The Governor of Osun, Senator Ademola Adeleke, has clocked 100 days in office. In this interview with journalists in Osogbo, the State Capital, Governor Adeleke reflected on achievements so far, affirming “so far, so good”. Excerpts from the interview is presented below:
How challenging, how rewarding is your 100 days in office?
Quite fulfilling I will say. It has been quite rewarding. When God uses you as a tool to touch lives, you can only be thankful. When I look back at the journey from 2017, the electioneering era and where we are today, I give all praises and adoration to God. Across Osun, I listen to reviews of our governorship by friends and enemies. Pleasant surprises. People said we have done well. People said we proved critics wrong. So, the last three months have been wonderful, rewarding and of course, challenging.
your party performed wonderfully well in the last presidential and national assembly elections in the state. What is the magic?
Osun people reward good leaders. Our people love those who keep their campaign promises, those who attend to their needs and aspirations. God has been kind and merciful. The little we have done for our people was much appreciated. Voters see in us sincerity of purpose. We simplify state problems. We prove to our people that a leader can deliver if he is sincere and God fearing. So, there is no magic other than sincerity and transparency to the people. God used us to change the Osun narrative. And our people rewarded the PDP. It is unprecedented for a party to clear all the federal seats. And you know what, PDP is also going to win all the House of Assembly seats. The reason is simple: my people want me to continue the good work I have started. They know the PDP needs to be in full control of the House of Assembly to deliver good governance. We promise never to disappoint our people as they go to the polls to vote PDP again on Saturday.
Can we have a glimpse of your scorecard under 100 days?
Before I touch on the scorecard, please allow me to refresh our memories as to where we started from. The public remember quite well our landslide victory at the July 16, 2022 governorship election. From that July to November when I took over, you all know what the former governor did. My predecessor created many huddles, he was not prepared to leave office. He refused to set up a transition committee. You are aware of his many actions designed to make the state ungovernable for me. So, I took over the state under a very hostile environment. I took many drastic actions to take full charge of the state from the day of inauguration. Then I set to work to surprise my critics.
So far so good. Our performance in 100 days has been fantastic. Let me now give a summary of our scorecard. I have within that short period of 100 days blocked leakages in state finance; launched Osun on tech revolution through new tech innovation policy, ICT Policy and domestication of Nigeria Start Up Act; stabilised the then heavily politicised public service; introduced farmers intervention initiative; launched the payment of backlog of half salaries and several staff emoluments issues; commenced payment of arrears of contributory pensions; approved almost a billion naira for Osun rural project development; implemented mass water projects across 332 wards; launched rehabilitation of schools/health centers; restarted the reconstruction of Osogbo-Ikirun- Kwara border road; launched mass road reconstruction across Osun state; restored sanity to traditional institutions; renovated Abere Bola Ige house from its decrepit conditions; started action on abandoned Osun house in Abuja.
I have also launched action on the implementation of Light up Osun project; started preparatory work for the making and implementation of Osun Climate Change Policy and strategy; introduced Imole Youth Corps with new age tasks; launched for implementation Osun state Tourism policy plan; implemented and expand Imole medical surgery initiative across nine federal districts; shook up the solid mineral sector for accountability; maintained executive/legislative unity despite party differences; took action to access the novel tax credit for infrastructures initiative for Osun state. To expand broadband services, my administration is reviving and flagging off Osun broadband fiber optic project. Already, we are reforming the state’s Transport Management System while expanding the infrastructure base of the Osun State University. Our administration has done a lot and we are planning to do more.
You listed so many accomplishments, where is the funding coming from? How are you able to pay the backlogs of half salaries?
First, I took some decisions to block loopholes in state finance. We ensure leakages through all avenues are stopped. So, we have improvement in internally generated revenue. We also get our priorities right. For example, we noted that non-payment of salaries or owning workers is a sin. I was not comfortable with the half salaries problem. Part of our priorities are the questions of health services and education alongside infrastructure. We spread our funds judiciously to meet the needs of our people. We are also very innovative in managing the state finance.
How much have you borrowed to address funding shortages?
My administration has not borrowed a kobo since I took over. You remember I opened up on the state of debt I inherited. So, I am not ready to add to the debt overhang. It amounts to unfair treatment of the future to be borrowing again. We manage what we have. My team is against diversion of public funds. We are in office to serve the best interest of our people.
When are you appointing your cabinet members?
Very soon. I have been doing house cleaning since we took over. I need to hurry up to address many pressing challenges facing the State. In fact, my first task is to stabilise the state considering the circumstances of our emergence. But I am also quietly watching out for capable hands to be appointed into the cabinet. I want experts and technocrats to be appointed into key offices. I won’t put a carpenter in the health ministry. I however seek that our people be patient with me. Soon, there will be a cabinet.
Your administration sets up review committees for some sectors of the state. What are the outcomes of the committees?
I am a leader of due process and rule of law. A committee is already reviewing the work of the committees. A White Paper will soon be announced. The committees have done great work. They gathered data and information as well as made recommendations which will greatly assist us in taking the final decision. I have explained in several fora why the white paper is key. So, I urge our people to be patient. We must make the right decisions as the issues involved are very sensitive.
Your critics claimed that your projects were not original to your administration. How will you react to that?
Osun people are not interested in the opinion of those who failed while in power. Osun State is a highly literate state. My records speak for me; their records spoke for them. Osogbo-Ikirun-Ila Odo was abandoned, I completed it. Today, Osogbo-Ikirun is a super highway. Ikirun people were overjoyed. Why should I listen to side talks? Those I have business with are Osun people and they are happy with me. Many of my programmes are original. Osun digital agenda is the first time Osun is having a tech innovations policy, ICT Policy among others. We have kickstarted a broadband fiber optics project among others. My interest is to change the face of governance in Osun state. I have a committed team and we are delivering.
What will you tell people of Ijesaland about your stewardship?
I was at Ilesa a few days ago. I was well received by our people. I thank them for the warm reception and for their total support for my government. I explained to the Ijesa people the total commitment of my government to the protection of their interest. I briefed them on the genesis of the university. I was the first in 2018 to promise the upgrade of the College of Education. After I was rigged out, my predecessor did nothing on the issue until the time for 2022 election. He hurriedly set up an unsustainable process, politicising the academic process. I knew this is a booby trap against Ijesa people. It was a political ploy to buy votes. So, I came with a review committee to ensure well-grounded checks for the eventual take off of the university. The committee has submitted its report and I am acting on it. I am a talk and do man. Osun people can confirm. University of Ilesa has come to stay.
On the Ilesa Water Project, I told my people of Ijesaland how the previous government mismanaged the project. Our committee on Assets Recovery under Dr BT Salami unearthed monumental fraud. I ordered the suspension of the Consultant. That opened a can of worms. The woman publicly alleged that a bribe of five million dollars ($5,000,000) was demanded from her by the State Assembly. I went to Abuja to meet the Minister of Water Resources on the way out. He told me the project was mismanaged and a sum of N12billion naira squandered. I inherited a mess created by the past government. I’m clearing it as a responsible elected leader of my people.
On mining and environmental degradation across Ijesaland, I told my people how bad the zone was treated by the previous government. It will shock you to note that underground water in the zone is polluted. The Minister told me mining has destroyed the water source. So, I came in to arrest the situation. Under the past government, Osun gained nothing from the mining sector. The State lost billions of naira. The end result- the environment is in serious bad shape. The APC created that mess. I’m clearing it.
So, who is the friend of the Ijesa people? Those who played politics with education, who destroyed the Ilesa Water Project and who polluted the environment, all for selfish gain? Or me who is clearing the mess, for the best interest of Ijesa people?
Iwo-Osogbo road is yet to be completed. What is the current situation?
I think the work is ongoing. I have silently inspected the road twice. I have also engaged the contractor. Government is a continuum. The past government awarded the contract. I did not stop it. I however told the contractor to be up and doing. I want a quality job. So, I want to assure our people in Osun West that the road will surely be completed.
Security has become a major issue in Osun state. What is your government doing to guarantee security of lives and property?
Osun is a peaceful state and our people love their Governor. Osun people are not troublesome. They want the right environment to run their businesses. As a highly educated state, my people are not violent in nature. The problem at hand is that there are anti-democratic elements who are trying to disturb the peace of the state. They failed at elections. They cannot believe it and they are the ones behind the pockets of attacks on PDP members. The sad part of it is the failure of some security agencies to remain non-partisan. I already held the state security council meeting and read riot act to the service commanders. We have a duty to ensure a violence free state before, during and after elections. There is no room for fake policemen and thuggery in Osun state. My people are enlightened. They know what they want. They want good governance. We should allow our people to peacefully choose their leaders.
The state is expecting judgment on your appeal against the Tribunal ruling. Any comment on the litigation?
You know the matter is in court and I don’t want to pass a comment on it. What I can tell you however is that we have faith in God and man that our God-given victory is here to stay.
What more should Osun people be expecting?
Our people should expect more services, projects, honesty, transparency and more. They should expect a more responsive government. I am eager to deliver services of one year under six months. I’m looking towards an Osun State where poverty and under-development are things of the past. They will see and feel more dividends of democracy.