“I have travelled the world and traversed the length and breath of Nigeria, first as a businessman and then as a politician. Endowed with that exposure, I have studied the state of our state and have seen the roots of our problem.
“I have seriously tried to identify the ills that have stood between us and our progress all these while. I have identified the dark shadows preventing the sun to shine fully on Osun State and these I will offer to you…”
In 2011, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun penned the lines above in a 133-paged book titled Rauf Aregbesola and the Future of Osun: Inspiring the Youths for a Better Tomorrow.
On Sunday 27th, 2016, it would be six years exactly into the two term administration and second years of his second term.
About the time he wrote those words some six years ago, it was at the beginning of, in reality, confronting the multi-dimensional, hydra-headed problems which could only have necessitated the need for a Messiah in Osun in the first place?
In education, this was the time he contemplated shutting down the entire school system for a total reconstruction because of the parlous state of the schools. This was the time the threatening population of the Osun youths who had nothing whatsoever to do stared him in the face and threatened the peace of the society. This was the time when, despite being completely an agrarian state, food security had yielded to hunger owing to no clear cut policy on agriculture. It was the time criminals assumed there was a haven for them in Osun. It was the time what Osun boasted as cities, even at the state capital, no more than rickety human settlements hallmarked by failing and falling walls and scattered roofings. It was a time that yearned urgently for urban renewal.
It was not only that Osun lacked the resources to bring it back to life. It was also a victim of lack of courage to embark on risky ventures out of which the fortune of the state could have been altered for good. A state with N300million monthly internally generated revenue would need some other ‘miracles’ to witness development. Nothing ventured, they say, nothing gained!
The six years of venturing have gained for the state, a phenomenal development template that clearly gives an insight into what the future holds, especially for the younger generation in Osun. Though the state recently marked its 25 years of creation, the totality of the growth witnessed in six years makes those of the first 19 years pale into total insignificance going by all indices.
Buoyed by an ideological bend which places people at the centre of every development initiative, the Aregbesola years have instituted a new governance culture never known in the history of the state but which has ignited a new passion for inclusion. There is a huge sense of participation by the people, seeing that there is something in everything for everyone. With a carefully woven six-point action plan serving as the guidelines for every policy, there is an astounding correlation which makes one dovetails into another in the growth agenda.
Aregbesola combines the ideologies of legends who had gone down in history as proponents who not only brought developments to their people but liberated them from manacles of mental and material poverties.
In order words, it is not only that this six-year old administration is building mega-schools to permanently change schools orientations; putting in place physical infrastructure to last for decades to come; creating a new generation of citizenry alive to their duties to the society, the administration comes across as one with a mission to free the minds of the people and set them on a path to personal fulfillment and realizations.
More than five decades ago, the late political icon, Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote in his autobiography that “the duty we owe to the present generation of young people would have been amply discharged if we were able to provide for them school buildings which would last 50 years.” The massive educational infrastructure the Aregbesola administration is reputed for today in Osun reminds those who care to note of the ideals and the good of the people which the late sage preached. The Awolowo recipe for good governance appears in all the sectors that the administration touches.
With education reforms that include new learning environments, technology-driven teaching especially at the High School level, restructured curricula and re-orientated personnel, there is a renewed hope for emergence of a new generation of Osun citizens growing up equiped with the means to be relevant in any knowledge-driven society.
Since Aregbesola had written in his book earlier mentioned that “Osun is blessed with younger people with the power to astonish the world with greatness,” it then follows that his programs in all sectors are tailored towards motivating these younger people who have been endowed with the power to stun the world.
From restoring hopes to the despondent, to opening new windows, youths have found in the Aregbesola era a new vista of opportunities in technology, agri-business, volunteer services and functional education with which they can face the future. Gradually therefore, the Osun youth has come to the realization that rather than wait for the government, he only needs to tap the opportunities provided to be an active participant in the emerging egalitarian society.
In these past six years, the six-point action plan -banishing hunger, unemployment, poverty, functional education, healthy living, promotion of communal peace- have combined to achieve one thing which is George Washington’s “aggregate happiness of the society which is best promoted by the practice of a virtuous policy.” That, Washington had said, “ought to be the end of all governments.”
*Semiu Okanlawon, Director, Bureau of Communication & Strategy, Office of the Governor, writes in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the Aregbesola administration.