Two, I didn’t blame others who do projects. I do projects too in my own capacity, but in a very low key. There is no point making noise about it because even when you are not making noise, people would still know and they would refer to it.

Is that your decision or that is the way your husband wants it?

It is my own life. I like being simple.

Given the experience you and your husband had in pursuing his political ambition, would you encourage any of your children to go into politics?

With this situation, I don’t think I would advise any of my children to venture into politics. I don’t think so.

What if they have interest and they are so passionate about it like their father?

That would be based on their own personal decision. But if they want my advice, I would tell them not to venture into anything called politics.

 

A Backward Glance

Kayode Agbaje, former Editor, chronologises the contributions of Osun Defender as a Campaign Organ and mobiliser of opinion in the course of social justice.

The genesis of the Rauf Aregbesola intervention is being well documented in a seminal upcoming book to be published by Gbenga Fayemiwo. A detailed chronology of the twists and many turns on the road to power.

For Aregbesola and the progressive cause, it was a long days journey to a victory and Fayemiwo captures it in detail. This is not a run-of-the mill hagiography, it is a major analysis that will be in demand in academic institution at home and abroad. A formal presentation of this landmark work is expected to be announce soon.

The debut of Osun Defender as a tabloid and its eventual appearance on the newsstand in 2006 was like a bolt out of the blues.

Many things have been written about this newspaper in terms of its origin and operations by various authors, the content of this piece would only centre on the numerous roles played by the medium in the turbulent years orchestrated by what the then opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) termed the darkest period in the state’s political history.

The ruling party at the period was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose agenda was to continue holding on to power in the state at all cost, irrespective of whose horse was gored.

On various occasion, members and officials of the ruling party boasted to whoever cared to listen that there was no opposition in the state.

Their assumption or belief stemmed from the fact that the party took firm control of all machineries of violence, thereby subjecting the entire residents of the state to perpetual fear of the unknown. It was a period that could be likened to what Thomas Hobbes, a political philosopher, said: “In the state of nature, life could be short and brutish, only the fittest could survive.”

In practical terms, the state PDP, with the active backing of their federal collaborators, indeed held the entire state by the jugular, while the opposition watched helplessly.

It was at this time that Osun Defender made its debut and made objectivity its watchword.

The medium’s appearance on the newsstand was more of a dream comes true for the news-hungry members of the public, as the medium fed them what other news media houses dared not to publish or broadcast.

It was indeed a time when listeners and readers were only fed information about government activities devoid of any form of objectivity.

The initial appearance of the tabloid didn’t portend any serious danger to the power-that-be in the state, until it started publishing damning reports about the government and its officials.

The medium, through its contents at this time, was said to have stirred the hornet’s nest and all efforts must be put in motion to muzzle it out of existence.

The Editor and other editorial staff members of the medium started operating under the most hostile working environment, while the PDP members labeled it ‘Osun Attacker’.

The ruling party thus set the stage for an all-out-war on the medium.

The prevailing hostile political climate however failed to deter the resolve of the medium’s editorial and non-editorial staff to ensure regular publication of the tabloid and its appearance on the newsstand.

Osun Defender had its tentacles spread across all the nooks and crannies of the state with willing sources ever ready to avail the medium numerous classified information and exclusive reports.

In an attempt to reduce the number of staff exposed to the dangerous hazards occasioned by hostile stance of the state government to the medium, the management engaged one reporter per senatorial district and one photographer for all its operations.

Numerous occasions abound when editorial staff were warned to stay away from their residences to avoid being attacked by some unknown assailants.

The editor at a time even invited a security expert to lecture staff on how best to avoid being attacked by any agent of the state, especially some roughnecks believed to be on the payroll of prominent PDP chieftains.

Of note was the attack on Engineer Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola during the 2006 Oroki Day celebration when he escaped the assassins’ bullets just by the skin of his teeth.

The incident was one that actually propelled the tabloid to a higher pedestal, as it further distinguished itself as an objective medium as a result of its unbiased reportage of the incident.

The stage was thus set for the newspaper to be labeled as being anti-government and the PDP.

In view of avalanche of facts contained in its reports, the PDP administration in the state ordered all privately-owned photo-copying centres to relocate outside the state government secretariat at Abere, while civil servants were barred from patronizing them.

The thinking at that time by the PDP government in the state was that the business centre owners were the ones divulging government secrets to Osun Defender.

For a very long time before the election on April 14th, 2007, the medium and its staff were subjected to series of threats and intimidation by some PDP members, who were using the security agents to drive fear into our minds.

The pioneer editor of the medium also cheated death by the whiskers, as his personal car was severally shot at, by some thugs believed to have been sent by the state government.

The governorship candidate of the then opposition party, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, aside the Oroki Day saga, also suffered one form of intimidation or the other from the PDP administration in the state.

The same day the editor of the medium was shot at, Aregbesola’s campaign office located along the popular Gbongan/Ibadan road was equally attacked by a sniper who shot directly at the building aiming Aregbesola’s office located on the third floor of the building.

Days to the governorship election, Osun State residents witnessed massive deployment of military personnel who paraded all the streets of major towns across the state in a show of force to drive fear down the spines of the electorate.

On the election day, April 14th, 2007, all members of the editorial staff were posted to different council areas across the state for effective coverage of the electioneering process.

Quickly, news started filtering in that the opposition candidate was on his way to winning the election.

I also stayed back at the office through the night, when feelers from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) filtered in indicating total subjugation of the people’s will and before dawn, the incumbent governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola was announced to have won the election.

This led to spontaneous reaction from the electorate, who felt their wish for change of baton ought to be respected.

Several houses belonging to senior PDP members were vandalized, thus leading to the arrest and detention of several members of the opposition party including the likes of Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, the State Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Prince Gboyega Famoodun, the ACN State Secretary among others.

The military men who were hitherto invited into the state by the Oyinlola administration were instantly deployed to Ilesa, the hot bed of the crisis leading to the killing of numerous young men and women.

There was the case of a young girl violently raped by the thugs working for a prominent PDP chieftain in Ilesa.

The rape case was given a pride of place by the Osun Defender team attracting national attention to the case. All the culprits were eventually rounded up and prosecuted in the court of law.

Several attempts were made by the PDP leadership in the state to stampede the family of the rape victim into submission and force them to withdraw the case from court.

In what could best be termed jungle justice, all those arrested over the electoral crisis were summarily prosecuted and before one could say Jack Robinson, they were all remanded in Ilesa and Ile-Ife prisons.

After series of appearances by all the accused persons, some were granted bails with highly stringent conditions.

Then came the longest legal tussle in judicial history over the pyrrhic victory granted the PDP governorship candidate, Governor Oyinlola.

Osun Defender throughout the legal travail, created a reputation of unbiased reportage of the judicial proceedings for itself.

Reports of the tribunal hearings by the medium became the only source of information to the entire state residents on what they want to know on the case.

Judicial correspondents from other media houses outside the state sometimes called the editor to avail them of the medium’s reportage of the tribunal proceedings.

This was indeed a trying time for the editorial staff of the tabloid, and it was under this circumstance that the publisher insisted on having the paper published daily to further expose the numerous atrocities of the PDP administration.

The judicial journey through the two tribunals and two appellate court sittings was professionally reported by the medium and when on November 26th, 2010, Aregbesola’s electoral mandate was restored via a Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Osun Defender staff shared in the joy of the occasion.

The climax of the joyous moment was the Aregbesola’s inauguration as the duly-elected governor of the state in the 2007 electoral election.

The medium has since then transformed from being a local tabloid to a national medium with heavy traffic recorded on its online version till date.

  • To be concluded next week

A State Must Borrow To Develop, Osun STA

By Nofisat Marindoti

The Senior Technical Adviser to the State Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on Development Partners and Internatioal Relations, Dr. Micheal Olugbile, has stated that there can be no development in a State without such State borrowing.

Olugbile who heads the Program Delivery Unit, PDU, said this while addressing press men in the State Secretariat, Abere, on Wednesday.

The STA added that borrowing money itself is not wrong, only that the money has to be used sensibly and not for the wrong things.

According to him, the functions of the unit include ensuring effective utilization of World Bank and all donor related projects in the state and to act as a gap between the State Government and donors.

Olugbile said the unit also supervises existing projects, coordination of developmental assistance with partners and seeking new developmental assistance.

Listing the achievements of the unit so far, Olugbile added that the unit is preparing for some projects on technical education, women development program and is also seeking support to complete the Ilesa water Project.

 

Osun Debt And Revenue Profile In Perspectives

Osun, under Governor Rauf Aregbesola watch, is seeing by ADEMOLA YAHAYA to have made dramatic and unprecedented progress from backwater of economic regression to the fertile place of economic abundance.

The debt profile of a state must be measured against its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) value. GDP is a broad measurement of the state overall economic activity. It is the total value of goods and services produced by an entity in a given period of time, usually annually and quarterly.

In November 27, 2010, Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s Government met a strangulating financial situation in Osun as it occupies the 34th position of 36 states in Nigeria in terms of financial muscle on the one hand and a suffocating N18.38 billion loan obtained by the immediate past PDP government on White Elephant Projects where the state had to be borrowing N1 billion monthly in order to fulfill its statutory obligations. However, with ideas, determination and some financial reengineering, Osun limitations have turned around to greatness.

Of the five states declared in 2012 by the National Bureau of Statistics with the lowest unemployment rate – Abia 11%, Oyo 9%, Lagos 8%, Kwara 7%, Osun is the lowest with 3%. What is the magic?

Within 100 days in office, Aregbesola engaged 20,000 youths in one single swoop into Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) with N10,000 allowance for the services rendered by each cadet. Two years after, another 20,000 youths were engaged. The multiplier effects of N200 million directly injected to Osun economy monthly is very stupendous. The World Bank has adopted the scheme as a template for youth empowerment in Nigeria. This has earned Nigeria $300 million grant from the bank as a support for the Federal Government to replicate nationally.  The World Bank Sector Leader on Human Development and Youth Employment and Social Support Operation, Professor Foluso Okunmadewa, whose team had visited Osun severally to assess the scheme promised to empower more youths in Osun and called on other states to emulate Osun.

Presently, Osun Government, in collaboration with the World Bank, has empowered 1,131 less-privileged youths as part of efforts by the bank to supporting Aregbesola’s programme to banish unemployment and poverty.

Over 253,000 Elementary School Pupils are fed nutritional meals – chicken, fish, beef, eggs and fruits at every school day. Apart from serving as a tactical weapon against illiteracy and bait for greater enrolment of pupils which gives hopes in life to these kids, N1.5 billion spent on the meals is an incentive to farmers to produce more, as there is a guaranteed market for their produce. The scheme has also empowered 3,007 caterers. N800 million was committed to 750,000 School Uniform for the Elementary, Middle and High School Students, which has created 3,000 jobs for Osun people at the Omoluabi Garment Factory.

Massive road networks construction and maintenance in the cities and rural areas are unprecedented in the history of the state. A 43km highway connecting Osogbo to Kwara State; Osogbo East Bypass that connects Iwo Road, and Osogbo City Stadium to Osogbo Gbogan Road and Adebisi Akande Trumpet Interchange Bridge on Ife-Ibadan expressway among others are being completed. Workers Drive has been commissioned. Over 100km roads have been built in rural areas  and 130km access roads upgraded in some rural areas especially around production cluster areas. Apart from Lagos, Osun is a permanent construction site.

Building of State-of-art Model Schools across the State with all modern facilities that will make teaching and learning more conducive; renovation and upgrading of Tertiary Health Facilities with modern medical equipment; construction of various Primary Health Centres across the Local Government Areas with medical equipments; solar and new motorised powered boreholes are also there. The procurement of 49 highly mobile ambulances for a swift response to emergency which has saved 12,171 lives, including 8 pregnant accident victims rescued and gave birth inside the Ambulance while being conveyed to the hospitals are all good story to tell.

Under Governor Aregbesola’s watch, Osun is highly risky for criminals and crimes with procurement of 25 Armoured Personnel Carries (APC) with 100 Patrol Vehicle for 24-hour security cover of the state 365 days a year.

United Nations (UN) Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index and The Financial Derivative Company (FDC) Misery Index 2017 concluded that Osun, under Aregbesola’s administration is the Second best State in Nigeria as far as prosperity (lack of poverty) is concerned.  They affirmed, “The totality of borrowing that Osun witnessed under the Aregbesola Administration has been heavily invested in infrastructure, education, social services, human capacity development and has consequently translated into an economy with underemployment, unemployment and inflation well below national average and diverse”. In several social-economic indexes, Osun is ranked as second wealthiest States in Nigeria.

Based on Debt Management Office release on 31st December, 2016 on States and Federal Governments External Debt Stock, Osun External Debt is N70,533,845.79. However, because of the recession occasioned by missing oil money, unchecked oil theft under the PDP Government which made Nigeria to be losing 400,000 barrel per day and resulted to low income to Federation Account as well as eventual crash of oil price at the international market, virtually all states of the federation found it practically impossible to pay workers salaries, building and maintaining infrastructure and providing social amenities for the people. At a stage, the Federal Government had to be obtaining loan to pay Federal Civil Servants. This was in 2014 under President Jonathan’s PDP Government. By June 2015, 23 states, including Osun, were owing, at least, 6 months workers’ salaries. Until he could no longer borrow again, Aregbesola had to borrow to pay workers’ salaries.

It was President Buhari APC that had to bailout the situation via N713 billion, being $2.1 billion (413 billion) from Liquified Natural Gas proceeds shared by the states and Federal Government, and Central Bank of Nigeria intervention fund between N250 and N300 billion as soft loans to enable states pay outstanding salaries with Debt Management Office (DMO) helping them to restructure and extend their loans life span. This was what brought Osun internal and external loan to N179 billion to be paid in 20 years. This is the totality of loans and other debt instruments obtained by all administrations that have ruled the state.

Osun is populated by 4 million people. Its debt profile of N179 billion is to be repaid in 20 years, per annum, each Osun indigene is obliged to pay N2,237.5 to repay the debt. If this is divided per day, every Osun citizen will pay N6.1 (Six Naira, one kobo) daily for 20 years. This amount cannot buy a sachet of water popularly called Pure Water.

Osun is a rich asset. It cannot be adjudged by its allocation from the Federation Account. It has to be vis-a-vis its productivity, capacity and exchange value amongst others. If I earn N100,000 salary as a University Graduate, that is not my worth. If I were to build a house and maximum loan obtainable for me is N50,000, that can’t be the kind of money required for the project. My worth as a Graduate is between N800 million and N1 billion.

Under Governor Aregbesola watch, Osun has made dramatic and unprecedented progress from backwater of economic regression to the fertile place of economic abundance.

Offa Robbery: Aregbesola Calls For Manhunt Of Perpetrators

By Ismaeel Uthman

Following the armed robbery attack that claimed many lives in Offa, Kwara State, the Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has described the incident as the worst in the history of the ancient town.

Aregbesola called on security agencies at various levels to beam their searchlights into the incident and launch thorough investigation to unravel the perpetrators.

He made the call at the weekend during a condolence visit to the Oloffa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Oloyede, at his palace, in Offa.

The governor described the attack as barbaric in the modern society, saying no effort must be spared to unravel the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

”According to him, what happened last week was very unfortunate, barbaric, saddening and uncalled for,  it was like what happened about 132 years ago in this town.

“I deemed it fit to be here in my capacity not only as a Governor but as a brother, friend and in-law to the people of Offa and Kwara State in general.

“It is on record that our people in Osun have had robust relationship and affection with the people of Offa, prompting us to be here in large number.

“I came here with members of my cabinet to sympathise with the good people of Offa and Kwara State, particularly the family of those that lost their lives to the unfortunate incident.

“The incident has once again challenged us on the need to tighten internal security and I am very sure that the perpetrators would not go unpunished.

“As Muslims, we believe that the incident was a God’s will and those that lost their lives have been destined to experience such as we pray God to grant the souls of the departed the best place in paradise and give their family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss”, Aregbesola added.

The Governor who had earlier observed Jumat Service with Oba Muftau Gbadamosi at Offa Central Mosque, called on the people of the town to remain calm and go on their normal businesses as efforts are in top gear to forestall similar future occurrences.

He said the matter has been taken up by the appropriate security agencies, affirming that the perpetrators will soon be exposed and brought to justice in due course.

Aregbesola visited the attacked Police Divisional Headquarters, where he consoled the officers and men of Nigeria Police Force on the duty on the loss of their colleagues to the incident.

In his remarks, the Olofa of Offa, Oba Muftau Gbadamosi attributed the incident to God’s will.

Olofa noted that the family of the victims and the entire people of the town have taken consolation in God, noting that the ancient town is vastly religious.

The traditional ruler said: “What happened to us last week is considered as God’s will, that is why my subjects have been going on with their normal businesses.

“We are consoled by the fact that this incident will mark the beginning of success and blessing to us as we have been hearing good news from government at various levels to support the town in strengthening the security.

“Investigation is ongoing and we are rest assured that the bandits will be brought to justice in no distance time.”

 

Aregbesola Charges NUJ On Quackery

By Shina Abubabakar

Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has admonished the leadership of media to evolve measures and means of quality control and cultivate the habit of weeding out unprofessionals and unprofessional conduct from the media profession.

He said it was the appropriate time for the leadership of the media profession to do what is needful for growth and development of democracy.

The governor made the remarks while declaring open the ‘2018 Press Week’ of the Osun Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Osogbo.

Aregbesola who was represented by Mr. Yomi Obaditan, his Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on Media, said there had been many unsavoury developments in the media sector.

He said extortion, blackmail, rumour mongering and falsehood promotion by unprofessional and rogue who present themselves as journalists were taking prominence in the media profession.

He said the practice of hearsay, innuendoes, insinuations and un-investigated claims being published and reported under the guise of ‘allegedly’ is unprofessional and has brought more harm to reputations, the professionalism and integrity of media organisations and journalists.

He said journalists and media practitioners round the globe are vibrant opinion-molders and change-agents, who raise the consciousness of the people to issues of their welfare, development and security.

He said if the society would survive and overcome its challenges, the media must play a leading role and therefore every media claim or report must be thoroughly investigated and only the truth should always be published.

Lekan Alabi, Chairman of the occasion and Cultural Ambassador of the National Museum, Ile-Ife, said that media practitioners deserve to be part of budget planning and not implementation alone.

Alabi, who is also the Agba Akin Olubadan of Ibadan land said that the roles of the media should not be on budget implementation but must also be involved implanting of the financial estimates.

Alabi said several opportunities are open to journalists and that they ought to make inputs into budget planning at the local, state and federal levels.

He said media practitioners must however learn the rudiments of accounting and auditing.

He said the essential tools for journalists to make good impact or contributions to national development are to be qualified, creative and stable men and women behind pens, computers, microphones and the cameras.

Mr Biodun Olalere, the state Chairman of NUJ in his own remarks welcomed the guests to the programme, and stated the importance of journalists’ involvement in budget implementation.

Olalere said it is important for journalists to hold the government accountable for budgets presented and their implementations as well as also investigating how such budgets are expended.

 

Osun Govt Releases Another N1.8bn Bond For Pensioners On CPS

By Ismaeel Uthman

The state Government of Osun has released a sum of N1.8bn bond to retired workers under the Contributory Pension Scheme in the state.

No fewer than 210 civil servants received their bond certificates on Tuesday at the state Secretariat, Abere.

A press release from the Office of the Head of Service, Dr Olowogboyega Oyebade, explained that 171 retired officers and 39 retired workers from the local government would received their bond certificates totaling N1.6bn and N200m respectively.

According to the release, the money has already been deposited with the Central Bank and the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) for immediate payment.

Similarly, the government has also released part payment of gratuities to 720 retired public servants under the old scheme.

It would be recalled that the state government had few weeks ago released a sum of N40 million for fresh set of 400 pensioners in the state.

The sum was meant for the payment of pension of 148 retired secondary school teachers, 250 retired civil servants and 2 retired parastatals workers.

Out of the money, a sum of N25m, N14.8m and N200, 000 were to be paid to the retired civil servants, teachers and parastatals workers respectively.

The beneficiaries of the money are the 3rd batch pensioners.

We Borrowed To Tackle Infrastructure Deficit, Poverty – Aregbesola

The Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Tuesday said that he resorted to borrowing for developmental projects due to the terrible infrastructure deficit and level of poverty he met when he assumed office in 2010.

According to him, borrowing to finance projects in the state was a child of necessity for the development of the state, recalling that there was huge dearth of infrastructure in the state before his emergence as the governor.

Aregbesola stated this in his address during the commissioning of Primary Healthcare Centre executed through the Sustainable Development Goals in Ijebu-Ijesa, Oriade Local Government Area of the state.

The governor noted that his government would not have borrowed, had the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which ruled the state for seven and half years, done the needful by providing required infrastructure development which his government later championed.

He lamented what he described as poor management of the state’s resources by the then wasteful PDP-led government, stating that the state would not have become noticeable among its peers had his administration failed to do the needful to stimulate her economy.

Aregbesola maintained that his administration has been very prudent in the management of the state resources, adding that his financial prudence assisted him to successfully scale through the toughest economic period that tormented the whole nation.

The governor said: “Our administration did not go for borrowing for any other thing than to rescue the state and her people from poverty they were plunged to when we assumed office.

“On assumption of office in 2010, coupled with the status of the state’s treasury, propelled us to go for borrowing to bring to our people the required infrastructural facilities which they had suffered from in the previous administration.

“Today, Osun would not have become a cynosure of all eyes as it is, if we did not take the bold steps we took to stimulate her economy through financial re-engineering.

“Our state can boast of so many developmental projects across sectors which were not in place prior to our emergence.”

Speaking on the successes his administration has recorded through the partnership with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Aregbesola said the scheme had helped to complement the good governance which his administration has exhibited in the state.

Aregbesola said his administration has never failed in contributing its counterpart fund of 50% in each of the projects executed through the partnership.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu stated that the commissioning was part of government efforts at achieving essentially the 3rd goal of sustainable development which is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages.

Isamotu stressed that most other goals of the Sustainable Development have their relationship with health directly or indirectly.

In his address, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr Folawiyo Olajoku, said the agency has discharged its responsibilities to the fullest in all aspects of the economy particularly on education and the health sectors.

Olajoku disclosed that the state SDGs has procured and distributed freely over N3million worth of drugs to the people of the state, saying, “We have recruited over 400 healthcare officers, procured 50 ambulances and as well constructed and renovated over 47 classrooms across elementary and middle schools in the state”.

Truth Of The Matter with AYEKOOTO: A Unique Monument In Appreciation

Perhaps, never in the history of this country has any government ever thought of recognising the essence of workers to the extent of naming a monument to honour them.

This is exactly what happened in the first week of March, 2018, in Osogbo, capital city of Osun, when one of the major roads in the state, newly reconstructed to modern taste, was commissioned and christened Workers’ Drive.

The dual-carriage way, a 2.80km stretch, Olaiya to Itaolokan, constructed by the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is a masterpiece by all standards in aesthetics, quality and durability. It is estimated by experts to have a lifespan of fifty years at the minimum.

Why a Workers Drive? The relationship between Osun governments and its workers has a chequered history behind it. And one may not be wrong to suggest that it was anything but cordial, at least in this forth republic. But all these have, thankfully, been consigned to the dustbin of history because of the atmosphere of understanding that now exists in the relationship.

Going down memory lane, the government of Chief Bisi Akande, had its nose bloodied as a result of its flexing of muscles with workers, due to widespread downsizing, an option which the then opposition feasted upon to ride to power, costing the man his second shot into the government house.  It was a battle-royale for the Progressives, represented by the Ogbeni, to return to power in 2010. All things looked so good from 2010 between workers and government until the unfortunate financial conundrum began to rear its head sometimes in 2013, which also threatened the 2014 reelection bid of Ogbeni with the conspicuous connivance of the powers in Abuja, logistically and monetarily. 2015 was a defining moment as government didn’t have the ability to pay even a dime to the workers. Organised labour in Osun was adamant in demanding for workers’ right to be paid their wages. It was indeed a very trying period for the governor.

The opposition, known for waiting to latch on to such opportunity, quickly pitched its tent on the side of the workers, even without caring to appreciate the cause of such unfortunate financial situation. Expectedly, issue of salary payment became a political tool in the hands of opposition. But a section of workers and pensioners as well as the grassroots citizenry, women leaders, students and trade unions showed understanding and did everything in their capacity to campaign for and return the government back to power in 2014. The dire financial situation continued into 2015 but thanks to the financial ingenuity of the governor and his team as well as the active support of organised labour led by Comrade Jacob Adekomi and his team as well as veteran labour leader Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, (who agreed, despite all odds, to chair a committee on monthly revenue allocation). This committee acts the go-between the workers and government during the long trying time, and even till present moment. The impeccable integrity of Comrade Sunmonu played and is playing no small role in reducing the tension.

In all, this special kudos is reserved for the workers in their entirety and their leaders, led by Comrade Adekomi, who found themselves in dilemma of identifying with the workers whom they represent and protect as well as sympathy for a government which they know is truly handicapped. Distant observers will think Comrade Adekomi is antagonistic to government cause, but this was denied by him. He exuded happiness with this unique gesture of government such that he even rode in same vehicle to and from the venue with Ogbeni.

In a chat, Comrade Adekomi reiterated workers’ support for the government because, according to him, “no governor has named any monument in the name of workers; and despite all the challenges, the governor has not retrenched any worker. The governor will be remembered as he who came at the period of serious challenges and was able to face it and surmount it.”

This Workers Drive naming is very symbolic. It is a symbol of appreciation for the teeming workers who have endured despite overpowering challenges over-hyped by the Osun opposition. So, it is an epoch making bid to show appreciation for workers’ understanding, support and sacrifice during the yet-to-be-over financial crisis orchestrated by the general national economic woes.

 

 

Aregbesola Tasks Council Officials On Grassroots Development

Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has charged the newly elected councillors across the state to make the development of their constituents the watchword during their tenure of office.

Delivering an address titled: “A New Dawn In Democratic Representation, the Governor said his administration only acceded to the demand of Osun people through the memoranda of 2012, noting that there can not be an issue as to the acceptability of the parliamentary system of government at the local level by the people of the state.

He explained that the parliamentary system of government is far better than the executive because the latter has absolute powers vested in the hands of one individual which could make the leader in such circumstance to be an authoritarian leader.

Ogbeni Aregbesola who expressed delight at seeing a democratically elected government return to the local areas stated that the system of government by democratically elected people is well-established in the constitution of the country, leaving no room for ambiguity.

He said, “I don’t know why some people are malicious about what we have done because I know it is unfounded, the system of local government administration by democratically elected people is well-established in the constitution of Nigeria and so it is not ambiguous at all.

“And let me tell you that nowhere in the constitution of the country was it stated that we should use the executive or parliamentary system of government at the local level, our constitution remains neutral concerning it. The most important thing is that it must be democratic.

“We should all be happy about the parliamentary system of government because it is the best form of democratic government, it avoids a situation where an individual sees himself as the most powerful person.

“The parliamentary system does not allow for being an authoritarian leader because the executives are formed by the entire parliament, thereby making members of the parliament to be members of the executive.

“In the parliamentary system, visions are seen and arrived at together while the actions are also jointly taken, it is also more stable and less prone to corruption because everybody wants the progress of democracy in the system”, he said.

Ogbeni Aregbesola also used the occasion to admonish the elected parliamentarians to be steadfast, honest and have the love of the people who elected them into office at heart, saying, the beauty of democracy is to deliver its dividends to the electorates.

He urged them to see themselves as change agents while putting loyalty to their party and the interest of the people on the front burner. He also charged them to join the drive of the state government in sustainable revenue generation for the local government and state governments.

On environmental sanitation, the governor urged the councillors to see themselves as the chief sanitation officers of their various local government, stressing that they should work closely with waste management agencies to clean up the environment.

“I urge you to see yourselves as change agents in your local governments, you must listen to the people who elected you. Your first task is to ensure that the environment is clean throughout your local government, I give you three weeks to clean the waste in your area.

Addressing the gathering, the state APC Chairman, Prince Adegboyega Famodun also noted that the parliamentary system of government will bring government closer to the people and urged the parliamentarians to obey their party at all times.

He said they should always have it at the back of their mind that it is the party that drives the system, noting that the party is now in a crucial time as elections is around the corner.

Also speaking, the Chairman of the APC elders’ council in the state, Engr. Sola Akinwunmi commended the selfless manner Ogbeni Aregbesola has been running the affairs of the state in the past seven years.

He explained that he is particularly thrilled about the parliamentary system of government at the local level because it will create a lot of discipline among politicians and the electorates.