Op-Ed Osun

Truth Of The Matter with AYEKOOTO: Honours From The Ivory Towers

Truth Of The Matter with AYEKOOTO: Honours From The Ivory Towers
  • PublishedJanuary 25, 2019

Garlands and laurels have been coming on the way of the Ogbeni, former Governor of the State of Osun, Dr Rauf Adesoji Aremu Aregbesola in the recent times, the latest is from the faith-based Fountain University, Osogbo, State of Osun.

Sometime in 2018, the management of Adegboyega University, Ogwa, Edo State owned by the Apostolic Church, conferred an honorary degree of Public Administration on him for “his efforts in providing qualitative education to his people”.

Speaking at the special convocation ceremony in August 2018, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Bernard Aigbokan reeled out numerous contributions of the former governor noting that under his watch, the school feeding programme attracted World Bank commendation.

“Under the (former) governor’s watch, the state is second in human capital development, the national assessment on infant and maternal health care delivery and first in Nigeria’s sub national competitiveness index, released by the National Bureau of Statistics and National Competitiveness Council.”

Much earlier, similar commendations and laurels came the way of Ogbeni as he was honoured in far-away Kano for his contributory role in the development of Islamic finance system in Nigeria. The Ogbeni was awarded the “Leadership Award in Islamic Finance” by the International Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance (IIIBF) of the Bayero University, Kano.

The IIIBF said it gave the former Governor the award because of his administration’s pioneering and deft role in the issuance of Sukuk Bond in the country. Despite being labeled a bigot, he boldly became the first state government to issue Islamic (Sukuk) bond in the history of Islamic finance in Nigeria, in 2013.

The Osun initiative thereafter opened the door for other states and Federal government to explore the huge benefits derivable from the interest-free Sukuk Islamic bond.

Last week Monday, the Fountain University, also conferred on Ogbeni the honourary degree of Doctor of Science. The occasion, which was tied to the award of other degrees to graduating students of the institution, was well attended by friends and associates of the former helmsman in Osun, as well as well-wishers from far an near.

Honouring of personalities by universities isn’t really a new thing in this clime, where one can hardly separate the wheat from the chaff.  But the conferment of this and previous honours on the former governor was well deserved even if only for his superlative commitment to the development of education and infrastructure

During his eight-year incumbency, the education sector received his utmost attention. 22 -state-of-the-art elementary Schools, 15 middle schools and 11 high schools [“that look like universities”, according to many watchers including Chief Tola Adeniyi, a veteran journalist] were constructed and completed across the nooks and crannies of the state to revamp the sector and make education attractive to every child.

Other areas of interventions of the Aregbesola-led government in the education sector included school reclassification into elementary, middle and high school system to aid easy teaching and learning; and introduction of education marshalls to maintain discipline. School administration and management was decentralised through the creation of three education districts, with each district headed by a tutor-general.

Calisthenics display is another legacy for which this administration will be remembered. Calisthenics incorporates a lot of virtues like team spirit, unity, resilience, cooperation, tenacity, which an average individual needs to survive and succeed in life. The display has since been introduced into all the schools in the state to create a complete ‘Omoluabi’ in the student.

On Osun elementary school feeding and health programme (O’MEAL) alone, the state government provided free meals for over 250,000 pupils in primary one to four every school day. Through the programme, malnutrition in pupils has been reduced; school enrolment and promotion of healthy living among public school pupils have been improved. Also, about 4000 caterers were empowered as food vendors serving nutritious delicacies to all the pupils in elementary schools across the state every school day while over 50 school buses (Omoluabi Scholar Buses) were procured by Aregbesola’s administration to enhance easy transportation of students in the state.

Aregbesola’s administration was the first in the country to replace books with computer tablets called ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ aka ‘Opon Imo’[acknowledged by UNESCO as unique] to further stimulate the interest of students to learning as well as completely turn learning into play in schools. Altogether, 17 subjects that students offer during West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) were included as learning experiences in form of lesson notes, textbooks, mostly provided by Evans Publishers and Master Teacher’s inputs. Computer Education and Entrepreneurship Education are also included in the device. ‘Opon Imo’ also contains 10 years past questions and answers provided by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) as well as West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

It also needs to be noted that Aregbesola’s government increased bursary allocations to all Osun indigenes in tertiary institutions. ý

If Ogbeni was not a politician, he probably would be in the classroom, teaching. Ogbeni is deep in thinking and excellent in oral delivery. He won’t be done with you until he’s sure you are on same page with him. He easily wins arguments and this is a plus for him as a politician and mobiliser. He will dazzle you with local, foreign, past and recent examples to drive home his points. Aregbe is well versed in local folklores and also very witty. Being with him, boredom has no place.

Political rallies and social events are always carnival-like with the Ogbeni in attendance. He is mercurial, dramatic and a pleasure to be with. An Aderinposonu, he is one who could make you forget your sorrow with anecdotes that bring his audiences to cascading laughter but with insightful reflections, mostly nodding in agreement. He makes jokes out of every good or bad situation in the sense that you cannot but see rays of hope no matter how bad you think the situation is.

He is a cheerful giver, decent lover of the womenfolk, a good dancer, especially when the Oranmiyan band boys are let loose to release his favourite tunes..

An unapologetic lover of his Islamic religion but with respects for other faiths, quoting copiously from their holy writs, he does not begin speeches without the initial renditions from the Quran.

On the downside as a mortal, Ogbeni could be very moody, which he sometimes acknowledges. He doesn’t know how to hide his feelings, good or bad.

As this paper was being taken to press, came another soothing report that our great State, Ipinle Omoluabi was being ranked first among states in the country and the federal capital through a survey based on 18 basic World Development Indicators.

The result of the survey is contained in a book titled “Development Performance Ranking of Nigerian States and Monitoring of African Countries,” which was launched just last Tuesday in Abuja. Anambra and Lagos tied for second position, while Ekiti came fourth. Others in the top 10 are the FCT, Abia, Imo, Kwara, Edo and Kogi states.

Osun will sorely miss him.

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