Friday 3rd February 2023

Category: op

Dodo Ikire And Its Economic Value

The search for a more robust and sustainable economy continues in the face of the persistent drop in the global prices of oil, which has unequivocally continued to affect revenue generation capacity of the country.
 
Dodo-Ikire-seller
 
 
Taking a reactive measure to salvage the current situation seems to be the only logical option.
The state of Osun, southwest Nigeria, is apparently not left out of the financial downturn that hit the Africa’s largest economy,
Most states of the federation are now financially crippled.
As expected, most of these states, including Osun, have started to look inward to see how the current financial crunch plaguing the system can be tackled.
To this end, the need to invest in local businesses and empower the brains behind such enterprises, becomes imperative, to improve the internally generated revenue of the state, to complement the little accrued from the falling federal allocation.
One of such businesses is ‘DODO IKIRE’ a special appetizer /plantain spice made in IKIRE, a community in IREWOLE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA of Osun state.
A gate way to the state, and a close boundary to Oyo state.
Obviously, named after the town ‘DODO IKIRE’ the economic value of this locally made appetizer to the community and the state at large should not be underestimated.
Ajilo compound in Ikire plays host to the major producers of  DODO IKIRE in the community.
Both young and old in this compound, participate in the production of this product that is made from mostly plantain and other suitable bananas.
A 70-year-old woman, Madam Wulemotu Olaniran , has been in the business for a very long time. She speaks on the production of Dodo Ikire and its level of patronage.
” We use plantain, and other suitable bananas. We use Palm oil and vegetable oil to fry it. And we have clients abroad, who usually request for it, from time to time’
She said her children are not fully into the business, but they help while they are around before seeking greener pasture.
“our children help us here, when they are still looking for another job. we use the money realized from the selling of Dodo ikire, to send our children to the school”
Most sellers of Dodo Ikire hawk along Ife-Ibadan express way to sell for the travelers.
Abidogun shayo, is a young able boy, and he’s engaged in the selling of DODO IKIRE alongside other young people, who make their legitimate money from the business.
“We make at least three to four thousand Naira daily as profit, and we often safe the money for our education and new business”
Buyers and lovers of this great spice believe there is need for the producers to extend their scopes of business beyond the shore of ikire and osun at large.
If the state government could empower Dodo Ikire producers in order to attain large production /quantity, this might as well be a hidden treasure which will improve the internally generated revenue of the state.
Since, the state government is already going above and beyond to ensure a better living condition of its citizenry and meet the financial yearnings of all, perhaps diversification of the economy would be a good thing in this trying time.
Empowering the people involved in this business, might be a good start towards enlarging their coast, which may eventually bring about a drastic boost in their earnings, and as such contribute to the economy of the state.
Olawale Jelilat writes from Osogbo, Osun State

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Ikirun Robbery And The Osun Airport

It is currently, highly unlikely that any gang will try to raid a bank in the state of Osun; at least for the foreseeable future. The basis of this supposition is the big blow that was dealt to a gang that attempted just a few weeks ago, to rob banks along Ekoeinde Road in Ikirun, the headquarters of Ifelodun local government area. More often than not, these heinous activities are carried out successfully often coming at the cost of human lives and properties, and in this case, it had looked like normal business until reinforcements in the form of tanks secured for the police by the state government arrived. Two of the gang were reported killed, with another four arrested having had their firepower rendered ineffective. And so in one full swoop, Osun sent a clear note to robbers. Stay off.
 
Governor-Aregbesola-and-the-Armoured-Personel-Carrier2
 
 
The confidence of the security operatives who stood against these robbers must be commended and their act encouraged but another side to the story that must be told is the empowerment of these security forces by the equipment secured by the state government which helped make the foiling of this incidence, a success. This is because it resonates the view that our security operatives can post better results in crime fighting if better equipped. But it is also because when these equipment, worth N1.3bn, were procured by the state government in 2014, it generated hues and cries from political opponents, and misled citizens who labelled it wasteful spending with some saying the state was not much of a security risk to warrant such. There are other things to do with money, some posited, comfortably ignoring that the major essence of any government is the security of its people.
Governor Aregbesola, being one not to cow to unhealthy criticisms, had gone on to procure the equipment that last week must have marked Osun as a red zone for prospective robbers. It is with this in mind that my mind raced to recent happenings as regards the ongoing construction of the MKO Abiola Airport in Ido-Osun in a joint venture between the state government and the federal government. The airport has continued to generate criticism from left, right, centre as a result of the nationwide financial crisis that has left Osun unable to meet recurrent expenditure demands. To many, if you cannot pay salaries, how dare you build an airport?

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While the governor has gotten many sticks for another social investment, many ignore however that the project was actually hatched and its approval secured by previous governments. When Governor Aregbesola took over, it is to his credit that the plan was changed so as to make the airport a cargo maintenance hub, which will be the first of its kind in West Africa, furnished with hangars and the government reportedly has signed agreements with two hanger operators in a move to ensure that Osun becomes the destination for aircrafts seeking maintenance and repairs. Clearly, the idea for Aregbesola was maybe we can make this investment but let us make sure it will be a money-spinning one for us.
It is however understandable that in a state where doctors are on strike and workers on half salary, many turn deaf ears to such projects. But in closing our ears, are we focusing on the problem rather than the solution? It is already established that oil prices have fallen so bad and federal allocations have dropped to abysmal levels, so much so that if the state were to decide to pay all salaries as at due, the state will be left with nothing for capital spending. That is what we as a people, are demanding for labour, but if the state really spends all on salaries, it will still owe some and with the continuous reduction of oil price and revenue, more and more will be owed and at what cost? Security, industrialization, and all other aspects of the state requiring capital expenditure will be forgotten. In truth, if we go down this route, the state will run into extinction faster than we think.

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What we should be asking the Osun State government right now to do, is to diversify its earnings, by investing in money-yielding ventures, not prescribing the death pill of simply spending its entire budget on recurrent needs. No government does that. We must demand that Osun, and other financially challenged states show us how they are investing to make sure that this dark cloud presently hovering over their accounts will disperse, sooner or later. In such a demand, lies the solution.
And if we look at it this way, Osun is already making inroads. What that airport will do to the revenue of the state has been conveniently ignored for so long that I think we might be missing the point. As with when the security equipment were procured for police in the state, this looks like a proactive step. The state did not wait for it to be attacked and many killed before spending on those equipment, it acted to prevent occurrences, with the future in mind. Same way, while the airport project does not appear pleasing now, it definitely holds great prospect for the future. It is projects like these that will ensure that in the next four years, we don’t find ourselves criticizing whoever takes over from Aregbesola for not being able to pay salaries also.

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For one, it would have been easy for Aregbesola to ignore this important project for now and divert funds to paying more salaries, as this would mean him saving his name but the insistence of the governor to proceed with it shows a man who is ready to be hated for the next governor to be loved. As long as Osun does not go extinct from salary paying alone.
It is very tough to defend salaries not being paid and the government must find a way to ensure that their investments start paying off for salary obligations to be met but the prospect of renewed efforts to increase cocoa production (Cocoa Omoluabi), and the opening up of the state to increased investments,  and export via an airport, and the potential revenue stream from having the only aircraft maintenance facility in the West African region leaves a lot to look forward to in the state of Osun. They may not all come to fruition under Ogbeni Aregbesola but if they end up turning Osun into a mega state sooner or later, then just like those who had criticised the security expenses but turned around to praise the governor after seeing the fruits last week, maybe we will look back and commend Aregbesola for seeing what many of us are currently not seeing, or outrightly refusing to see. I have often heard that, trying times are not the times to stop trying and it is inspiring to see the government of the state of Osun act it out. May their efforts come to fruition.
Gbolahan Yusuf

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Aregbesola and challenges of development in Osun

Becoming governor was not, for Rauf Aregbesola, the fulfillment of an ambition. It was for him, the beginning of a mission: a mission to transform his beloved state, Osun to its Eldorado. Prior to his assumption of office on November 27, 2010, the scandalous performance of successive governments, with the rare exception of Akande administration is better imagined than real.
 
 
 
Rauf1-olisa-tvAs a result of poor governance by successive governments and the inherent institutionalized corrupt tendencies of public office holders, the state Infrastructural facilities were in a state of terrible decay and needing urgent attention and rehabilitation.
 
The level of rot, particularly, the degree of moral decadence he met on ground was totally unacceptable to him. Consequently, he embarked on far –reaching reforms to make the state measure up to the standard of what a modern state should be and put it on the path of irreversible posterity.
 
The arrested development of the state a result of the maladministration of his immediate predecessor in office explains why Aregbesola was in a hurry to develop the 25 year old state when he came on board in 2010, and was consequently spending up to 80 percent of the state’s resources on capital projects.
Corrupt public officials and beneficiaries of the old order were not happy with him because, after devoting such a humongous sum to the execution of capital projects, there is little or nothing to steal couple with the fact that he also blocked all areas of leakages.
 
The foregoing made him unpopular amongst the elites and thieving public officials who have being feasting like vultures on the meager resources of the state. But to the commoners, the toiling masses and the vulnerable who are in the majority, the anti-corruption and attitudinal change crusade of Aregbesola is a welcome development. In any existing economic or political system, there are those who would naturally oppose the emergence of ideas formulated towards endowing a progressive society.
 
These are those that have been recently uncovered and referred to as a “cabal” opposed to the provision of the people of the state of Osun with the right kind of leadership as symbolized in the pragmatic and quality style of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. They are practically those who have gone to town, a section of the traditional media and the internet with wild, despicable allegations and malicious propaganda to paint Ogbeni Aregbesola in bad light, cause mischief, misinform and disrupt the existing good relationship between Aregbesola and the appreciative people of Osun.
 
Like Winston Churchill, ogbeni might be vilified for his principled position, but no one can fault the altruistic and patriotic motivations for his actions. Like the saying goes, “Diamond are forever”. Changing global reality in our new world is making leaders that have vision look like narrow minded, satanic, heartless and wicked leaders while making those without vision look like saints. Before this intervention, I had watched with a sense of bewilderment, the unrelenting smear campaign against Aregbesola administration and his person unleashed by corrupt politicians founded newspapers and their hirelings.
 
 
It is as if Osun is the only state in Nigeria owing its workers salary arrears due to dwindling allocation from the federation account occasioned by misappropriation of funds that suppose to go into federation account for joint sharing by the three tiers of government, no thanks to Jonathan led PDP led Federal government and the down ward slide of the global price of oil, the main stay of our economy.
 
I think it is a piece of ignorance when one refuses to acknowledge anything good one’s enemy has done right. It is patently clear that there is a calculated attempt by Aregbesola’s political enemies to rubbish his 5 year reign. The opposition, a section of the media on its payroll and the “lynch mob” have found an opportunity in the current economic recession affecting the whole world to vent their spleen for the sole purpose of transferring away the pressure and attention from the uncomplimentary activities of their days in power, that is partly responsible for our present economic woes towards an “ideal scapegoat”.
 
Apparently, blackmail, unpopular advocacy, false, wild, mendacious and ill-intentioned allegations are the only known tool to them to further their campaign of calumny and primarily justify their inordinate desire to rubbish the unprecedented landmark achievements of the Rauf Aregbesola phenomenon.
 
A candid assessment of the performance of Aregbesola in his first three years in power which has attracted widespread commendation and applause, both locally and internationally, can best be described as nothing but superlative.
 
In just three years, Aregbesola has been able to prove that something good can, indeed come out of Nazareth. He has pulled Osun from the backwaters of underdevelopment, illiteracy, ignorance and disease, to a state that is on irreversible path to prosperity. Holistically, we should start by underlying the various freedoms we enjoy as citizens.
 
A throw back from the days of yore and of gore. We are comparatively freer. Only those in a state of collective amnesia, take this aspect of governance for granted. To realize his vision, the governor had, on assuming office, initiated a strategy of building up reserve of funds with which it could leverage for the projects it has planned to do.
 
The innovative approach adopted by Rauf Aregbesola led government at the most excruciating period of the state is worthy of emulation by any well meaning government the world over. His government did two things that nobody thought he could do. By November, 2010, when it assumed office, the state borrowed a whopping N1 billion to pay salaries. That was the same time it starts recruiting 20,000 OYES members! It was that same period that the state paid bonus to its workers. The abiding question is: How did the “magician”,Aregbesola did it? By March of the following year, to be precise, March, 2011, ogbeni had restructured the state finances that the state was no longer in any precarious condition.
 
The state has stopped borrowing money to pay salaries on the 25th of every month yet,it never failed to pay N200 million monthly allowance to OYES volunteers. In less than three years of his first four year- tenure, chroniclers of history would establish Aregbesola’s massive interventions in hitherto rotten and neglected sectors such as education, environment, agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, health and security. From better –developed education system, to well- equipped hospitals, to empowered people; to policies geared towards empowerment, poverty alleviation and a social security programme that protects the vulnerable.
 
The vulnerable are the old who cannot earn any more money, the young and old who cannot get healing, the children too poor to afford books and food at schools, the disenfranchised business person who cannot get seed money to pursue his/her dream s of breaking away from poverty. They are the people whom Abraham Lincoln referred to as the reason for government. Those that need help to survive. The state of Osun’s present experience in the spheres of infrastructure and human capital development worthy of commendation when compared to what the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola met on ground and how he has been able to transform Osun, in less than 3 years, the current economic recession affecting the whole world, notwithstanding.
 
Aregbesola has so far demonstrated that, with great determination, Osun state could become the envy of many and the pride of her citizens at home and in the Diaspora. Not a few will agree with this commentator that Osun state infrastructural facilities, though yet to be completed due to the economic meltdown, is the symbolic representation of Aregbesola’s government resolve to eradicate the decadence of the past and link the state and subsequently, the people with the future. So far so well for the state of the living God! Without doubt, Aregbesola’s efforts at re positioning the state of Osun have not gone unnoticed.
 
The World Bank in conjunction with 14 states in Nigeria have replicated the OYES initiative in those states. Ogbeni was invited to address the UK parliament on the Schools Feeding Programme and the tablet of knowledge, “opon Imo”. Even the Buhari led APC Federal Government has incorporated some of his programme, especially the School Feeding Programme and the N5000 stipend for the unemployed graduates into his manifesto.
 
No doubt, Rauf is a man of uncommon brilliance, boundless vision, incredible sagacity, humane passion, selfless discipline, unmatchable genius and a realist, who is at the same time innovative. He was born a genuine transformation head and he live up to his iconic image. Aregbesola has within three years in office pioneered changes geared towards the achievement, improvement and sustenance of good quality of life for the citizens of the state.
 
Fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers (FNSE), Aregbesola has within so short a time in office demonstrated that where there is a will, there is always a way. A man of immense responsibilities to himself, his society and the world as a whole, he is down- to- earth, with creative determination, delightful coherence and comforting commitment suitable for any leadership position.
 
Surely, the good that Aregbesola has started in Osun state, though, temporarily hinder by the current economic recession, will outlast him; it will live long after he will have passed. So since he meant well for the state, he deserves the support of people, not lack of it. In this historic battle of repositioning the state, he needs to be encouraged, not scared. And since this battle is collective, not personal, he deserves solidarity, not brickbats. Without mincing words, Aregbesola and his team has so far demonstrated that they are ever “ready to march into the new frontier”.
So, with “greater determination and strong commitment” in their approaches, there is no doubt Osun state is “set to join the league of develop economies.” And the Promised Land will be easier accessed than ever imagined. May God save us from ourselves!
The writer, Lanre Aminu is the National Coordinator, Oodua Youth for Good Governance

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Why Taxation In Osun? Why?

In Nigeria’s fiscal federalism, the central government’s revenue allocations, with its occasional grants-in-aid, to the lower tiers of governance meant to support the state governments to deliver public services and navigate new areas, has grossly declined.
Osun Internal Revenue Service, OIRS
The central government uses taxing and general welfare power to give financial handouts to the states to pay for the services the states provide, making the central government a partner of the states. But somehow, the reduction in the finances from the federation accounts to the federating states due to global economic meltdown has forced the states to rely on their own revenue sources. By the way, the grants-in-aid, so called bailout, strictly speaking, is a ‘mercy’ grant from the central government and there is no political, legal or constitutional compulsion to continue the mercy.
Yet, state governments have major responsibility of providing the services needed by the governed. They require taxable residents and businesses to provide counter-part funds to finance the cost of the services. Regrettably however, the bastardization of the State of Osun economy by the past government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had gravely reduced the tax base of Osun with nebulous taxable businesses, loss of tax revenue and paucity of funds as consequences for the state.
Why taxation in Osun, why? Reality time is here and now. Taxes are the best alternative windows to the present day Osun to make up for the short-falls in the federal revenue allocations to the states of the federation. Tax funds will greatly contribute towards financing the development projects of Governor Rauf Aregbesola in education, health, roads, agriculture, mineral resources, security community affairs, environmental and sanitation, rural development, transportation, women, youths and sports, and other vital sectors, bringing unprecedented benefits to individuals and businesses in the state. Tax money will support Aregbesola’s huge physical infrastructure projects, general welfare activities including slum and mud clearance, and social interventionist programmes that fight poverty frontally at all levels. It is Aregbesola’s into urbanization.
Only the deep recognizes the deep. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr (1841 – 1935), apparently alluding to Aregbesola’s urbanization of Osun, stated that, “taxes are the price we pay for civilization”, urbanization (emphasis mine). Holmes, a literary giant, attended Harvard Law School (1864) and was admitted into Masschusett Bar in 1867. He was editor, Harvard Magazine; editor, American Law Review; author, the Common Law; Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts; Law Lecturer, Harvard University; and Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1902.
Taxation, as a general obligation of the tax payers to be carried out in exchange for particular benefits covers government expenditures, energizes the economy, and encourages certain personal and corporate activities by tax exemption, or discourages the activities by heavy taxation. And for that, the residents and businesses of Osun ought to contribute towards the support of the government to increase the level of the economy of the state in unrestricted proportions. The urbanization of Osun as the outgrowth of Aregbesola’s completed and on-going development projects and the corresponding level of per capita income, no matter will make it possible to finance the increases in Osun economy.
Such increases in the state economy will generate more than proportionate increases in personal and corporate income tax revenues for the state, putting Osun in a relatively favourable position for the growth of revenues. But before now, the Osun government tax structures from the PDP days in the Bola Ige House Osogbo, the state capital, had depended on less elastic revenue sources and the income taxes were less heavily utilized, the development that generated fiscal deficit for the state, with the expenditures exceeding the revenues. It was a snapshot of Osun government’s financial position especially in the almost out-gone fiscal year.
Governments at all levels, the world-over have always financed their deficits by borrowing, and the borrowed funds are repaid with interest. These repayments usually have first call on government’s revenues and must be made if the government is to remain solvent and credit worthy. In Nigeria, the deficit status of the component states is importantly being remedied, at least fairly, courtesy of the last bailout from the central government in the federal system.
Meanwhile, I have had ample time to study the Osun recent outlay of taxes and levies, right on my table in office. The new taxes will not obstruct the industry of the residents of the state as the taxes only take out something negligible from their pockets. All the taxable objects in the state are treated alike and what the tax payers will pay is certain, not arbitrary. Same tax is not laid twice on the same tax object. And the extent of the income jurisdiction is essentially determined by the residence of the tax object and the source of its income.
As though, there is a minimum connection between the subject of taxation and the taxing power, the law prescribing the taxes enables the Osun government to have a claim on the tax payers to grow the revenues of the state from the taxes levied on the value of such property as farms estates, houses, stores, factories, private schools, business equipment; taxes levied on income from such sources as wages, salaries, dividends, interests, rents and earnings of corporations and estates; and taxes levied on sales of goods and services and on privileges.
Good enough! Aregbesola’s deployment of taxation as instrument of socio-economic control of Osun economy is aimed at using taxation as legitimate exercise of public authority to ensure no excess burden, or disruptive impact is laid on the private sector, to nib in the bud the Justice John Marshall’s off-quoted dictum: “the power of tax is the power to kill”. Marshall (1755-1835), the 4th Chief Justice of United States, died unsung, July 6, 1835. His death and tax nexus cannot exemplify the Osun new tax system.
The Osun governor is neither prepared to allow any replication of taxes by the local governments in the state. Indeed, by legal restrictions, he sets taxation limit for the third tier of governance in the state. Local governments have statutory power to tax although.
Of course, yes. Elements of tax enforcement, jurisdiction, legitimacy, and rules of conduct central to general governance of Osun, are basic to the administration of the new tax system in the state. Why taxation in Osun, why? Aregbesola, the state tax chief executor has sufficiently persuasive grounds to lay out taxes and administer them.
One, constitutionally, Aregbesola is the chief executive of the state with authority to access the assets of Osun, assess the assets, pays valid debts and administer the state prudently. He has a command over the resources of the state; and he receives the financial reports of the state agencies and submits his budget to the state legislature, the budget containing his decisions on raising revenues and on what programmes and projects to spend money, for public benefit. The budget lies at the very core of his decisions.
Two, legally, Aregbesola as the tax chief administrator in the state has power to make taxable objects obey the rules of taxation willingly, or by the threat of punishment for people found guilty of disobedience or evasion of taxes. And the tax regime as specified in the law cannot be nullified by the judiciary, except there is a general judicial review of the tax system.
Three, publically, Aregbesola has the competence and personal integrity to act to discharge his duties as state chief tax collector. And electorally, he has both the will and testament of Osun electorate, implied in their massive votes for him, empowering him to act as official executor of taxes. And four, ethically, Aregbesola has moral ground to ask for taxes from the Osun taxables, the beneficiaries of his laudable development projects in the state to enable him complete his massive public projects out there and everywhere in the state for the blind  to touch and feel, the deaf to see, and the cripple to be attracted.
A well-ordered tax system like Osun’s, will promote social objectives that are deemed worthwhile within a system of public finance. The Osun’s tax structure, if replicated at the national level will contribute to the stabilization of levels of income, promotion of full employment and a stable price level, nationally speaking.
In this way, our nation at large will be better for it. And Osun will be more worthwhile to and work, the ultimate dream of Aregbesola.
The writer Isaac Olusesi is Assistant Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research & Strategy, All Progressives Congress (APC), State of Osun.

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Osun’s Strategy Against Unemployment

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. This figure could be a conservative estimate of the actual number of unemployed youths in the country, going by previous statistics released by NBS, which put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3 million.
World-Bank-and-OYES
 
The above is a reflection of previous governments’ inability to design policies that will create more jobs, or provide enabling environment that could encourage both individuals and the private sector to expand employment opportunities without let or hindrance.
It is in line with the above that the Osun State Government established an office known asOsun Job Centre. This is in pursuance of a key component of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola-led administration’s Six Point Integral Action Plan which is banishment of unemployment from the state. The Job Centre is established as a State Government-funded one-stop employment agency with desk offices located at each of the 30 local government areas.
The Centre will act as a facilitator between job seekers and employers by providing employment information and services to a wide range of people, from the unemployed looking for employment, the underemployed looking for better jobs, to employers advertising job openings. It is aimed at eradicating barriers to employment by promoting education, training and business enterprise. It will contribute to the personal development of the labour force through the creation of opportunities for their productive engagement and utilisation.
The centre provides employment service tools such as an infrastructure for the business community to post its skills needs as well as in-house computers with free access to the internet.

To provide a venue where job seekers can meet and network with representatives of prospective employers from diverse sectors of the economic with the possibility of securing employment.

However, the private sector also has a role to play in creating employment, as experience has shown that government alone cannot provide all the needed jobs.  Unemployed persons will also have to start working towards self-employment, through which they may even provide jobs for others.
Unemployment and poverty have become serious problems that all levels of government must tackle with sincerity of purpose to keep the nation’s youths productively engaged and out of avoidable trouble.
These efforts by Osun government are worthy of emulation by other states of the federation. Governor Aregbesola once declared that Osun, out of the 36 states, has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly among her teeming youths, due to the determination of his administration to banish poverty and unemployment among its people.
This new move at establishing a job centre is just one of them. These efforts were recently corroborated by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, when he declared that Osun is one of the states with lowest in poverty.
“The indication (in Osun) is that because there is a lot of investment on the people, poverty has been reduced and that is what we (the Federal Government) are trying to achieve in Nigeria,” Osinbajo said.
Aregbesola was quoted as saying: “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.
“I am certain that our people are hard-working and would at all time take pride in working to earn a decent living.
“With the numerous programmes we are implementing, we are on the road to change the fortune of our state and lives of our people for better.
“Many of these programmes such as OYES, O’REAP, O’YESTECH, O’MEALs, O’Schools, O’Beef and O’BOPS, among others, have offered many of our youths self-reliant job opportunities.”

  • Ayo Akinola, is a publisher and media consultant based in Lagos and Bola Akande is a former commissioner for Human Resources and Capacity Building, Osun State

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In The Case Of Aregbesola Versus All

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Governor-Rauf-Aregbesola
 
“You are now old enough to fend for yourself son, I can no longer give you pocket money as I used to.” When this statement is uttered by a father to his son; while it may not make some sons flinch, it hits other sons faster and harder than Floyd Mayweather. In many cases, this is taken for granted with the underlying belief that father won’t watch them wallow in abject poverty when he can help, which is valid. It is however, a different case when father cannot help anymore, as he has been sacked or because the product he sells is now surplus in supply, and thus of little selling price, as is the case with Nigeria and her oil. In this case, while children of Nigeria (states) who had a previous means of livelihood will take it in their stride, others with little or no other source of income will be badly hit and have a mountain to climb. The State of Osun, in the south-west of Nigeria, is an apt example of the latter class of sons, and so far, it is climbing the mountain with all vigour and energy that could possibly be mustered.
That is not the summary you are likely to hear however. In a polity membered by an opposition desperately seeking to deplete the goodwill earned by the government of Ogbeni, and in effect the APC, it is not surprising that campaigns have continuously been mounted against the adverse effects without giving thought to the root causes.
The State of Osun earns the lowest from the federation account, with the monthly allocation for the state plunging into less than a hundred millions late last year, after deductions at source mostly to debt servicing. As it stands, in a state with relatively less a population, the civil service is so bloated that total revenue earnings for a month do not satisfy the recurrent spending requirements. In states generating even less internal revenue like Ekiti, the balance of trade is not as threatened because the salaries and overhead costs are less even when some of those states are more populated, which is a misnomer.
So while the state has been thrown into crisis, what is surprising is the defiance of the governor to abandon governance for crisis management. While it will have been an easy choice for politicians in his shoes, in his second term already, to simply dedicate tight resources available to payment of salaries and little or no more, as it is the only thing critics(many of whom, are not in the state) are concerned about. However, common sense is that a government house cannot be reduced to a bursar’s office, not minding how crude it sounds.
The government of Osun under Aregbesola has been one of firsts up until crisis period, with policies like feeding of school children, youth employment, and the famous Opon-Imo, being adopted and acknowledged far and wide. He achieved all these, vis-à-vis infrastructure development at all levels. Impressive, but with the fall of oil price, and the depleted “pocket money” from father, one would have expected all these to end. But No!
It has certainly been more difficult but in recent times, after managing to reach an agreement with labour on the salary structure, the state has been scoring other firsts. In exploring means of sourcing funds, the state became first to employ the Sukuk bond which was of over 11 billion, all in a bid to make sure efforts in the education sector were not stemmed. This has ensured that upgrade of schools has continued around the state with no sign of slowing down.
Asides that, the state has also declared plans to establish a Commodity Board directly under the governor, with a daring plan to produce cocoa of unprecedented quality and quantity. The governor said it will be branded Cocoa Omoluabi, and that tens of millions of cocoa trees had already been identified. The state has also now declared a partnership with The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) where it supplies an incredible expanse of land for experimental agriculture by the reputable institute. The governor in a show of determination, also said state executive council meetings will be held in high producing areas. Many of the workers in the agricultural sector are already being deployed from office to farm in what is a clear departure from the status quo. The plans have been drawn out and time-framed and while they look exciting, one hopes the results will be even more cheering. If they turn out so, the state of Osun even under financial strains will have provided yet another example for states to follow.
In many other states earning just above Osun, such level of planning has appeared elusive, with salary-paying being the focus seeing as the public has been led by many to believe governance is a factor of who pays salaries. Asides salaries, many states have governors dedicated to petty issues like eating at public restaurants. Smart citizens must begin to ask in the view of tight purses, if salary paying alone can sustain a state. The governor of Osun has been vilified in many quarters but I see a man who will rather be vilified than let his state be sacrificed.
It is encouraging however that people are so concentrated on the state of affairs in the state of Osun because this can only lead to deeper government-people engagement but what is important is that while many people keep an eye on salaries in the state, they make sure to keep the other eye on developments being pushed by the government amidst the financial crisis so that while looking to teach the government how to run the state, we do not fail to learn from a government that has continued to give us examples to learn from.
Gbolahan Yusuf
Gbolly1992@gmail.com

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Osun’s Port Of Fortune In The MKO Abiola International Airport

ADEKUNLE ALABI, who was part of the media tour of the MKO Abiola International Airport recently reports that   the project has every reason to be a gateway to Osun’s fortunes. He writes:
In the Aviation industry at least in Nigeria, Captain Dele Ore flaunts a dossier that is enviable. His profile makes him a voice to be heeded when it comes to that sector. Ore, the Director and Training Coordinator of the Aero Consult and Dele Ore Associates Partnership, graduated from the British Air University (AST), Perth Scotland, Oxford Air Training School, Mannin University, U.K., and the University of Lagos.
 
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Interestingly, he had landed a plane before on the same airstrip located in the same place where the MKO Abiola International Airport is being constructed.
That the State of Osun is building an airport is longer news; what will be the news is the type of airport and the unique features the airport is going to have when fully completed.
And how does the completion of the project also answer the question: What does the state need an airport for?
The airport project by the Rauf Aregbesola administration brings up arguments among some watchers of events. While some are in support of the idea, others have queried the decision alleging that the project is an unviable one especially in the face of many pressing demands by the people of the state.
Contrary to insinuations by the opposition cynics against the Aregbesola government, aviation professional, Ore, believes opening of airports in some states of the federation would open them up to investors, thereby catalyzing their economies for greater opportunities.
That goes for the MKO Abiola International Airport in Osun.
The‎ Osun airport named after the winner of the most peaceful and popular June 12 election in Nigeria, Chief Moshood Abiola, is located in Ido-Osun, Egbedore Local Government Area of the state. When completed, it promises to be a cargo and aircraft maintenance hub in addition to the traditional passengers airlifting.‎
The airport will be the first to have hanger for the maintenance of different types of aircrafts and helicopters in the West Africa sub-region.
According to Ore, every airport could be viable in-as-much it is handled by private companies with government providing an enabling environment for such companies to succeed.
Captain Ore had once said provision of airports in the states would create jobs for the locals and open up such states for investors.
He had noted that airport projects seem not attractive to some people because the scope of control and ownership have been limited to governments, saying airports are only not efficient if totally left to government to run.
According to him, “It may not be economically viable, but yet politically expedient and very viable for that reason. We have 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory; you can see that agitation would be for at least 36 airports in this country,” he said
Confirming the claims of Governor Aregbesola that the airport in Ido-Osun has historical relevance in West Africa, Captain Ore had reminded Nigerians of the existence of the Ido-Osun airstrip that has been there as early as 1936.
He said, “That is a potential site for an airport already, in which case you are not going to start acquiring lands, evacuating and paying compensations.
Aregbesola, in the wake of the criticisms against the airport project, described people who condemn the project as unnecessary as speaking from the position of ignorance; holding on to the historical relevance of it as the very location that served as the first landing strip in the whole of West Africa.
Perhaps, what had remained unknown to many of the critics of the Aregbesola administration is the fact that the MKO Abiola International Airport is not originally a brainchild of his administration. Little wonder some are quick to condemn it as unnecessary in the face of the prevailing national economic gloom.
The project started with the Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola administration before his exit in 2010.
The administration of Oyinlola commenced the project with the acquisition of more land around the Ido-Osun airstrip built in 1936.
The survey work, the design and tender documents had been forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Aviation, prior to award of contracts in 2010.
Under Oyinlola, the contract sum was reviewed from the initial N3,967,085,161.38 to N7, 512,615,918.06 taking into consideration the change in orientation and extended scope of work in the same year, 2010.
“Aregbesola should be commended by all for his maturity and vision by continuing with the project,” said Engr. Wemimo Adebajo, now the consultant to the state government on the project.
Not quite long that Aregbesola was sworn in as governor, a new, broader and more economically viable option occurred to him. To make the airport serve as a maintenance hub would only be adding to the very few hangers that exist in Africa; but creating bigger opportunities for the state in terms of revenues.
“We are hoping that this would serve to open our area to the international community. The idea of a hanger for maintenance appears exciting and that is why we encourage the governor to proceed and ensure this project is completed,” said Hon Abiodun Awolola, member House of Assembly of Osun representing Egbedore State Constituency.
“Rather than fly to America or Europe, why not take your aircraft to Osun and service them there?” said Awolola.
Most Aviation analysts would see something of an advantage in the airport project. With the former colonial masters citing the aerodrome in Osun, all the state need do to attract that business is to develop the facility that Osun already has.
And already, the state said it has signed agreements with two hanger operators  knowing that aircraft maintenance business is a money spinning investment.
Against the background of opposition’s recent criticisms of the MKO Abiola International Airport, the Consultant Engr. Adebajo in collaboration with the Bureau of Communication and Strategy had to embark on a site progress assessment tour with journalists.
At the construction site, Adebajo was optimistic that the airport, when completed, will rank among airports with the longest runways in Nigeria.
The Consultant, speaking on the percentage of work done already, noted that government, having spent N2.7 billion out of the revised total cost of N11billion for the project, work could be said to have reached 25 percent.
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He told journalists that the tour of the facilities became germane to allow journalists to be adequately informed about the magnitude of the work done in order to situate the criticisms of the opposition in their proper contexts.
 
According to the Consultant, the runway of the airport waiting to be laid with 500 mm asphalt is 3.5 kilometers in length, 12.3 meters excavation and re-filling with laterite. Both sides of the runway are to be equipped with water pipes which will be the first of its kind in Nigeria.
He explained that with such a feature, the airport will have been equipped with facilities that will make emergency fire fighting readily available near the runway in case of any emergency landing or fire outbreaks.
If anything suggests that the most critical aspect of the project is nearing an advanced state, it is the fact that in its present condition, the runway can be used for emergency landing by any aircraft in distress.
Adebajo also added that the Control Tower nearing completion is at the third floor of four sitting on a foundation of an excavated ground of nine meters.
“The runway is going to take about 60 percent of the cost of any airport project. A lot of work has been done on the runway, there are about 8 streams in the path of the runway. It therefore became necessary to excavate and build box covets so that the water in the stream will flow unhindered under the runway.”
“Still more to be done, I believe the airport is good for the state. The main delay right now is a question of funding and the state is seeking ways on how to make it available.
“We are approaching the Federal Government for 50 percent of cost of building the airport which is Federal Government’s policy, right now.” The Airport Consultant told journalists.
He explained that the essence of the facility tour with journalists was to allow people know what the state is doing at the airport and the extent of the work already done.
“I think the state government is trying to make sure that the press, the people of the state and Nigeria as a whole are briefed on what they have actually been doing. If it was just to respond to some political allegations, you will be talking to a politician, not a technocrat like myself.
“I have actually read in the newspapers that the contract has been inflated to N15.5billion which is not true. I have just told you it is N11billion and if you compare this with every other airports in Nigeria, you will realise that the cost of this one is cheap”.
For the residents of Ido Osun, who are very close to the project, the project raises some hopes of a coming fortune. Mr. Adedimeji Usman, a farmer and property owner along the Ido Osun-Ede Road, “We see in this project something that will change our lives.”
Having lived in the vicinity of the airport when the project was first conceived, he had prayed fervently that it would come to fruition in his lifetime.
“I have no doubt this place won’t be the same again when completed. And I think Osun too won’t be the same if this airport becomes a reality,” he enthused

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Aregbesola On The Verge Of Prosperous Educational Sustainability In Osun

In spite the big blow of economic downturn occasioned by the dipping global prices of the crude oil at the international market, coupled with the adverse effects on the nation’s economy, the government of Osun remains undaunted in plethora of developmental projects.
Inarguably, it is an open secret for the good people of Osun as the current government under the leadership of Governor Rauf Aregbesola seized every economic opportunity to better the teeming lives of the citizenry through the provision of several state-of-the-art facilities aimed at improving the general well being of the residents across the nooks and crannies of the state.
Without mixing words, it is conspicuously on records that the giant strides made so far by the present administration since inception seconds to none in terms of socio-infrastructural developments which had positively and indiscriminatory felt by all and sundry.
The current administration has successfully restructured, reclassified and as well brought to the limelight the real educational perspectives and sacrosanct school buildings that the state deserves.
It would be recalled that Governor Aregbesola shortly after his emergence as the state helmsman brought together a team of world class intellectuals to brainstorm, deliberate, figure out and make relevant resolutions on how revamp and reshape the lost glory in the state educational sector, as the result of which is presently glowing across the length and breadth of the major sectors in the state.
Sequel to these brilliant resolutions, Governor Aregbesola embarked aggressively on an overhauling holistic measures by proritizing education in the state to leverage on other sectors and ameliorate the already deteriorated lives of the people prior his emergence.
The train of these gigantic developments never stopped till present moment as huge works are presently ongoing in various sites of the state elementary, middle and high schools constructing across the state.
Aregbesola In Osogbo School
However, nevertheless, every discerning minded individual must therefore suffice the fact that it remains incomparable, the ultra-modern schools presently constructing across the state with what Governor Aregbesola met on ground.
In view of this, it is generally opined that Governor Aregbesola has successfully erected 3,000 students’ capacity High School, 1,500 Students capacity Middle Schools and 900 Pupils’ capacity Elementary School across the state.
For the purpose of clarity and avoidance of doubt, these projects have been financing from the Sukuk bond granted the state for the purpose
By Waheed Adekunle, Osogbo

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Tackling Unemployment, The Osun Example

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), not long ago, revealed that no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless in the country, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. This figure, it is believed, is a conservative estimate of the actual number of unemployed youths in the country, going by previous statistics released by NBS, which put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3m.
 
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The above is a reflection of previous governments’ inability to design policies that will create more jobs, or provide enabling environment that could encourage both individuals and the private sector to expand employment opportunities without let or hindrance.
If government needed to know the gravity of the nation’s unemployment rate, especially graduate unemployment, the trampling of graduate job seekers to death during stampedes at the 2014 Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment drive across the country, presents a graphic picture of the problem. That incident, alone, tells us that something needs to be done urgently to address the scourge of unemployment in the country.
World Bank statistics recently put the number of Nigerians living in   destitution at 100 million, while it’s most recent report put Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world. The high rate of unemployment and low per capita income in the country are just two of the indices used by the World Bank in arriving at this assessment.
All levels of government in the country need to be reminded that unemployment, especially among youths, is a time bomb for any country. Experience from other nations, including some in Africa, has pointedly shown that youth unemployment could provoke violent revolutions as we had in the Arab Spring. We, therefore, advise the government to design larger and more realistic programmes for job creation.
It is in line with the above that the government of Osun establishes an office called Osun Job Centre. This is in pursuance of a key component of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola-led administration’s Six Point Integral Action Plan which is banishment of unemployment from the State. The Job Center is established as a State Government of Osun-funded one-stop employment agency with desk offices located at each of the 30 Local Government Areas of the State and the Area Office.
The Center will act as a facilitator between job seekers and employers by providing employment information and services to a wide range of people, from the unemployed looking for employment, the underemployed looking for a better job, to employers advertising job openings. It is aimed at eradicating barriers to employment by promoting education, training and business enterprise. It will contribute to the personal development of the labour force through the creation of opportunities for their productive engagement and utilisation.
The Center provides employment service tools such as:
An infrastructure for the business community to post its skills needs
As well as In-house computers with free access to the internet
These are situated at the Center’s Head Office in Osogbo, the desk offices at all the 30 Local Government Secretariats and the Area Office for registration purposes only.
• Career Counselling:
• Career Exploration of available opportunities to help make informed employment and educational choices
• Personal Career Development
• Other Career related issues
• Employability Skills Training:
• Seminars to enhance the employability and entrepreneurship of participants
• Effective CV & Cover letter Preparation
• Interviewing Skills & Technique Coaching
• Personal Branding Skills & Communication Skills
• Presentation Skills
• Verification of Qualifications and Employers
• Verification of Academic qualifications, (Degree, WAEC, NECO, GCSE etc)
• Verification of Professional Certifications
• Verification of NYSC certificates
• Verification of Past and Current Employments
• Reference checks
• Verification of the Physical address of companies
• Annual Job Fairs:
• To provide a venue where job seekers can meet and network with representatives of prospective employers from diverse sectors of the economic with the possibility of securing employment.
 
The Desk Offices operations:
• Desk Officers will be stationed at each Local Government Area to provide information to job seekers and employers on the employment related services provided by the Job Center
• In-house Computers with free access to the internet will be available for registration purpose only, (assistant available to those not proficient in usage of the internet)
• Platform will be provided for businesses at each Local Government Area to physically post job openings.
 
However, the private sector also has a role to play in creating employment, as experience has shown that government alone cannot provide all the needed jobs.  Unemployed persons, too, will also have to start working towards self-employment, through which they may even provide jobs for others.
This is no longer the time to sit on the fence. Unemployment and poverty have become serious problems that all levels of government must tackle with sincerity of purpose to keep the nation’s youths productively engaged, and out of avoidable trouble.
These efforts by Osun government are worth of emulation by other states of the federation. Observers, including the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo once declared that Osun, out of the thirty six states in the federation, has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly among her teeming youths, due to the determination of the Ogbeni’s administration to banish poverty and unemployment among its people.
This new move at establishing a job centre is just one of them. The VP declared that Osun is one of the states with lowest in poverty. “The indication (in Osun) is that because there is a lot of investment on the people, poverty has been reduced and that is what we (the federal government) are trying to achieve in Nigeria.”
Aregbesola was once quoted as saying “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.
“I am certain that our people are hard-working and would at all-time take pride in working to earn a decent living.
“With the numerous programmes we are implementing, we are on the road to change the fortune of our state and lives of our people for better.
“Many of these programmes, like OYES, O’REAP, O’YESTECH, O’MEALs, O’Schools, O’Beef and O’BOPS, among others, have offered many of our youths self-reliant job opportunities and I want to assure you all that we have only just begun. A lot more good things are still coming”, he asserted.
The faster governments in Nigeria, federal, states and local governments, move in that direction the better as we have seen the concomitant effect of youth unemployment manifests itself in various forms across the country. Kidnapping, armed robbery and even militancy in the Niger Delta and to some extent the Boko Haram menace could be identified as some of the negative outcome of unemployment.
Ayo Akinola, arpa, is a publisher and media consultant based in Lagos; Bola Akande is a former commissioner for Human Resources & Capacity Building, State of Osun
 
SOURCE: www.elombah.com

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Creative Taxation And Matters Arising By Senator Sola Adeyeye

Taxes are hardly welcome with a smile. Even in jurisdictions where public funds are judiciously husbanded, taxes are often treated with as much dislike as for leprosy! As such, I was not surprised that my call for creative taxation has attracted an admixture of commendation and condemnation. One has learnt to take both with equanimity.
 
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Suffice to say, for a start, that politicians in general and serving legislators in particular are not the only ones who need to think outside of the box in the wake of the economic doldrums currently besieging our republic. The knights and dukes of the press, ostensibly canonized as putative purveyors of eclectic reasoning, must themselves elevate their criticisms beyond the box!
After reading the objections of Tunji Adegboyega to my suggestions, no one can denounce his concern that part of the additional revenues accrued from creative taxation would be embezzled by the iniquitous political class. Unfortunately, perhaps unwittingly, Adegboyega sank into the very within-the-box mental framework he was denouncing! Otherwise, his preoccupation should have been about promptly effecting such checks and balances that will prevent such taxes from being embezzled. Rather, he seemed to be arguing that because such creative taxes will be embezzled, they should not be collected. Is it possible that some of the taxes currently collected through variegated means and sources are also embezzled? If we stretch Adegboyega’s argument to its elastic limit, perhaps we should proscribe all taxation until such a time that we can guarantee the absolute cessation of embezzlement! But we must leave the ridiculous for the sublime.
Contrary to the innuendoes of Adegboyega, the vast majority of Nigerians will hardly be affected by a revised system that taxes so-called allowances. Most of these allowances are hardly known to the masses! Rather, they are constitutive but obscene perks of the rotten upper caste in the public and private sectors of our workforce. The rumbling protestation that greeted my suggestion from some of my own colleagues reflected the angst of a threatened caste. It is no secret that most prosperous countries across the world embrace progressive taxation that ensures that those who earn more pay more taxes; those who earn far more pay far more taxes.
In Nigeria, whether in the public or private sector, the extant practice is that huge portions of income are sheltered under the loophole of so-called allowances. What we need is a progressive scale of taxes based on the total earning of every citizen. Details of such progressive taxation can be left to the tax experts to evolve in the best interest of our republic.
All of us are free to point accusing fingers to past and current leaders for the economic mess in which our republic is submerged. Unfortunately, the blame game will not suffice to get us out of this choking mess. Yes, let us blame; let us prosecute, punish and curse. But let us do more than these. Let us get creative in finding solutions.
I am well aware that we already pay some valued added taxes on our phone calls. Currently, a page of 160 characters costs 3.81 naira. Adding one naira tax to a page of text message is, arithmetically, a relatively huge increase. But can we honestly say that Nigerians will suffer unduly for paying less than five naira per page of text? We used to pay about fifteen naira per such text message at a time that one naira had double its current value!
Likewise, I am well aware of the promises made prior to the disbandment of the toll roads. But are current economic realities the same as those prevailing when the toll roads were disbanded in the second term of the Obasanjo regime? In any case, would we not have been far better served if our toll roads had been modernized rather than disbanded? Across the world, policies like this are not cast in stone as if Government is gifted with inerrancy. On the contrary, tax laws are constantly revised to dynamically reflect society’s needs and resources.
Alas, our short-term resources have plummeted while our needs continue to rise along with our escalating population. Hackneyed calls for the diversification of our economy must never discountenance the cost for such diversification and the lag phase between investment and yield. During this phase, we must find creative ways to cut the cost of government while also expanding its revenues. Anything short of these is wishful thinking. For example, many glibly talk about the potential for much higher tourist revenues for Nigeria while discountenancing the reality that this will not be actualized until we first develop the ancillary infrastructure for successful tourism.
 
Like Adegboyega, Nigerians are generally pained and infuriated by the profligate prodigality and recent looting of our common patrimony. We salute recent efforts to recoup stolen funds. Even so, our pain and fury must not derail us into the common fallacy that these efforts constitute an eternal panacea for our woes. If we can recoup two trillion naira of stolen money this year, will this be a recurrent revenue for the next several years? Specifically, shall we be able to recoup the same amount every year for the next five years? What will be our recourse if the price for crude oil continues to plummet? Shall we arrest Dasuki and others and try them again?
 
Elsewhere, I have advocated for the cancellation of so-called oil subsidy. But that must await its own separate discussion.

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