SPEECH: Aregbesola, Recipient Of The ‘Most Innovative Nigerian Governor In First Term Award’ – Business World Newspaper




I am filled with unspeakable joy and indescribable happiness as I gather with all of you who have come to rejoice with me on this memorable occasion of my being graciously decorated as the Most Innovative Nigerian Governor in First Term by the well-regarded BusinessWorld Newspaper.

May I most humbly express my appreciation to the forward-looking management and percipient Editorial Board of BusinessWorld newspaper for freely choosing to confer on me this precious award.

I am enormously grateful to you for carefully monitoring the consistent implementation of our people-oriented policies and for the encouragement you are giving to our administration through this award.

I sincerely dedicate the award to all the supportive people of the State of Osun who from the very beginning never doubted my competence and ability to productively manage their resources and effectively transform their lives.

What BusinessWorld is acknowledging and identifying with today are the unmistakable results of the innovative governance which my administration has brought to bear in our drive towards putting our state and people irreversibly on the path of economic abundance and multifarious people-centred development.

What we have done in Osun since we assumed office is what anyone entrusted with power is unavoidably expected to do. We saw manifold, human-made socio-economic and political problems eroding the human dignity of our people and we responded with the requisite solutions.

I must, however, note that the unique thing about our obligatory intervention is its unprecedented, markedly innovative and unconventional nature. In its philosophical outlook and underlining framework, the blueprint of our administration is decidedly and unalterably people-centred.

We had clearly realised even before we took office that viable, sustainable development would be a sorely dispiriting mirage if it is not comprehensively people-focused and intensely innovative. Such people-regarding governance, I am confident to aver, is the efficacious balm with which we have healed Osun of its many avoidable socio-economic and political disorders. And this happened just within a single term of our being in office.

To be precise, the innovation we have engendered in purposefully translating our practicable vision of development into enduringly beneficial reality is evident in the public education system of the state.

It is there in the tablet computer (Opon-Imo) we distributed to our High School students; it is there in our Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme (O’MEALS); it is there in the completion of 2,000 new modern classrooms in 39 schools; it is there in the free school uniforms given to all public school students; and the in the smart biometric ID cards soon to be distributed to the students, among many others.

For us, education is number one priority. It is the foundation of the development we earnestly work for; it is our passport to that future of enduring socio-economic greatness. This explains why we feel no qualm investing in it, for we are convinced, as Confucius was, that ‘no nation goes bankrupt educating its people’.

The fruits of our innovative governance are evident in our response to the stinging social malaise that is youth unemployment. That response, which is now a model favoured and recommended by the World Bank, has enabled us to positively engage 40,000 active youths in decent endeavours.

It must be noted that 20,000 of them were first salvaged from the unemployment lane within the first 100 days of our assuming office through the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES). In other numerous areas including agriculture, we have created decent jobs for our youths.

To seek development of any kind without the organised involvement of youths is akin to the futile attempt of climbing a tree from the top. The loaded energy, boundless creativity, and vast competences of our youths need to be systematically tapped for the overall good of our country. That is the path Osun has found; and it is walking it steadfastly.

I must also let you know that in agriculture we have broken new grounds. In ways that have never happened in the history of Osun, we have provided huge financial support for our farmers. We are empowering them towards massive food production and food security. We believe strongly that importing food that we can grow here does not make any economic sense.

Similarly, we are under no illusion that agriculture also provides a viable solution to the scourge of unemployment problem. We do know for certain that agricultural economy that is grounded in food production cannot fail. Thus, we are revamping the old farm estates across the state and are encouraging immense investments in farming and agro-businesses.

Moreover, there is solid proof of innovation in our rehabilitation, reconstruction and construction of rural, local, intra-city, and inter-state roads. Good road infrastructure will not only enhance human living, it will equally boost trade and commercial activities. We have spent billions of naira in ensuring that roads in Osun do not serve as death traps but greatly enhance socio-economic activities for the well-being of our people.

In the colossal increase we have achieved in our monthly Internally Generated Revenue – which is now N1.6 billion, in contrast to the N300 million we met –, we have shown that innovative governance is significant for progress. We achieved this feat without any increase in tax. We are working to swell this figure to N5 billion.

We are not satisfied with the continuous dependence on Federal Allocations and its horrendous vagaries and limiting vacillations. In spite of Osun’s position as the 34th on the Federal Allocation ladder, we have shown that with creativity, innovation and unbending fidelity to prudence greater favourable developmental strides can be actualised. Thus, a recent report put Osun’s economy as the seventh largest in Nigeria.

I must not fail to mention that our Agba Osun (Osun Elders) Welfare Scheme is one other remarkable achievement of our Administration. This social welfare scheme targets the vulnerable elderly citizens of the state. These elderly citizens are given N10,000 monthly in addition to the free health programme specially provided for them. About N17 million is spent monthly to keep this programme going. Generally, our healthcare delivery to our people has greatly improved.

Distinguished audience, the harvests of good governance being enjoyed in Osun is not accidental. It is made possible through vision, passion, and innovation. That we could do much in our first term attests to the fact that our goal is the development of our people.

The point must be made that whether as leaders in their first or second term of office, there is really no excuse for non-performance. There is no reason why elected officials should not add value and meaning to the lives of the electorate in any term of office.

I am seeking re-election not because I want to rest from all that has been done in my first term of office. If my first term has been defined by invaluable works, my second term of office will be characterised by more works for the overall good of more number of our people.

Second term of office is no time to rest; it is another opportunity to beat the record set in human development in the first term of office. The work here is not yet finished. I am ready to do more, even breaking newer developmental grounds.

I believe, as the virologist, Jonas Salk, says, ‘The greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more’. I am willing and ready to do more for Osun. My inspired and inspiring message for my people is this: Greater things than you have seen under my watch will spring forth in my second term of office.

I should like to thank the BusinessWorld Newspaper again for their good gesture and encouragement. I will do more in service to humanity to justify the confidence you generously repose in me.

I thank you all for your cordial audience.