Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has said that the challenges before his administration should not be seen as a road to failure, saying that his administration would definitely restore the hope of the people by repositioning the state for greater achievements.
Speaking in Osogbo, the state capital last Monday, during the 20th Anniversary Lecture of the creation of Osun State titled, “Democratic Federalism: Alchemy for A Just Nigerian Order”, delivered by Professor John Adebunmi Ayoade, a Visiting Scholar, African Studies Centres, University of Pennsylvania, USA, held at the Centre for Black culture and International Understanding Auditorium, the governor said, the effort to reposition the state require strong commitment of every citizen of the state, including the workers.
Represented by his deputy, Otunba (Mrs) Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, Aregbesola described the event as a celebration of progress, saying that “the challenges of our state are like the challenges of life for growing baby with great hope”.
Aregbesola, who commended past military administrators and governors of the state for contributing to the development of the state in the last 20 years, said that their remarkable roles have become part of the state’s history and shared responsibilities for its limited growth.
Running through the achievements he recorded within the short period he had spent in office as governor, Aregbesola recalled that his administration, within the first 100 days in office, employed 20,000 youths in the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES), adding that, “this, by far represents the highest number of employment in the history of Osun State.
“Contract worth over N480 million had just been awarded for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Erinle Water Dam at Ede.
“In line with the objective of this government to make the state a food basket of the country, more than N200 million had been approved for the construction of rural roads, to aid farmers in the transportation of farm produce to urban centers. The administration had also set up the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (O’REAP), to serve as catalyst for the achievement of bumper food harvest, by giving support to farmers in terms of facilities and finance.
“This government had delivered close to 3,000 acres of arable lands for about 67 farmers’ groups based in all the 30 local government council areas for the dry season farming. It also established a sanitation team code name O- CLEAN, in furtherance of its objective at ensuring cleaner environment and good sanitation system in the state. Apart from paying the outstanding debt owed by the state to the National Examinations Council (NECO), this government had also reduced tuition fees in all the state-owned tertiary institutions”, he noted.
According to him, the task ahead was very daunting, as the state still has a horde of unemployed and under-employed people, low industrial investment, poor infrastructural facilities and security challenges to contend with, calling for co-operation of all to move Osun State to the next level of development.
On the labour unions’ grudge with the state government, the governor said that his administration is workers-friendly and was aware of the workers’ grievances, saying that the workers should understand that the state is one of the poorest states in the country, as they make their demands.
Aregbesola further urged the workers to see reasons with the government and resume their duties, saying that no sacrifice was too much if the collective heritage of the state must be salvaged.
In his lecture, Professor Ayoade stated that, for things to work in Nigeria, citizens should begin the process of effecting changes, for the people to enjoy the benefit of true federalism.
He said that there are a lot of contradictions in the Nigerian constitution, a situation, which, he said affects the concept of true federalism being practiced in Nigeria, adding that too much power has been given to the Federal Government, as against the concept of true federalism, which gives more power to the federating units (states).
The guest lecturer recommended that allocation sharing formula should be 25 per cent for the Federal; 50 per cent for the states and 25 per cent for the local governments, for the dividends of democracy to be brought closer to the people at the grassroots.
Ayoade also noted that the present office of the Accountant-General of the Federation should be split into two, to become the offices of the Accountant-General of Federal Government to handle Federal Government accounts only and Accountant-General of the Federation to manage the account of the federation.
This, he said, would give the states opportunity to know the actual amount coming to the coffers of the federation, with a view to knowing how to distribute it and spend it for the development of the people, unlike the present case.
The don also recommended that each state should have its constitution, which must not be in conflict with the Federal Constitution of Nigeria, as well as Police System.
Blaming the Federal Government for the crisis over the minimum wage, virtually across all the states of the federation, Ayoade noted that President Goodluck Jonathan only signed the N18,000 Minimum Wage Bill into law without considering whether the states could afford it or not, saying that each state should rather be left to decided what it could pay its workers.
He then advised President Goodluck Jonathan to assume the role, which destiny and the people of the country have conferred on him, by setting in motion, the process to give Nigeria a constitution for Democratic Federalism, based on enduring principle and the authority of the people of the country.