How Much of Lies Will Earn Omisore A Governoship Ticket? By Lateef Raji
In June last year when Iyiola Omisore threatened to stop the convoy of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to search him for God knows what, not a few Nigerians home and abroad were alarmed at what they believed indicated Omisore’s resolve to ignite mayhem in Osun if that is what it requires to become the Governor.
But even in the face of overwhelming evidence of his threatening outbursts, Omisore went to town denying ever making such statement when it dawned on him that his threat contained elements of crime against the state.
While failing to clean up the mess of an open threat against a serving Governor, the desperation for office has led to more faux paus from the cantankerous politician whose career has been dogged by nothing but notoriety.
Of course, not a few discerning minds know that all the hoopla about Islamising Osun, concocted security reports; secession plot, cancer, and other forms of manipulated diatribes are aimed at only one thing: Discredit the governor and his administration for his inordinate gubernatorial ambition.
His interview currently circulating in some national dailies, including that published in Thisday of last Sunday is another clear manifestation of the incorrigibility of a purveyor of falsehood; dexterous at concoctions and highly gifted in manipulative tendencies.
Of course, Omisore is desperate for a rebirth and image laundry. First, he needs to show the world that he is not himself and he is the best his political party can put forward come 2014 while he is faced with the gargantuan opposition by other governorship aspirants within the fold of the PDP who believe and insist that Omisore, for the sake of all that is good, cannot be the face of their party. He needs, secondly, to neutralize many of the heavy, unwholesome political baggage that he carries with him as a politician.
Unfortunately, none of these can be wished away by mere ranting, fabrication of lies against the governor and his administration for lies would remain what they are: lies!
A quick look at some of the lies told in his interview.
· That Aregbesola employed 10,000 youths instead of 20,000
· That the Government after two years laid them off and employed another 10,000
· That the Governor purchased a helicopter for private use at the cost of N7billion
· That Osun got an allocation of N10. 9bn for March and declared N2bn
· That the governor awarded a contract for the construction of the Osogbo Ila Odo Kwara Boundary for N19bn while, according to him, the contract had been awarded at an original cost of N7bn
· That the East Bye Pass Road (which he ignorantly called Western Byepass Road) was awarded at the cost of N15bn when the original cost was N7.2bn
· That Osun is giving “mini-computers to students at the cost of N11bn to download textbooks
· That the state cannot pay minimum wage to its workers
· That a strike was on in the state as at the time he was granting his interview
And now the truth of the matter:
· That Aregbesola’s government did not employ 10,000 youths. His government engaged 20,000 youths for a period of two years for community, social and public work volunteer services in a two-year rolling scheme within which the volunteers are given entrepreneurial life-changing skills. By the time the first batch of 20,000 recruited in March 2011 exited in February 2013, no fewer than 18,000 of them had gained one form of employment either through absorption into the state’s civil service system; or set up one small scale investment or the other through the skills acquisition scheme that is part of the package called OYES. But for his desperate attempts at brazen falsehood, we know that Omisore whose extended family is a beneficiary of this scheme, knows that he can confirm from the First Bank Plc, which handles the payment of these 20,000 volunteers every month, if his figures are not mere concoctions.
· That only ignorance or pure mischief would make a former senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria fail to realize that a brand new helicopter costs about $4.5 million (equivalent of less than N700 million) rather than the ridiculous N7bn he quoted as the cost of the helicopter in question
· That the Osun government leased the helicopter for its Swift Action Squad (SAS) for its aerial surveillance in addition to now over 200 patrol vans and five Amoured Personnel Carriers (APC), that have all combined to make Osun a no-go-area for criminals. The arrival of this helicopter was widely publicized in February this year to also sound a note of warning to hoodlums that whether on land on from the air, the state is well covered and fortified against their activities.
· That Osun did not get any N10.9bn and declared N2bn as monthly allocation in March. It is baffling that he could lie so cheaply on a matter so open as allocation to states which are published on monthly basis for all to see. His lies are calculated at hoodwinking unsuspecting members of the public.
· That Osun would not wait endlessly for a do-nothing PDP-led Federal Government to construct the Osogbo-Ila-Odo-Kwara Boundary Road when we realize the economic importance of the road to our people. Of course, this is the second time Omisore is being challenged to come forward with evidence of his claim to have awarded the same contract at the cost of N7.2bn as against the N17.8bn which is under a contractor-financed arrangement. In what capacity did he award the contract for the road in question?
Was it as chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriation or what? Of course, it is only ignorance that would make Omisore querry the business of Osun government with what he called the Federal road. Even as a senator representing the state, was Omisore unaware that the state had got the nod of the Federal Government to reconstruct the road?
· That Omisore should come forward with evidence of an earlier award of contract for the East Bye-Pass Road at the cost of N7.2bn as against the cost of N14.5bn for which it is being constructed now. We are not patching roads as was the practice under the PDP government. Massive reconstructions of roads are going on for all to see.
· That what Omisore called mini-computers at his concocted cost of N11bn is the landmark Tablet of Knowledge (Opon Imo) nearing its completion and currently being test-run by students of final year in secondary schools. With 56 textbooks on 17 subjects being taught in Osun, no family in the state would wish to be excluded from having their children experience this ipad-like device with past questions, lesson notes and virtual classroom to prepare students for their examinations. In this age of digital technology, what more would an administration do to bring children in the remotest part of the state to modern day digital devise for quality education? Whatever the state may have spent on that project must be a far cry from the present and future benefits to the state, certainly a far cry from Omisore’s outlandish and bogus claim.
. That Omisore must be referring to another Osun where workers are owed salaries for no worker would come out to say that even with delayed allocations from Abuja which makes the Federal Government workers to get their salaries almost one month in arrears, Osun pays salaries of its workers every 25th of the month with even a proviso that when the 25th of any month falls on a Saturday, payment must be effected before that deadline. The only period of delay was when workers union leaders insisted that all workers must be captured on the biometric system of payment recently introduced to ensure transparency, before payments of salaries. At least, Omisore should bring out just one civil servant known to him whose salaries are not paid as at when due to justify his claim that the state cannot pay salaries.
. Closely related to that is the fact Osun has not implemented the minimum wage act. How fallacious! When Osun blazed the trail on the minimum wage with N19,001 exceeding the N18,000 in 2012 without agitation, where was he?
. Of course, because Omisore and his cohorts, are bent perpetrating confusion using some elements within labour, had believed a strike would be on by the time he was granting his interview. Sorry, no worker went on strike in Osun. That ‘strike’ only took place in the imagination of those who plotted it; waiting for it to precipitate the chaos masterminded to destabilize Osun.
There is a pattern that must have become discernible to careful eyes following the whole hoopla about alleged Islamisation agenda in Osun, the merger of schools, and others. Those who have visited the state easily marvel at the massive transformation of the state in the areas of urban renewal, education, the environment, agriculture, youths engagement, infrastructure upgrade, and above all, restoration of peace.
Apart from major road projects being constructed (some already completed) by the state government totaling over 500kilometers, the 218 kilometres of roads by the 30 council areas and one area office are taking development to the door steps of the ordinary man.
The PDP, in its almost eight years in the saddle, could only do 513 kilometres of roads whereas in two years of the Aregbesola administration, 532 kilometres of roads have been completed aside the 218 kilometres of roads listed above.
The school feeding programme that takes care of all elementary pupils in Primary One to Primary Four has ensured that no single family can say the government has not touched their life directly. Other social welfare schemes such as the Agba Osun (Care for the elderly) that gives N10,000 to critically vulnerable old people across the state; the rehabilitation of destitute; organized skills acquisition for youths, have all combined to restore the hopes of the people. These and more are sharp departures from the culture of waste of the little resources, violence against the defenceless, lack of any clear cut programme for the youth and others which hallmarked the PDP government in the state before the advent of this administration.
His smear campaigns will only work in an environment where the government merely entices the populace with tokens. No amount of orchestrated calumny would neutralize the giant development strides people have seen in the state.
But then, what the people of Osun have witnessed since the advent of this administration make the road to be predictably rough for any governorship aspirant who flaunts the ignoble credential of diatribe, mis-information, outright mudslinging and capacity for mayhem, mischief and manipulation as if those are what it takes to assume the gubernatorial office.
Yes, the records are there! The six innocent souls killed in the most brutal manner in a church in Ile Ife on the eve of the last National Assembly election; the crazy attempts to steal and stuff ballot boxes, the threat to attack the convoy of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and others all add up in the theories of violence being sketched and perfected by those who believe that the state must be brought down if only to be governor over a depopulated state.
Omisore, in the most shameful manner, flaunts the record of being elected from prison to be a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Of course, was that not one of the oddities of an electoral climate where votes of the people did not count? At the time he claimed to have won an election in Ife/Ijesha zone which is the same as the Osun East senatorial district, the memory of the dastardly killing of former Governor of old Oyo and former Minister of Justice, Chief James Ajibola Ige was as fresh as it remains till date. For an accused person standing trial at the time for the killing of this illustrious son of Nigeria and Odua to claim to have been elected by the same pained and bereaved people stands logic on its head.
Oh! Do the people of Ijeshaland and Ife have so short memories to have discarded their hero even in death for a man standing trial to represent them? What happened was no more than the crass and dubious allocation of positions to the highest bidders in the bazar called election under the watch of the PDP-led Federal Government. Even in the 2007 flawed elections, was Samuel Olanrewaju not assassinated to ensure Omisore’s return to the senate? There was no triumph for you in all your electoral exploits, only a deep shame.
This writer witnessed the trial from the first day Omisore was brought to the court in Iyaganku, Ibadan till the very moment a nolli prosecui was entered by the then Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo under very curious and alarming circumstances. Our memories are not so short!
On a final note, those scheming to unleash violence and terror on Osun as the only route they recognize to the Government House have the common people to contend with. The Rauf Aregbesola administration has no apology to those who cannot come to terms with the reality that people, the common, defenceless and vulnerable masses, must be the centre of every government policy.
Such people have lessons to learn from the words of the Indian hero, Mahatma Gandhi who said many decades ago that “The roots of violence: Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.”
In Osun, the Omoluabi ethos held aloft tells us that only work can produce wealth; pleasure must be with conscience; knowledge must be with character; morality must accompany commerce; Science must have human face; worship must be full of sacrifice and above all, politics must be with principles.
Lateef Raji, serves in Lagos State as Special Adviser on Information
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