Aregbesola And The Road Less Traveled — Erasmus Ikhide

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FREEPRESS – One of the variant axioms by George Santayana in his work, ‘Life of Reason’ says “those who forget the past are condemned to the future”. The saying perfectly finds its meaning in the governance of State of Osun under the stewardship of Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Those who are familiar with Governor Aregbesola’s campaign manifestoes prior to this governorship electioneering in 2007, 2010 and 2014 to date can not but attest to the studious adherent to his pact with his people. 

But some people mischievously chose to forget where Ogbeni and Osun are coming from. What then is history? History/event is useless if it’s not usable now and in the future. Should we flounder aimlessly, hopelessly like the animals. Shouldn’t we keep ourselves afloat with his manifestoes and direct our course and be guided to bear our ignorance of fact. 

In retrospect, Aregbesola had campaigned with an enthralling manifestoes contained in his unique and popular green book titled ‘My Pact with the People of Osun’. The book contained the Aregbesola’s Six Integral Action Plan: Banish poverty, banish hunger, create work and wealth, restore healthy living, promote functional education, and maintain communal peace and progress.

Any doubts that the people of the state dissect, understood and embraced the Aregbesola’s progammes all through to this moment from the very beginning. Can anyone say the staunch support and admiration he enjoyed amongst his people before and now has waned. Did anything go wrong, midway. Were there derailments.

Going by Ogbeni’s 2010 manifesto to banish poverty from the state, banish hunger, create wealth and work for the people, restore healthy living, promote functional education, and maintain communal peace and progress, can we see any correlation now between ‘My Pact with the People of Osun’, and his given achievements. We are bound to stray away from the objective of governance and the purpose for agenda setting or manifestoes, if Ogbeni’s administration is vaguely judged, pillaged and haggled from obscure standpoint of assumptive suppositions, from something he never promised the people of Osun. 

Government is not propitious accident or some vested illusion from outward plain. It’s a product of consciously scripted itemization of can-do program, both in the short and long runs. Free riders may take this fact for granted, ‘the truth is cruel, but it can be loved, and it makes free those who have loved it’. That’s the different between the naysayers, who have been casting gloom on Ogbeni’s administration and the optimists who are lovers of his purposeful government. 

For the record, Governor Rauf Aregbesola is the eighth governor of Osun State, counting from both the military era and the civilian governments. All the past governors, including the military administrators, have record of achievements, though fading out in the memory of the people of the state. But one could not compare the achievements of the civilian governors to that of military. There is a wide gap. 

Chief Bisi Akande, the first governor of Osun State in the fourth republic has an ending; unfading, laudable and unforgettable record of service. Baba Akande as fondly called was able to manage the meager resources of the state to put in place standard infrastructures in the state. It could be said that the development of Osun began in his era. Among the legacies of Baba Akande is the Osun State Government Secretariat, Abere which was built for less that N2billion (including the Bola Ige House). The secretariat was built at a cost of N1.1bn while the Governor’s office (Bola Ige House) cost N870 million, according to records. 

The construction of standard and durable roads in both the urban and rural areas of the state is an incontrovertible project of the Asiwaju of Ila-Orangun. The construction of buildings and offices for the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital, Osogbo by Chief Akande’s administration is a story that tells itself. Those projects are living in good shape years after the exit of baba Akande, attesting to his principle of prudency, standard and patriotism. It is on record that Baba Akande won the award of ‘Most Economic and Transparent Governor’ during his tenure because of his passionate and purpose driving governance.

Osun State University is a legacy of former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola who took over from Chief Akande in 2003. The people of the state craved for infrastructural development during the seven-and-half years reign of Oyinlola. Some people argued that Osun was retard, inert and underdeveloped because there was dearth of infrastructural development after the undeserved exit of Chief Akande. However, everybody is entitled to his/her opinion as a constitutional right. Notwithstanding, there are tangible projects to be traced to Oyinlola’s administration.

The emergence of Ogbeni from the progressives flank as the governor of Osun was to redirect the state on the path of development, started by Governor Bisi Akande whose austere leadership style opened up the state for positive governance. From the outset, Ogbeni’s administration has been people friendly and passionate about the development of the state. The people found solace of development of the state in him and still reposed confidence in him. He has substantially proven to be the architect of the modern Osun State with his developmental project across the nook and cranny of the state. No part of the state could deny the existence of government presence in the area with one or two project. Principally, the construction of roads and drainages cut across everywhere in Osun State.

Whether the opposition in the state or the media concerns which has chosen to blackout and dim the vision and mission of the governor like it or not, they can not change the fact on ground or erase it from the mind of Osun people that Ogbeni is the governor who open-up rural communities through partnership with International agencies; reduced leakages in government through the application of technologies, constructed over 15km township roads each across the 30 LGAs, completely built hundreds of state-of-the-art schools and renovated many others across the 30 LGAs, feeding over 250,000 school pupils on a daily basis, sponsored Stranded Uniosun medical students to Ukraine for completion of studies

Their opposition to Ogbeni’s governance style or hatred for his believe system will not delete the ongoing construction of East Bye-pass road with attendant overhead bridges; the ongoing construction of Akoda/Gbongan dualized road with Interchange bridge connecting Oyo state, the over 1,500 lives of accident victims who were saved through the establishment of O’Ambulance programme, the reduction in infant mortality rate through the provision of free healthcare services in state-owned hospitals, the overseas training of Osun indigenes in modern agriculture techniques, Information Communication Technologies and mechatronics, the constructed of Odi-Olowo/Olaiya road linking Jaleyemi area with beautification, the constructed of Olaiya/Oke-Fia road with parameter fencing, the relocated and the built new Army remembrance arena/Acade, the over 123km of waterways dredged to avoid flooding in Osun.

The notoriously oiled PDP’s propaganda machine can not evaporate Ogbeni’s provision of well over 300 Patrol vans to the security agency; 24 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC), hundreds of thousands of security gadgets and an helicopters to ensure safety in Osun thereby reducing crime rate, his supports to farmers in form of free seedlings, interest-free loans, trainings (local and international) and partnership, the over 2,000km of roads constructed across the state, the right environment for investors in form of Tax holidays, free-trade-zone, quick issuance of C of O (within 90-days) indication to influx of investors in the state, the free train service to Osun indigenes during festive periods, the recruited of over 48,000 O’YES cadets, the over 9,000 teachers recruited and 17,057 teaching and non-teaching personnel promoted across primary and secondary schools, the revived 17 years moribund Cocoa Processing Industry in Ede with extended capacity, the first to implement new minimum wage by increasing workers’ salaries, the prompt payment of compensation to owner of houses demolished in the course of development, the over N5billion micro-credit loan to artisan, market women/men and others.

Neither can they remove the Opon-Imo, known as the tablet of knowledge distributed to students in the government-owned high (secondary) schools in the state, the built ultra-modern market with state-of-the-art facilities – Ayegbaju market; the peaceful conduct of election since assumption of office in 2010, the established computer accessories factory known as Adulawo Technology City in conjunction with a private company, the grant of autonomy to state-owned tertiary institutions in the state without interference, the payment of 13th month salaries to workers’ between 2010-2014, the constructed first amusement park known as Mandela Freedom Park in Osun, the ongoing reconstruction of Rasco bridge with 90% completion to solve perennial flooding problems, the establishment of Omoluabi Savings and Garment Industry, the poultry rearing of 300,000 Broilers through Outgrower scheme, to mention just a few.

Why must the man who reforms the moribund finances of the State; the person who raises the bar for teaching and learning, the man who promotes functional educational system, the person who creates wealth through provision of jobs, the man who banishes poverty from amongst his people, through employment opportunities, the man who restores healthy living, the man who maintains communal peace and progress in accordance with his electoral promises be vilified? 

The failure of prompt payment of workers wages which Ogbeni gets the highest and strangest criticism is not Osun specific in the comity of states in Nigeria. Neither is Osun among the 10 most indebted states in the country. Majority of Niger Delta States with 10% Resource Control Derivation as additional federal allocation are known to default in payments of workers’ salaries running into 20 months and above as a result of glut of crude which led to crashes of price in the global market since 2014. 

Ogbeni’s travail/agony in governance has been his penchant and resolve to plying the radical road less traveled; believing same to be true to his envisioned ideology through which egalitarian Nigeria society of his dream will be actualized. His traducers have been Giving rhetorical vent to their spleen and prejudice against him. They exaggerated his failures without considering the meagreness or dryness of the state’s treasury. When they are confronted and shown the records, their imagination become chilled and speak of wastages instead; most times unwarrantably. When their wrong judgment is truncated, they take the next cowardly step, called it a quit to return the next day.

What earns Ogbeni enemy of the media and the opposition party is that he is an imaginative and a higher moral being in government who gives new aims to the people of Osun and the country. This did not exist in solitude. It has to do with the aims of aspiration, of development, of solid education, of religion tolerance, of science and conscience, of art and culture and, total abstinence from media-buy. Has he fair well in the estimation of his people. Only time will tell. 

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