Eyes are on Osun State as the people prepare for the August 9 governorship election. In this piece, Erasmus Ikhide contends that the pedigree of the flag bearers, and not their religious leanings, will shape the contest.
Both Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Bishop David Oyedepo seem to be in agreement with Kutaddgu Bilig, written for Turkish ruler of the Karakhanids in 1069, which said, “To control the state requires a large army. To support the troops requires great wealth. To obtain this wealth the people must be prosperous. For the people to be prosperous the laws must be just. If any one of these is rejected the state will collapse.”
The single most touching issue plaguing this nation or any other nations of the world today is religious crisis. Religious disharmony is so combustible to the extent that it could consume any nation or people if not properly managed. Political gladiators in history, especially in Nigeria have manipulated the religious vulnerability of the people and still doing so for political gains.
The People Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore in Osun State’s 2014 Governorship election, is frantically exploiting religious sentiments, blackmail, and other incendiary mechanisms to hoodwink the electorate. One of such gimmicks sold to the general public is the open allegation that Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration has not only blank out the Christian community in the state in terms of patronage, but has made efforts to muscle them out of existence.
The charge fall flat on its face. Out of 36 members of the cabinet in the state, 26 are Christians; also, out of the 12 members representing Osun in the National Assembly, 6 of them are Christians. The Christians also had the majorities among the local government chairmen, which shows how committed the governor is to bring about religious peace and harmony in the state.
The allegation has been long in coming without thorough checks by his critics on the the religious issue Governor Aregbesola’s administration inherited from the previous PDP government. It’s common knowledge – except for the mischievous band of frustrated politicians who daily waxed in delusionism – that the governor is out to Islamise the state. The charge bothers more on the wearing of Hijab by the Muslim students in Christian schools.
The issue of Hijab would have been rested by now, if not for want of excuse of failures on the part of PDP, which governed the state for roughly eight years before Ogbeni retrieved his stolen mandate from them. For the records, it was under Governor Olagusoye Oyinlola’s administration, a PDP Governor that the Muslim community went to court and insisted on their wards attending schools in their Islamic wears as part of the school uniform. As we speak, the matter is still being pursued in the court by the Muslim community. Dressing Ogbeni in a borrowed robe to score cheap political points on the bases of religion fanaticism is clearly a crass political opportunism and promotion of falsehoods to a grand art.
On the other hand, the accusation that School Reclassification process in the state didn’t factor in the National School Policy of 6 3 3 4 System is another tactical attempt to paint an otherwise noble policy in a bad light. The need to provide world class learning environment necessitates the ongoing building of model elementary Schools across the state in accordance with the UNESCO Schools Reclassification standard, which has since been adopted by the US and other developed countries.
The elementary Schools are state-of the-arts structures that accommodate 900 pupils of ages 6-9, in the first grade to the fourth grade, i. e, Primaries 1-4. In the same vain, government has built over 15 Middle Schools across the state. They are also state-of-the-arts structures with accommodation provisions of 1,000 capacity for the students. The middle school is for the fifth to the ninth grade which is the present primaries 5-6 and the Junior Secondary School JSS 1-3 in the age ranges of 10-14 years. Students in the High School are within the age bracket of 15-17 years. This category is known as Grades 10-12. The High School Infrastructural facilities will accommodate 3000 students.
It is in the light of these strides and other innumerable achievements of Governor Rauf Aregbesola that the General Overseer of the Living Faith Church a.k.a. Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, on Wednesday, 9th July, 2014, said the infrastructural renewal, particularly the education revolution in Osun deserves global applause.
Bishop Oyedepo gave his assessment in Osogbo, southwest Nigeria, when he paid a courtesy call on the Governor of the State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The cleric noted that any governance that is producing results and affecting the lives of vast majority of the people must be deeply appreciated, irrespective of religious inclination. The Bishop strongly appealed to stakeholders to always be at the vanguard of peaceful coexistence, noting that there is nothing like living in peace, working in peace and promoting peace.
“There is nothing like peace in the whole world. We should always walk towards whatever will promote peace and peaceful coexistence among our people. Let us work for an atmosphere that encourages peace, which engenders growth and development. This is because life is all about promoting the well-being of the people.
“I deeply appreciate the infrastructural development. Besides, the education revolution is for us a great achievement. “I can see the massive road construction going on. This is to the benefit of the people. No policy can remove the roads. I am very impressed,” Oyedepo said.
Observers of political development in Osun should know that Governor Aregbesola’s administration has no political, religious or tribal preference. It is absolutely impossible for Ogbeni to be a religious fundamentalist owing to his all-faith inclusive background. One cannot but wonders why the governor has been so described by mischievous makers who erroneously tagged his administration as pro-Islamic faith.
The only description that suits Aregbesola’s administration by any forward looking individual, is zero tolerance for religious cohabitation and opportunism. This largely accounted for near total peace in the State. Aregbesola has always encouraged people to practice whatever faith they profess, even within his own immediate family.
“My upbringing in Yoruba setting has given no basis for religious antagonism and mutual distrust. “It is impossible in Yoruba milieu not to imbibe the culture of accommodation, tolerance and understanding of the faith of others.
“I guide my faith as much as I fight for the protection of the faith of others. If anyone would accuse me at all, it should be that I have zero tolerance for fundamentalism. “Therefore, my liberal disposition to religion is thus farther from the erroneous impression of being an Islamic extremist,” Aregbesola said.
It is clear the mischief makers has been engaged in a futile battle to make up for their irredeemable battered image and character – which is the ultimate determinant of the August 9th election. The people of Osun will chose between sound character and bloodletting criminal gang, between concrete development and deceptive promise of development and people-oriented governance and propagative ones.