OPINION: Profound Developmental Strides In Osun
That it took over three year’s battle to recover his mandate from the ousted government of Olagunsoye Oyinlola is now history. Nobody gave Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola the chance of winning the legal battle. Some of his supporters gave up at the eleventh hour while waiting for the final Court of Appeal judgment. It was the longest electoral battle in the history of Nigeria and at the end of the trial, the Electoral Acts were amended in order to reduce the period of electoral litigation to 180days.
The government of Aregbesola from inception promised to be a peculiar administration, and three years later the governor has lived to its promises. The six integral action plans of the government remained the compass that guides the working and actions of the government. The government sets out to battle; Poverty, banish hunger, banish unemployment, restore healthy living, promote functional education, and enhance communal peace and progress.
At the inception, for about eight months, the governor refused to appoint commissioners as it was the custom in all democratic states. This action of Aregbesola did not go down well with the political opposition who took the new government to the cleaner and threatened to take legal action against the governor. But Aregbesola remained unmoved for he has his trick up his sleeve, and when he eventually appointed the commissioners, he told the nation that the state was not financially buoyant to afford the financial implication of political appointees , he averred: “ I used the first eight months to save enough fund for the projects and programmes of the government, our predecessor took a bank loan that grounded the financial wheel of the administration to the tune of 18.6 billion naira to finance stadia projects when we were not hosting any sport competition.
Every effort to renegotiate with the bank where the loan was taken failed until we found another bank that bought over the said debts and granted us a convenient loan to finance our projects.” The judicial panel of enquiry set up to probe the loan found the Oyinlola guilty over the aforesaid loan. However, the government moved ahead and began the journey of a new state that has since turned around the fortune of the state to the level that the blind could feel the changes and the deaf could see the gigantic development of the state, even the political opponents have been silenced from their initial negative propaganda of non-performance, to the allegation of turning the state into a debtor state. This negative gab has not fit in to the image of the government as quite often, the financial institutions such as Central Bank, Debt Management Office have excluded the state from the list of debtor’ states.
The next issue that surprises the opponents is the employment of 20, 000 youths that were engaged within a hundred days in office by the governor under the OYES-Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme. This singular acts was the first of its kind in Nigeria. The ousted government did not waste time from writing off the scheme as ridiculous and insulting for the state graduates to be engaged in communal work with ordinary 10, 000 naira per months. They accused the government of deceit over the numbers said to have been engaged. Aregbesola was not bugged by the negative criticism; rather he asked them to verify the actual numbers under the scheme from First Bank who paid the youths monthly. He also replied the opposition by demanding from them what were they able to do for the same youths for a period of 90 months they were in power in the state, if the pain and the anguish of these youths did not touch the opposition, at least, the implication of having army of youths roaming the street without any means of living could trigger high level of crime in the state and the nation as a whole.
While the opposition was criticizing, parents and participating youths were full of praise and appreciation of the government actions of making them bread winners. The critics were still on the same page when the government engaged another batch of 20, 000 youths making it 40, 000 youths that have participated in the scheme so far and many of them apart from being engaged by the government, a large percentage are today trained and empowered to become entrepreneurs and employer of labour.
This OYES scheme has since received the approvals of the World Banks which in turn sold the good idea to the Federal government and supported the scheme financially, the Federal government has since kicked off the scheme under the name YESSO. The prophet is said not to enjoy respect at home, the Aregbesola scheme that was ridiculed and disparaged by political opponents is today being celebrated nationwide for embarking on such a noble scheme in reducing the joblessness in our nation among our youths. The Aregbesola government has also got the youths motivated in taking into farming via O’REAP, through training within and outside Nigeria, by also clearing virgin lands for large scale farming, loans schemes and farming equipment as well as fertilizers to boost farming in the state. Consequently the state is gradually becoming the food basket of the South West through massive food production and the vision of kicking out poverty has become a reality and the peace and security is reigning in the state as poverty which Nehru Gandhi said to be” the harbinger of crime” has been conquered.
This effort of the government has made Osun to be voted as second best in poverty index in Nigeria, the Federal office of Statistics has also adjudged it as the best among the states with less percentage of unemployed youths.
State of Osun was another burning issue, a deviation from the commonly use of “state”. The opposition accused the governor for trying to secede for having the audacity to call State of Osun, the introduction of a state anthem provides the opposition the ground to call the state a rebellious one. But the governor was unbowed, but told those that care to know that “we are charting courses that had never been charted”. The governor declared that the long military rule had mesmerized the nation to the extent that we have forgotten that we are a republic. That the oppression by the military has made some educated ones to have lost the import of Nigeria as a Federal Republic. Aregbesola defended his choice of using “the state of” as constitutional,and that the constitution did not put any prefix or suffix. He cited section 176 of the 1999 Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria to draw home his defense. Today, more than eight states in Nigeria have followed his footsteps.
. Opon-Imo tablet of knowledge, an educational iPad that today has earned the state and the governor international award and recognition was born in controversy. When the tablet was launched, the political elite especially the opposition was acidic in their condemnation of the device to them, the governor and his son were merely milking the state of its resources. The tablets cannot be cost effective; the priority of the state ought not to be the tablet. Newspapers columnists added insulting articles upon articles ridiculing the government, but like the Right brothers were disparaged initially but celebrated till date over invention of aircraft, the Opon Imo tablet of knowledge has become an international phenomenal, that has earned one award after the other, the governor himself declared at the launching “with this Opon Imo Africa has come of age”. Indeed, Aregbesola has added his name among the people that contributed to the development of knowledge among mankind.