Four thousand Osun State pupils drawn from 17 schools on Saturday dazzled a capacity-filled Osogbo Township Stadium with captivating calisthenics displays to mark the creation of the state.
The State was created on August 27, 1991 by the regime of retired General Ibrahim Babangida.
At the colourful event, former administrators of the state were full of praises for the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as they gathered with other dignitaries to mark the epochal event.
Colonel Theophilus Bamigboye and Navy Captain Anthony Udofia, who spoke on behalf of previous administrators of the state, commended Aregbesola for what they described as unprecedented developments witnessed under his administration.
This was just as Aregbesola said “worthy legacies” of previous leaders should be sustained, while saluting the late Governor of the old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige, for introducing the idea of calisthenics during his time as Governor.
The two former administrators said they were pleased with the level of transformations and developments that have taken place in the state since they left as military governors.
They stated that there was little or nothing to show for the state when it was first created, adding that today, the state has grown in leaps and bounds and can rank favourably with other states of the federation.
Bamigboye said: “In 1991 when the state was created, there was little or nothing to show that a state actually existed.
“Today, we are very proud to see this state the way it is.
“When we first came, there was a ramshackle school in the heart of Osogbo.
“We tried our best to change the situation in our own way.
“Then the action man (Aregbesola) came and change the terrain significantly.
“He said he was interested in education, he changed everything.
“Osun is working.
“We are proud of the Governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola, for the wonderful work he is doing.
“This state will continue to progress.
“We want you to keep the flag flying.
“We were very impressed with the colourful calisthenics event the children displayed.
“This is wonderful, marvellous and fantastic.
“We say well done on behalf of all past executive governors of the state.”
Earlier in his address, Governor Aregbesola, while congratulating all on the 25th anniversary of the creation of the state, noted that the Osun State School Calisthenics is not a frivolous brainwave that will be swept away by the tide of time.
The Governor emphasised that the programme is well-conceived as part of the overall redesign and reorganisation of the education system in Osun State.
He held that his administration views physical education with all seriousness, regarding formal education as incomplete without its physical development component.
Aregbesola emphasised that the calisthenics programme is not only an out-of-school sports activity but a lifestyle-change project for building a new generation of students who are physically fit, mentally sound and socially well-adjusted.
The Governor also stressed that the programme is supported by practices in other lands and climes, adding that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation regards physical education programmes as part of its crucial brief.
According to him: “The importance of physical education in the development of healthy and wholesome human personality has been realised as far back as ancient Greece where, for instance, the human body was regarded as a temple that provided a sacred abode for the human mind and soul.
“The Greeks of old therefore believed that gymnastics and Calisthenics were necessary to keep this temple-abode healthy and functional. This tradition eventually gave birth to organised sporting activities.”
Aregbesola reminded all that Ige, as governor of the old Oyo State, introduced calisthenics in the Second Republic to the delight of all, stating that it was regrettable that it was discontinued as a result of military incursion into government.
Aregbesola held that reintroducing the programme in Osun State is just continuing with the worthy legacy of a great colossus.
The Calisthenics display to celebrate the silver jubilee of the creation of the state, involved 4,000 pupils between the ages nine and 14, drawn from 17 Middle Schools in Osogbo and Olorunda Local Government Areas.
Aregbesola stated: “We began this programme in 2012 with the assistance of Cuban duo, Francis Rodriguez and Raiza Guerra, who trained the first set that performed during the 21st anniversary of the creation of Osun, four years ago. They also trained the trainers as well.
“We are happy that our people trained by the Cubans are the ones coaching the next generation and are responsible for today’s feat.
“In 2012, a total of 8,000 athletes drawn from 24 schools and 60 coaches were trained in the nine federal constituencies in the state. The calisthenics programme has been well received in our schools and communities by the students, teachers and parents.”
Other dignitaries at the anniversary included former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oluseyi Petirin (rtd); former Deputy Governor, Sooko Adeleke Adewoyin; wife of Ogun State Governor, Olufunso Amosun; and the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Yetunde Onanuga.
Other are former Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Wale Omole; Lagos All Progressives Congress leader, Cardinal James Odunmbaku; Senators Jide Omoworare (Osun West senatorial district) and Prof. Sola Adeyeye (Osun Central); and Senators Olu Alabi and Mudathir Hussain.