New Year Message – Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor, State Of Osun

My good people of Osun,

I congratulate you all for seeing to the end of the old year, 2015, and the beginning of the New Year, 2016.

The old year was particularly interesting and brought its own blessings, triumphs and challenges. It was a year of national election during which we voted for a president of the people in the true sense of it. It was a landmark year when we had and took a great opportunity to break from a ruinous and anti-developmental ruling clique bent on taking the nation to the dark ages, and began a transition to a prosperous, secure and promising era superintended by genuine leadership that rose from the people. It was in a true sense the year of liberation and freedom for the Nigerian people.

In that past year, in spite of our dire financial challenges, we fulfilled our obligation to the people by providing security, healthcare, education and enhanced environment for economic activities. You will recall that many of our legacy schools were completed and commissioned in 2015. Our administration’s flagship high school, Wole Soyinka Government High School, in Ejigbo, was also commissioned. We signed many Memoranda of Understanding with reputable institutions, including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, the French government and a Chinese consortium for huge developmental programmes and job creation endeavours guaranteed to bring giant developmental strides for our state and people.

That great year ironically also witnessed dwindling national economic fortunes. The pillaging of the national treasury that began with the ancien regime was compounded by continued precipitous drop in oil prices. The undisputable evidence of this fall is that a barrel of oil which went for $140 in 2013 sold for $31.71 yesterday. There are even unsavoury prognosis that before long it might drop below $20.

The effect of this sharp reduction is that the distributable pool of the Federation Accounts that hit a zenith of N1.2 trillion in 2012 dropped to a new low of N369 billion in November allocations shared in December 2015.

The stark implication of this for the Nigerian governments at the federal, states and local levels is that revenue derivable from the Federation Accounts, as the basis for running government, has been reduced to little or nothing.

It means for us that the era of unearned revenue has come to an end. We are now entering into a new and special period where it is imperative for us to work for our own money before we can spend it. This period demands innovation, creativity, productivity, industry and wealth creation.

I am therefore asking of you all, that whatever your vocation may be, you must work harder, be innovative and double your productivity from now on. Whatever your estate: traders, farmers, civil servants, artisans, transporters, workers, corporate executives and the self-employed, you need to do more than before.

Productivity is the key to tiding over and making the best of the special time we are in. It requires of especially the youth and school leavers to embrace the philosophy of hard work and innovation. This means finding engagement in farming and skill acquisition, instead of relying on general academic qualification in order to take advantage of this special period. No one must be idle again.

Every challenge brings its own opportunities. Fresh opportunities are waiting to be tapped in this special time. It only requires that we reach into our natural God-given ingenuity and endowments.

For us, we are already working in the areas of agriculture, solid mineral development, tourism and manufacturing.

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. The history of development has taught us that humans are the primal agent of development. Development begins with thinking and coming up with ideas; only humans do that. These ideas are given life with their incorporation into policies which are then implemented to form an unending cycle of enterprise and wealth creation.

Development in machinery and robotics notwithstanding, humans still drive work and put even machines and animals to any endeavour.

Humans also form markets. Where there are humans, there is something to be sold, a service to be rendered and a money to be made, of course legitimately. We only need an atmosphere of peace, mutual respect and tolerance, even if we lawfully compete against each other. As long as we remain a people, united and resourceful, no force on earth can halt our march of greatness.

The government will do everything within its powers to maintain its covenant with you. We will not leave you alone; hopeless and helpless. We are in it together. We shall provide leadership, show the way, do what we say and walk the talk. From the present situation, we will lead and guide you to new opportunities from which we will create new wealth and bring prosperity for all. Only the lazy has no place.

We shall continue to provide security for lives and property and promote peace. This is the primary social good on which other goods rest upon. We shall also continue to provide healthcare service by putting our hospitals and medical institutions in the best shape. We are not going to slow down on education. It has been our priority and we are determined to make it our greatest legacy. The immortal words of Confucius is apt here. He said if your plan is for a year, plant rice; if your plan is for 10 years, plant trees; but if your plan is for 100 years, educate children.

The Federal Government has spoken its mind with some assurances on the challenges facing the nation. I am assuring you that solutions are being sought to the nation’s financial problem and every effort is being made to cushion the effect, one of which was the concessionary loans provided for states last year to offset the backlog of salary arrears. We must support them in our own way by working hard, create wealth and adding value to the commonwealth more than we take from it.

It has also become necessary that you maximally support the government by paying your taxes, rates, levies and fines to the government. Every government is established on the sound foundation that it will be upheld and sustained with the taxes of the people. People place legitimate demands on their government only because they have a sense of ownership that comes from supporting that government with tax payment. This consciousness has been dulled in the past because the government has been supported largely with free and unearned oil money. That is now past. The consequences of direct ownership of government must be reawakened; and you must enthusiastically pay your tax.

I will like to thank all the people of the State of Osun for your kind support, understanding and unflinching loyalty to our government from time immemorial. I thank the women and their groups, market women and men, traders, artisans, civil servants (for their profound sense of understanding and cooperation with government), workers, students, transporters, commercial motorcyclists, employers of labour, organised private sector, the business community, non-governmental organisations, community based organisations, youth organisations, political parties, traditional rulers, community leaders and religious leaders.

We have overcome obstacles, taken giant strides and buoyed with confidence to face any challenge in our way because we have firm assurances of your continued support. I thank you all.

I commiserate with the Ijesa people, especially the traders at Atakumosa market, over the fire that razed the market recently. I also commiserate with the proprietress of Bovas Filling Station, Osogbo, over the gas explosion at the station, occasioning the loss of a family of four, including young children. Our hearts are also with the people of Ibadan, Onitsha and other places ravaged by fire in 2015. May such disaster never reoccur in our nation.

On behalf of the government and people of the State of Osun, I offer heartfelt condolences to the government and people of the north-eastern states of Nigeria being buffeted by insurgency. I pray the efforts of government will succeed and their afflictions will soon come to an end. We stand with the parents and families of the missing Chibok girls at this trying period in their lives. We pray that their sorrows and pains will end soon when the girls are found and reunited with their loved ones.

It is my earnest prayer that the New Year will be peaceful and usher in fresh opportunities, goodness, prosperity and abundance to all and sundry.

I wish you a happy and blessed 2016.

Osun a dara!