If we may paraphrase the Roman Emperor Pliny, out of the State of Osun, there is always something new. The latest manifestation of this thrust is the commissioning of this week by the Ogbeni Governor of the Workers’ Drive.
A magnificent investment in the infrastructure uplift of the state, it is quite a wonder to behold. ‘Workers Drive’ is a 2.8km dual carriageway, which will greatly facilitate ease of movement and commerce in the state.
It also has a significant undertone. Ordinarily, edifices such as this are named after a worthy son or daughter of the soil, or an acclaimed international figure, an avatar, for example, Nelson Mandela or Kwame Nkrumah. This time, the mould has been broken. Naming the edifice “Workers Drive” is an acknowledgement of the excellent input of the Labour movement as well as the impact of all workers in general to the development of the State of Osun. This represents a break in the normal tokenism, whereby workers are celebrated once a year during Workers Day. Ogbeni Aregbesola succinctly paid tribute to the input of the workers in stating the raison d’etre for naming the road in honour of their excellent cooperation, – “The governor said: “We have decided to name the road after our workers in the state because of their loyalty, commitment and perseverance in the quest to achieve this. I salute the workers for all their commitment; our workers have been the cutting edge instrumental to the realisation of our goals to our people.”
Aregbesola’s celebration of the input of the Labour movement is to be expected. He has been, from the days of student activism a dye-in-the-wool progressive social democrat. Administering Osun has given him the opportunity to turn theory into practice. This, he has done with imagination as well as unwavering commitment and determination, even in the face of fiscal adversity.
The administration he has headed has been pro-actively worker-friendly. A lot of this is reflected in the social intervention programmes of his administration such as O’YES, the free school feeding programme, as well as the uplift in the social infrastructure, such as greater investments in Education and wider access to health services.
A key point here is that in a very difficult fiscal climate and hamstring by a debilitating quasi-federalism, Aregbesola has shown the durability of the non-monetary benefits of social intervention to the workers. With determination, he has shown that social capital is the most resilient of all manner of capital formation and the enduring mechanism to deploy as an anti-poverty tool. We therefore salute the courage and foresight of this most pro-worker of administrators.