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FEATURE: A Path, Effort That Never Ceased

Ismaeel Uthman The term ‘development’ or developing an effort does not just happen. It requires a consistent painstaking effort to meet the peoples’ needs and achieve prosperity. Developing a state requires strategic planning, strong political will, judicious dispensary of resources and provision of both physical and social infrastructure and programmes to make life ‘more abundant…”
March 31, 2023 3:46 pm

Ismaeel Uthman

The term ‘development’ or developing an effort does not just happen. It requires a consistent painstaking effort to meet the peoples’ needs and achieve prosperity. Developing a state requires strategic planning, strong political will, judicious dispensary of resources and provision of both physical and social infrastructure and programmes to make life ‘more abundant for the people’.

To say that the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is committed to the development of Nigeria, and his state, Osun, is an understatement. He has, years before his emergence as the governor, envisioned greatness for Osun. This he planned towards through the implementation of his six-point integral action plan christened ‘My Pact with the people of Osun’, his manifesto. In spite of the pollical onslaught on his legacy, Aregbesola’s projects and programmes will continue to linger in the memory of the people of Osun. His footprints are everywhere!

Aregbesola’s passion and commitment to ease the suffering of Nigerians have continued to guide his steps as the Minister of Interior. This is evident in various innovations that have reshaped the ministry and agencies under it. Osun is a beneficiary of the ministry’s ongoing strides, courtesy of Aregbesola.

The Correctional Service Headquarters, Osun Command, was commissioned in Osogbo in July, 2021. Aregbesola also facilitated the establishment of Zonal Fire Service Headquarters in Ilesa and equally procured and deployed state-of-the-art fire-fighting trucks in Osun towards preventing and combating natural disasters.

Adeleke and Aregbesola, flanked by aides at the commissioning of the Ilesa Passport Front Office

Adeleke and Aregbesola, flanked by aides at the commissioning of the Ilesa Passport Front Office

Aregbesola, explaining the passport reform effort to Adeleke

Aregbesola, explaining the passport reform effort to Adeleke

The construction of the National Institute of Domestic Security Building in Ilesa is currently ongoing. The Osun Command headquarters of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has been built in Ido-Osun, Egbedore local government and will be commissioned soon. The construction of a 3000-capacity correctional centre is also currently ongoing in Ilesa. This is to mention but a few of projects so far facilitated by Aregbesola to his dear state.

A ground-breaking facilitation of the minister is the Passport Front Office and Production Centre, sited at Iyemogun road, Ilesa. The project was commissioned on Tuesday, March 28. The office is equipped for biometric capturing of applicants and production of their passports. The office is to compliment the Osogbo capturing office of the Nigerian Immigration Service.

But the front desk is not an express centre, said Aregbesola during the commissioning event. “It is also not a full-fledged passport office like the ones in Osogbo, Ibadan or Akure. However, a front office is where application will be made and biometric data of the applicant will be collected. It is a non-judgemental centre, meaning that no decision will be made here, but the application and biometric data of the applicants will be collected and forwarded to the NIS for processing and issuing”, the minister explained.

Aregbesola noted that increasing number of applications necessitated establishment of more passport front offices across the country, saying it is born out of the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to further make the process seamless.

He stated: “The Passport Front Office we are commissioning today is one of the ways we are responding to increased demand for passport, especially to reduce the waiting time for biometric data capture. We have opened this front office in Alimosho, Katsina, Zaria, Daura and in several Nigerian missions abroad in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, where the enhanced passport is being rolled out.

“We need as many centres as possible to accommodate the huge number of those applying every day, day and night, on our online platform, to reduce the waiting time before data capture to the barest minimum. Our target is to reduce the waiting period for biometric data capture to not more than one week, after application.

“In recent years, there has been an upsurge in passport demands by Nigerians. The first factor in this upsurge was the COVID-19 pandemic that affected our production schedule, due to restrictions on human movement. This created a backlog that we were trying to clear when an unprecedented number of Nigerians now decided to travel outside the country and applied for passport, thereby compounding the backlog challenge.

“Then of course, the panic buying syndrome kicked in. Many people who had no immediate need of passport then started applying, creating a deluge of applications. Thankfully, that is behind us now. The backlogs have all been cleared and we are producing on schedule in all our centres.

“Fresh application will take six weeks after biometric data capture, while renewal requires just three weeks. To respond to the challenge, we increased our production capacity. In 2021, we produced one million booklets. Last year, we increased production to 1.8 million, nearly doubling our efforts. We shall keep working at it to ensure that we provide for as many Nigerians that are desirous of the passport.

Aregbesola further stressed that since his inception at the Ministry, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has been repositioned especially in the engendering of a passport production system and process that is in compliance with global best practices in technology.

The minister said: “The reforms we have introduced to passport administration are meant to ease operation and confer integrity on the Nigerian passport. We are also linking passport with other identity platforms, in line with the national policy of creating a central identity database, for ease of national administration and national security.

“This is why NIN is linked with passport application. It is important therefore that applicants’ data, including order of name and date of birth sync with their record with NIN. Any discrepancy will stall their application for passport, until they are able to resolve it.”

Earlier in his address, the Controller General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Isah Jere Idris, commended the leadership of the Ministry of Interior for providing transformational leadership for the service.

Idris said in the last few years, efforts have been concerted to make sure that Nigerians are able to easily access the passport and other services, in guaranteeing internal security in the most convenient way.

At the event was the Governor of Osun, Sen. Ademola Adeleke, who described Aregbesola as a visionary leader.

Speaking, Adeleke commended Aregbesola for being a worthy ambassador of the state, reassuring him of the state’s support in all ramifications.

Adeleke noted that Aregbesola developed Osun and is loved by the people of the state.

He said Aregbesola’s administration left behind projects which ought to have been completed by his successor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola.

The Governor promised to complete all the projects left behind by the Aregbesola administration.

Adeleke said: “No matter the party you are, if you are doing what the people want, you are a progressive. When he was governor, Aregbesola loved the people and the people loved him. All the projects Ogbeni left behind were abandoned for years by his successor. I promised the people during my campaign that I am going to continue the projects, and that is what I am doing.

“As a civilised person, no matter the party you are, you will always love progress. That is what I will always continue to do, to ensure that all developmental projects are continued. As a federal minister from the state, we are proud of your achievements and we will continue to be proud of you.

“Mr. Minister, I am assuring you, that this is your state, nobody can chase you away. This is your state, you are welcome at anytime. Even, you can come around to the Government House. When I complete all of the structures I am currently working on at the Government House, I will personally invite you to commission it, and you will be the first person to sleep in the building.”

There is no gainsaying the fact that Aregbesola has repositioned the ministry of interior and enhanced the development of the state of Osun through that as well. He is not an accidental politician or public servant. He is a progressive, a well-grounded socialist who brought the benefits of democratic governance to the reach of the overwhelming majority of the people of Nigerians and the State of Osun in particular, when he was the governor.

Aregbesola has not ceased in his efforts to develop Osun. He has continued to tow the path of development.

EDITORIAL: A Happy Homecoming!


From the announcement of his coming, a large number of the people had prepared to welcome Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to the State of Osun. It was his first visit to the state after he was attacked by political hoodlums in Osogbo on February 14, 2022. The political atmosphere of Osun was charged, as followers of the Minister of Interior and other residents of the state were eager to receive him. ‘Aregbe is coming, Symbol is coming, Oranmiyan is coming, Leader is coming rented the air from Monday till Tuesday morning. His coming to the state actually unsettled some politicians who had wanted Aregbesola to stay away from Osun.

Then came the homeboy, the first eight-year governor of Osun! He landed at his residence at Amuta in Ilesa around 10am. Waiting to receive him were some leaders of the APC and residents of Ilesa. It was a loud welcome. The premises of the house were fully occupied by excited residents. Local drummers were also on ground, entertaining people with different political songs. Aregbesola was in his usual beautiful smiling face as he acknowledged cheers from the jubilant crowd.

After meeting with some political leaders and other guests at his residence, Aregbesola set out for the commissioning of the Passport Front Office and Production Centre, Iyemogun, Ilesa. There was no smooth ride for the minister from the gate of his house. The jubilant people, among who were passersby, commercial motorcyclists, politicians and other residents of the area, obstructed Aregbesola’s convoy as they trooped out to greet him.

The minister was standing on his open-roof vehicle waiving at the large crowd of residents who were hailing and jubilating at seeing him. Aregbesola continued his demonstration amid singing by his followers. The roadshow pulled so much crowd that there was a traffic snarl along Amuta to Wesley Guild hospital road.

Officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had hectic time in controling crowd at the venue of the event. The place was filled to capacity. Moderators of the programme did not also find it easy to coordinate the event, as people did not cease to sing praises of Aregbesola. Popular Osogbo-based Disc Jokey, Oluwaseun Ekundayo popularly known as Bassman was fully on ground servicing the people with different apala music of late Ayinla Omowura and Fuji music by Saheed Osupa. Ekundayo actually knew the right music to play to charge Aregbesola and his followers and supporters. There was no dull moment at all at the programme.

As the programme was about to start with the National Anthem, information filtered that Governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke was on his way to the venue. It was a suspense! Many people did not believe until the Deputy Governor, Mr. Kola Adewusi, came in. Few minutes later, Adeleke arrived with the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Teslim Igbalaye and Chief of Staff, Kazeem Akinleye. The crowd became more charged as the people were vey excited to receive Adeleke. Aregbesola was also excited, even as he stated that he did not make any personal call to invite the governor to the programme.

OSUN DEFENDER noted that former governor Adegboyega Oyetola refused to attend all the official programmes of the minister during his tenure. The only programme attended by Oyetola was in 2019, when the Ministry of Interior held its management retreat at the Zenabab hotels, Ijebu-Ijesa, a few months after Aregbesola became Minister.

The icing on the cake was when Governor Adeleke, in his humility, prostrated for Aregbesola to greet him. The minister had to hurriedly bring him up. Adeleke stole the heart of many people with his gesture. Both Aregbesola and Adeleke exchanged warm greetings. They also took time to dance together, a development that has sent jilter down the spine of their individual traducers.

Adeleke extoled Aregbesola’s virtues and acknowledged his love for the people of the state as well as his efforts in developing the state. The Governor assured Aregbesola of maximum protection, just as he issued an Executive Order in that regard. He declared that nobody can chase the minister away from his state. Adeleke’s presence added glamour to the event.

After the commissioning of the project, Aregbesola led the Controller General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Isah Jere Idris and other top officers of the service to the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Dr Adekunle Aromolaran. The minister and his entourage were received by the monarch, his wives and chiefs.

The former governor of Osun informed the traditional ruler of his efforts to develop Osun and Ijesaland through the facilitation of projects and programmes in his capacity as the minister. He specifically explained that the Passport Front Office and Production Centre was sited in Ilesa to ease the stress of the people in the area and other neighbouring states.

Oba Aromolaran thanked Aregbesola for being a worthy ambassador of Ijesaland, declaring that he is proud of him. The monarch showered encomiums, royal blessing and prayed that he will continue to excel in life.

It was indeed a homecoming for Aregbesola.

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