In this maiden edition of ROYAL CORNER, Osun Defender Managing Editor, Kola Olabisi, spoke with Oba Rauf Olayiwola Olawale Adedeji II, the Akinrun of Ikirun on some sundry topical issues in his palace recently. Excerpts:
OSDF: Let us know your profile sir?
AKINRUN: My name is Oba Rauf Olayiwola Olawale Adedeji II, Akinrun of Ikinrunland. I came to the throne on the 5th of July, 1990 and before ascending the throne, I was a banker.
OSDF: How will you access Ikinrun before and since becoming an Oba?
AKINRUN: By the grace of God, there has been a great transformation since I came into the saddle. This is to the blessing of Almighty Allah. A lot of progress has been made educationally, socially, economically and so on.
OSDF: Your most remarkable moment since becoming an Oba?
AKINRUN: I cannot pinpoint one. There are many. Through the help of God, we have been able to achieve a lot. Above all, there is peace, tranquility, unity, harmony and that is important because it has helped us a lot in terms of the development of the town.
OSDF: Have you ever regretted being the Akinrun?
AKINRUN: There has never been such a moment. Anybody who is born into a royal family one day hopes to be on the throne. It is an aspiration and hope. There is no regret at all.
OSDF: Was your ascension to the Akinrun stool that easy?
AKINRUN: It was not that easy because there were other competitors and in Yorubaland, any throne that does not attract competition is not a worthwhile one. Through the grace of God, I emerged the winner.
OSDF: What is your relationship with other brother Obas in the state?
AKINRUN: I have a cordial relationship and we relate very well. I see them as brothers and colleagues and my relationship with them has been that of mutuality, love and harmony. There has never been any moment of disagreement.
OSDF: Any message for your subjects?
AKINRUN: Fear God; embrace hard work; persevere in patience; develop tenacity of purpose and those in the diaspora should come home and join hands in ensuring the development of the town.
OSDF: What is your take on the recent canvass for declaration of amnesty for Boko Haram sect members?
AKINRUN: The issue of Boko Haram is a controversial one which I would not want to dabble into as such.
Those who have solicited for amnesty know what they mean and it is left to the Federal Government of Nigeria to say either yes or no. Aside this, I don’t want to go into it. It is a security issue and I don’t know much about it.
OSDF: Your perception of religious tolerance in the South-West part of the country, particularly State of Osun?
AKINRUN: We are known for religious tolerance in this part of the country particularly in this state. Our governor is helping the issue by giving everybody his or her own dues, whether Christian, Muslim or traditional worshipper. There is harmony. Hardly is there a family where these three religions are not in existence. That is the reason for peace in this state.
OSDF: How far have you accomplished your mission and vision since becoming Oba?
AKINRUN: My mission was to be an accomplished Oba and I feel within me that it is being achieved gradually. There is room for development and improvement and as time goes on, I think I will hope and pray for complete achievement and realization of those visions.
OSDF: What major challenges are confronting your office?
AKINRUN: The functions of a traditional ruler are multi-faceted but most importantly, peace and tranquility in his domain, conflict resolution and many more. The main hindrance is that we don’t have power to enforce whatever we do. The attitude of the people. There is need for attituditional change. I have a different opinion for the calling of constitutional roles by the monarchs in that it is established already in respect of our traditions and cultures. The atmosphere in which we operate is not totally conducive. Working with a Council of Chiefs also means that I have to carry them all along in decision-making.
OSDF: Describe the Obaship institution before and now that you are an Oba?
AKINRUN: Before I became an Oba, I knew very well that such an institution was on ground but what it took was not known to me but now that I am in the system, I know what it takes; the constraints, challenges, people’s perception and so on.
OSDF: What major reform will you canvass for in the Obaship institution?
AKINRUN: We should come to terms with the reality of the modern times. There should be a mixture of the ancient and modern. Our governments should evolve along the lines of our traditions and cultures.
OSDF: Holistic appraisal of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s two-year in office?
AKINRUN: Ogbeni is wonderful, very wonderful. He is very hard working. I see him as an answer to the prayer of the state. Once upon a time, an oba described the state as a toddler despite its age. That time, the state recorded no progress. But now, things have changed drastically. That time, the state was like a glorified local government. Osogbo was like a glorified local government headquarters. But now, we are recording progress in all sectors like education, health, provision, of social amenities etc. I can say that life is becoming more abundant in this state through the efforts of Ogbeni who is being helped by Almighty Allah. Things have changed drastically. We are recording progress in all sectors.
OSDF: What type of person do you think Ogbeni Aregbesola is?
AKINRUN: I think he is very religious, simple and courageous. He is opposed to injustice and he has love for humanity which is motivating him to do what he is doing he is somebody who upholds justice; who loves fellow human beings. If he does not love humanity, he would not be doing it. I know he is doing it at his own expense because of the energy he puts into it; he doesn’t sleep. He works 24 hours a day; seven days a week.
OSDF: Any message for him?
AKINRUN: I want him to remain focused despite the opposition. He is toeing the path of his mentor, Chief Obafemi Awolwo.
OSDF: What is the relationship between the state Council of Obas and the government?
AKINRUN: The council is dormant today. We are not holding any meetings. The relationship is cordial.
The efforts of the State Government of Osun on environmental sanitation have reduced cases of malaria from 500,000 to 200,000 as at 2011.
The governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this in Osogbo, the state capital on Tuesday at the official launch of O’Clean Plus, an initiative, designed to create wealth through wastes in the state, which is the second phase of the Osun Clean (O’Clean) programmes, just as he inaugurated an Environmental Task Force to sanction environmental law offenders.
Aregbesola, who also distributed 64 new waste disposal trucks, stated that his administration is also taking serious steps towards the production of biogas from wastes for popular use of the people.
According to him, the most effective measure for good health is personal hygiene and care for the environment, as it has been reported that 1.6 million people die yearly as a result of poor sanitation.
He added that the state government has achieved the lowest maternal mortality rate in Nigeria due to the series of efforts put in place to ensure claenliness of the environment.
The governor said: “Through the O’Clean, we have been able to get the people actively involved in regular environmental sanitation exercises, which take place at fixed periods. We also got the 20000-man army of our O’YES cadets involved in street cleaning exercise on daily basis throughout the state.
“An important achievement of the environment ministry is the continued dredging and clearing the pathways of rivers and streams in the state which have checked the ugly incidents of flooding in the state. For three years running, we have been free of flooding in the state. We are happy and thankful to the Almighty that flood no longer troubles our people.
“We have since reorganised our waste management strategy in the state. We have brought in private waste collectors who go door-to-door to collect waste for a small fee. We also purchased numerous refuse collection trucks to complement the private collectors, for more effective waste management.
“As we speak, no less than 31 of these trucks are in operation across the state, with 37 drivers, for greater reach and coverage. The trucks ply different designated routes every day to collect wastes at designated points where people have been told to put them”, the governor stressed.
On the the production of biogas under the O’Clean Plus, he said that it has a variety of benefits including its use as cooking gas, electricity generation and as fuel for automobiles.
Some products of biogas reactor, he said, could also be used as organic fertilizer, while bio-insecticide can also be generated as a by-product, noting that biogas is a clean fuel that helps reduce greenhouse gas emission.
Also, the tree-planting project, called ‘Igi-Iye’ scheme, he stressed, is also in furtherance of the state green policy, aimed at lining the streets and roadsides of Osun with trees, adding that apart from their aesthetic significance, the trees will also serve as wind breakers and carbon sinks for greenhouse gases.
He said that the trees will also help to improve forestation, thereby checking the incidence of climate change and global warming, adding that for this purpose, about 2.5 million seedlings of various tree species are already being planted.
According to Aregbesola, the goal of the nylon buyback programme, also under O’Clean Plus is to arrest the menace of plastic waste and litter, which is, in fact, a global challenge.
He said: “In our own clime, plastic wastes, such as plastic bottles and water sachets are a major source of environmental hazards. So, the buyback programme is a practical, plastic waste management scheme, which will help in their recovery, recycling and reuse, thereby eliminating their nuisance value”.
He further noted that the Private Sector Participation (PSP) in the management of waste in the state is to complement government’s efforts and to also create a source of economic empowerment for more people in a win-win solution to series of problems.
While inaugurating the environmental task force, Governor Aregbesola said that the officials would be responsible for the enforcement of all sanitation laws and regulations throughout the state, saying that they would be humane but firm.
In his address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Environment and Sanitation, Mr Bola Ilori, said that as part of the efforts to prevent malaria and some other diseases, an aerial spray of the entire state would be carried out to prevent mosquito bite.
He said that the newly-commissioned 64 trucks would be stationed on every street and people would be made to pay a token for the disposal of their waste.
The governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, represented by his Chief of Staff, Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon; the wife of the Lagos State governor, Dame Abimbola Fashola, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and the Speaker of the State House Assembly of Osun, Najeem Salaam, commended Aregbesola for his initiative at putting a stop to environmental-related diseases.
They said that his developmental stride in the state is enough to earn him second term in office as governor.
The Governor of the state of Osun is an unusual governor. Everything about him is different. His pace of work is phenomenal and his style is unconventional. He likes to be different. That is why he calls himself simply Ogbeni Rauf. He is one Chief Executive who does not take No for an answer. He believes the state has lost a lot of time and it needs to catch up fast. That is why he is in a hurry to achieve. And all his aides know this. That is why they have also become frenetic in their pace.
Since he came in, all he has been doing is to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing the state.
That is why he has been voted The Governor Of The Year at the City People Awards. To understand what drives the Osun Governor you need to know his background.
Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola was born in the month of May, 1957. He had is primary and secondary education in Ondo State, and later attended The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he studied Mechanical Engineering and graduated in 1980.
An Associate member of the American Institute of Industrial Engineers (AIIE), Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and a Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Association of Technological Engineers (NATE) and Certified Marketing Communications Institute of Nigeria (CMCIN), Rauf Aregbesola has a wealth of experience garnered through dint of hard work in both the public and private sectors 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 has since its establishment handled numerous major projects for both government and private organisations in most states of the federation.
Politically, he has been remarkably active and forthright. His involvement dates back to his undergraduate days when he was Speaker of the Students’ Parliament (1977/78) at The Polytechnic, Ibadan and the President of the Black Nationalist Movement (1978-1980). He was also an active supporter of other progressive student 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.
Ogbeni Aregbesola, as a pro-democracy and Human Rights Activist, was a major participant in the demilitarisation and pro-democracy struggles of the 1990s. He is equally active in community associations, especially in Alimosho, his base, where he remains the Secretary to the LGA Elders’ Forum to date. Prior to his appointment as the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure (1999-2010), 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. Since his appointment and reappointment, Ogbeni Aregbesola has continued to impress all with the strength of his commitment to selfless service, diligence, sincerity and tirelessness in the administration of the vast Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. Significantly, he was saddled with the responsibility of supervision of the Public Works Corporation and State Electricity Board, widely acknowledged as being responsible for the outstanding success being recorded by the present Lagos State administration especially in road rehabilitation/maintenance and street lighting.
After more than 3 years of relentless battle to regain his mandate, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was sworn in as the Governor of the State of Osun on Saturday, November 27th, 2010.
Since his assumption of office, he has kept his promise of lifting the state, which has now been dubbed Ipinle Omoluabi (the State of Virtous) through the introduction of populist programmes such as the employment of 20,000 youths, under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, giving the state a new lease of life through rebranding and other such programmes.
He has strategically captured the focus of his government in what is called the 6-Point Action Plan: • Banish Poverty • Banish Hunger • Banish Unemployment • Restore Healthy Living • Promote Functional Education • Enhance Communal Peace and Progress.
He initiated a free health programme, called Jigi Omoluabi, which is designed to assist the people of the state through free eye tests and free eye glasses.
Convinced that agriculture remains the best means to generate needed revenue for development just as the Awolowo’s government did, the Governor is embarking on a massive agricultural programme under the name O-Reap.
He declared a 90-day emergency on the environment in Osun State which was aimed at clearing debris in the state. On assuming office as Governor of the State of Osun on 27th November, 2010, Ogbeni Aregbesola began the humanitarian and re-branding of the state from himself, adopting the title Ogbeni, simply Mister, in difference to the singular Excellency of the Almighty God. In just a year, the chronicle of his achievements is in volumes, simply to be summarised as a chain of “O-Models”, the most astonishing being the engagement of 20,000 youths in the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) within its first 100 days in office, an accomplishment that is not only unprecedented and belongs in the league of world best practice, but has become an example for others to follow.
The strings of awards that have trailed the life of the symbol of Oranmiyan are eloquent testimonies to all that has been said about him. Earlier in his working life, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was decorated with the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) Badge of Excellence at the Kujama Satellite Earth Station of the Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd. His other awards include, but not limited to:
• Ambassador of Goodwill for the state of Tennesse, USA
• State Headquarters (Boy Scout) Commissioner of Engineering Awards
• Humanitarian Service Merit Award
• Award of Excellence in Building Construction and Engineering, Nigerian Society of Engineers Merit Award (Contribution to Engineering Discipline)
• The Best Commissioner in Lagos State Award
• The Grassroots Achiever of the Year Award
• The Lagos State Most Distinguished Commissioner of the Year Award
• ECOWAS Community Service Gold Award
• Worthy Ambassador of the Youths Award
• Special Award for the Support of Journalism Development
• National Council of Muslim Organisation Distinguished Merit Award
• Distinguished Corporate Achievers and Gold Award
• The People’s Forum Award for Excellence, Religious and Traditional Titles to his credit include:
• Aare Musulimi of Alimosho
• Aare Fiwagboye of Lagos
• Balogun Musulumi of Ijeshaland.
In his spare time, he demonstrates great flair for music, dancing, travelling, reading and religious programmes. Ogbeni AbdulRauf Adesoji Aregbesola is the Fourth democratically elected Governor in the State of Osun, a devout Muslim, a committed Welfarist and an activist of many degrees and parts. He is indeed a quintessential politician with a vision, mission and passion. Above all, Aregbesola is a realist and a goal-getter, an amiable personality and of course a dynamic and pragmatic Governor of the people. Baba Kabiru as he is fondly called is happily married to Mrs. Serifat Aregbesola. The union is blessed with children
Culled from City People
Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola has explained the rationale behind the decision to give digital tablets to secondary school pupils in Osun.
He said the concept is to ensure access to knowledge and improve the performance of pupils.
Opon Imo, a computer tablet, is to be distributed to about 150,000 secondary school pupils next month.
The governor spoke while delivering a lecture, entitled, Nigeria: The Development Challenge, at the prestigious Weatherhead Centre for International Studies of the Harvard University, Cambridge, the United States.
The lecture was part of activities lined up for his one week working visit to the United States.
Aregbesola said: “As part of our education reform, starting from next month, we will introduce Opon-Imo, an iPad-like computer tablet, which is a smart electronic teaching aid, to our secondary school pupils.
“This tablet is pre-loaded with the 17 subjects covered by the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in the form of lesson notes and textbooks. It also contains six extra-curricular subjects, such as sex education, civic education, Yoruba history, Yoruba traditional religion, computer education and entrepreneurship education.
“Ten years’ past questions and answers to be provided by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) would be included in the tablet.
“The tablet has bridged the gap of carrying books in sacks, wear-and-tear and the need for replacement. It also provides ready learning tools. Opon Imo has no internet connectivity and does not interface with other devices in order not to distract pupils. Knowing that power is still a problem, especially in rural areas where there is no electricity, a solar charger will be supplied with it.
“Through this initiative, the state government seeks to expose senior secondary school pupils to information technology at an early age. Our investment in computer for secondary school pupils was borne out of our conviction that the future belongs to the digital age and it will be disastrous if our youths are not prepared for this.”
Lamenting the country’s slow pace of development, Aregbesola said the colonial history of Nigeria could not be exonerated from its present predicament.
He said for the country to get out of its present predicament, it must understand where it came from and how it got here.
To do this assessment, Aregbesola said the country and its leaders must return to the colonial period, when the foundation of its under-development was laid.
He said: “The real fruits of development are the strength of state institutions for law enforcement, transportation, economic production, defence, knowledge production, arts and entertainment as well as cultural (and national power) projection.
“The challenge of development, therefore, is how a nation strengthens its institutions and mobilises its human resources to produce the fruits, not necessarily on the scale of the United States, but on that which will guarantee good life for its citizens.
“To get out of our present predicament we must understand where we came from and how we got here. To do this, we must begin from the beginning.
“Hence, it is well worth repeating the over-emphasised point that the foundation of Nigeria’s under-development was laid in its colonial history.
“It was, therefore, the case that, at independence, what was handed over as a country was such a political and administrative liability that its consequences soon began to hunt and hurt its human constituents.
“These consequences hampered the country’s capacity to leverage its widely acclaimed ‘huge potential’ for development. The numerous dimensions of our development challenge have been amply articulated.”
He said Nigeria is a developing country so far as the extant parameters of income per capita, life expectancy, the rate of literacy and so on are low, compared with countries designated as developed.
Aregbesola identified some of the nation’s challenges as ethnic differences, structurally deficient federalism, prolonged military rule, religious and sectarian problems as well as inept leadership.
Above all, he said military incursion in politics greatly affected the nation’s social institutions.
The governor said: “Worse still, military rule in Nigeria has enthroned and embodied everything that was antithetical to the development of the country.
“Destructive dictatorship; repression of opposing but qualitative input into the political process; institutionalisation of pervasive corruption; devastation of the economy; spread of mass poverty; alienation of the population; militarisation of the polity and perpetuation of divisions in the society are some of the damages inflicted by military rule on the country.”
He said Osun State has its peculiar challenges, but unemployment is common to all states in Nigeria.
Aregbesola said his administration intervened by employing 20,000 youths within its 100 days in office.
He said: “Critical state intervention of this nature is necessary. This intervention re-inflated the economy of the state with immediate impact in every sector.
“The policy was so successful that the World Bank commended us, asked to understudy it and recommended it as a model of youth engagement and mass employment for other states.”
The Osun State Government will be saving N8.2 billion annually through the distribution of the Opon Imo (Tablet of Knowledge) to pupils.
Instead of spending the fund on the purchase of books, the government will spend only about N200 million on Opon Imo.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola made this known yesterday while distributing educational materials worth N30 million to scools at the multi-purpose hall of the Local Government Service Commission.
The materials include 10,000 daily attendance registers, 11,600 school record diaries, 150,000 continuous assessment report cards for Junior Secondary Schools and 145,000 continuous assessment report cards for Senior Secondary Schools.
Others are 7,000 white chalks, 70,000 cumulative record folders, 7,000 chalk board renovators and 30,000 chalk board dusters.
The governor said with the downloading of 56 textbooks on 17 subjects into the Opon Imo, pupils only have to carry a digital device about, adding that this makes learning easier.
Instead of being criticised for spending N200 million on Opon Imo, he said his administration should be praised for the initiative.
He said about 150,000 tablets are to be distributed to pupils across the state.
Aregbesola said his administration is investing huge funds in education to instil a minimum level of value in every public school pupil.
He said: “Were we to buy 56 textbooks for 17 subjects offered in Senior Secondary Schools for 150,000 pupils. Over N8.4 billion would have been spent annually as against the N200 million expended on Opon Imo.
“Instead of being praised for God’s endowed ingenuity and wisdom, which gave birth to the Opon Imo initiative, some people prefer to demonstrate their ignorance. They are grandstanding and claiming what they are not.”
The governor described the score card of the last administration in the education sector in its 90 months in office as a far cry from his administration’s achievements in 27 months.
He warned teachers against sharp practices in the distribution and utilisation of the materials and urged parents to monitor their children.