When Egyptians decided to rise against their government in 2011, many people took them for jokers. But to them, enough was enough.Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, the president, had ruled the Arab Republic of Egypt for 30 years, from 1981 until he was forced to resign by mass protests on 11 February 2011.Though his administration focused on economic growth and inched toward political reform, any economic gains in the 1990s were offset by criticisms that Egypt was a near-dictatorship. Egyptians took to the streets in what was termed the ‘First Egyptian revolution’ in January 2011 to protest his rule and more than 900 protesters were killed in
February of that year by Mubarak forces. Mubarak was ousted by the people and on 24 June 2012, the election commission announced that Mohamed Morsi had won Egypt’s presidential election, thus becoming the first democratically elected president.
But the Egyptians would soon hit the streets again, this time demanding the removal of Morsi.To the average Egyptian, Mubarak’s rule was even better. The bright future they were looking forward to soon became bleak under Morsi. While opinions are divided over the way the Egyptians have ousted two presidents in succession, the lessons and the results of bad governance are obviously not lost on the rest of Africa and the world at large.
Like Egypt, here in Nigeria, while people have expressed their frustrations at the way the country is being run and the lack of basic amenities, Nigerians, interestingly, still believe things will change for the better.Despite the obvious lack of good leadership in the country, the closest we came to a revolution like Egypt’s was the Occupy Nigeria series of protests that began on Monday, 2 January 2012 in response to the fuel subsidy removal by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday, 1 January 2012.
Nigerians, like never before, trooped out in their numbers with one voice to put an end to what was considered an inhuman treatment of Nigerians by government and security agents, as the decision to increase price of fuel was announced on the first day of the year.Good health care delivery, uninterrupted power supply, job opportunities, good roads and security of lives and properties are few of what we ought to enjoy, naturally, as citizens of this great country.
Having lived almost 17 years of my productive life both in the United States and the United Kingdom where things work the way they ought to, many had termed my decision to settle down in Nigeria as unwise and absolutely unnecessary.But, like millions of
Nigerians out there who believe in the Nigerian project, I have not regretted my decision to come back home. After all, I was born and bred here before my sojourn abroad.The Nigerian situation, however, is not all gloom.
In terms of natural and human resources, God has been generous to us as a nation, as we have many talented Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in their various fields while natural resources are scattered all over the country.Our problems, obviously, are that of true leadership and lack of vision. And, while Nigerians have almost lost faith in public office holders and the government in general, there are some whose performances have given us hope to believe more in the Nigerian project. One of such individuals is the governor of Osun State, Mr Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, whose vision and leadership skills have raised and improved the standard of living in his state.
Though governing Osun cannot be equated to governing Nigeria, Aregbesola, like his Lagos, Edo, Imo and Ekiti counterparts, has given us hope in a better tomorrow.In a nation with 29.7 per cent average in unemployment, Osun is least on the unemployment index with 3 per cent and that speaks volume about his passion for the state. The state has also been adjudged second best of the least poor states by the Federal Bureau of Statistics and that makes Osun the second best managed state in Nigeria. I am most excited at the re-construction of the education system to fit the needs and circumstances of the people; the one that readily comes to mind is the (Opon Imo) tablet of knowledge– a sure way of equipping the students from an early age.With an election around the corner and unlike Egypt where Egyptians revolted against the government, the people of the state can only keep faith with the current administration, hoping that Osun will get better.After all, a good turn, they say, deserves another.
Babayemi writes in from Gbongan, Osun State
OSUN State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday attended this year edition of Osun Osogbo festival, and called on stakeholders to give maximum support to the annual festival to enhance the promotion of cultural essence and development of tourism industry. The governor expressed satisfaction that the expected economic potentials of the festival had begun to manifest in various sectors of the economy. The presence of the governor at the festival electrified the event, as many socio-cultural groups, including the Oranmiyan Worldwide, Oodua People’s Congress and others joined to add colour to the annual festival. The governor was accompanied by top administration officials, including the deputy governor, Mrs. Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti and many others. Addressing the large crowd of people that graced the event, Aregbesola said: “We as government would not relent to tap the benefits inherent in the tourism industry in order to enhance rapid development of our state.
The town hall, located at the heart of the town was filled to capacity, as monarchs, chiefs, opinion leaders, market men and women and artisans thronged the venue in anticipation of meeting the governor face-to-face.
OSUN DEFENDER observed that the residents of the three local government council areas constituting the constituency competed to outshine one another at the event, as they strived to register their presence at the venue with different insignia.
The Asiwaju of Iwo land, Chief Gbadegesin, expressed the feelings of the people on the ongoing beautification in Iwoland and the state in general.
According to him, the project was long overdue, while commending the governor for taking the bold step towards making the state a haven for investors around the globe.
He contested argument from opposition in the state, saying the scheme was not meant to punish anyone, but to improve the standard of living of residents of all the affected communities.
“I built a market 18 years ago that was affected by the scheme, but I am certain the market should be relocated, because the realities on ground have over-grown the objectives of the market.
“What I would suggest is that government should create a forum for meeting with stakeholders regularly to make government more participatory”, he added.
Furthermore, the Iwo chief stated that the approach of Governor Aregbesola to governance has opened the eyes of the state residence that former administrations in the state have been cheating the electorate over time.
He then solicited for the support of everyone for the administration in its bid to move the state to the promised land and make it a reference point for others in the federation.
The Iyalodes of the various towns in the federal constituency protested that the state government has placed more emphasis on market women, therefore prevailing on government to show similar affection for the office of Iyalodes in the state.
Also speaking, the President of Kuta Front Association, Dr Adigun, commended the various road projects executed by the state government in the area, while urging the state government to come to the community’s rescue on Kuta-Ede road.
According to him, the road, which is a Federal Government road, has been slated for construction for about 25 years, but has since remained abandoned.
In his contribution, the Olupo of Oluponna, Oba Oyeleso, who said he was speaking on the occasion as a farmer, commended the state government investment in the agricultural sector, while urging everyone in the rural areas to go back to farming.
According to him, there is no government that has invested in the sector like the present administration is doing since its inauguration in 2010, calling on the youths to embrace farming as a means of reducing unemployment.
The peak of the event was the arrival of the governor, as residents thronged the roads leading to the venue in a bid to catch a glimpse, who they referred to as “Omoluabi Original”.
Security operatives had tough time clearing the road to pave way for the governor to gain access into the venue.
The traditional religion worshipers have endorsed the governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, for a second term in office.
They gave the endorsement in Osogbo, the state capital, on Tuesday at the 2013 Yoruba Aborigin Day.
The celebration, which was celebrated with fanfare, recorded the gathering of worshipers of Yoruba deities like Sango (Gods of Thunder), Egungun (Masquerade), Osun (Gods of water); Ifa (oracle) and several other Yoruba traditional religions.
Speaking at the event, Governor Aregbesola said that the reason his administration was giving traditionalists the opportunity to celebrate and supported by the government was to ensure religious tolerance and see that they are not denied their rights under the Constitution.
He stated that traditionalists are clear examples of religious tolerance, even before the advent of Islam and Christianity, saying that in-spite of their religious differences as traditionalists, they are tolerant.
The governor said: “What is being celebrated is what distinguishes Yoruba race as responsible and tolerant.
“This is why we are giving traditionalists what is due to them, because, if we don’t, we might not know how they can contribute to religious harmony in the state.
“This day, August 20 is not a day chosen by this government. That is how it is celebrated all over the world, but the only difference we have made is that we are supporting the traditionalists and we declared a public holiday, so as to give them a sense of belonging,” he added.
The governor then warned that in the course of celebrating their religion, the traditionalists should be careful by ensuring that they do not constitute nuisance by disturbing or harming people of other faith.
In his address, the Coordinating President of the Traditional Religion Worshipers’ Association in the State of Osun (TRWASO), Chief Awopetu Idowu, acknowledged the support of the state government towards the befitting celebration of the 2013 Isese Day.
Before the advent of the present administration, Awopetu recalled that the celebration used to be a day affair, being celebrated in a low key, while noting that the involvement of the state government in the celebration has also given traditionalists a sense of belonging.
He then called on the governors of other states in Yoruba-land to take a cue from Governor Aregbesola’s gesture, by supporting the culture and tradition of the Yoruba people.
Flanked by leaders of all the sections of traditional religion, Awopetu declared support of the traditionalists for the second term of the governor.
Speaking, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Culture and Tourism, Mr Sikiru Ayedun, added that the declaration of a public holiday by the state government for the celebration, was in line with its policy to provide equal platform for all religions and to promote communal peace and progress.
Apart from the promotion of cultural values and heritage, he noted that the celebration equally proved wrong, especially those speculating that the state governor was planning to turn the State to an Islamic one.
In her lecture titled: “Traditional Rulers at the Crossroad of Tradition and Faith”, Mrs Adeola Faleye, a lecturer in the Department of Linguistic and African Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, said that the only way Yoruba cultural values could be brought back is by ensuring unity.
She also added that instead of being exposed to foreign culture alone, Yoruba children should be exposed more to their culture, saying that this will encourage them to promote such culture when they assume mantle of leadership in future.
Yoruba actress, Toyin Adegbola, popularly known as ‘Asewo To Re Mecca’ has been appointed to the board of the Osun State Arts and Culture Council.
Adegbola, who once worked with the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), joins other colleague in the business like Richard Mofe Damijo, Okey Bakassi, Peter Fatomilola, Bob-Manuel Udokwu and most recently, Kanayo O. Kanayo, who have been appointed into various government positions.
It is no doubt that the pace of development in the state of Osun is what oppositions find difficult to believe, this explains why they put the state of finance in Osun State on a controversial path. The N30billion Bond the state took from the Nigeria Stock of Exchange (NSE) for developmental projects brought heavy shock to many of them. The State Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Dr. Wale Bolorunduro, in this interview clears the air on the bond and the state federal allocation share. He also spoke on other matters affecting the finances of the State. Excerpts;
There was an insinuation that former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Senator Iyiola Omisore influenced an improved revenue allocation from the federation account to the State. What is your reaction to this?
The State of Osun is known to be one of the least states in terms of federal allocation. From 2003 to date, it has always been on number 34 on the federal allocation table. Before Ogbeni came in as governor, the Internal General Revenue (IGR) was barely N250m. While Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola does not have the power to change the federal allocation, he has consistently improved on the collection system of the state such as implementation of the automation of our revenue; all revenue and tax payers pay directly to the banks, making the funds available directly for use thereby increasing the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state to about 1billion monthly. We knew that opposition had attributed the increase in revenue of the state to efforts of the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Iyiola Omisore, which is not true. During his time in the office, he could have influenced the federal allocation but he did not. More so, there was no way he could influence it because the federal system is handled by Revenue and Fiscal Mobilization Commission. The last exercise carried out by this federal agency was about 10years ago. So there was no way Senator Omisore could have influenced their decision or to influence them. It actually amounts to the usual shenanigan from someone who claimed to know finance or accounting; that is the person of former Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in the state, Mr. Adetoyese Ojo. Certain parameters would be required to increase the revenue of the states by Revenue Mobilisation Commission; parameters such as the population of the state and enrolment of school children. Remember, from 2003 to 2010 the enrolment of children in schools in the state was actually decreasing because the schools were dilapidated. The schools were being run on subvention from parents; all kinds of illegal fees were paid by parents, acts of fallen standard of education forcing parents to withdraw their children from public schools to private schools. There were over 2,000 private schools in the State of Osun, but now that Governor Aregbesola is there, there has been an increase in the enrolment of children in public schools. Education in the State of Osun is now top on the list of review on the pages of national newspapers in the country. Apart from the enrolment of children in public schools, the number of hospitals and hospital beds is a also determinant while estimating the revenue of any state, and this exercise has not been carried out in the last ten years. There were no improvement then and all the states were heading downwards, but now we are renovating and equipping the hospitals and building more primary health centres. Also I will like to take a comparison of what the state was getting from the federal government in terms of grants (such as the UBEC grant): Before Ogbeni came, the state was always lagging behind, either as a result of ineptitude or as a result of laziness under the PDP administration, but currently we have collected grants for 2010, 2011, 2012, and have data for 2013 which we are going to declare. So, in term of efficient utilization of free money, there has been significant improvement.
What about the Ecology Funds for the State?
It is a blatant lie going by the claim of former Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Adetoyese Ojo, that Senator Omisore assisted the state to collect ecology funds. From the record of the Accountant General and Treasury Office, the state, during the time of Mr. Oyinlola, did not receive any ecological funds different from the statutory allocation.
As the man in charge of finance, what is the state of indebtedness of the state?
Speaking on the status of indebtedness of the state, there are two federal agencies that have the constitutional power and responsibility of monitoring debts; which are Debt Management Office (DMO – a federal agency) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). CBN is a banking regulator. Recently they published the indebtedness of states, and Osun was not featured in the top or middle or average position. It was made a public document and it is there for anybody who wants to check. Three weeks ago, DMO published another one, Osun was not featured. Now for the N30billion borrowing that PDP are always talking about, let them show it us. No rational human being would mention such figure or level of indebtedness in the current banking or financial system that Nigeria has now. You have about 18 banks, these 18 banks have different capacity of the amount of money they can lend out to a single entity. No rational human-being would claim N300billion indebtedness for one state, because the current financial market or the banking system does not have such capacity to lend. Also, each of the 18 banks has a specific capacity to lend and all the capacities put together do not sum up to N200billion. So, what I am saying is that the market does not have such financial capacity to the tune of N300billion. Secondly, these banks are regulated by the CBN. For instance, we say the first ten banks can give N10billion each, which will amount to N100billion, the regulator will not allow any of these banks go beyond their limit based on ‘single obligor limit’. The banks have a maximum amount they can give to any entity, be it government or other organizations and this is a strong regulation to the banks. So, the N300billion they are talking about is way out of it, it is abnormal, absurd and can only come from someone with evil.
For any bank or banks to give out N300billion as loan to a single entity is just unthinkable, be it a state or an organization. We sent our own quarterly reports to DMO. CBN collects data from all the banking branches so where can they get that kind of level of indebtedness? We are not dumb like them because we know what debt service coverage is and it is a plan that we must always follow. It is a function of cash that is available to service those debts and I am sure they do not know how to calculate those things or make it work. You just don’t borrow recklessly. When we came in, we could also go on lunacy by borrowing like them; like they did borrowing recklessly from commercial banks but we chose to be cautious, had ways of raising funds which is the bond issuance programme. The bond issuance programme is public information. Today if you go to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) you will see what concerns Osun there. So what else do we need to show to them about the state’s status on finances that is not already in the public domain? Do we need to show to them what is not available in the public domain? Our bond issuance programme when we raise N30billion was published; currently it is in public space, what we are going to spend it on is known and they are published.
But the opposition has always insisted that the state is broke?
The indebtedness allegation is not true. I would like to take it philosophically that it is an attempt by the PDP to confuse the entire people of Ipinle Omoluabi and the whole nation; honestly speaking they are laying the foundation for them to plunge the state into trouble so that they could say the state is indebted when the ACN administration was there. They thought they would win election, so that they would come back and tell lies that we inherited debts. One, they would not win election and two, nobody would plunge Osun into backwardness again by the grace of God. Having said that we know them, we know their antecedents most of their leaders that are now hanging around to become the governor of Osun were sustaining their life style through debt even before they came into government. They were known to be living large on loans and lease of cars, some of those facilities they refused to pay back and now turn to bad loans for the banking industry are now quarantine in Access Management Company of Nigeria (AMCOM) for the banking industry (bad loans).
What is the plan of government to give compensation to those whose buildings are affected under urban renewal programme and how much has actually been paid as compensation?
On compensation, we have said it severally; early this year precisely in May we have paid compensation to people with genuine claims and papers. You realised that from Abere to Olaiya axis that is supposed to be a gateway into the state and the separation of illegal structures from the roads and physical infrastructures going on in the state is being done to give way to sidewalk and to properly establish building lines and proper planning. Anybody with genuine claim along that line will be compensated, we have told them to support their claims with relevant documents and bring it up to the Ministry of Land and Physical Planning for submission of their claims and I want to assure everybody that the state government will treat them and give them due compensation. The previous ones we did at Old Garage to Ayetoro, compensation was paid by the government and we will continue to ameliorate the suffering of the people when there is need for us to do so. But for people with containers and all sorts of obstacles on the side way, those are being separated and it is part of government planning and the planning committee has the responsibility to establish planning permits.
We have said severally that the urban renewal programme is not only to plant trees but to give identity to cities as an impetus for social economy development. No investors would like to come into a city described as a shamble. Europe is known for identity; Singapore is known for its identity and many other cities in the world just like Lagos and Ibadan are being reconstructed to have identity, so also we want Osun to have its identity under this present administration. Even if it is retail shops that will be on the major road, it should be arranged orderly and not extending to the roads; because fatal accidents have occurred in some cases in which vehicles have run over people along the main roads selling goods. We are not happy at such situations and we cannot continue to watch for such incident to repeat itself.
Members of the newly registered All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cote D’Ivoire have publicly announced their resolve to return to Nigeria to cast their votes for the governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Aregbesola’s spokesperson, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon who made this known in a statement made available to newsmen in Osogbo yesterday quoted the APC, Cote d’ Ivoire chapter chairman, Akintomide Akinmade, to have said that the governor “is a caring leader that is always striving to serve the interest of the people.
“But for his intervention and timely evacuation of our people from Cote d’Ivoire back home in Nigeria, there would have casualties arising from people being caught up in the conflict.
“What Governor Aregbesola did was what we had expected President Goodluck Jonathan to do for Nigerians trapped in the country’s conflict. Governor Aregbesola is a good leader. The only way we can show gratitude to him is to come home next year and cast our votes for him.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State has hailed Governor Rauf Aregbesola on the maiden edition of an interactive programme, “Gbangba Dekun”, a platform where the governor explained his administration’s achievements to the people of Iwo, Ola-Oluwa and Ayedire.
On Tuesday, Aregbesola; his deputy, Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori; Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Moshood Adeoti as well as Osun APC Interim Chairman Adebiyi Adelowo, fielded questions from the people.
In a statement by its Publicity Director, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, APC said the programme, meant for all areas, gave the people an opportunity to discuss with the governor.
It said the programme has “further proved” that the governor has nothing to hide.
APC urged the people to come out and receive the governor when it is their turn to host the programme.
The Provost of the College of Post graduate Studies, Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Prof. Wasiu Gbolagade, who is from Iwo, said the programme would help the government evaluate the effectiveness of its policies and programmes.
Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has declared that the state has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly teeming youths, due to the determination of his administration to banish poverty and unemployment in the state.
Speaking on Wednesday, as a principal guest of honor at the last day of the anniversary of Osun Barbing/Hairdressing and Cosmetology Association (OBAHCA), organized in conjunction with a sociology-volunteer group, ‘De Raufs’, Governor Aregbesola maintained that the micro and small enterprises held the key to economic regeneration of the state.
His words: “For micro and small businesses, the cost of labour is low, while the rate of unemployment growth is high. Besides, micro and small businesses can readily adapt to the dynamism of the time and survive global economic downturn and recession. The development of micro and small businesses forms a core component of our poverty alleviation and economic empowerment strategy. This is part of our six- point integral Action Plan that, among others, seeks to banish poverty, unemployment and hunger. We have designed programmes aimed at unlocking our people’s creativity and genuinely set them on the path of self employment and self reliance.