By Popoola Wasiu Bamidele
As the curtain draws on the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun, his Chief of Staff and major player of his administration, Gboyega Oyetola, has declared to run for the top seat as a way of consolidating the achievement of the present administration.
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ILERI OLUWA: MY COVENANT ON
CONTINUITY AND CONSOLIDATION
WITH THE PEOPLE OF OSUN
A statement of declaration of intention by Adegboyega Oyetola to contest for the post of the Governor of the State of Osun
My good people of Osun, I stand before you this day, conscious of the majesty of the Almighty God and His ways in the affairs of men. As the Supreme Being and Creator of all, man only responds to His sovereignty. For, it is He who makes all things possible and for good. It is He who speaks and it is done (Oluwa lo n se ileri to si n’muse). It is He who has made us proud progenies of a great and worthy heritage.
Ours is a legacy of the indomitable spirit of enterprise, hard work and grace. It is He who made us a people imbued with resilience, courage, ingenuity and unassailable triumph over life’s vicissitudes. It is He who chose us as the source of the great Yoruba race, known for virtue, uprightness of character and greatness; a people immensely blessed to lighten the path of humanity. It is He who has made this day possible. I am grateful to Him for this unique opportunity.
Just like yesterday, our great party won your mandate to serve. Indeed, it has been a most eventful seven and half years of service-driven governance, of purposefulness, of untainted vision and of courageous leadership. Today, under the leadership of our indefatigable governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, a wave of massive infrastructural renewal and revolution in agriculture, education, job/wealth creation, health and other social investments have swept across our state – with all resulting in improved quality of lives of our people.
I feel fulfilled working with the enigma, whom I consider as the most resourceful, consummate and creative governor in the history of Osun. Ogbeni Aregbesola is a compulsive thinker, a unique leader, a phenomenon, a paragon of transformation and the architect of a new State of Osun.
Although we are yet to arrive at the Promised Land, we have certainly begun a journey of most remarkable progress, even as there is still room for improvements. And we must not stop nor give up till we are able to evolve a state that works for all.
Osun, our dear State is once again on the threshold of history. It is for this reason I offer myself for service. I seek your support in my resolute commitment to take our state to even greater heights. I seek your hand in partnership as a gubernatorial aspirant of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the next election. I want to build on the giant strides already made by the current administration of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola.
Having been a privileged member of the team that has brought the current transformation our state has witnessed these past seven and a half years, I know what the issues are. I know what our people need is an agenda of continuity and revitalization that will deepen the current gains in infrastructural development. I know what we need is to continue to work and even harder to increase our revenue base to support the payment of salaries, pensions and other deserved emoluments of our teeming workers. In furtherance of the enormous achievements we have already made, we need a leader with steady hands, whose words are his bond, who can further invest in the prosperity of our people. We need a bridge builder, who would continue with the leadership values of the incumbent administration to unite our people, inspire them to jettison primordial sentiments and work for the development of their people, and secure a prosperous state for the benefits of our generations yet unborn. What our state needs urgently is to further soar with inclusive, innovative and unwavering governance. We cannot afford to retrogress. Not anymore. The job at hand is too urgent to be left alone for just anyone unprepared.
I believe I am the man for such a moment as this. I have the experience. I have the pedigree, I am dependable, accessible and most of all, I am that person that will voice your concerns and represent each and every one of you at the right places. I will serve you diligently. I will work for your progress. I am a loyal party man and most of all, a true and committed son of this great state. I have the consummate private sector pedigree, exposure and network, and I will leverage this for monumental economic growth and development. Commitment and service is my promise to you. Your needs and problems confronting our state is what will propel me.
In this journey, we shall be guided by the invaluable experiences we have acquired from the implementation of the bold Six Point Integral Action Plan of banishing hunger, poverty, unemployment, restore healthy living, promote functional education and enhancement of communal peace and progress enunciated by the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola led administration. We will ensure that the plan is objectively reviewed for effectiveness and efficiency in order to learn from what had worked and what did not quite work. I believe we already have a template in the Six Point Integral Action Plan that we can fine-tune and make to work for all. With this, we can hit the ground running immediately.
The welfare of workers shall top our list of priorities. While the current administration has tried its best possible to enhance the welfare of the workers, our administration shall intensify efforts and come up with stronger strategies to ensure prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensions of our senior citizens. We shall pursue workers’ welfare with all the energy in us. We will seek a gradual and inclusive civil service reform, make the work environment more conducive, stimulating and development-oriented, with sustained reward mechanisms and keep workers morale high. We will promote an enviable culture of excellence and service.
We will, working with our well-meaning bureaucrats, urgently increase our internally generated revenue (IGR) base, block all leakages and waste of the Osun commonwealth. While working even harder to improve our IGR, we will specifically continue to cut leakages in tax collection and tax administration processes. Consequently, we will run a transparent and accountable government, steeped in single-minded pursuit of reducing dependence on federal allocation as a means of funding government.
I know you are all working hard to give qualitative education to your children based on your limited resources. Education is a ladder. Rung by rung, it helps people make progress on the path of social mobility. When we educate our people, our society and way of life become stronger and better. That is what our leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo did. It was the gift he gave us. That is why I can stand before you today.
I am a model of a life that qualitative education can make. I grew up on the streets of Iragbiji, in Boripe Local Government Area, as the son of middle-class parents. I had both my primary and secondary education right here in Osun. Coming out with exemplary grades, I was good enough to be admitted to study at the University of Lagos, which was the best for my course of study at that time.
Building on the gains of the qualitative education I received, I have operated as a top-flier in the nation’s very fierce and competitive private sector for over 30 years. I have since built a vast network of contacts, locally and internationally, that will come in handy towards our next phase of socio-economic development. I am today a proud testimony of what Osun has gifted to the world of business and enterprise. If I could succeed as an Osun boy, who now holds first and advanced degrees with world-class financial sector and public sector experiences, our young ones too can. They deserve to have such benefits and more. The education and preparation that will be provided for our youth will make them to excel even more.
A major revolution in the educational sector has begun in Osun. For example, the investment in massive school infrastructure development under the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration in Osun has been widely acknowledged as second to none in the country just as the Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme has won several local and international recognitions and awards. A strong foundation has been laid in the educational sector on which we will further build upon.
Equitable public education is central to a healthy democracy and a thriving economy. We will challenge our children with high expectations from a rich, well-rounded educational curriculum that will provide them hope in a time of despair and help them thrive and become useful adults.
My commitment to this is personal. We must move towards a culture of ambitiousness, inclusiveness, equity and excellence. I believe in equitable access to education and a level playing field. When we pull others up, they do not pull us down. When we shine the light of opportunity on others, we will not dwell in darkness. It is through qualitative education that we can fight for social and economic justice. It is injustice if we allow poverty to bind a child to a life of limited possibilities because they can’t afford quality basic education.
Good education comes with standards. We must resist efforts to water down those expectations and undercut our efforts to improve education when the work gets hard. Collectively, government, parents and teachers must have the courage to hold ourselves accountable. Without accountability, standards are meaningless and equity is a charade. If you elect me as your governor, I will invest in regular training and retraining to further equip our teachers so they can help students meet those standards.
We are most times quick to blame teachers for all our educational problems. We can make a better choice. Teaching is a difficult job. We will invest in teachers’ preparation and development and welcome their expertise and leadership on issues that affect their students. Teachers need more resources and the pay they deserve. If you give me your mandate, innovation, quality, accountability and effective teaching will be my approach. I will also further strengthen technical vocational education to provide technical skills for our people.
We have the infrastructure, what we need now is an enhanced process and I am ready to drive the process. I ask all of you to give me the opportunity to serve you.
Today, Osun, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), is reputed as having the lowest unemployment rate in the country. But then, we still have youth unemployment. We know it, we see it. Like the rest of Nigeria, getting our teeming youth meaningfully engaged is now a pressing challenge. It has assumed crisis proportions. Today in Nigeria, we are seeing a generation much worse off than their parents.
We cannot wait. We have to act and respond in the short term by improving on our existing youth programmes and in the long term, by putting in place programmes to address the structural causes of the problem. I am ready to accept the responsibility of managing the lives and future of Osun youths. To do this, economic opportunities driven by a high growth rate must be higher than expected increase in population. To make a perpetual dent on poverty, our State needs to have seven per cent sustained economic growth over several years. How to achieve that is my vision and job.
Let it be known that I am also a product of a humble background. I have seen poverty and I have had a bit of romance with it. I am often faced with the picture of people, particularly youth who radiate no hope for a better tomorrow. Their memories make me bleed in my heart but also make to be more determined to get involved and effect the needed change in politics.
We will leverage on the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O-YES), and then move forward to employ more and provide a more conducive environment for the private sector to engage a large number of our youths in the critical sectors, including Agriculture, Mining, Tourism, Education and Social Services.
By the grace of God, Osun shall be the main hub of Agriculture in Nigeria. Our strategy for youth employment especially in the Agricultural Sector will boost food security, improve our revenues and reduce the dependence on the dwindling monthly allocations from Abuja.
The current administration which I am part of has done well in providing education infrastructure. We will further build on this, improve the quality of our post-secondary education, for our youths to learn the skills required to give the state a competitive edge. In this regard, we shall be upgrading our vocational technical institutions. We shall make them more vibrant and fit to educate our youth for the demands of a technology-driven fast-paced world. We will further stimulate our economy through the creation of industrial parks that will absorb thousands of our employable youth.
Job creation is uppermost in my mind. A study that we commissioned has indicated that 25-30 factories employing over 30,000 workers can be created within a period of 3-4 years across the length and breadth of the State of Osun.
I will therefore pay critical attention to the establishment of light manufacturing industries, such as those focusing on agricultural processing, meat and fish preservation and packaging, leather goods, building materials production, woodworks etc. This is because Osun has the necessary inputs for a competitive labour intensive manufacturing sector (light manufacturing).
My goal is to make Osun to be known as the State for Employment and Jobs in the country.
It will therefore be a central pursuit of our administration to assist every able-bodied person to be gainfully employed. We shall provide jobs through two means. First, by providing the enabling environment, we shall attract investors in agriculture, agro-allied industries and light manufacturing in our areas of comparative advantage. Secondly, we shall make sufficient financial support and other forms of assistance available to anyone with ideas of starting any business that will employ a minimum of ten (10) other workers.
I will work with our traditional rulers, elders, civil servants, farmers, market women, artisans, students and other critical sectors to develop an all-inclusive developmental plan for the short, medium and long-term. The plans will reflect the yearnings of our people across the three senatorial districts of the state, align with our party’s cardinal programmes, and will further put our state on a strong socio-economic footing.
My good people of Osun, I know you. I have lived with you long enough to say, unequivocally, that we are hardworking and peace-loving people. I know that a high number of our people are traders and commercial entrepreneurs. We will develop the local economy, ensure free flow of domestic capital and build on the potential foreign direct investment thatwill accrue through strategic planning, development partnership and prudent management of land, labour, entrepreneurial and human resources.
We will give further attention to strategic infrastructural projects; link up our township and city markets with other township and city markets in the southwestern region in particular and across Nigeria in general, all in a bid to expand the base of the Osun economy.
It is evident that government alone cannot substantially provide infrastructure for teeming masses without partnering with the private sector. Therefore, we will work with the private sector and the NGO sector to identify and prioritize the socioeconomic and other needs of the state. Deploying a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, we will consolidate work on the robust and strategic road-map of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration to totally industrialize the State and make it a better place to live in.
With the PPP model, our administration will focus on upgrading facilities and infrastructure available for education, health, sporting activities, skill acquisition, poverty alleviation and environmental care.
We will boost agriculture and food security by strengthening the laudable programmes introduced by the current administration. Through this, we will be boosting income to farmers by supporting their various activities along the length of the agriculture value chain. We have learnt good lessons in the implementation of our agricultural development programmes in the last seven and half years, we will use the lessons to leap forward and bring the programmes to their fullest potential’ to the benefit of our proud and hardworking farmers and large-scale investor partners.
We have championed social protection for the vulnerable – senior citizens, the infirm, widows, mentally challenged and so on. We shall take this to the next level by extending the dragnet of the beneficiaries. Under our watch, no elderly person and other vulnerable person will be left behind. They will receive necessary support and adequate healthcare among other privileges. If we create enough wealth and prudently manage it, no one in our midst should be poor or lack any basic means of survival.
Also, we will work even harder to continue to restore the bond of trust between the government and the citizenry. We will continue to secure lives and property with special programmes for police and neighbourhood outfits. We will sustain the recognition of our state as one of most peaceful in the federation by responding to the operational needs of security operatives through the provision of mobility, communication gadgets, protective gear and a working environment that is both conducive and enabling.
In the last seven and a half years I have dedicated myself to the public service of Osun as Chief of Staff to the incumbent Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the faithful implementation of our Six Point Integral Action Plan. I have come face to face with the ideals and realities of governance and government. I have interacted with our people across the length and breadth of the State, from Iragbiji to Iwo, from Ede to Ile-Ife, and I have seen the energy and industry in the people of Ejigbo and Osogbo, I have been impressed by the contributions of our people from Ikire to Ilobu; I am a friend to the Ijesha and Igbomina. I have shared ideas and discussed worthy ideals of people centred governance with sons and daughters of Osun West, Osun East and Osun Central. I am convinced that we are one people, bound by a common history, language, culture and above all, a resolution to lift Osun beyond where we are. I will work for the unity of our people. I will offer my best in the service of all our people.
We will consult more. My people, ours shall be a government of all, by all and for all. We may not be where we wish to be yet, but we are not where we used to be and soon, we will get to where we should be.
Progress is a marathon. We need continuity, a continuity that will move us forward, and not backward. Here I am. I am ready to answer the call to service. I seek your support. I seek your prayer.
I present to you our platform, Ileri Oluwa. Ileri Oluwa is a deep philosophical Yoruba and religious idea impressing on us the immutability of God’s promise. What God has promised must come to pass and cannot fail. I am divinely inspired on the certainty of God’s promise of prosperity, abundance, security and greatness for our state and people and my role in bringing them to pass. I have dedicated myself, working with other patriots, for the realisation of every promise of God for us collectively and individually. I have been privileged to serve our state, Osun, these past seven and a half years in some capacity. I am now offering to step up and serve in higher capacity of leadership.
I seek your mandate with all sense of responsibility and humility to lead our great State to further greatness that we all deserve and as God has destined it.
5th June, 2018.