With several years of despondency, the citizenry of every particular locale require, after being delivered from the grip of an administration that had little or no socio-political and economic direction, a strategic plan that will inject life back into them and ginger them into actions to change their lives for better.
“The Walk-to-Live monthly programme put in place by the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola appears to be doing that perfectly,” says Coach Festus Adegboye Onigbinde, former Nigerian’s Chief Coach and a Technical Instructor for CAF.
Walk-to-Live is a monthly physical exercise that involves trekking of at least, 8 kilometres by interested citizens of the State of Osun after which a round of various other physical exercises follow to ensure that the citizens remain physically fit and mentally alert.
Talk of interests! Of course, the citizenry become much more interested seeing their governor leading the pack with top echelon of his administration who spot sports wears walking through the multitude in excitement.
Under the six-point development agenda of the governor’s administration, which he calls “My Pact with Osun”, promotion of healthy living is one. “There can be no healthy living without constant physical exercises,” the governor is always quick to remind his people each time people troop out to partake in what is appearing the biggest platform for mobilizing the people to action in the state.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, after his participation in the 7th edition of the programme held in Ila Orangun on July 14, attested to the potency of the monthly event for springing the people into action. Perhaps, the more reason he made no pretence about replicating the same programme in the “Pacesetters State.”
Each edition of the programme seemed to have learnt a lesson from the previous one. The 7th edition held in Ila Orangun, home country of the National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria and former Governor of the State, Chief Bisi Akande, pulled perhaps a higher crowd than the one held in Ile-Ife, which took off at the Palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, and terminated at the Sports Centre of the Obafemi Awolowo University campus.
Before Ile-Ife, the programme had been staged in Iwo Local Government Area of the state which was the first edition held outside the state capital, Osogbo which witnessed the first four editions.
In its own right, it is emerging as a potentially tourist action with the frills and thrills now associated with it. What with the now regular presence of notable actors and actresses of the Nigerian movie industry?
Tunji Bamishigbin, a lawyer, actor and film producer sees the Osun Walk-to-Live as a “potentially crowd pulling event which the state can package as a tourist attraction if properly managed.”
On hand to pep up the event at different editions, apart from Bamisigbin were veteran actors such as Chief Lere Paimo, Chief Aderemi Olofaina, Chief Karimu Adepoju, Antar Laniyan, Yomi Fash-Lanso, Bolaji Amusan, Fathia Balogun, Ebun Oloyede and a host of others who have become household names in the country’s entertainment industry.
And Onigbinde, who has not missed any edition since he took part in the second edition, is not the only sports personality that identifies with the programme. Ex-internationals such as winger Chief Segun Odegbami, former midfield maestro, Demola Adesina, ex-defender Taiwo Ogunjobi and others, having graced the occasion once, have fallen in love to ensure they do not miss any edition.
The combined effect of the physical presence of the Governor of the state, the entire members of the executive council, veteran, regular faces in the country’s entertainment industry, renowned sports personalities magically stir people into action in a frenzy of adulation that confirm a meeting point between the government and the people.
“People have been so alienated from the government in the past years,” lamented Comrade Rotimi Obadofin, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria and a former governorship aspirant of the party in Kogi State. “But this is a commendable way of mobilizing the people and identifying with them,” Obadofin added
In no small dimension, the programme appears the best in closing the gap between the people and the government. Each edition of the programme sees excited citizens who cannot join the usually long and winding procession either staying in front of their houses; climbing topmost parts of their buildings to catch glimpses of the governor, movie actors and actresses and sportsmen who have become regular features of the event. Young mothers who cannot stay at home straddle their babies in the back. Physically challenged ones waddle their ways through the crowd to ensure they complete the ‘race’. Students, market men and women, old and the young want to be part of what they see as an engaging event that help them regain their self-confidence. It is common scene to see excited, ordinary citizens wanting to get handshakes with the Governor and other top members of his administration.
“This programme makes your people to once again regain their self-consciousness,” says Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, Editor, The Nation Newspaper who witnessed one of the editions. “Part of the problem is that many leaders lock themselves in far away from the people who voted them in. Until another election is approaching, people don’t see them again. But people need to see and feel their governor and others working with him to take decisions that affect them,” Omotoso enthused.
But apart from other benefits now accruing from the event such as raising the political consciousness of the people, Governor Aregbesola has never failed to remind enthusiasts at the events on monthly basis that “Walk-to-live exercise was introduced because we realised that we have all forgotten the need to physically exercise ourselves. We are highly sedentary and socially wild; we must compliment this with engaging in physical exercise. Osun is promoting Walk-to-Live to ensure that we have a healthy people in a healthy state.”
He said the incessant violence witnessed in the Northern part of the country is not unrelated to the fact that the dominance population of youths is not positively engaged.
“We do not know how totally vulnerable we are particularly as a nation with a population of which about 60 percent are youth. The implication is that more than half of the country is in that category where if we do not engage them in activities that will saturate and dissipate their energy, we are doomed.” The governor noted.
To the veteran Coach, the Walk-to-Live is another way of reviving interests in sporting activities in the state, realizing the potentials of the younger ones to bring glory to their state through this.
“We have to develop before we go into competitions; you want your child to have a Bachelors degree in whatever field without going to the university, is that possible?. If you do not develop, you don’t expect high achievements, the talents are there let’s discover and train them.” Onigbinde stressed.
For the Deputy Governor, Otunba Grace Laoye Tomori; Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti; Chief-of-Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, there is nothing like looking forward to every edition of the programme as this provides them the much needed opportunity to rejuvenate.
“I feel a sense of renewal after each event,” says Oyetola