“A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.” – Proverbs 12: 3.
I am not a politician but a ‘political animal’. I am also not a card-carrying member of All Progressives Party (APC) but a Rauf Aregbesola sympathizer; and an unrepentant one at that! If I am therefore tagged a politician because of my belief in the progressive credentials of Aregbesola, so be it! In the same vein, if I am labelled an ‘Aregbe wrapper’ as a result of my love for this great man of honour, I owe nobody any apology!
At a time like this, I cannot but remember my days at Ijebu-Jesa Grammar School (IJGS), Ijebu-Jesa when it was all fun traveling to towns and villages especially, within the-then Obokun Local Government Area of the old Oyo State for sports and related social activities. I can confirm that those were relatively good old days when towns were towns and schools were schools. At a time like this as well, one cannot but begin to wonder what became of our government that, for close to three decades, residents of my Local Government were at the mercy of the State Government. No thanks to the bad roads and absence of other social amenities that were naturally taken for granted in saner climes.
Specifically, between 1985 when I left IJGS and and 2010, when Aregbesola was sworn-in as Osun Sate Governor, schools in Osun State had become something else and hitherto passable roads had become such death traps that residents completely got cut-off from the rest of the world. People groaned in the rough of aches and moaned in the tumble of pains. Hunger begat hunger, poverty took the place of affluence and it was as if the gods were angry!
Entered the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration on November 27, 2010 and Osun State was again on the path to greatness. Within the first three years in office, Aregbesola saw to the training and empowerment of over 5,000 youths in Information Technology through the Osun Youth Empowerment Technology Scheme (OYESTECH); some thousands of the stand-alone, multimedia, e-learning Opon Imo Tablets were distributed to students while others are expected to benefit from the scheme through local production by a company already sited in the state. Within the same period, no fewer than 750,000 pupils and students were given free school uniforms, with over 3000 tailors trained and empowered to sow school uniforms. Primary School Funding Grants also increased from 7.4million to N424m a year while Secondary School Basic Funding Grants rose from N171m to N427m a year.
During the period under review, Tuition Fees in state-owned Tertiary Institutions got reduced by close to 30% even as 254,000 elementary students were fed daily with nutritious meals through government’s O’MEALS scheme, a project that also led to the employment, training and empowerment as cooks of 3000 people. Since the foodstuffs were sourced and prepared locally, the scheme brought about the annual injection of N4billion into the economy of the state. Aregbesola’s era also witnessed the inauguration of Omoluabi Garments Factory as well as Omoluabi Conservation Fund into which N4.2billion reserve has so far been injected.Also worthy of mention is Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) which has succeeded in taking off the streets and engagement of 40,000 unemployed youth.
Efforts to enroll more youth into the programme is also in top gear. State-of-the-art Police Stations were built and Patrol Vehicles, Armoured Personnel Carriers and related security equipment were also donated to Security Agencies towards the enhancement of security of lives and property. What about those ‘Stop! Ma P’ara e!’ Aregbesola-constructed roads that adorn the nooks and crannies of the State, in addition to O’CLEAN’s bi-monthly statewide environmental exercise and Agricultural Farm Settlements Project through which 1.765 hectares of land were cleared and prepared for farmers?
The State was able to build 74 Primary Health Centres and rehabilitated its 9 hospitals and 12 Comprehensive Health Centres, thereby aiding the provision of Sustained Free Health Services to all, irrespective of age, gender, political affiliations or religious inclinations. Through its Free Medical and Surgical Missions Programme, government was able to provide free treatment and surgeries to thousands of citizens; and, through its Osun State Ambulance Service Authority, not less than 400 youth have been trained as paramedics. 123 kilometres of waterways (streams, arteries and canals) were dredged to keep the state flood-free for three years and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) increased from N300m to N1.6b without any increase in tax payable by citizens.
In my personal opinion, the Education Sector seems to have been the most blest. Apart from those education-related dividends which I have enumerated above, Osun State Government, under Aregbesola, also embarked on the building of no fewer than 40 Elementary, Model and High Schools to cater for its ever-increasing population of pupils and students. Some have been completed and already put to use while some will be commissioned within the next two weeks. This is in addition to the 20 new sites which will also be opened within the same period.During the period under review, 7000 thousand additional teachers were employed; with all outstanding allowances paid and all entitlements settled. The governor also graciously approved the creation of four Permanent Secretary positions (that is, Tutors-General) for the Teaching Cadre. And, as we speak, over 30 brand new Omoluabi Scholar Buses are ready for distribution to the State’s High Schools. The number is expected to increase to 100 by September.
So, herein lies the essence of this piece. Of all the contenders for the Seat of Power in Osun State, two of them, that is, Aregbesola and Iyiola Omisore, former Deputy Governor and former Senator, are of interest to me. This is not to say that other contenders for the office are not qualified. Rather, it is because the duo have some things in common which others in the race don’t have – which stand them out.
First, Aregbesola and Omisore were born the same year: 1957. Both are from the same Senatorial District (Osun East) and both are qualified engineers. Both have tasted power – in their own rights and in different capacities; and both are still interested in aspiring to that highest office the Constitution allows Osun State to offer any of its indigenes.
However, while one has a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mechanical Engineering, the other holds a Doctorate Degree in Procurement, Taxation, ‘and things like that.’ Not that alone, while one is an apostle of Due Process, especially, in Political Practice, the other is a man of scant consolation renowned for desperate and dangerous schemes that carry along with them avoidable violence. Again, while one is skillfully artful and gets fairly well with everybody, the other paints the picture of a man of fancy speculations and unstable whims who only politic for individualistic innuendos; one whose credibility baggage, in saner climes, couldn’t have earned them ‘aspirant’ status in the first place. But this is Nigeria!
Beautiful Denial! Shameless insincerity! Sickness of inaction! Wheezing vanities! Like Omisore, like Goodluck Jonathan: clueless; visionless; pretentious; mere men with narrow loyalty. In their dictionary, ‘power of performance’ and ‘forces of politics’ are of the same essence. Little wonder the country has become a wasting entity! But, if I may ask: what does Omisore want again? Maybe I should put it this way: what does Omisore want for the good people of Osun State and what does he want for a political party which was for close to eight years in power without any meaningful achievements to justify its rule? What does Omisore want his party to give to his people as democracy dividends and why is President Jonathan’s Federal Government bent on destabilizing the region that has all this while sustained a semblance of peace?
That Nigeria is sick and that the ruling party is responsible for her ailment has never been in doubt. Political Violence has taken the better part of Nigeria’s electoral process while ethnic competitions, religious tensions and struggle for power between the North and the South have reached an absurd peak. Once, her predicament was excused on the politicization of the military. Now, it is the militarization of our democracy. Once, its politics was tagged ‘bread and butter’; now, it’s been re-branded: ‘stomach infrastructure’. There’s chronic youth unemployment in the midst of get-rich-quick ‘yahoo yahoo’ mentality; Boko has spread its ‘Haram’ insurgency to the Southern part of the country and it is as if Nigeria has no leader.
In our clime; and, in our very eyes, politics has gone beyond being the survival of the fittest to being the exclusive preserve of the meanest and the crudest. Added to this is a satanic blend of “dumb horse-traders” and “perpetual complainants who do nothing about their complaints apart from moaning and moping.” That is why it has become practically difficult for the those who mean well for dear fatherland to challenge the status quo ante bellum. Threateningly, we are for the first time having as president a man who does not see himself as the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces but one to whom perpetually remaining in office is the only strategic necessity.
But why Aregbesola again? The answer is simple! So far, so commendable! Aregbesola is an achiever who, within so short a period of time in office, has transformed Osun State into an attractive city, a state of aquatic splendor and a centre of tourist attraction offering superb views. A man of poise and panache, this small-in-stature-but-mighty-in-spirit Ilesa-born politician has changed the face of Osun into a state looking ahead to the future. No doubt about it: Aregbesola is witty, disciplined, teachable, responsible and passionate about leaving not only Osun State but also the world better than he met it. Little wonder he was described in Wikipedia as “the best Governor Osun State has ever produced since the creation of Osun State.” Of course, that’s why we all want him at Bola Ige House for another term of four years!
“If the plural of ‘man’ is ‘men’, why can’t the plural of ‘pan’ be ‘pen’?” So, why not Omisore? Here again, the answer is simple: Osun State has had its fair share of the few ‘ups’ and the many ‘downs’ of this ‘mere geographical expression’ called Nigeria. Left to this reason alone, the state’s democratic destiny should no longer be left in the hands of misfits and pretenders whose previous outings not only ended up polarizing our thinking with a sickening system but also turned our common patrimony into a ‘breakfast-in-London’ and ‘lunch-in-Ada, Osun State’ venture. And, if I may add: a man in whose eyes violence is not only justified but is also essential for the attainment of political objectives should not be entrusted with the destiny of a State as promising as Osun.
In the words of Oscar Wilde, democracy is nothing but the “bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.” But how come Kigali suddenly became the epicenter for everything chaotic, tribalistic and genocidal? How did it gravitate into a metaphor for the sad, the bad, the ugly and the violent? How did it become a habour for hatred so much that, even, two decades after, Rwandans’ wounds remain practically and pathetically unhealed? If I may ask again: how did the “substantial” violence which characterized the fall of the House of Hohenzollern come to be and what was responsible for the rise of the Weimar Republic through the German Revolution of 1918–19? Coming back to Nigeria, have we as a country any lessons to learn from the ‘like play, like play’ predicament of Somalia, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Kenya, Zimbabwe and, now, Central African Republic (CAR)? For God’s sake, who is responsible for our woes and how do we take back our destiny from the claws of political marauders, rapacious ‘jegudu jera’ and ‘alo k’olohun k’igbe’ politricians?
The beginning of the end! Or, the end of the beginning! The truth is; and, not unexpectedly, too, events in the coming days will be the ultimate decider of Nigeria’s direction.
May God save us from ourselves!
Komolafe writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State