The performance of the Osun State government since the inception of the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s administration came under scrutiny recently at an economic summit in Osogbo, the state capital tagged ‘Orisun Aje 2014’.
At the summit organised by the Peoples Welfare League (PWL), a non-governmental organisation, mind boggling issues bordering on the survival of the ordinary man, particularly the rising wave of unemployment and the widening gap between the rich and the poor were raised and solutions proffered.
The venue, Osogbo Holiday Inn, was full of activities during the two-day summit attended by civil servants, artisans, cottage industry owners, trade unions and politicians who rubbed minds on the way forward in the country.
The theme of the summit; ‘Crux of Economic Developmental Masterplan: Analysing Radical Economic Paradigm Shift’ captures the mood of the organisers, who believe it was time to better the lots of the people.
Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola in his remarks said, Nigerian masses are living at the mercy of harsh economic policies and urged government to re-evaluate the situation.
He said the reduction in states’ monthly allocation by 40 percent was a declaration of war on the Nigerians people, noting it would widen the gap between the haves and the have not.
He said government at all levels must work to reduce the poverty level to pave way for a better society, adding that the Federal Government’s unilateral decision reducing money meant for state cannot be justified.
The governor noted that the country still sells its oil at the same rate in the international market.
Aregbsola said the summit is coming at a critical moment in the country’s national life, urging policy makers to tap into it.
He said: “Summit like this is to conceptualise ideas to improve the living condition of the people. The primary focus of this summit is to look at the successes of government and advised where it has not lived up to expectation.
“I urge you to give this summit all the seriousness that it deserves because in the long run, Osun will not only be the beneficiary but the entire country will key into the outcome of the deliberation and use the formula to advance their causes.
“Osun in the last three and half years has made progress from the backwater of economic regression to the fertile place of economic abundance.
“The transformation inspired by this transition is observably manifold in areas of arresting unemployment, reducing inequality among the people, capacity building etc. I must say that Osun economy has substantially grown from where we took over the governance of the state,” he said.
The governor said Osun State has fought poverty and the result available for confirmation, stressing that the state has the lowest poverty index in Nigeria. “It is not a phantom wish, it was published in 2012. Five states in the lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria are Abia 11 percent, Oyo nine percent, Lagos eight percent, Kwara seven percent and Osun three percent.
“In the poverty index, Osun is rated second only to Niger State; however, we don’t even know their parameter for arriving at the index because Niger State is not even among the best ten on the unemployment index. So, when you marry our performance on unemployment with our crystal performance in poverty, I will say we are the best governed state in Nigeria,” Aregbesola said.
The co-chairman of the event and former Secretary General of the Organisation of Africa Trade Union Unit (OATUU), Comrade Hassan Sumonu, noted that the rapid physical transformation of Osun State indicates that the Aregbesola administration is working to better the lots of the people.
He said: “Osun State has been greatly transformed. When my tenure as Secretary General of OATUU ended, I had the choice of staying back in Accra, Ghana or coming back to live in Abuja or Lagos. However, when I visited Osun, the transformation was so massive that it struck me in a big way and I have chosen to live here ever.
“I support all the developmental initiatives that are people-oriented and capable of bringing about development. Any government that has a pact with the people must honour and fulfill that pact for such a government to remain a darling of the people.”
Sumonu advised other governors and the Federal Government on the need to study and adopt the Osun State template for socio-economic development, adding that unemployment rate in the country is growing and worrisome.
He said government at all levels must stop playing politics with the lives of the people. He stated government must embark on progra-mmes that will better the lives of the governed.
“This is the type of approach the whole country needs. The Federal Government and other states must put politics aside and see how it is possible to replicate Osun’s pragmatic approach to employment generation and wealth creation all over the country. Nigeria will be better for such selfless consideration,” he said.
The chairman of PWL, Comrade Abiodun Agboola said, the summit was organised to allow stakeholders reflect on government prog-rammes and contribute to the development of the country.
He said: “PWL, as the third eye of the public has elected to shoulder the responsibility of bringing the stakeholders together in order to assess the situation of governance in Osun State in the last 40 months in line with our tradition.”
Osun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Ismailla Alagbada, in his paper entitled: “Overview of Developmental Indices Before, Now and the Projection for the Future: Osun as Microcosm in Nigeria,” said the only way government could make progress is to proactively engage the people.
“The people only appreciate government when they leave office, which is why the Aregbesola six-point agenda is squarely about the people. I must say before Are-gbesola came, infrastructure in the state was comatose. No investor in his right mind will come to such a state except the situation was redressed.”
Corroborating the position of the commissioner, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu in a paper titled: “Welfarism and People Oriented Development: Modern Governance Ethos” said government must be transparent and accountable to the people for it to be trusted.
He urged government to create the enabling environment that will ensure economic growth.
“That is why we have most of the challenges now confronting the country in form of insurgency because concerted efforts have not been directed to it. Regrettably, when you have insurgency it cannot be completely wiped out, you can only manage it,” he said.