Between Visionary and Short-Sighted Leadership

Between Visionary and Short-Sighted Leadership
  • PublishedNovember 13, 2023
Reflections with Nurein Adebisi
Reflections with Nurein Adebisi

In 2018, towards the end of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s tenure, several activities were lined up to celebrate the end of the administration after his two-term tenure as the governor of Osun. Part of the activities was a program tagged “Enroute Rauf” organized by comrades led by Rasheed Ropo Raji, Oyewale Wasiu, Tiamiyu Abiodun, and others. At the event, a greater number of the front liners in the struggle provided interesting accounts of the catalog of events that played out during the struggle to return governance in Osun back to the progressives. The most interesting of the narratives came from the likes of Hon Ajibola Famurewa, Egbon Bola Ilori, and others who gave a combined account of “bittersweet” memories. In my own submission, it’s only Ogbeni who can provide a detailed account of the asymmetric warfare that eventually sent the PDP out of government in Osun.

Events of such nature do bring back memories of the days of the struggle. It was a well-coordinated action. At the very turbulent moment during the struggle, I occasionally played host to some of our frontline comrades at home whenever any of them was on “assignment” to Abuja. Prominent among them was Barr. Gbenga Fayemiwo and Comrade Waheed Lawal among others. On such occasions, we carry out a comprehensive review, updates, the next line of action, the assignment for the Abuja (or Northern states) axis, and also about the manifesto of our coming government of the Symbol (not Ogbeni then) Rauf Aregbesola as documented in a small book titled “My Pact with the People of Osun,” which we usually referred to as “The Green Book.”

Another related occasion was my very deep conversation with our then Director General of Oranmiyan Worldwide Baba Awofisayo at Nigerlinks Hotel. Baba was around, and in our usual manner, I went to meet him where we discussed the situation update of our struggle. During our discussion, I expressed my fear about our coming government of Ogbeni with my emphasis on the very loaded programs and the mode of execution, the team that will work with him, and the sustainability of those programs. It was a very long discussion, but Baba allayed my fears that all would be well and that God Almighty would select the best.

In the same curiosity after the Court of Appeal judgment and our government in place, I went to Comrade Waheed Lawal in what looked like a reminder to the governor to remind him about the contents of the green book where the six-point integral action plans of Ogbeni emanated from. Comrade Waheed Lawal allayed my fears after he told me that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had assured him in one of their recent meetings that the 20,000 jobs (OYES) would soon be launched.

The above were reminders of how visionary, focused, prepared, and determined Ogbeni was before he assumed office as the governor of Osun. He deployed all his physical and intellectual arsenal to execute his well-articulated plans methodically in a typical approach of a visionary leader who had a clear idea of his own projection to the future and also went further by taking concrete steps to plan and execute the vision and lead a team toward accomplishing the goals which the result will benefit the present and the future. Through this, he inspired others efficiently even beyond the shores of Osun.

One of my favorite role models in leadership and governance is Sheik Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and deputy prime minister of the UAE. In one of his books, “My Vision,” he said, “Our vision is sharp, our goals are clear, our resources are huge, our will is strong, and we stand tall, ready to face the challenges ahead.” A conscious analyst will draw a similarity between the above quote and the spirit with which Ogbeni entered the governance sphere of Osun and pursued his developmental and transformation plans aimed at a modern-day Osun. In other words, the Dubai ruler, said, “We may not live for hundreds of years, but the product of our creativity can leave a legacy long after we are gone.” This exactly captures the visionary acumen of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Democratic governance is tenured, and no person occupies the office forever; the best is therefore to set goals and work hard to achieve them. But one thing is to set a goal and accomplish it, another is to have a good successor with no contradictory agenda. Whenever a visionary leader is succeeded by a man of no or obsolete ideas, the whole effort and achievements become a legacy of waste sooner than later.

Of many giant visions of Ogbeni for Osun, the most laudable of them all were the education infrastructure and the urban renewal agenda which facelifted Osogbo to a modern capital city status. Five years after Ogbeni left the government, no landmark project of such magnitude and value has been carried out. Irrespective of the source of funds for the projects, Ogbeni’s visions deserve commendation. A detailed valuation of those landmark projects will reveal that the projects can’t be executed at the same cost as what was spent to execute them a few years back. None of those Mega High School buildings can be constructed and furnished at less than 3 billion naira at present. I doubt it if the present government in Osun, despite the availability of resources, can summon the courage to embark on such mega projects now.

It is unfortunate that those mega visions of Rauf were succeeded by no vision or any drafted action plan. That was why it was comfortable for former governor Oyetola to reduce his predecessor’s mega developmental vision to a micro mini discussion. In my own opinion, two things were responsible for Oyetola’s decision. Firstly, he was not actively involved in the struggle to return Osun to progressive governance and therefore was not part of the pact with the people, and secondly, he lacked any developmental agenda before assuming the position of the governor of Osun. But on assuming the office and being a “finance encyclopedia,” Oyetola should have also envisioned something laudable for the economy sector of Osun or if he had decided to execute the economic programs in the green book, another landmark achievement would have been recorded in the economic sector, and credit for the achievement would have gone to him.

Whichever, both the visionary actions and the short-sighted agenda have been documented in our political history books. They are now referencing materials. While the giant visions that lifted Osun from the back to the front row cannot be forgotten, the same goes for the minimalist approach that sent it backward.

Let’s allow history to take care of the rest.

Fundamental Observation

It Started in Oyetola’s Office and Ended in the Party Office.

Procedural error is a serious thing, and it is the worst form of error that can be committed in any official engagement.

I said it some time ago that Rt. Hon. Timothy Owoeye’s actionable committee will only build on error for procedural reasons.

From a committee that was inaugurated by former governor Oyetola in his office, to which the report was submitted to him (and not the party), and now to an actionable committee set up by Sooko Tajudeen Lawal and preparing to submit a report to him also, the entire process has caught a big procedural flaw and says a lot about the integrity of the whole exercise.

Anyway, let’s keep watching.

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not represent the opinions or views of Osun Defender.

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