I am not a fan of the governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for good reason. Rauf is not just a man of controversy, he is controversy personified. One such controversy that has paid off for Mr. Governor (as he often refers to himself) is the Bureau of Social Services, BOSS. In fact, one was pleasantly surprised that this agency of government was not named O’BOSS, that is Osun Bureau of Social Services as most agencies of government have been so called.
According to the Director -General of BOSS, Dr. Femi Ifaturoti: “One thing that was clear to us at inception is that this Governor was going to rigorously pursue a welfarist/ empowerment agenda in the execution and delivery of his governance offerings. He had a Six Point integral action plan which he termed the PACT. “That the Aregbesola years have featured an integrated approach to empowerment which cuts across the projects and programmes of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, represents the unique atributes of this social pact.
“BOSS was incubated in 2006 and delivered in 2011, after Commissioners and Heads of Ministries had settled down to their new official postings. BOSS, has the sole responsibility to supervise, monitor, evaluate and report the performance of all the commissioners, Special Advisers, Heads of MDAs.
“As an independent organ, BOSS has a direct reportorial line to Mr. Governor which ensures compliance in excellent public service delivery. So, for example, where a project is executed in accordance with the project specifications or standards, BOSS affixes a ‘thumb up’ sticker on the project as a sign of compliance with specifications. Where there is deviation from the project specifications or standards, BOSS will stop the project and affix a ‘thumb down’ sticker as a sign of the need to improve on the project. BOSS then prevails on the executor to ensure compliance with the project specifications.
“During one of our monitoring interventions, BOSS observed that no ‘hazard warning sign’ was placed on a Queen Bee Rearing Apiary Project tagged ‘O’Honey’ to warn the public to stay away so that they would not be attacked by the bees. The management of the apicary was notified of the need for this necessary precaution and they complied.
“In 2013, May 16 at exactly 12.35 pm, BOSS received a project alert through telephone call from an observant citizen of Osun who resides in Ede South Local government. He complained that an on-going hydraulic structure (drainage work) being constructed along the Awotutu- Olowobida road in the local government was sub-standard. He asked that BOSS should verify his claims and take necessary action to correct any wrong on the project.“BOSS discovered this claim to be true and ordered the demolition of 450 metres of sub-standard concrete work which was not in line with the project specifications and directed the contractor to recast according to specifications.”
With such project interventions, BOSS beats her chest that she has saved the State government not only from project collapse but billions of Naira.
It must be stated that BOSS does not award contracts. Perhaps, this accounts for its keen interest in monitoring and evaluation. So, when it realised that it was just not enough to intervene in project implementation at a later stage, it thought it wiser to be part of all state projects from conception. To this end, a four day training programme on implementing a result- based monitoring and evaluation in the state for all 62 ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, was organised.
During the programme which was tagged ‘Incorporating Monitoring and Evaluation into Project Planning, Design and Implementation’, it was observed that the specific approaches to implementing projects, programmes and policies are not currently being followed in the civil service. Thus, it was the first time 95 percent of the participants learned about implementing a result- based monitoring and evaluation.
In addition to this,BOSS has also made sterling interventions in the health sector in the state.
The O’Ambulance service which came on board as a result of BOSS’ intervention is one turning point programme in the health sector. The ambulance service and paramedics operate from ambulance stations located in different areas within the state.
When the Aregbesola administration began Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme, OYES, on assumption of office, it empowered 20,000 unemployed youths. The National Bureau of Statistics revealed that unemployment in Osun dropped to three percent as a result of the scheme. And someone took note- the World bank.
The State government got the nod of the World lending body in 2012 and endorsed BOSS as the State Operations Coordinating Unit, SOCU, for its Youth Employment and Social Support Operation, YESSO. YESSO, a Federal Government’s World Bank supported intervention on poverty reduction targeted at the extremely poor under the Goodluck Jonathan administration sought to access increased opportunity for youth employment and social service. It would be recalled that Mr. Governor delivered the keynote address during the YESSO national launch in Abuja in September, 2013. BOSS as SOCU is responsible for creating a common target mechanism to identify beneficiaries based on their poverty levels, and establishing a single, unified registry of beneficiaries from poor households.
The agency also developed an integrated management information system to track and monitor the progress made by the programme and adopt a common payment system for the core intervention.
To achieve these aims, the World Bank during one of its visits to the agency on April 25, 2013, promised to build its capacity to be able to deliver on the set tasks. For effectiveness, SOCU embarked on a training of trainers which led to the formation of a Community Based targeting teams in the six poorest selected pilot local governments, Community – Based Targeting, CBT. This is a process that contracts community groups or intermediary agents to identify, validate and select potential dwellers of the community for targeted interventions.
So, when the Federal Government announced recently that it was set to disburse N5,000 stipends to poor and vulnerable households in nine states (Osun, Ekiti, Kwara, Borno, Bauchi, Cross River, Niger, Oyo and Kogi), Osun SOCU released a single register. The state keyed into the Cash Transfer programme by institutionalising the State Cash Transfer Unit, SCTU. SOCU in the state handed over data of 8, 105 households captured in the first and second phases of the CBT to SCTU and the beneficiaries are being credited by the bank.
Dr. Ifaturoti would beat his chest any day as he boasts about BOSS’ integrity.
“BOSS has a culture of integrity and profound sense of mission and our Team will not be tempted by anyone,” he says with full assurance.
“We do not witch-hunt. Our delight is not to get as many people, agencies and organisations into trouble, rather to put everyone on their toes, and maximise the comfort of the governed.” With this mindset, perhaps, BOSS has birthed the Beautiful Ones.
With this mindset, perhaps, BOSS has birthed the Beautiful Ones.