Osun, the Land of Virtue or Abode of Omoluabi as it is foundly called,has always fascinated world’s admiration for many good things. It is the cradle of the Yoruba people whose historical culture has transcended geographical boundaries over the years.
It is an abode to many cultural artifacts which have continued to entice foreigners, with a population of 3,432,535 people; and it is blessed with numerous untapped natural resources that can push the State with a quantum leap into the rightful position in the comity of states. Yet, an imbalance in the executive leadership of the State has facilitated its restricted walk to overall development which is worrisome .
Close to three decades of creating Osun State, the baton of governorship has often been exchanged between two main senatorial districts – Osun Central and Osun East. Osun West has for long been unduly marginalised in this regard. This unfair rotation in the leadership of the State has invariably affected her long walk to the path of transformational development. This is worrisome because the State has been denied the wealth of leadership expertise, intellectual strengths and strategic insight which the people of Osun West could have made in developing the State.
A cursory glance into history enlivens our conscience and broadens our perception on this inequality. The powerful Ooni of Ife for about 50years (1930-1980), Oba Adesoji Aderemi was governor of Western Region from 1960-1962; he was an indigene of Ife, what later became part of Osun East Senatorial District. From 1979-1983, the late sage, Chief Bola Ige, was governor of old Oyo State. He was a native of Esa-Oke, Osun East Senatorial District; S.M Afolabi as his deputy and secretary was Chief Bisi Akande; who is from Ila Orangun, Osun Central Senatorial District.
When the State was created in 1991, late Sen. Isiaka Adeleke, a native of Osun West Senatorial District became the first elected civilian governor. However, his laudable plans to transform the State were short-lived as his 22-month administration was truncated by military junta. On the day his administration was arbitrarily ended, the sky wept heavily and the sun refused to smile at the earth for several days; while the trees in the Osun-Oshogbo Sacred groove wore a countenance of sadness and dissatisfaction. It was a day of unprecedented unhappiness in the State.
Close to a decade later, Chief Bisi Akande became the governor again; with Sen. Iyiola Omisore as deputy; the latter being a man from Ife, Osun East Senatorial District. Even though Chief Akande lost his reelection bid, one would have thought that fairness would come to play by allowing another astute leader from Osun West to govern the State.
But no, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from Okuku, Osun Central Senatorial District succeeded him and governed the State from 2003-2010; while his deputy Mrs. Olusola Obada, came from Ilesa, Osun East, the same Senatorial District with the current governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. It should be borne in mind that even Aregbesola’s deputy, Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori comes from Osogbo, Osun Central Senatorial District.
This foregoing catalogue of Osun governors with their respective chronological duration reveals that for the 242 months for which Osun State has been governed under democratic dispensations, Osun West Senatorial District has only led for 22 months. This clearly brings to the fore that the Senatorial District has been too marginalised. And when marginalization thrives, overall development becomes threatened.
In actual fact, this marginalization has led to inequality in the distribution of essential amenities and services to the people. This inequality has resulted in impaired growth of the State’s economy; which has manifested in the under-ulitilisation of abundant natural and human resources in the State. Sadly, should this uneven trend continue the inhabitants of Osun West Senatorial District will continue to lag behind due to lack of infrastructural developments.
The American businessman and writer, Max De Pree appears to have dined in Osun State when he counseled the people thus: “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Osun State is in dire need to jettison this partial rotation of state power between the Central and East Senatorial Districts by voting en masse any reputable, tested and trusted leader from Osun West Senatorial District. It is no gainsaying that the time has come to change the status quo lest we continue to recycle the same ideas that have governed the State over the years.
Essentially, economic prosperity, grass-root development and impactful projects through exploration of available resources and involvement of the citizens are necessary ingredients to propel governance in Osun State to the desirable status. Therefore, should the good people of Osun State leave the extant unfair rotation of power between the Central and East Senatorial Districts, they will be consciously directing their path to sustainable success in the State. After all, Bill Copeland could not be more apt when he opined that “You’ve removed most of the roadblocks to success when you know the difference between motion and direction.”
It appears only the contenders from Osun West Senatorial District for the gubernatorial seat have demonstrated the foresight and readiness to expedite the State’s progressive development. Hence, it is a great opportunity for the citizens not to look elsewhere in the coming election; because when opportunity meets preparation, success is certain.
The sun has risen from the East with its rays becoming visible at the Central horizon; but those who feel its impacts may never enjoy it because it is only in the West they can find succor from the scorching sun. And when the sun refuses to set in the West, there will be eclipse which could plunge people into a pervasive state of apathy. It is time Osun West brings the desired succor to the good people of Osun State.
Vision begins with one person, but it is only accomplished through the coordinated efforts of many people. The virtuous people of Osun State have been known with dignity and courage; a people whose conscience and soul cannot be bought with ephemeral gains; and can never be intimidated with threats and violence.
Therefore, as the race to Government House in Osogbo continues to gather momentum, the people and importantly, the progressives must embrace fair play by allowing the next governor to come from Osun West Senatorial District. Our aspiration for a greater Osun State will surely be realised when its pursuit is hinged on fairness, hope and equal sense of belonging in governance. Let’s not always forget Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom, that “As our case is new, we must think and act anew.”
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Biodun Popoola for Coalition of Osun West Youths.