From a paltry N300 million a month less than three years ago to N1.6 billion now, internally generated revenue (IGR) in the State of Osun will appear to have taken a quantum leap.
This, of course, cannot be in absolute terms. Compared to Lagos that now does no less than N15 billion a month and is set to hit the N20 billion mark, N1.6 billion monthly seems small. But the news is not Osun’s present IGP in absolute terms. It is even not its comparison with Lagos, brother states they may be.
The news is rather about where Osun was coming from, and the strides it has made, less than three years, under a government that is focused and which nevertheless inherited a near-paralytic infrastructure from a previous government, which was in power for more than seven years.
Indeed, it is from this standpoint of near hopelessness in government that the Osun current IGP triumph must be viewed and celebrated. The Aregbesola administration has done well. So it is kudos to the governor and his team.
But as the reward for hard work is even more hard work, they must know that it is only a sweet beginning. They should therefore also aim at an even sweeter ending. From their performance these three years past, they are well positioned to doing it. They must grab this historic opportunity to make a difference and modernize Osun for good.
Still, what is responsible for this near-meteoric rise in Osun IGP? Some say it is sounder husbandry of Osun resources. This cannot be wrong. To assume office under those debilitating circumstances and yet engage 20, 000 youth volunteers under the Osun Youth Employment Scheme (OYES) was well and truly amazing. Now, to see the second batch of OYES literarily fall upon their jobs, menial as it is, even with their educational attainments, shows a positive improvement in the collective ethos of Osun people.
Still on good husbandry of state resources, that the Aregbesola government has embarked on massive infrastructure and urban renewal programmes, the most extensive and ambitious in the history of the State of Osun, is well and truly breath-taking.
It almost sounds as if the state is experiencing positive spiritual pay back: it is as if the state is getting compensated, in arrears and on the double, for past misrule that had resulted in stagnation. In all sectors of the Osun economy – education, health, agriculture, roads, environment and rural development, just to name a few – something new is happening.
Even in commerce, something big is about to happen with the impending launch of the standard measure for grains, to further instill the ethos of honesty and integrity in the Osun market folk.
This development is intended to make Osun the hub of commerce, between the South-West and the northern parts of the country, where in Osogbo, products and produce can be bought at Lagos prices.
That in itself would reclaim the old glory of the railway-linked Osogbo as a commercial nerve, next only to Ibadan and Lagos in the old Western Region. So, from an economic backwater which inhabitants groan with moans and regret, Osun, with its futuristic infrastructure under construction, is on its way to being a competitive player on the economic front.
But while doing all these, the government is also building its tax base. Indeed, the climb in IGP, aside from good resource husbandry, is also due to taxable economic activities. The more people witness upswing in facilities, the more they are convinced to pay tax.
The more tax payable, the greater the possibility of higher IGP and even more facilities. This economic growth, other things being equal, in due course translates to development and development itself translates to prosperity.
The Osun rags-to-riches story in IGP only proves that a government can only boost its taxable earnings only if it invests in its own economy by boosting infrastructure: physical (in the short run) and social (in the medium and long run). That is why Nigeria’s curious federalism of ‘revenue allocation’ makes nary any economic sense.
Even with its puny resources, the Aregbesola government has proved the almost limitless possibilities of the Osun economy. But it is early days yet. The government should continue on these winning lanes. That is the logical and reasonable path to socio-economic development.