The political leadership in the state of Osun could be considered as an unusual government. Inspite of what appears a clearly orchestrated campaign against the state by the opposition, a conscientious visit to the state cannot deny the obvious economic realities. In understanding the dynamics, it is important not to forget the history of how the current government came in. It is now seven tough years since the government of Ogbeni Adesoji Rauf Aregbesola took over the state, after a tough but revolutionary campaign that brought him into power. His coming to the state was strange. The regime of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) which he fought, was powerful, repressive and merciless. Politics itself is an extension of war by other means, at least to the feeble minds of yesteryears.
The state verdict was that he ‘lost’ the 2007 election to a tested war General who never thought he could lose any battle, either military or political, not to talk of losing to a ‘common.’ But through an irony of fate, he took the battle to court. That was not enough. He took the battle to the people. From one village to the other, street corner by street corner, like a scarlet fever, Osun was soon caught in a fire that every draconian force on earth failed to extinguish. Before the Court of Appeal Judgment which gave him the trophy, the people already made up their mind who their authentic governor was.
Storming the State House like a petrel, Aregbesola began with unusual programs in a society tailored on a rigid, parochial pedagogue. He introduced a national anthem in Yoruba, revived and adopted the old Western Region logo and launched a ‘walk on the street’ world-shattering initiative. He dropped the ‘Excellency” nomenclature and adopted ‘Ogbeni’, a cliché for the ordinary man in Yoruba culture. He occasionally sat in the front of his official car while his aide de camp would sit at the back. He started delivering public lectures in Yoruba language, adopted public holidays for Muslims and traditional religion adherents their events he also began to attend. He refused to earn any monthly salary while his monthly security votes were handed over to the security institutions in the state to manage. He employed 20,000 young men and women, more than what the entire Federal Government civil service had employed in half a decade. He signed the Public Procurement Law and created the Public Procurement Agency, bringing the state before public mirror.
The sociological impact on the ordinary man was electrifying. But for the tiny foes and their collaborators in the state, the unusual phenomenon must be stopped, by all means. In a clearly marked out million dollar strategy, which continues till date, involving paid coteries, leeches, vampires and bugs, amongst who were media practitioners, they launched a campaign first that the governor has ill health and had been attacked by cancer. When that failed, they evoked faith, labeling him a fundamentalist. For the small but brutally vocal ring of musketeers bent on getting his head, the 2014 election was the perfect game. For this purpose, the then FG chose the Minister for Police Affairs from Osun. A dirty fighter, with a rich antecedent and credential in violence and key suspect in the murder of Chief Bola Ige, was picked to race against him. The 2014 Osun election has been rated as one of the most viciously fought, dirty and agonising in the history of Nigeria. Armed soldiers were sent to his bedroom on allegations that ballots were being stuffed. Armed gangs in military uniforms, in thousands were brought from the Niger-Delta and, like hyena, unleashed. About 40,000 armed personnel took part in the operation aimed at bringing down Aregbesola and all he stood for. But in the most decisive and pivotal battle, Aregbesola brought down their Goliath.
Today, seven hard-hitting years on the journey, Irohinoodua recognizes the enduring milestones achieved in one of the most hostile environments any leader can operate. The IGR has gone up from 300million to 1.5billion per month. A total of 1.5b has been offered as support for farmers. The impact is seen in the stable food market in the South West and Lagos where most of the products are sold. In the area of roads, over 500 rural roads have been provided in the local communities. In the realm of education, 150,000 pupils got laptops, the highest average in any African country, offering 17 core subjects and five extra-curricular subjects. Funding of schools have increased from a meager 7.4million to 424 million in one year. State expenditure on each student rose from N300 naira to 357,533, the highest in the country. Apart, 8,000 pupils were trained in Calisthenics. Osun has built several mega schools in rural and urban areas that meet European standards, leading to sharp increase in school enrolment. In the month the school feeding program began for instance, the state recorded 28,000 fresh pupils, mostly from poor homes. The impact is largely for the future.
Like majority of the 36 states, Osun is affected by the national economic meltdown. But his response was revolutionary. In practical economics, the faithful solution was to borrow. The Sukku Islamic zero interest was a practical panacea. All political office holders had their salary halfed. Levels 7 downwards are paid monthly. Levels 8 upwards earn 50 percent of their salary while the senior staffs get 50 percent. That appears to be the most compassionate and realistic solution any responsible government can offer. What remains a mystery is how the state has survived the lean allocation and still manages to march on, like a resilience horse. It is no surprise that both the United Nations, UNICEF and international agencies have continued to applaud the lofty stars across a once cloudy horizon.
In spite of the consistently oiled campaigns against Osun largely by skunks, nothing can sum up the feeling of the people when the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and the Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland, Oba Gabriel Aromolaran spoke during the commissioning of the rebuilt historic Ilesa Grammar School: “No matter how disdainful anyone is to this administration, if such a person sees what is dedicated on these structures, such a person will doff his or her cap for the tenets and dedication employed on Osun educational system.”
Source: Irohinoodua Editorial