So it came to pass that I decided to spend the holidays provided by the Easter period to check out Osun State.
Osun State is of interest to me for many reasons top of which is the fact that it’s seen monumental changes since an idealist in the person of Ògbénî Rauf Aregbesola became governor following the removal from office of the former governor Oyinlola by a competent court for obtaining office by fraudulent means towards the end of his second term, in which Osun state saw little to no progress infrastructurally (as you’d expect with a virgin state) and otherwise.
In the four years Ògbénî had held the reins of office in Osun State he has managed to set the State on a positive pedestal that’s continued to make it the envy of her neighbouring states.
Cynics will see the developments in Osun State at the hands of the Ògbénî (whose philosophy appear to be modelled in the likes of that of the assassinated Thomas Sankara of Burkinafaso), as an attempt to curry favour of second term by doing all good in the first term, before turning his back on the masses as Governor Fashola is currently doing in Lagos and Edo’s Oshiomhole to a smaller extent.
I may be proved wrong, but the Ògbénî appears to be a tad more sincere than the afore-named governors, with his penchant for seeing to the betterment of the lives of the people of Òsún seeming paramount in his mind and in the projects that form the core of his development agenda.
Under Aregbe’s watch 20,000 youths, graduates mainly were co-opted into the O-YES Empowerment Programme. Many accuse him of making graduates labour for a pittance of =N=10,000 doing menial jobs that are demeaning. The truth however is that they are not meant to sit at those jobs all day, and have the opportunity to seek better employment.
Bouyed by the success of the first tranche, Ògbénî is embarking on the second stanza of the O-YES programme. Government can’t provide all the jobs, infact government may not provide any jobs at all as elsewhere in more developed societies governments are trying to reduce their sizes to become less of a burden to the people they are meant to serve.
The massive investment this Aregbesola administration has committed to developing infrastructure points to the fact that it intends to lure investors into the state, who then will provide the much needed employment.
The intervention in agriculture is quite laudable making a mockery of what we see at the National Level where federal interventions favour only the well established farmers, who are mostly past Heads of State and Presidents, as well as their cronies while they held sway.
Let me tell you about the “O-MEAL” programme which ensures that primary school children get fed daily in school with toppings of chickens and eggs alternatively on their meals.
The chickens and eggs come mainly from another programme in which youths are encouraged to build poultries according to government specifications. They are thereafter supplied with layers, chicken feed and medication. The eggs are sold to the Osun State government who plunge that into the O-MEAL programme, and after months of laying, the layers are “CALLED-IN” by the government, those in the programme get paid again and chicken goes into the O-MEAL programme again. One big revolving scheme.
Osunites think about all these and the possibility of losing all when they consider the antics of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP to retake power by all means possible. They fear they might return to the years of arrested development, where even the roads where their elite politicians lived remained unpaved for years on end, while those in power spent time at MicCom Golf Resort where they squandered the common patrimony of the people of Osun State.
They base their campaign of calumny on the road construction policy of the government, the latest of which is the paving of 10km of roads per local government, which has opened up several areas hitherto closed to development before now. They say the contracts for the roads went to construction firms in Lagos only (to appease Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, an All Progressives Congress, APC stalwart and National Leader, with whose backing the Ògbénî came into power), and my response to that is, even if it is so are the roads not in Osun State, and serving the people of the State?
Their attempt to use Aregbe’s misadventure in his education policy which attempted to make secondary schools run in uniformity and not across religious lines, which met with the angst of the people (as with many a new changes that people become uneasy with by reason of a lack of understanding of how the policy was meant to work), backfired as besides the initial fireworks that greeted the implementation of the policy, calm was restored following a better understanding of the system by the masses. Osunites are in no hurry to forget the ÒPÓN-ÌMÒN revolution that put iPads in the hands of secondary school children to facilitate learning in an IT-enabled environment.
The excitement the coming of the Ògbénî into the lives of Osunites evokes is evident in the ease with which the indigenes are wont to intimate you of the many strides of his regime, some of which memory fails me to recount presently.
Traditional institutions have been restored to their rightful positions, and unlike what is common in other states where statues of politicians adorn specific parts of cities, what you find in Òsún is statues of gods and goddesses, of legendary personalities who many believe played huge roles in making Òsún what it is today as the cradle of the Yòrùbá. This is despite the fact the Aregbesola is himself a devout Muslim. His tolerance of other faiths and religions, especially the traditional is exemplary, in a society where we are quick to look down on our culture and tradition. Today, the Òsún-Osogbo festival is on the World’s tourism calendar.
It behoves on the people of Òsún to fight for what is theirs in the coming gubernatorial elections. It will not be easy, going by recent statements by the ruling party at the centre keen on regaining control of the Southwest starting with Ekiti and Òsún states in staggered elections that is to follow in a few weeks time. The fact that the Ministry of Police Affairs is in the hands of an indigene who may like to use the police during the elections to impose the will of the PDP, and the fact that though the Minister of State for Defence is Lagosian and has flexed his muscles as far as to Ondo State (in a recent by-election) should be a pointer to what may likely happen in Òsún when the election is under way.
Osunites must ignore attempts to sway them in the direction of politicians who did them no good in their first misadventure under the Oyinlola regime. They mustn’t be intimidated by the use and/abuse of federal might not to exercise their franchise to the fullest.
I’m totally gladdened with my visit to Òsún, it’s one story I can say unravelled before my very eyes. I hope Ògbénî Rauf Aregbesola gets a second term, and in doing so not forget his social contract with his people, unlike some before him did once they were fortunate to get the mandate of their people for a second term.
Òsún A Gbè Wá O!