Aregbesola: Saint or Sinner?

State of Osun has come off the perennial phase of delayed salary payment at the tail of last year. It was a cheering news for the people of the state and the government. That the Governor of the
state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola cleared all the outstanding salaries and arrears owed to the state workforce in the face of economic downtown and recession after a protracted union faceoff with the government is worthy of note.

 

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It is more so because Osun is not the only state in Nigeria plagued by delayed salary occasioned by low price of crude oil, but it has become the most violently attacked government and governor. At the last count a few hours ago, 15 states out of 32 have trouble sorting out their wage obligation. That Osun has been singled out for vitriolic media attacks and constant labour unrest gives the impression that there could be other motives behind the unnecessary focus on Ogbeni or pure
politics of bitterness.

The reason might not be unconnected with the personality of the governor in question whose political ideas and ideologies stance on tripod: the people, development and institution building. The trouble began for Ogbeni in 2010, when he inherited virtually a dead state with an empty treasury. Osun was one of the most indebted state in Nigeria at the time he assumed office.

The arithmetic is simple. Since allocation does not come to the state in sacks, all the borrower banks easily deduct their money at source. Sometimes they clear off the entire allocation due the state because the loan is hinged on the allocations from the federal government as
collateral! This is how Ogbeni was caught in the bind. Having subscribed to socialist democracy and welfarism and a buffer for progressive governance in the current administration across the
country, there was no doubt that Nigerians wanted in Ogbeni a miracle worker in the real sense of the word.

Political ideologies shape the way individuals understand the world and how thought and action are connected directly to actual governance process in the life of any nation or state. If borrowing money from financial institutions to service the wage bill of a few civil servants in the face of economic crunch is viewed as failure of government, then the unschooled thrift collector knows a thing we do not know about financial management. If the wage bill of a few civil servants have to erase the monthly federal allocation and the internally generated revenue of the state, then the government has failed in its other contractual obligations to people, like roads and hospitals and schools and agriculture and human capital developments.

Straddling between wage commitment and other compulsory demands on his government, Ogbeni struck the bull’s eye when he said: “just last month, we spent N6.5billion out of N10 billion on salary. The human management science says that the cost of mobilizing workers to work which is called running or operation cost is one and half the cost of labour but because that is the ideal cost for mobilizing workers, if you understand what that means. Mobilization of workers means if you
are engaged to take care of this place. Let’s not go very far, your salary is your salary, it is your income.

“The tools we need to work here must be provided by your employer and everything pertaining to your work here. The only aspect of your wage that is related to your work that will not be reimbursed or that is assumed to be included in your wage is the cost of movement from your
house to your place of work, when you get to your place of work, every other things that the job requires of you is at the cost of the employer.

“It is this that the human management science says that one and a half the cost of labour is the ideal and our own material condition could not permit us to operate at the ideal level. Let’s now say you want to operate at the sub-ideal level, half the cost of ideal of labour is one and a half times the cost of labour in the ideal form.

“You know in the normal natural form it is not half the cost of labour that you need to spend to get labour to do the work for which labour is employed. It is a science, I’m not giving you anything
extraordinary but lets now say its half, half the cost of labour of N6.5billion would be N3.25billion, add N3.25billion to N6.5billion is N9.75billion, you can say it’s N10billion. It is that the people for
which the workers are actually employed have. So, we must review therefore our wage structure – the number of people that must be employed to work for the state.

“If you take out the critical mass, this state must not and cannot afford the number of staff that is costing N3.6billion, N3.7billion at the same time, I am saying all of these because I know you are a
thinker and don’t let anybody bamboozle you whether they can pay or not. The question you must ask is can that state even support this wage bill and then sustained it?

“It’s crazy because at the end of the day, the civil servants have to serve the people when the resources of the people cannot even sustain the civil servants, where do we have the money to serve the people and by the way, I have just picked the financial aspect, lets now go to
the human aspect and proportion of the human resource. How many people take this huge money, 40,000? Lets now for the purpose of extended consideration say that each of the 40,000 have ten dependants and you must factor it in because those dependants are citizens of Osun, 10 x 40,000 is 400,000, 400,000 divided by 4,000,000 × 100 is 10%.

“What logic as human consideration will accept a situation where 10% of the population takes everything. So am not in anyway embarrassed or perplexed by the uninformed condemnation or accusation or denigration on the basis of not been able to pay. Look we are simply an unserious,
unproductive, clearly backward nation and people. Otherwise there is no justification on the basis of reasonable human assessment of performance and development to reduce a government evaluation of an administration to payment or non-payment of salary.

“What will happen to the 90% of unserviced people who do not have relationship with the workers? Finally, will even the workers not use the roads we are constructing with the money. Will they not use the schools. Will they not use all the other facilities like the ambulance that was provided to the extent the workers are still part of those that will benefit from the programmes of government, fiscal capital or service. What we must do is find a balance between the reasonable cost of labour and provision for development”?

One thing Ogbeni traducers can’t confiscate away from him or have accepted as the Gospel Truth is his landmark achievements which Osun citizens and many farsighted Nigerians described as thirty-years of development in a period of eight-years. Comrade Amitolu Shittu known for his bluntness and forthrightness and citizen of Osun says Ogbeni is a generational leader who is mandated to fill the void of absence of governance in the state and nation.

Comrade Shittu listed some of the achievements of the governor to include: 40,000 Youths Employed under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme; 5,000 Youths trained and empowered in information communication technology under the Osun Youth Empowerment Technology
(OYESTECH), over N2.4 billion injected to the economy as allowances for the OYES Volunteers, 123 kilometres of waterways (streams, arteries, canals) dredged to keep the state flood-free, 750,000 school students provided with school uniform coupled with empowerment of 3,000 tailors, 150,000 students provided with computer tablets (oponimo), an electronic learning tool preloaded with 17 subjects, 54 textbooks, and past questions of JAMB, WAEC AND NECO of the past 10 years, introduction of bi-monthly environmental sanitation exercise under the O’CLEAN Initiative to keep the state clean.

There is the beautification of the 185 km Oyo Boundary (Asejire) to Osun-Ondo Boundary (Owena), trucks provided for a Public-Private Partnership waste management model in the state, Primary School Funding Grants increased from N7.4 million to N424 million a year, 240,000 children feed daily with nutritious meals under the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme coupled with empowerment of over 3,000 caterers.

Also, Secondary School basic funding grants from N171 million to N427 million per year, Tuition Fees in State-owned Tertiary Institutions reduced by 30%, security of lives and properties being guaranteed with provision of 25 Armoured Personnel Carrier, over 100 security patrol vehicles and one helicopter for surveillance, 2 state of the art police stations built, Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) increased from N300 million to N700 million without increasing tax payable by
citizens, setting up of Omoluabi Conservation Fund with a N4.2 Billion reserve, Osun Debt Management Office established.

Others are building of the largest commercial apiary in Sub-Saharan Africa for refined honey production, over 1,765 hectares of land cleared and prepared to support farmers, Rehabilitation of farm settlements in the state Over N1 billion committed to support farmers, Building of super highways to connect Osun to Lagos and Osun to Kwara States, 81 township roads covering 128km have been upgraded all over the state.

Again, there is the Ede Water Works capacity increased from 13% to 100% capacity, over 3,000 permanent teachers employed into the state education sector, 300 km roads have been built across the 30 Local Government Areas and Ife East Area Office, Modakeke, Osun Ambulance Service Authority Established with 400 youths trained as paramedics, 9 State Hospitals and 12 comprehensive health centers have been rehabilitated in the state; 74 Primary Health Centers built, Osogbo Railway Station undergoing massive rehabilitation.

That is the quintessential unusual governor of Osun. He is of the view that balance of governance and spread of its dividend supersedes parochial mindset of a few who judge/evaluate governance performance on the basis of delayed wages or otherwise.