DAILY INDEPENDENT: Man Of The Year 2013 Is Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola
Engr. Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola was born in the month of May, 1957. He had his primary and secondary education in Ondo State, and later attended The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he studied Mechanical Engineering and graduated in 1980. As a pupil in the primary school, Rauf was a centre-point around whom his mates hovered for guidance and direction. As a student, he was focused for remarkable performance which he made distinctively and seamlessly. In the Polytechnic, he positioned himself to conquer his environment by engaging in prolific studies.
The career man
Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM), Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), Fellow of the Nigerian Association of Technological Engineers (FNATE) and Fellow of the Certified Marketing Communications Institute of Nigeria (FCMCIN), Rauf Aregbesola has a wealth of experience garnered through wide exposure in the private sector, such as the Nigerian External Telecommunications, now renamed Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd. and Lagos Airport Hotel, before establishing his own Engineering Services Company, Aurora Nigeria Limited, in 1986. The company had handled numerous major projects for both government and private organisations in most States of the Federation.
Politically, Rauf has been no less a phenomenon. His involvement in politics dates back to his undergraduate days when he was Speaker of the Students’ Parliament (1977/78), The Polytechnic, Ibadan, and the President of the Black Nationalist Movement (1978-1980). He was also an active supporter of other progressive students’ movements nationwide, which earned him, for instance, the life membership of National Association of Technological Students. In June 1990, he became an elected delegate to the SDP Inaugural Local Government Area Congress. In July of the same year, he was also a delegate to its first National Convention in Abuja.
Rauf Aregbesola, as a pro-democracy and human rights activist, was a major participant in the demilitarisation and pro-democracy struggles of the 1990s. Prior to his appointment as the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure (1999-2007), he was Director of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation (BATCO), which engineered the electoral victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the Governor of Lagos State in 1999. He performed similar feat using the platform of Independent Campaign Group (ICG) to ensure the re-election of Asiwaju for a second term in office.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola acquitted himself excellently as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 with the strength of his commitment to selfless service. His diligence, sincerity and tirelessness in the administration of the vast Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, as well as supervision of the Public Works Corporation and State Electricity Board, has been acknowledged as being responsible for the outstanding success recorded by the Tinubu administration, especially in road rehabilitation/maintenance and street lighting; and achievement that solidly laid the foundation for the actualisation of Lagos as the model of development and good governance as being sustained by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola today. Indeed, it is a known fact that he is one of the brains behind the infrastructural re-engineering that has now resulted in the transformation of social amenities in Lagos State.
Some of the novel achievements and innovations due to Aregbesola’s visionary qualities and enterprise include the redefinition and application of new aesthetic standards to ministry blocks and offices as corporate workplaces; vision and mission definition, annual staff retreats and modern manpower capacity building trainings; introduction of facility management practices; pioneering achievements in PR (ministry journal) and IT (website) operation; Pioneering Private/Public Sector Partnership Ventures; Award-winning best practices projects; etc.
The believer and advocate of the rule of law
Aregbesola’s belief in the sanctity of the rule of law is exemplary.
Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, on the platform of the then Action Congress (AC) contested for the Governorship of Osun State in the April 2007 elections, and won. To be so declared, however, took close to four years of what must go down as one of the most titanic mandate recovery legal battles of all time, and a moment for the manifestation of the omnipotence of the Almighty God and his steadfastness in support of those who rely on him.
Having gone through the tribunal of first instance, an appeal and a retrial tribunal, the second appeal court, delivering judgment on October 26, 2010, declared Aregbesola governor and ordered he be sworn in the next day.
Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, since assuming office as Governor of the State of Osun on October 27, 2010, has redefined the meaning of governance in the public sector, not just with symbolic posturing, but real and sustainable interventions that will presently enhance the quality of life of everyone that lives or works in the State of Osun. Rebranding of the state as the ipinle Omoluabi (State of the Virtuous) started from himself, adopting the title Ogbeni, simply Mister, in deference to the singular Excellency of the Almighty God. In just over a year, the chronicle of his achievements is astounding, and may be summarised as a chain of “O-Models”, the most astonishing been the engagement of 20,000 youth in the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme within his first 100 days in office; an accomplishment without precedence that has become the model for others to follow.
Rauf is a born strategist. Throughout his life, whether as a pupil, student or career man; political appointee or Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola has applied the art and science of strategy to ensure success in all endeavours in which he is engaged. He strategised and was outstanding as a student. He strategised and was efficient and effective as a career man. He strategised and was accomplished as a grassroots politician. He strategised and was excellent as a commissioner in Lagos State. He strategised to reclaim his mandate when he was rigged out in the race to offer selfless service to the good people of Osun. He strategised to lay a sound foundation for a regenerated Osun State knowing that sustainable development does not happen with ‘quick fix’ methods, tools, and techniques. He is strategising to position Osun and the good people of the state appropriately in the geo-economic milieu of Nigeria. He is a fervent believer in the dictum that strategists do not fail and so will not fail the people of Osun.
Committed to a better, egalitarian society, Aregbesola, though fully anxious to build a society with massive physical infrastructures that promote better living, believes in first pursuit of those human values that can pave the way for the emergence of that total man, who is socially responsible. Hence his dogged pursuit of programmes extra-curricular schemes, such as the Calisthenics, Omoluabi Boys and Girls Club, and other schemes aimed at re-orientating the youths to channel their energies towards a society where the promotion of the common, collective goods will dominate the crazy pursuit of the good of the self.
He stirs the hornet’s nests often; but, these are in his determined attempts to break the norms to achieve extra-ordinary results. To date, he has ignited debates on federalism, restructuring of education towards functionality, equity, justice and fairness in all spheres of life. Even in the face of mounting criticisms, he holds tenaciously to his ideas, convinced that oppositions to them are products of long years of military rule, ignorance of what is even good for humanity and the acute manipulative capacities of those whose interest it is to keep the ordinary people perpetually subjugated.
The family man
An exemplary family man, Rauf Aregbesola is a loving husband and caring father. Married to Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola, he has nurtured his family with equal devotion and commitment.
For these reasons, he is a thinker, ardent performer, a visionary leader, a transformational leader, an agent of strategic change, a man for the people; Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, Governor of the State of Osun.