PERSPECTIVE: Osun State House Of Assembly And The Cowry Shell With Strings Attached

PERSPECTIVE: Osun State House Of Assembly And The Cowry Shell With Strings Attached
  • PublishedMay 10, 2024

IN a historic turn of events, the Osun State House of Assembly has seen an unprecedented influx of youth representatives, signaling a new era of inclusivity and equality. With a significant portion of its members now comprised of individuals in their twenties and thirties, the Assembly boasts a demographic shift towards a younger generation eager to enact change and champion reformist causes.

In this current dispensation, out of 26 members, we have two members of the House of Assembly in their 20s, 10 members are in their 30s, five members in their 40s, and others are in their 50s. Then it is safe to say youth constitute the majority and, as a matter of fact, they have a good number close to 2/3 majority.

Yet, amidst this apparent triumph of youth representation, there are concerns regarding the efficacy and commitment of these young lawmakers to protecting the interest of the youth. One wonders if they have forsaken the very principles and aspirations that propelled them into political office, succumbing instead to the trappings of traditional politics and antiquated methodologies of business as usual.

READ: JONAPWD Lauds Osun Assembly For Passing Disability Bill Into Law

This aide-memoire serves as a gentle reminder to our colleagues in the state Assembly, using Yoruba “aroko” to send a message to them with ‘cowry shell with strings attached’ conveying a message of foreboding which suggests that unfavourable circumstances are befalling not only the youth but also the institution of the Assembly by ignoring the plight of the youth in the State.

The administration of Senator Ademola Adeleke once hailed as a beacon of hope for the youth, now stands accused of betraying their trust. By discontinuing programs like OYES (Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme) without providing viable alternatives, the government has left many youths disillusioned and destitute. Promises of a brighter future through initiatives like Imole Youth Corps meant to replace the defunct OYES as announced by the government last year in February 2023 by the Governor’s spokesman, Mallam Rasheed Olawale, now rings hollow, leaving the youth of Osun languishing in despair. OYES is a volunteer social program for youth below the age of 35 selected and employed to assist the government in social services like sanitation, paramedics, traffic control, sanitation, and teaching assistants.

It is disappointing to know that the current State House of Assembly has displayed insouciance and has not deemed it fit to promote any bill that would create jobs and prosperity for the youth and has failed to lobby the executive arm of the Government for youth empowerment. 

On the other hand, I commend the Governor for promoting and making the youth the fulcrum of his administration by encouraging youth entry to the parliament and also supporting a youth to be the Speaker. Reflecting on these strides, it becomes evident that the journey towards youth empowerment and inclusive governance is fraught with challenges and setbacks through egocentrism on the part of the young elected parliamentarians.

The cries for help echoing from the youth of Osun State serve as a stark reminder of the urgency to address their grievances and restore faith in the promise of a better tomorrow. The youth are waiting for the government to create an enabling environment for them to thrive through various programs and actions, like the creation of innovative and incubation centres across the state for training in IT, Software development, UI/UX design, Website design, graphics design, utilisation of local creative arts, pottery, leatherworks, batik, and aso oke.

Improved youth access to MSME funds, and the creation of innovative funding via grants, patient funding, and single-digit loans to encourage youth in Agric. The mentorship programme and sustain sporting programmes coupled with nurturing of sports and art talent,  support upcoming youth start-ups, incorporate apprenticeship, Teaching Assistantship, and Graduate Assistantship, encourage digital literacy in all secondary schools by equipping schools with computers and IT facilities, and be equipped with on-demand relevant market skills and pave way for a brighter future for our teeming youth.

The Osun State Assembly, as a matter of urgency, should influence programs that would bring prosperity to the teeming youth and, as a matter of fact, the majority of the solutions have been proposed and approved in the Osun Youth Policy Document 2021 as approved by the previous administration. The state Assembly should do a policy brief on the Osun 2021 youth policy document, collaborate, and put the executive on her toes by conducting oversight in the concerned ministries and implementing the policy to the letter. 

While commending some honourable members like the Speaker Rt. Honourable Wale Egbedun, who in his personal capacity had empowered youth in his constituency likewise Hon. Adeyemi Adewumi (Irekandu), representing Obokun state constituency, who was instrumental to the passage of the bill and has evidenced and mirrored the policy in his local government.

It is pertinent to state that your respective personal efforts in your local government regarding youth empowerment are visible and commendable, but I wonder why pushing and implementing the same policy that would benefit a larger number of the youth state-wide is looking like herding cats. The time for action is now and not when the campaign is in the offing. The Osun State Assembly must prioritize policies that will uplift the youth and create a pathway to prosperity for Osun youth.

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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