In the nationâ€™s political firmament, the mentioning of the name Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola no doubt evokes passion. Just like the clapping of the mimosa, Aregbesolaâ€™s name rings, rings and rings without a pause in the nationâ€™s political landscape.
Depending on the political leaning or bias of any political watcher, Aregbesolaâ€™s strides as the governor of the State of Osun evoke both admiration and petty political envy. What is, however, sure is that his name and his accomplishments are hot topic for political discourse.
Though his political engagements have been muted since he served in the cabinet of his political leader and benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu between 1999 and 2007. His rise to political prominence commenced precisely on November 2010 when the epic struggles against the well entrenched but not benevolent conservative government of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) culminated in his ascension to power as the governor of the state that prides itself as THE STATE OF â€˜OMOLUABIâ€™.
His coming into power was in itself tortuous and long drawn as he had to snatch justice from the jaws of an oppressive elite who robbed him of the mandate lawfully given to him by the people of the state in 2007.
Aregbesolaâ€™s victory was made possible by the panel of Judges at the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan led by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi on 26th November 2010. The victory came after all hopes were almost lost. Perhaps, the nationâ€™s greatest literary icon and a Nobel Prize winner, Professor Wole Soyinka had on 3rd December 2010 reacted to the judgment describing it as a â€œvictory of the oppressed over the oppressive oppressors.â€
In his inaugural speech on November 27th 2010, Mr.Aregbesola laid out his agenda thus”I â€œI am here to let you know that a new Osun State is possible, and it shall be made possible before we complete this historical tenure. We shall revolutionise our education, agriculture, roads and health systems. By the grace of God, nobody will sleep without his or her eyes closed during my administration.
â€œNobody will go to bed with an empty stomach. Your security of lives and property shall be pursued with sanctimonious attention. I declare peace and prosperity in Osun State. I declare a state of emergency on all the roads in Osogbo metropolis. I declare free and compulsory education from primary to secondary schools…â€
After few months in the saddle, marvelled by Aregbesolaâ€™s giant strides, he began to receive accolades from a broad spectrum of the country. A member of the seventh Senate, late Senator Uche Chukwumerije stated during a visit to Osun State in November 2013 that Aregbesolaâ€™s education policy would reduce, if not totally eradicate all the problems plaguing Nigeriaâ€™s education system.
Then a chieftain of the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP), the late lawmaker stated thus â€œConsequent upon what I have seen today, God willing, I will move a motion on the floor of the National Assembly, ensuring that what is happening in Osun State is replicated across the 36 states of the federation.â€
Despite these numerous accolades, the Ijesa born engineer turned politician has been assailed by the brouhaha regarding the distortion generated in the payment schedule of civil servantsâ€™ salaries, although the problem was not peculiar to the state.
To anti-Aregbesola elements within and outside the state obviously supported by an unassailable cabal in the media, their verdict is that Aregbesola has metamorphosed from the promised state he inherited and turned it into a pariah.
What Osun/Aregbesola bashers, mostly on the social media have refused to acknowledge is the fact that 27 states of the federation are currently indebted to their workers, including oil producing ones like Ondo and Bayelsa that collects derivation running into billions of naira monthly.
An indigene, Adewale Adigun in his assessment accused Aregbesola of being a classical example of a leader suffering from misplaced priorities. â€œMy governor bites more than he could chew. He borrowed money with the state allocation to do projects without envisaging that the international price of crude oil, which is the major source of income into the federation account could drop thereby affecting the income that accrued to our state.â€
â€œAfter deducting our debts now, what we get is meager. Itâ€™s a failure on the part of the governor. It shows he lacks foresight. Today, you canâ€™t point to any project completed by the Governor in Osogbo, my country home. Everything is inconclusive. Osun is a state that is littered by litany of uncompleted projects.â€
Furthermore, to misinformed Nigerians, Aregbesola represents a shame, disillusionment, a pro-corruption son of Golgotha and like Adigun opined, an abdicated machine suffering from misplaced priorities.
While expressing her view on the Aregbesola led administration on her Facebook page, an absolutely misinformed Olutoyosi Omotoso, a medical practitioner turned public affairs analysts avow thus;
â€œThe APC used to say that Aregbesola is their model for good governance but what we have today is Aregbesola that has run his state aground. Osun is like a refuge site. Gov. Aregbesola has grounded the state.
â€œCivil servants now beg for food stuff to eat. People have been turned to slaves in their fatherland. The education sector of the state is in shambles. Aregbesola has neglected agric to focus more on the oil boom that is more of a curse than a blessing. The state capital is littered by abandon road projects.â€ She stated.
Consequently, one is compelled to enquire empirically if truly Aregbesola is an embarrassment to good governance as being portrayed in some section of the media or not, perhaps a survey conducted by a team of BLACKFACE NEWS led by its Head of Research and Business Development, Adeyemi Adeleye would shed more lights on the true position of issues in the state that pride itself as the land of the virtuous.
A recent tour of some cities in the state such as Osogbo, Ile-Ife, Iwo, Ejigbo and Ilesa seems to put a lie to this assertion as it chronicles the factual and accurate state of governance in Osun State with the sole aim of separating facts from fiction.
Achievements in Road Infrastructure
Before the advent of Aregbesola led administration, most inter and intra-cities roads in Osun were blots on the landscape. Socially, the state before Aregbesola was like a geographical entity that has been eradicated from the map of Nigeria.
However, today, contrary to the meddlesome affirmation of the opposition, intra and inter-citiesâ€™ roads in Osun State are meticulously receiving dutiful attention from the state government.
At Osogbo, the state capital roads such as Okefia-Olaiya, Olaiya-ItaOlookan and others have received makeovers via rehabilitation. Olaiya down to Iwo road,Osogbo at present wears a new look. In Ilesa and Ile-Ife town, Modakeke, Moro, Ashipa via Ipetumodu roads that were once impassable is now well laid with asphalt. There is no part within the state that is left untouched in terms of roads’ construction and maintenance. In all, the Aregbesola led administration has constructed 61 township roads covering over 128km while inter-city roads covering about 294km have been completely rehabilitated.
Oba Aderemi Road, Osogbo, Osun State Capital. Dualized by Aregbesola’s administration
On water supply, a trip to Ede Waterworks in the ancient city of Ede in Ede North LocalGovernmentArea of the state was eye-opening. The extremely colossal and enormously gargantuan waterworks has been rehabilitated to increase production from 17 percent to 30 percent capacity.
Education and Man Power Development
Perhaps one area that has generated a lot of furores in the media is the education system where there have been issues ranging from industrial actions by the academic staff of all the state-owned higher institutions as well as studentsâ€™ unrest.
The misinformation to the public on the goings-on in this sector has generated negative news headlines that have kept indigenes in the Diaspora wondering if the future of the born and unborn children of the State has not been mortgaged.
For the records, several unusual happenings are unfolding in the educational sector of the state which has completely transformed and changed its status. These positive happenings are the major outcomes of an education summit spearheaded by Professor Soyinka and other stakeholders in the education sector, which was convened by the current administration shortly after assuming office.
The administration took some drastic steps in the sector, and the first assignment was to convey a summit with a view to reviving and making it a major contributor to the development of individuals and the society as a whole.
Prior to the coming on board of the current government, complaints have mounted about the quality of infrastructure in public schools seen as totally in shambles. State-owned tertiary institutions were not spared the rot.
.Photo Credit: Blackface Team
Critics had lamented that most of the schools were mere certificate awarding centres, with the state becoming one of the least performing among its peers as only three percent of its candidates in the 2010 West African Examination Council secondary school certificate exams had five credits, including English Language and Mathematics.
Presently, some success stories were recorded in the sector owing to some drastic steps taken by the government in solving the problems.
One of such is the provision of two pairs of unified school uniforms to each of the 750,000 pupils in all the public primary and secondary schools across the state to boost the morale of the students and further promote unity among schools in the state.
Today, no fewer than 3,000 tailors get contracts from the state government annually for the sewing of the state new school uniforms made of Adire batik. The material, according to the spokesperson to the Governor, SemiuOkanlawon was chosen to empower the artisans and Adire makers in the state financially and materially.
AUD Elementary School, Osogbo. Built by Aregbesola’s Administration.
The administration has also injected a whopping sum of N30billion to give a brand-new lease to structures and classrooms under which pupils studied going by the recommendations of the Soyinka summit. Under the arrangements, the government is constructing 170 new model schools across to replace the dilapidated buildings with state of the art facilities expected to enhance and stimulate the teaching and learning environment. As we write, 37 of the schools have been completed.
While 20 are for students in Senior Secondary Schools (that is those in SSS1 to SSS3), when completed, each is expected to conveniently accommodate 3,000 students on the basis of 40 students per class. Each of the structures is expected to come with an examination hall that can comfortably seat 1,500 students and two e-libraries; one for sciences and the other for arts and social sciences would cost the N700 million each according to the government.
For Junior Schools, (those from Primary 4 to Junior Secondary School 3 (JSS3)), 50 of them would be constructed, each accommodating 1,250 students while in the elementary schools, Primaries 1 to 3, which would be 100 pieces across the state, would conveniently accommodate 900 pupils.
The Blackface News team visited the newly completed Ataoja Science Model College, Osogbo, Fakunle Comprehensive High School, Osogbo High School, Osogbo, Ejigbo High School, Ejigbo, Iwo High School, Iwo, Salvation Army Day School, Osogbo, Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa and AUD Model Primary School, Osogbo to see things for itself.These are structural edifices that can rank with any institution of its type anywhere in the world.
To further stimulate the interest of students to learning, the government reduced the burden of having to carry many textbooks to school by replacing the books in a digital content into a computer tablet invented for that purpose.
The device, designed in the form of an iPod called â€œOponImo,â€ contains the entire Senior Secondary 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 designed into the system.
Evidence of Governor Aregbesola’s giant strides in the Education Sector of Osun State.
According to government, all these are tailored towards reducing the phobia associated with learning and increase studentsâ€™ interest in learning; and completely turn learning into a routine exercise in schools and at home.
Besides, in a bid to encourage enrolment of children in public schools, the Aregbesola government frontally embarked on the school feeding programme, tagged Oâ€™MEAL. This singular act, according to data rolled out to BLACKFACE by the Bureau of Communication in the office of the StateGovernor, has reportedly increased the enrolment figure in the state public primary schools by 40 per cent in the last academic session. The mantra of feeding children has caught the attention of other State Governments including the FG which has adopted it as a national policy. This is vintage Aregbesola.
Furthermore, the Aregbesola led government also intervened in the school fees paid by students in all the five state-owned tertiary institutions by reducing the fees payable downward. For those at the Polytechnic and College of Technology, the fee was reduced from N42, 000 to N25, 000, while those in the UNIOSUN was slashed from N205, 000 for Law and Medical Students to N100, 000.
Science was reduced from N155, 000 to N75, 000 while Social Sciences and Art now pay N75, 000 instead of N130, 000.
Another area observed during the tour was that Governor Aregbesola has done a good job on security of lives and property. Indirectly, it is unarguable that Osun remains one of the few states in Nigeria, which can be said and judged to be peaceful and with the lowest crime rates.
Apart from regular police patrol of the state, the governor has set up dedicated crime response team nicknamed Swift Action Squad (SAS), who is now visible in strategic areas within the state as well as identified troubled sports.
He has also equipped the squad with five Amoured Personnel Carriers(APCs) and 25 patrol vans for surveillance. Currently, a state-wide DistressManagementSystem, which allows the security agencies to respond within 40 minutes, is being developed to be stationed in Osogbo to guarantee effective and efficient crim, detection, crime prevention and crime control. The government recently purchased a helicopter for SAS for area surveillance of the state.
Social Security and Economic Development
The state government is also striving towards making the state number one destination for local investors in Yorubaland. To achieve this, the governor is building international markets for locally made products. Currently, Ayegbaju International Market, located at the old governorâ€™s office, Osogbo and Aje International Market, sited at the state Trade Fair complex along Iwo-Osogbo road, have been completed and put into use.
The concept of AgbaOsun Social Security Scheme is not only innovative; it is unique and highly original. The state government has put in place a social security for the most vulnerable old people. Under this programme tagged AgbaOsun (Osun Elders), the government, through comprehensive enumeration selected about 1, 600 most vulnerable old people across the state and placed them on monthly stipend of N10, 000 for their upkeep. The aim is to keep elderly peopleâ€™s body and soul together and forestall the ugly trend of old people roaming through the streets and motor parks begging before they eat.
Health Care Delivery
The BLACKFACE crew saw the brand New Oâ€™Health hospitals that litter the nooks and crannies of the state. Basically, all the nine state-owned general hospitals and 12 comprehensive healthcare centres have been rehabilitated for optimal functionality, easy access and quick service delivery. The Aregbesola led administration has also built 74 additional primary health centres across the state.
Youth Employment and Human Capital Development
Upon the assumption of office, he inaugurated an employment scheme tagged OYES where 20, 000 youths were employed within hundred days. The youth volunteers were engaged to render community service and placed under monthly stipends of N10, 000.
The OREAP programme has also empowered 600 youths in the governmentâ€™s agric enterprise academy as well as sponsored 50 youths to Germany to acquire advanced farming skills. Aregbesola has also employed 6000 qualified youths as teachers in the stateâ€™s public schools.
Going by BLACKFACEâ€™s investigation, the Aregbesola School feeding scheme (Oâ€™MEAL) for the elementary school in the state has employed about 3000 caterers, who cook delicious meals for the children. Equally, through the school uniform programme, government empowered 3000 tailors, who were sourced locally to sew over 750, 000 pieces of school uniforms for elementary, middle and high school children. The Omoluabi Garment Factory is a success story of Public-Private Partnership that works. The State Government has only 25% equity holdings in an enterprise which is now worth N3bn. The fame of the outfit has grown beyond the State of Osun as records now have it that the Nigerian Army has contracted sowing of its uniform to the company.
The business of governance is too intricate and complex, such scenario seems to define the political landscape of Osun State. In the same token, an appraise of the performance of a leader is largely never reflective of the realities on ground, such seems to be the lot of Aregbesola.
The fame of the outfit has grown beyond the State of Osun as records now have it that the Nigerian Army has contracted sowing of its uniform to the company.
Below are the pictures of other feats of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s Administration as captured by Blackface Research Team.
On Spot Assessment of Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo Built by Aregbesola’s Administration by Blackface Team
Agricultural Revolution in Osun State
In conclusion, some watchers have come to view his governance style from the narrow prism of what can be considered as political bias of such commentators. Owing to the quality of work being carried out, it is of note that posterity will in the future be kind to him as the founder and architect of modern State of Osun.