HISTORY tells us that in every age, there comes a time when leaders must come forth to meet the needs of the hour. Therefore, there is no potential leader who does not have an opportunity to better mankind. Henry Ford asserted: “The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what it is one’s destiny to do, and then do it.“ Ford, like Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, was an engineer. Ford’s dream grew out of his interest in anything mechanical. He taught himself about steam engines, clocks and combustion engines. Ford aimed to create an inexpensive mass-produced automobile. Until then, the new horseless carriage had been an expensive luxury item, available to only the rich. But Ford was determined to put the automobile within the reach of the common person. Ford had a lot of challenges that made him to part ways with some individuals in order to establish his own company, the Ford Motor Company, through which he produced the Model T that made motor a product for the rich and the poor. Ford became a man of history in 1903 when his dream became a reality and was called a genius.
Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, as a commissioner for Works in Lagos, left his foot prints indelible till date. His political associates cut across many boundaries. That explains why his political influence continues to magnetize politicians who share his political philosophy that sees governance as service for the betterment of humanity. Democratic leadership sees governance as a social contract where greater goods are delivered to greater numbers of people. That is why world leaders share Henry Ford’s ideal that poverty should not be a barrier to anyone who aspires to acquire education in the 21st Century.
The choice of Aregbesola as the Man of the Year 2013 by the Daily Independent Newspapers may not be a surprise to many Nigerians who have been bothered by the scarcity of leaders since the demise of great Nigerian leaders such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello. These leaders that effected positive changes in the lives of their people. It was the great Azikiwe that stated “there is plenty of room at the top because very few people care to travel beyond the average route. And so, most of us seem satisfied to remain within the confines of mediocrity.” Aregbesola did not seek for an elective office for the fun of it; he saw the lacuna that was prevailing in his home state. He left the comfort of Lagos and the opportunities that he had and took on the bull, the PDP strongholds and militaristic establishment which almost cost him his life. The battle to recover his mandate was a herculean task that lasted for three years.
Aregbesola’s inventive genius of Opon Imo (Tablet of knowledge) has made his name to be written in gold as an African leader who, through electronic devices, has revolutionized education not only in Osun State, but in the world as a whole. By this singular invention, it has provided equal access to every child, irrespective of his or her background. This device will henceforth provide a robust learning system and offer a feedback mechanism for monitoring individual performance through the use of the device. It is a walking, sitting or lying companion for learners; it is indeed a revolution that will individualize learning and brings school to the child. His educational policy centred on the total man – complete child, complete youth, complete citizen. The governor’s aim is to prepare the youths for generational change that will be technically competent and economically motivated to be ready made entrepreneurs that will not need to roam the streets for jobs that are not available.
Those that misunderstood the educational policy now will sooner or later realize that Aregbesola meant well for the people. More than ever before, people are looking for leaders. Unfortunately, what we commonly come across in our nation are office seekers which will stop at nothing to secure political office only to turn against the very people that voted them into office, maiming, killing and ostracizing those who dare to demand for the dividends of democracy and by such ugly development, made good men to avoid politics and creating wrong signals which made many people to believe that politics should only be left in the hands of the charlatans. Our politicians have no sense of history. If they do, they would have remembered what that young statesman, President John F. Kennedy, said on May 25, 1961 that: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth”. That dream became a reality on July 16, 1969, when Apolo11 made a journey of 244,930 miles to the moon. Four days later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr. landed the Luna module Eagle on the surface of the moon and offered his famous line: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. We had done it. We had achieved the impossible. The same dream, the same principle that made the Americans to land on the moon has made the first African leader to invent Opon Imo that will revolutionize education globally in this century.
The world is watching the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Nigerians are enormously wondering how he made the feat despite the poisonous tongues that daily criticize this legend, liberator, sage and democrathumanist. According to Olatunji Dare who asserted: “In a world of brute empiricism and economism, it is easy to lose sight of the question that really matters when performance of any government is being assessed. That question is this: To what extent has public policy improved the human condition?”
I leave the question to all, including office seekers, to answer and to realize that the Bola Ige House may not be easily accessible for any one whose performance and antecedents fall below that of Rauf Aregbesola. A man people know to have conquered poverty since he came on board that even the federal government agency accredited for reducing poverty level in the state. Unemployment rate has virtually and drastically reduced in the state than any other state in the federation. His Youth Employment Scheme (OYES) has received the applause of the World Bank and the recommendation of the same international financial body is now being emulated by the Federal Government.
Inequality is no more in the state, and this is evident in the free education programme of the state. Ogbeni Aregbesola has soundly answered the British economist, Dudley Seer’s question about how to evaluate country’s development. Osun has witnessed all-round development and even our critics are now wary of our secret and capability of completion, despite the limited resources and they have forgotten that creativity is the secret of mass development. As we match towards the 2014 gubernatorial election in Osun State, the numerous achievements of the Aregbesola administration in the six integral plans: aiming at eradication of poverty, abundance of food, job creation, good health, infrastructural development, free and qualitative education and peace and security of lives and properties will speak for the governor.
The electorate will surely prefer the government that makes a difference in their lives within three years. They will once again do what they did at the 2011 general election when they voted out political Macavalians.