FEATURE: Osun’s Unforgetable Years
From the pre colonial era, when in 1951 H. L. Butcher Commission gave birth to Osun District, till 1991, when the General Ibrahim Babangida-led administration created Osun out of the old Oyo State, several efforts have been made to place the state on the proper position it ought to occupy on the world map. But none has been able to attain the golden age as it is today within four years under Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, governor of the state.
From the days of surplus, when the military administrators were in-charge, till the coming of the civilian administration in1999, except for the period under Chief Bisi Akande, who started the restructuring of the infrastructure and the opening of the rural roads, so as to increase agricultural products, no one else has done what Aregbesola has done under four years of dynamic and purposeful leadership.
Abraham Lincoln stated: ” Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. ” Power is a test of character. In the hands of a person of integrity, it is of tremendous benefit: in the hands of a tyrant, it causes terrible destruction.” The struggle for power lasted 3 and half years for the incubent. Under 4 years, most of the chronic political opponents with whom he wrestled power from have since become one in a political family. It is a credit to Aregbesola that his first term has brought in his successor; Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Senator Isaka Adeleke , first Executive Governor of the state, Peter Babalola (Peter Action) and many other political gladiators. The implication of the aforesaid, is the presence of peace and security in the state. The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Section 14 (4) encapsulates that the state must ensure security of lives and properties, as well as the welfare of the people. Aregbesola no doubt has done marvellously well in this aspect .
In every age, there comes forth to meet the needs of the hour. Aregbesola’s emergence in the state was similar to the Presidency of Franklin Delaino Roosevelt emergence in the USA presidential election. His major opponents never gave him a chance of success. The United States was in the midst of depression; banks were falling at an alarming rate; unemployment was rife; and life was brutish, hard and unpleasant. But against all odds, FDR emerged victorious. Roosevelt, in his victory speech, promised to lead the country in a completely new direction. Roosevelt successfully revived the American economy through a socio-economic template he called New Deal.
Aregbesola came on board when the state was in critical need of turn-around. A state noted for poverty, under-development and stagnancy, but the story has since changed, that even the blind and the deaf now know that development in a magnitude that was unprecedented has taken place, in education, agriculture, infrastructure, health and in social welfare.
Aregbesola’s education policy centred on the total man; complete child, complete youth, complete citizen. His aim is to prepare the youths for generational change that will make them technically competent and economically motivated, thereby becoming potential entrepreneurs that will not be wondering or roaming the streets for jobs that are not available .
The governor shares the view of former American President, Bill Clinton, as he stated in Arkansas that ” education is the key to our economic revival and our perennial quest for prosperity. We must dedicate more of our limited resources to paying teachers better; expanding educational opportunities in poor and small districts; improving and diversifying vocational and high technology programmes…Without competence in basic skills, our people cannot move on to more advanced achievement. ” The first term of this administration has witnessed huge investment on education, in all the local government areas, there are massive modern school buildings, well-equipped laboratories, as well as other instructional materials to meet the educational pursuit of the 21st century in any part of the world.
The school reclassification by the Aregbesola’s administration into ; Elementary, Middle and High schools is synonymous to global trends in which effective teaching and learning take place. The new educational policy is in tandem with the National Educational policy . Under the reclassification, Osun government runs the modified National 9-3-4 system, as well as the normal school academic calendar. What Osun has now is 4-5-3-4 system, both systems are in harmony with the WAEC syllabus.
In the last two years, Aregbesola’s administration has successfully embarked on O’meal scheme, that is the school feeding programme. The result has been tremendous and amazing. So far, the pupils are robusly learning with free and well-nutritious meals daily at the huge sum of N3.6 billion annually. Thus, it has positively impacted on the public enrolment of pupils in primary schools, the highest in Nigeria. The school enrolment moved from 155, 318 in May 2012 to over 300, 000 pupils in 2014. These scheme also created jobs for 3, 000 women that prepare the meals. Osun farmers are patronised by the food vendors that utilised farm produces for their meals. Poultry Association members are also smiling to banks, as the pupils are being fed with eggs daily.
Great Britain did not only emulate the Osun free feeding scheme, in 2013, but invited the governor to address their parliament and to share his experiences with the former colonial lords. Indeed, this invitation and the address has gone a long way in boosting the image of our country and Osun in particular.
Opon Imo, tablet of knowledge, is an educational computer device for learning, a celebrated academic tools that has come to revolutionise the academic world. It is a device for the students and non-students, who strive for knowledge. It has been so programmed to instruct without a visible tutor. It is a mobile libary and an amazing device that has come to move the world to the next stage for human development. It is the product of a thinking leader, whose desire is to give the best education for a complete man. In the next few years, the world will remember this regime for turning around the education sector, not only of Osun but the whole world.
This agricultural revolution is on and cannot be denied, as the old and young farmers are competing for the war against hunger and poverty in the midst of plenty; due to self-destruction caused by long time neglect of agriculture as a means for living by any serious nation. Africa and Nigeria are blessed by vast arable land but the oil boom that turned oil doom in our nation made people to turn their backs at tilling the soil. Aregbesola has since preached, practiced ‘go back to land’ for battle against poverty. O’REAP is an agricultural project that has given the youths hope of earning a living. Some of our people are today employers of labour through agricultural investment.
Fertilisers and other useful chemicals that would boost agricultural production have been made available to farmers across the state. Seedlings were provided, lands cleared by government free of charge for would-be farmers. Cooperative societies were created for farmers to enhance fund for big time farmers. Today, the cost of living is far cheaper and economical. Poverty has been reduced drastically and unemployment has equally reduced and the state economy is adjudged the best seven in the Federation.
As Aregbesola commences his second term, his desire is to accomplish 20 year’s work under four years that his second term would cover.