How Aregbesola Ran Into Trouble In Osun

He was hailed as the messiah that will transform Osun, a landlocked civil service state into an el-dorado. He obviously had a great dream for the state and that accounted for why he was in a hurry to execute many programmes which had earned him applause even outside the country. His Osun Youth Employment Scheme, OYES got the World Bank endorsement and it fetched Nigeria a $300m grant. “Using the template of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), the World Bank has earmarked $300 million to support youth empowerment in Nigeria.” The success recorded by the has drawn commendations from near and far viz the radical and transformative impacts of the scheme across the society says the leader of the World Bank on Human Development and Task Leader on Youths Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO), Professor Foluso Okunmadewa, after assessing the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) corps in Olorunda, Osogbo and Ayedaade local government council areas of the state. The scheme was created and it employed 20,000 youths who would have been roaming the Streets or engaged in nefarious activities, within Aregbesola’s first 100 days in office. As at the last count, OYES was hitting 60,000 participants.
He initiated a first of its kind school feeding programme in Nigeria that not only feed and boost the morale of primary school pupils, but also generated employment for local caterers engaged in the cooking. The government, after training the cooks guaranteed a bank loan for them to purchase their equipment. In all about 3,600 caterers, aside other support staff, benefitted from the programme. The school feeding programme also helped in boosting the agro economy of Osun as food and ingredients were sourced locally from about 1,000 Osun farmers. The ‘O’ meal feeds over 357, 000 primary school pupils in 1,378 Elementary schools with free daily nutritious meals complemented with fruits. It led to an increment of 40% in primary school enrolment.aregbe3
In an attempt to make Agriculture the backbone of Osun economy, he created the Oduduwa Farm Settlement as part of an agricultural revolution through the Osun Rural Enterprises and Agricultural Programme, ‘O’REAP and backed it up with an agricultural loan scheme to assist farmers.
“Osun must be on its feet, self-reliant and be a reference point in Nigeria” he boldly maintained and that informed his lofty and ambitious projects which critics of his administration fear the state’s finances may not be able to withstand. Were it not for the present cash crunch occasioned by declining revenue from the federation account, Aregbesola believes that by the time he would be rounding up his eight year tenure, he would have built an Osun that will economically independent and boast of “tax paying industries and companies”
Examples abound in his first term, Aregbesola had attracted investors who brought companies, such as the Omoluabi Garment Factory, Osogbo and Adulawo/RLG Technology Company in Ilesa and there are others at various stages of completion and on the drawing board.
Some few weeks ago, Airtel, a leading mobile operator, established a partnership with the Adulawo/RLG Company. The government has also commenced aggressive drive for the development of the solid mineral sector with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with an Australian mining firm, Andalusia Mining Industry. Another icing on the cake was the recent signing of another memorandum of understanding between Osun State and an American company, to manage the Olumirin Waterfalls Tourist site in Erin Ijesha. The project which will turn around the fortune of the ancient town and change the face of tourism in Osun and Nigeria would cost $17m and is expected to be completed within 16 months.
The need to reactivate the Osun masterplan as laid out when it was created 25 years ago, would creat a heavy burden for any ambitious administration and Aregbesola having served as Commissioner for Works and later Works and Infrastructure in Lagos state understands the role of infrastructure and how it can engineer rapid economic development of a state.
Osogbo, the capital was billed to be linked to the Ibadan-Ilesha expressway by a 32-km road at Gbogan and the bill was meant to be picked by the Federal government. This was left undone until Aregbesola took the bull by the horn. The result is the on-going project between Gbogan and Ilorin. It was a gigantic project that better economically placed state governments in Nigeria dare not move near.
Osogbo was to be circled by a 30-km ring road. About 12km of that was built by the Federal government and the rest abandoned before Aregbesola brought it back to live. There is another federal road linking the state to Kwara. Aregbesola, in his zeal to accelerate infrastructural and economic development of Osun state had embarked on those projects in his quest to lay a solid foundation for what would be an economically viable state.
His unusual style of governance has won him accolades outside Nigeria and endeared him to many at the home front where it was generally acclaimed as a template for good governance.
One of the very first pointer of the unusual style of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola was to first make it clear that he does not want the title of Executive Governor or His Excellency as had been the norm saying, he humbly made known his preference for the appellation ‘Ogbeni ‘, the Yoruba way of simply Mr. to his name.
He rebranded Osun and for the first time in the history of the State, Aregbesola created an official insignia for the State as well as an anthem to complete the re-branding. Because of his desire of giving the State an acceptable identity, it got the appellation of being known as ”State of Omoluabi” or in Yoruba Language, ”Ipinle Omoluabi”, with a view to rejuvenating the moral values and industry of the people.
His trademark ‘Operation Patch It’ worked day and night for smoother roads in major cities of the State. He has executed the free eye test and glasses scheme and carried out an emergency on the environment under the ‘O’ CLEAN initiative to clean up the State and also inaugurated the Osun State Urban Renewal Project.
His ‘O’ School initiative changed the face of education, among several other revolutionary policies, he banned PTA and other illegal levies while he increased funding of primary education from N13m to about N428m yearly while secondary schools got a boost from some N128m to N469m per annum.
Aregbesola’s administration provided 150,000 E-Learning Tablets (Opon Imo) for Senior Secondary Students to further stimulate the interest of students to learning and helping to reduce the burden of having to go to school by replacing books with a computer tablet invented for that purpose. The equipment, designed in form of an iPod called “Opon Imo,” contains the entire senior school syllabus, including Yoruba traditions, past questions of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO) and Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for 10 years in the software design for the system. All these, is focused at reducing the phobia associated with learning and increase students’ interest in learning; and completely turn learning into play in schools and at home.
750,000 pupils were provided with 2 pairs unified school uniforms in all public primary and secondary schools in line with the established standard categories leading to the establishment of ‘The Omoluabi Garments Factory’ to produce these uniforms and empowerment of over 3,000 tailors to sew the uniforms .
He built 170 new aesthetically beautiful and functional Model Schools across the State with state-of-the-art facilities to enhance and stimulate the teaching and learning environment and has reformed the primary and secondary school system from the usual six-year primary and six-year secondary schools calendar to the elementary, middle and high schools system bringing it at par with world practice.
Aregbesola remains uncompromisingly committed to humanist struggle even at personal risks without personal benefits. No wonder, one can recall sometime back in 2011, as May 25th, the day of his 54th birthday approached and in anticipation of the deluge of congratulatory messages from State agencies, ministries and parastatals, he instructed the State Head of Service to issue a memo to “all officials of Government of State of Osun, cutting across ministries, departments, agencies, Local Government Councils, tertiary institutions and even well-meaning citizens of the State” barring the use of public funds to place advertorials for congratulating him on his birthday anniversary. As he puts it, “the idea of using public funds for congratulatory messages is not in tune with his (Aregbesola’s) vision.” Till date, that rule stands.
Aregbesola has done well and obviously he has more to do in the years ahead. The present situation is a temporary setback with lots of lessons to guide the sailor in the turbulent years to come. Painfully some elements have capitalized on it calling for Aregbesola’s head as if it’s only Osun State that was owing salaries. Even in some states with backlog of salaries far in excess of one year and with no projects on ground to show for it as in Osun, no one has called for the impeachment of the governor. What is happening in Osun was a carryover of the 2014 general election. After failing to get the tribunal to upturn Aregbesola’s victory, someone wants to do it through the back door. It is unbecoming of an ‘Omoluabi.’

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