Remembering Bola Ige, By Abiodun Komolafe

Ethno-religious leanings or socio-political ideology notwithstanding, it is almost improbable for any society to underestimate the contributions of some people to the emancipation of its people and the realization of the dream of its founding fathers.

For instance, America will forever remain grateful to the likes of Martin Waldseemuller, Stephen Moylan, George Washington and Martin Luther King Jnr. for their contributions, one way or the other, to the realization of the American dream as a land of equal opportunity for all. In like manner, China’s economy wouldn’t have become “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history” to the extent of having “lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty” but for the political sagacity and economic ingenuity of leaders like Chairman Mao Zedong and Den Xiaoping.

In a word, the world owes Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Ayatollah Khomeini and others a debt of gratitude for their efforts at leaving the world better than they met it. Here in Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello, among others, have left their marks in the sand of time and one is not in doubt of their place in world history.

Among such great Nigerians who have also etched their names in gold is the late Bola Ige. Ige was a poet, novelist, writer, founding member of Afenifere socio-cultural group and devoted Christian. He was a multi-lingual, gifted orator who did so much to promote socio-cultural integration and the Yoruba Agenda. A deep thinker and an irrepressible crusader for the Common Good, he was once the Secretary of the youth wing of the defunct Action Group (AG) and he eventually rose to the peak of the Party hierarchy. Amid the uncertainties of life, the ‘Cicero of Esa-Oke’ walked in integrity and in the beauty of democracy.

A prominent lawyer, once described as the luminary SAN (Senior Advocate of Nigeria), Ige was former Commissioner of Agriculture in the defunct Western Region of Nigeria. He was also the governor of the old Oyo State between 1979 and 1983. In 1999, he sought the nomination of the now-rested Alliance for Democracy (AD) as a presidential candidate but the rest, as they say, is history. Bloodied but unbowed, the Afenifere chieftain was later appointed, first, as Nigeria’s Minister of Power and Steel; thereafter, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. In fact, Ige was the African Representative designate to the United Nations International Law Commission before death struck on December 23, 2001.

For us in Nigeria, Ige proudly stands in the class of John Kennedy, George Bush and, perhaps, Bill Clinton, whose politics have in no small measure electrified America. Rather than accumulate instant wealth and sudden fortune, his legacy lies in the ‘Four Cardinal Programmes’ as espoused in the manifesto of the-then Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Among those things he introduced that would live forever in the hearts of the people was how he democratized the education space. It is a fact of life that, without his intervention, many people might not have gone to school. And, because they were educated, majority of them are now in the top echelon of the appurtenances of power, contributing their quota to nation-building. It is also interesting to note that, like John, Bola’s assassination “precipitated a national nervous breakdown” and fatalistic sense of futility.

Well, Nigerians must be alert to the fact that remembering Ige is not all about naming places or monuments after him. Of course, there are perhaps enough of that! In my view, it’s time we started dealing with the socio-psychological underpinning values of monuments, which is the celebration of humanity, not mere ‘monuments’, the glory of which is likely going to fade away or perish with time. Instead, what we need now is the internalization of humanity institutional monuments, which deal with humans in the heart of hearts of people.

Till date, the world looks at America’s premier political dynasty, whose politics “inspired the idealism of the Sixties”;  and the Bush-Davis-Walker family, which included two presidents, two first ladies, a state governor and a senator, with immense admiration. In the 1960s, Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham had a rare privilege of understudying Kennedy’s case while on internship at the White House. It is perhaps the realization that a typical society has its own institutional pattern that motivated the future Clintons to remain in the Democratic Party. Even, Barrack Obama could not afford to sidetrack “the last of the Kennedys” in his quest for America’s 1st Citizen. Today, America’s 42nd and 44th presidents are better for it! But I doubt if a 10-year-old Nigerian will not ask if a titan like Awolowo ever passed through this land. No thanks to the removal of History from the school curriculum.

With regard to natural expectations, democracy finds full expression in being a political system of competition for power. But then, why can’t the children of Nigeria’s heroes past ride on the wave that has been created by their heroic parents? This brings me to the tricky question of ‘political recruitment’ and ‘leadership mentoring’ patterns in Nigeria. For example, Muyiwa (Ige’s son) has no reason to be struggling for a place in Nigeria’s power ladder with persons of lesser political pedigree; not even within Uncle Bola’s locality. Unfortunately, ours is a country where warped systems prevail!  The tragedy of leadership in this part of the world is that, for the strangest of reasons, political neophytes and clumsy characters, whose penchant for transactional politics, political entrepreneurship and manipulation of passions knows no bounds, just emerge as ‘leaders’ and foist themselves on the people. But all that must change in order to encourage future generations! Needless to repeat that the younger Ige has the name, qualification, experience, reputation and the pedigree which eminently qualify him to, as it were, step into his father’s shoes! The more reason he and others in his shoes must be encouraged wherever and whenever they show interest in politics because they have a name to protect.Top of Form

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Prayer For Nigeria In An Election Year, By Abiodun komolafe

Come February 16, 2019, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s sitting president, will be faced with two choices; either to remain in Aso Rock as Nigeria’s president for the next four years or, to go back to Daura in Katsina State, and begin to tend to his herds henceforth.

Whatever eventually becomes of the president’s lot, what makes the coming General Elections uniquely different is that it has assumed a larger than life posture, threatening to tear asunder the fragile socio-political unity of the country. For instance, the extant political dynamics and imperatives have changed, so also are the attitudinal dispositions of the ‘principalities’ or, political gladiators struggling for the soul of Nigeria. The contending individuals for public office have become more desperate, intolerant, even deadly; exhibiting the zero-sum game attributes more than any other time compared within the Nigeria political history and elections antecedents!

Principally, the battle ahead is between the Biblical “narrow road” and the “broad road”; between popular protests and fabulous narratives. Assuredly, it is between preference for national integrity and lust for “national cake”. Coincidentally, this is the first time the country is turning out the largest number of presidential candidates who, in any case, are already seeing themselves as presidents-in-waiting. In a country where, even a councillor’s spouse is reverenced as ‘Her Excellency’, one can now see why Nigeria, like the prodigal son in search of his ancestral parentage, has since independence been struggling to establish an enduring democracy and build strong public institutions.

What even makes the battle rather complex is that the current chief tenant of Aso Villa is not prepared to tempt the way of his predecessor while his major opponent is already deeply immersed in dangerous schemes which, if not professionally curtailed, are capable of capturing power at all costs. After all, this the last opportunity that fate can offer him. This is not to say that other pests and rodents who are also interested in Buhari’s job will want to go down without putting up a fight. 

Well, it is one thing to enter into the New Year with lofty promises and hope! Nonetheless, it is another thing to ensure the delivery of the goods of governance through a strong foundation, workable public institutions, and prayers, especially, at a difficult time like this. As a starting point therefore, it’s time we commended Nigeria into God’s hands, especially, at this auspicious time of her history.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His inheritance.” As Nigerians will be making crucial decisions that will affect the entire country this year, we beseech Thee, dear Father, restore unto us the healing that our country needs and deliver us from any relationship that is bound to separate us from our destiny. Speak into our lives that every obstacle planted on our path be removed. Do not let the wind of peace blowing across the globe through which erstwhile enemies are striking inspiring chords of a new world order pass us by without reconciling feuding brothers.

With Your power, deliver our land from founders who have turned themselves into confounders and give us a greater vision of what You would have us do. In the New Year, let those who love our country see the results and let those who, like fathers who do not want their children to go further in life, reap the negative consequences. We need this, O Lord, to fix our politics so as to fix any leadership crisis that may attempt to energize the failure of development.

We are in a “world of deception” where men see vengeance as their legitimate right. But Your Word teaches us that those who see Jesus Christ as the son of ‘Joseph the Carpenter’ should expect nothing other than chairs and tables from Him while those who accept Him as their Saviour are sure to be healed by His stripes. El Elyon, you are the Restoration and the Life, the Door and the Shepherd. Though, we are no longer a country destined for its Egypt, corruption still remains a shameful and sometimes painful part of our beingness. Indeed, it is difficult to say with a tinge of certitude where we now stand in our counter-terrorism efforts.

The comforting news, however, is that ours is not totally a tale of woes! For instance, in spite of more than 18% of employable Nigerians being jobless, Nigeria was recently named the best economy in Africa. So, as the ‘Battle of February’ nears us by the eyelids, blot out our starkness and send Your angel to resurrect every dead situation that has not brought a turnaround for us as a people created by You. Bless us with leaders who are capable of redefining governance in line with the vision and mission of the Next Level that Nigeria truthfully desires.

In times like this, we remember Leah Sharibu as a test of our faith as a deeply religious country. El Shaddai, You are the God who rescued Paul and Silas from Herod’s dungeon! You also shut the mouths of the lions because of Daniel so as to exalt Your Word. We therefore use Leah as a point of contact for those who are in servitude. The Fourth Man in the furnace, set them free from their captors. Save our country from huge doses of uncertainty, instability and the embarrassing acknowledgment of failure as an essential part of progress.

We also use Osun as a point of contact for other states in Nigeria. El Roi, grant our leaders the wisdom to “create employment opportunities through industrialization”, expand “agricultural activities through appropriate incentives” and provide “leadership in ways that do not bring additional burden to the people.” Grant the leaders and the led the wisdom to know that whatever challenges their respective states may be facing at the moment are not to be found in the blackness or whiteness of their people but that they’re foisted on the country by diabolical manipulators and articulated vampires of inevitability whose portion is in recklessly expanding our national frontlines of political and economic inclinations.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Oyetola Will Surely Deliver; But…. By Abiodun Komolafe

I have had the privilege of reading Gboyega Oyetola’s Inaugural Speech as Governor of Osun and I can confirm that he meant well for dear state.

In the well-crafted speech, Oyetola promised to run “a people-friendly government which focuses on growth, creation of jobs, social protection, inclusive governance and sustainable upgrade in the standard of living of our people.” He assured Osun workers of their welfare, prompt payment and prioritization of their salaries and pensions “bearing in mind the financial inflow of the state.”

A healthy state is a wealthy state! While vowing to “build on the progress already achieved by past leaders as “the defining hallmark of” his “intervention in governance”, Oyetola also promised a participatory administration that would “promote equitable and value-based developmental education that emphasizes competence and character.”

Kudos for a well-written Address which input, in no small way, did reflect the personality traits of the governor! As good instinct would have it, the governor did not parrot the speech. Rather, it was a speech that was written for; and by him.

Lots of promises and lots of expectations! But, can Oyetola deliver on these lofty aims and ideas? He surely can and will deliver; going by his educational attainments and professional background, I have no doubt in my mind that he is eminently qualified to lead the state from where it is to where it ought to be. The governor is not a novice; he can handle and deliver. Also standing in his favour is his untainted grassroots pedigree, one whose dignified mien and capacity to freely hold conversations with the people, irrespective of their political status or racial inclinations is not in doubt.

Talk about religious piety, Oyetola is an unpretentious Muslim who has managerial skills and an interpretive understanding of social relations. Though a time-tested administrator who will never suffer fools gladly, he has an amiable comportment, not a garrulous physique that has the capacity to intimidate or scare people of other, even similar, religious inclinations. Besides, he is one good manager of people who understands the politics of the Board as well as the nitty gritty of the intrigues of human management. So, he has what it takes to excel. Above all, he is a successful family man who, in all modesty, is conveniently comfortable.

However, it is a statement of fact that the technology of politics is riddled with tales: some fairy, some real; and its path is strewn with thistles and thorns: some, intentional; some, conspiratorial; others, deliberate. Facing the reality of our time, this is where the governor’s creative ingenuity comes to play. After all, in a democracy, the process bears more weight and it’s as such more valued than the outcome.

First is the issue of praise-singers whose partisan concerns are only meant to satiate the saintliness of the time and wandering heroes who embellish fake and false narratives just to draw unmerited attention and curry favour. Oyetola needs to dine with these sets of people with the proverbial long spoon for his administration to make any meaningful impact. This step will not only allow the benefits of public programs to reach their target recipients, it will also help to improve on the allied ancillary issues that have for long been threatening our communal togetherness.

Broadly speaking, this is an age when ‘mere talk’ is no longer fruitful. In line with the distinctiveness and the diversity of opinions therefore, the governor also needs to nurture a cosmopolitan worldview on volatile religious and allied issues because, whatever the governor says or does, Nigerians will surely ascribe meanings, which, if not properly handled, may put his government in precarious situations.

Oyetola needs to be proactive, independent-minded and firm, especially, on issues that are capable of catalyzing investment decisions and energizing the economy of the state. I have argued in some of my previous interventions that one major challenge of our Nigerianness is the collapse of feedback and reward system. In my considered opinion therefore, the governor should create a Feedback Department and put certain sets of responsible government officials in charge to handle feedback.

For instance, I have always wondered why a ruling party that has done so much to uplift the welfare of the people could be searching for less than 1000 votes on September 22, 2018. Of course, the more reason trailblazing programmes like ‘Ogbeni Till Daybreak’, which, on a good day, ought to have predicted the direction of the election before the party in power almost lost the plot, should be reviewed and re-energized with a view to serving the purpose for which they were originally conceptualized.

In politics, professional hawks and sycophantic hangers-on, who are always motivated by personal greed to rattle the government for attention, will always ply their trade but it is the duty of the governor to consistently demonstrate leadership by compassionate and inspiring example.

Let me state here that money, said to be the wheel of the gospel has also been identified as the root of all evil. Thus, Oyetola will be doing posterity the greatest good if he can avoid throwing money at problems. For example, a community in need of, say, ten boreholes, will get better values for their request if those boreholes are sunk – and are seen to have been sunk – unlike when huge sums of money are given to some faceless, dishonourable leaders in whose pockets such monies usually find a haven.

Last but not the least is the troubling issue of entitlement seeking. In my view, this dangerous and unprofitable razzmatazz must not find a space in Oyetola’s government. Truth be told, there are ‘Agba Osun’ and there are ‘Agba Osun.’ While the former refers to those “highly vulnerable seniors who lack guardian support”, the latter comprises the cult of rapacious ten per centers, the 10-for-10 kobo elite, none other than a tiny section of the electorate who prefer commercial prosperity to political liberty and latter-day democrats whose primary constituency is their pocket.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

 

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Osun Guber And The Days Ahead, By Abiodun Komolafe

Again, Osun governorship election has come and gone with its attendant bliss and despair. A winner has emerged while losers have either cheered themselves with courage or looked in the direction of enriching Nigeria’s jurisprudence. While one may wish to laugh at the contenders, even yell at the pretenders over the confusion to which they subjected Nigerians while the process lasted, that a tribe of the Pharisees have been feasting on this important chapter in our history to misinform an unsuspecting public is, to say the least, demeaning.

In fairness to reality, Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s major ‘mistake’ was his desire to bring Lagos to Osun without realizing that Osun didn’t have what it takes to be (like) Lagos. Added to this was the salary dilemma which struck the state like an epidemic somewhere along the line. Unfortunately, more than 18 states are still caught in the web, even as we speak. In the face of these challenges however, Osun has thrown up some significant posers that may be a subject of debate for some time to come.

For instance, beyond the points of law and allied arguments being raised in some quarters, it is within the jurisdiction of conventional wisdom to interrogate the circumstances that led Nigerians into becoming unlucky victims of a process that almost handed Osun’s destiny back to political misfits whose adventure in power would have limited the people’s capacity to think for the next four years.

I have told those who delight in accusing the electorate of “not appreciating performance” that, unlike acceptable democratic norms, elections here are contests – somehow stern, sometimes tedious. So, to have expected the loser on September 27, 2018 to “be honourable in losing” would have amounted to expecting the sun to rise from the West.

But then, how did we find ourselves at this messy pass, where educational accomplishments are no longer appreciated for an office as important as that of a governor? Was it the fault of the Aregbesola-led government for ‘not putting food on the table of the electorate’ or that of a tiny section of the electorate for being selfishly interested in mortgaging its future for a pot of porridge?

Political leaders who lack the capacity to understand the essence of education are bound to be absentminded when issues of growing the economy in the right direction, combating unemployment, getting infrastructure development right, and checking ‘condition-driven’ urban migration come to the fore. Good that the electorate opted for a candidate whose credentials were impeccable and, his word, his bond. Otherwise, a “dance to Osun Government House” by a particular candidate would have made a mess of our education while working harder in life would henceforth have meant nothing.

A lot of our youth would have by this unbargained-for victory become disenchanted and the state would have been preparing for a government by proxy as the flag-bearer in question lacks the capacity to govern a state as socio-economically sophisticated as Osun. Above all, our scarce resources would have been preparing for an unenviable journey into the hungry, private pockets of a mendacious cabal – mere men with narrow loyalty to the ‘Land of Virtue.’

Unarguably, Osun provides a rich opportunity for the party at the centre to rediscover itself, preparatory to next year’s General Elections. Without being immodest, events in the last few weeks have forced rational thinkers to conclude that, unless the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is prepared to rise to the occasion, Osun may repeat itself, even in a more ferocious form in 2019.

For obvious reasons, the gang-up against the ruling party is real and, from the look of things, the contest is most likely to be tense. Essentially therefore, it’s time the story of party politics changed for the better if APC must be taken seriously by Nigerians. From the experience in Osun, fact is that Alli Baba and the Forty Thieves who are bent on returning Nigeria back to Egypt are sinisterly scheming to truncate and disrupt a process already on its way to the Promised Land. Needless to repeat that APC has to change its strategy and fine-tune tactics in order to smile convincingly next year!

As we all know, the  most  comfortable  and  realistic  duty  of  anyone  desirous  of developing patriotism  is  to read between  the  lines  of  history. A friend once wrote that if the Aregbesola-led administration had achieved 5% of what the major opposition party in Osun launched against it in terms of propaganda, the story would at least have changed. I also share this sentiment!

While my comments on this objective observation are issues for another day, I make bold to say that a strategy that underestimated the influence of Isiaka Adeleke, among other considerations, in the recently-concluded election was a costly mistake that must not be repeated in the build-up to February 2019. Already, there are embarrassing allegations of compromise by some of the ad hoc staff recruited for the Osun election. This is in addition to other unpleasant infractions like vote-buying, over-voting, ballot box snatching and betrayal of trust on the part of some of the security agents deployed for the exercise. These disturbing trends are not likely to give way, except some steps are taken, lawfully, to address the situation.

Again, while the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s efforts at stabilizing the economy have not gone unnoticed, it still needs to do more on the herders’ insurgency which has now overtaken Boko Haram terrorism as Nigeria’s greatest security threat. Olusegun Obasanjo’s distractions notwithstanding, it is also not too late for this administration to compliment ‘greening’ of the street with some ‘greening’ of the stomach, especially now that it’s only corruption that is “fighting back.” In my view, allowing poverty to partake of the ‘fight-back’ may be too heavy a burden for Nigerians to bear.

Yes, the days ahead promise to be very interesting! Therefore, time to act is now! Strangely enough, those who had hoped to bank on the advantage of age to deceive Nigerians have with the emergence of Atiku Abubakar fallen victim to the awkward narrative usually associated with political adventurism in this part of the world.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

 

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Osun: Picturing Into The Future! By Abiodun Komolafe

It is a matter of days before the electorate in Osun goes to the polls to elect a successor toRauf Aregbesola, the outgoing state governor. 

 

Nature, they say, abhors vacuum. As Aregbesola’s administration is gradually but furiously winding down, it is incumbent on the people to access where they are coming from, with a view to picturing into what the future holds in stock. 

 

Flipping back to the last 8 years with the benefit of hindsight, Aregbesola had met a state at its developmental nadir. The governor met a rudderless state, where every facet of government was comatose. Worse hit were social infrastructure, education, health and commerce. The preceding government, overseen by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was profligate with the state resources owing to its misplaced priorities and astounding banality. Then enter Aregbesola who worked assiduously to change the state’s narrative. With a landscape littered with infrastructural edifices, ranging from landmark road networks to social amenities, the economy and commercial activities of the state jumpstarted from their dying ashes. This story of success may be a harrowing one but the fact remains that Aregbesola has done what ought to be done to rescue an ailing state.

 

With few days to Aregbesola’s handing over the flag to his successor therefore, where is the state headed in a way as to avoid a reversal of the gains of the last 8 years and who does the cap fit? Well, a peep into the profile of some of the contenders to the throne will suffice.

 

First is Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Born on September 29, 1954, Oyetola holds a Bachelors degree (B.Sc.) in Insurance and Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) in Finance. He has served as Area Manager at Leadway Assurance Company Limited; Underwriting Manager at Crusader Insurance and Technical Controller at Alliance and General Insurance.

 

In 1991, Oyetola founded Silvertrust Insurance Brokers Limited, a firm he has successfully managed until he was appointed as Chief of Staff in 2011. He was also Chairman, Ebony Properties Limited; Executive Vice-Chairman, Paragon Group of Companies; and Director, Pyramid Securities Limited.

 

Oyetola served as Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff until his election as APC governorship candidate. A certified Insurance Broker by training, the quiet, modest and witty APC flag-bearer is said to be among the founders of the now-rested Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1998 and has since then remained a notable figure in Osun’s political scene so much that when the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, birthed, he was one of the party’s notable chieftains.

 

He is a loyal, pronounced technocrat, result-oriented progressive and philanthropist par excellence whose capacity for generosity remains endless. As a matter of fact, no fewer than 400 students have benefitted from his scholarship grants in the last 25 years. He is married with children who are doing fantastically well in their chosen fields of endeavour.

 

As fate would have it, his deputy, Benedict Olugboyega Alabi, also holds a Masters degree in Economics which makes the team a perfect combination. 

 

Next is Ademola Adeleke of the PDP. Reports have it that he is a secondary school dropout, whose candidacy has been dogged by controversies. As we speak, many court cases, bordering, principally, on certificate forgery, are hanging on his neck, all which are making the coast unclear for his candidature. 

 

With the benefit of hindsight, Adeleke is an accidental politician who was shot into limelight following the sudden death of Isiaka, his elder brother. The concern in some quarters is how the son of a former senator missed the golden opportunity of acquiring the best education that money could provide. Unfortunately, the PDP standard-bearer seemed to have learned nothing from the rise and fall of Salisu Buhari, Nigeria’s former Speaker of the House of Representatives. As he now parades “badly-damaged” credentials, the candidate is seen more as a spoilt brat who is being pushed by his immediate brother’s humongous wealth. In any case, it is yet to be seen if he will survive the allegations against him in a court of competent jurisdiction. In my considered opinion, a vote for the Ede, State of Osun-born candidate, popularly referred to as Ajobiewe, will be a vote for emptiness and untoward setback as the 58 year-old candidate has shown himself as having nothing to offer.

 

Moshood Adeoti is the governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). Adeoti is the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the State of Osun (SSG). Born on February 27, 1953, Adeoti defected from the ruling party and resigned his appointment as SSG to protest the choice of Oyetola as the candidate of the party in an election that was adjudged free, fair and credible. 

 

A Bachelor’s degree (B.Sc) holder in Business Administration, the ADP candidate was at various times the Councillor, Secretary and Chairman of Iwo Local Government before becoming the Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which eventually metamorphosed into APC. Aside from his appointment as SSG, the only known place the Iwo-born politician seemed to have had a ‘cognate’ experience was in the Sawmilling industry where he served as Manager.

Last but not the least is Iyiola Omisore. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) holder in Infrastructure Finance, the veteran governorship candidate has at one time or another served the state as Deputy Governor and Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District. However, despite Omisore’s claim to sound academic acquisition, he is perceived more as a man of slothful pastimes and unstable whims whose dangerous schemes cannot do the state any good. It is believed that his desperation may not be for the genuine interest of the masses after all. As such, his victory at the polls may translate into converting our collective patrimony into personal use. Remember: the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate still owes Nigeria a huge sum of money, part of which he has been struggling to refund through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

 

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Osun 2018: The Streets Are Watching! By Abiodun Komolafe

Once upon an administration in the State of Osun, a people groaned in the rough of aches and moaned in the tumble of pains. Then, hunger begat hunger, poverty took the place of affluence and it was as if the gods were angry! Under the criminal grip of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), governance became a satanic blend of “dumb horse-traders” and “perpetual complainants who do nothing about their complaints apart from moaning and moping.”

Eight years ago, Osun reclaimed its destiny from a rapacious, visionless and pretentious clique. Thanks to Rauf Aregbesola for rescuing the state from the PDP’s singularity of purpose and complete insensitivity to the people’s plight. As Osun prepares to elect Aregbesola’s successor, hopes are high that the state’s democratic destiny would never again be left in the hands of misfits and pretenders whose previous outings was an eloquent reflection of how deep we had sunk as a country and a people.

I have long argued that September 22, 2018 would be a battle between the “Oligarchy of Intellect” and the “Oligarchies of the Purse”; between the ‘power of performance’ and the ‘forces of politics.’ At a time good governance is being misconstrued for a Dead Virtue by enemies of progress, this date in the life of Osun will be a fine specimen of political liberty over commercial prosperity; between national integrity and national cake. Against this backdrop, those who wish Osun well should pick themselves up more so as the exercise shouldn’t be about dwelling in the past which in my considered opinion has become a bucket of ashes.

Pretensions aside, we must all “come together”, “think together”, “speak together” and “act together” in order to prevent a relapse into the political violence, ethnic competitions and economic barrenness that once defined dear state. Let all men of goodwill go out there with a view to replacing those lies being peddled by “desperate political parties”, “dullards” and men of scant consolation acting the sycophancy script with the true position of things. At a crucial time like this, lovers of democracy must endeavour to understand and work in agreement with the changing dynamics of the electorate. After all, individual success is a combination of individual efforts.

But what then does Osun want? Where is the state headed and who fits the bill? Fact remains that Aregbesola’s government has set the pace for a knowledge-driven economy. It has helped a great deal in shaping values through morals. Its ‘O’ Series and Social Protection initiatives, among other laudable programmes and policies, have positively impacted lives. Without doubt, its interventions in the Agriculture sector have not only repositioned the state as the food hub of the Southwest, they have also gone a long way in cushioning the bitter, biting effects of the economic recession that was recently unleashed on Nigeria.

With a loyal and competent successor like Gboyega Oyetola therefore, Osun has no reason to fear! Unlike candidates who either paint the pictures of men of fancy speculations and unstable whims or politic for individualistic innuendos, Oyetola as an advocate of Due Process will deploy his vast experience in finance management, business and public administration as the needed balm to permanently heal the state’s economic wounds. Fiercely loyal to his principles, the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag-bearer is a pious technocrat and an astute politician whose political vivacity has continued to uplift many Nigerians in all facets of their endeavours. His character, his courage, and, above all, his desire to serve a cause greater than himself are a demonstration of his resolute commitment to greater good above personal interests.

The APC standard bearer is the best among the candidates, the best for the job; and the best pill for Osun’s ailments. Following in the footsteps of Aregbesola, the witty, disciplined, teachable, dependable, responsive and skilfully-artful Oyetola will continue in the tradition of changing the face of Osun into a state looking ahead to the future. His unblemished accomplishments, passion for functional education, accessible healthcare and radical approach to urban renewal projects is awesomely thorough. The interesting part of his life is that he is unshaken in courage and undimmed in vision.

Oscar Wilde captured the mood of the moment when he defined democracy as “the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.” For many years, civilized Romans left politics in the hands of their kings and Chiefs. Greeks once destroyed its own democracy. In Prussia, it was the people who willingly subscribed to autocracy. Ditto for Louis Napoleon’s France! Even, America, world’s acclaimed symbol of democracy never had it smooth. But since they value popular participation, they have since learnt relevant lessons from their past. Again, how come Rwanda suddenly became the epicenter for everything chaotic, tribalistic and genocidal?

How did she gravitate into a metaphor for the sad, the bad, the ugly and a habour for hatred? Expanding the horizon, how did the “substantial” violence which characterized the fall of the House of Hohenzollern come to be and what was responsible for the rise of the Weimar Republic through the German Revolution of 1918–1919? Coming back to Osun, what could have prompted a major opposition party into relishing in a silly, reckless theatrical charade of insulting our collective intelligence in an election as important as governorship, unless some extraterrestrial forces have so counseled? If they ever did, what are the presumed intentions and likely implications?

Evil prevails when good people do nothing! Basically, it is the unrepentant rebelliousness and the fanatical gluttony on the part of Nigeria’s leaders that has led us into this petty, pitiable pass. Greed makes a man think only of himself without thinking of what becomes the lot of others. It is greed which makes Nigeria’s leaders work against the interest of Nigerians that has absurdly malformed Nigeria’s elite into a blend of opportunists looking for ways to further impoverish the populace.

Threateningly, greed has even turned our traditional rulers into traditional riggers and our religious leaders into prayer contractors. Isn’t it laughable that a political party which claims to be working in the interest of the people will be working towards turning Bola Ige House into a ‘Dance Hall’?

The streets are surely watching!

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, backfire!

KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Still On Osun Youth Empowerment, By Abiodun Komolafe

On December 20, 2010, Governor Rauf Aregbesola introduced Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) as a “strategic youth management” initiative in fulfillment of his pact with the people as contained in his Six-Point Integral Action Plan.

To the best of my knowledge, Aregbesola’s determination to stop Osun youth from eating losses on their future motivated his interest in OYES as a responsive, youth-sensitive intervention to take the edge off the havocs wreaked by income poverty, ‘promote the culture of hard work’ among our youth and desensitize them to violence. Lest we forget, Osun’s previous pass was the cumulative effect of its past leaders’ incompetence, tactlessness and rhetorical slap-fighting that had so far proved unhelpful to humanity. That the governor could force a hole in a stone, in spite of the state’s lean resources, was therefore a feat that must be applauded by all. His commitment to liberating the youth led to the engagement of 20,000 youth all at once, a manner unprecedented in Africa’s history. So far, the scheme has helped mop up over-40,000 youth off our streets and productively engaged them.

OYES activities include Deployments (comprising The Teacher Corps, Green Gang, Public Works Brigade, Traffic Marshall and Sheriff Corps, etc); Collaborations and Exit Programmes. This revolving scheme has a 2-year lifespan and each volunteer is entitled to a-N10,000.00 monthly stipend.

A strategy in statement turned into action by OYES Management Committee and Commandante on a daily basis for action, command, control and administration, Aregbesola’s intervention through OYES focuses on a life of dignity for all. Unlike what obtains elsewhere, Exit programmes in OYES are designed as value-added elements for the volunteers to acquire life-sustaining skills. Such skills could be in Computer, Agriculture, fish farming or driving. As a matter of fact, all skills are captured!

Once upon a time, OYES had about 82 activities in its basket of Exit Routes! But, in order to widen its scope and expand its reach, new products like Care Givers, Auto Care and Entrepreneurship Training were recently added to the list. Findings even revealed that some cadets were trained in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in China and India; some, sent to Germany to learn new techniques in modern Agriculture while some were trained in South Korea acquire training in Administration. As we speak, over-30% of OYES volunteers serve as O’AMBULANCE Paramedics. Interestingly, more than 280 cadets, trained and ‘exported’ to other states have not only discharged themselves as worthy ambassadors in line with the state’s ‘Omoluabi ethos’, their services in other states have, in return, positively impacted the economy of Osun. It is believed that these new additions, plus Endurance Trek, will go a long way in promoting cohabitation, cohesion and good strength among volunteers.

Talk of the success of OYES and the passion and support of the governor cannot be discounted. The teachability of the cadets and the ability of the volunteers to accept training and life-surviving skills, in addition to training, duration and size of the cadets are part of the scheme’s success ingredients. It is therefore gratifying to know that a good number of OYES volunteers are now landlords and employers of labour while others have learnt trades that can make them independent. Perhaps the most interesting is that World Bank and Federal Government of Nigeria have adopted OYES template as YESSO and N-POWER respectively.

By the way, that Aregbesola is a success in Osun is already settled in history. But then, “success without a successor is failure.” Even, so concerned about a successor was Abraham, the father of faith, that he had to extract a covenant from God: “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars … So shall thy seed be” (Genesis 15: 1-6 KJV). In my considered opinion, the roles of the electorate in producing a worthy successor who truly believes in what Aregbesola is doing and can easily buy into this laudable scheme need not be treated with kid gloves. At a time like this, Osun needs leaders who have honour! It needs leaders who will not lie!

Let me state again that one sure way of ensuring that the message of OYES doesn’t die with the messenger is by documenting the state’s development plans and encouraging other states to emulate Osun’s giant strides in this Social Protection intervention.

Another way of preventing the future of OYES from being written in cessation is by facilitating the Social Protection Bill into law. This will make its scrapping by any administration without soliciting input from the public an impossible task. And I doubt if those who have over the years felt its positive impact on the society will support such a move. For instance, major streets in Osun are as we speak cleaner than those in Lagos State because Visonscope has lost the vision of ‘keeping Lagos clean.’  For Osun, the relevance of OYES on its major streets is visible even to the blind. If, for whatever reason the cleaning and other OYES-compliant activities are in any way disrupted, Nigerians will without stress know that OYES is not in control, just as it is in Lagos that some people are now aware that the engine of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) is crippled.

That a fresh batch of 20,000 volunteers, which the current government is expected to hand over to the next administration, is already being prepared, is an indication that OYES has come to stay in Osun! Over and above all, that the governor has graciously approved the teaching of Multiple Sources of Income (MSI), which OYES tends to encourage, in Osun schools is an indication that the scheme will not die, but live!

All said, how I wish appropriate policy frameworks would also be put in place to make OYES part of the state’s civil service structure? How I wish successful OYES graduates were absorbed into the core civil service at the end of their 2-year programme? Isn’t it time for what is good for the goose (in Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (in LASTMA) to be good for the gander (in OYES)?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts in the State of Osun, scatter!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Osun Security: Another First In Rating Indices, By Abiodun Komolafe

State of Osun is Nigeria’s most peaceful state. This impressive feat, according to a report on Nigeria Peace Index (NPI), couldn’t have come at a more auspicious time than now in the sense that Nigeria is bogged down by serious internal security challenge on all fronts: provable Boko Haram and ‘ISIS in West Africa’ terrorism in the North East; violent herdsmen/farmers clashes in the North West and North Central; armed banditry and kidnappings and in the South East, militancy and piracy in the South South; and violent crimes and ethno-religious upheavals in parts of the South West geo-political zones of the country.

Gratifyingly, the ranking, based on the research findings of the Foundation for Peace Professionals (FPP), came less than a month after the Joint Tax Board (JTB) commended the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration for spearheading a process that has consistently led to a year-on-year improvement in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and tax remittances to the state, the latest being the N11.9 billion generated as actual full year IGR for 2017, representing more than 30% increase over the previous year’s N8,884,756,040.35.

The award could also be described as a soothing balm for a country that has just been treated one of the cruelest forms of armed robbery attacks in its recent history. The incident, which took place in Offa in a neighboring state, left no fewer than 17 persons dead and a large amount of money carted away by the bandits.

Yes! This is not the first time the state will be so honoured! Remember: Osun ranked Nigeria’s13th crime-free state in 2016, a height attained “through various interventions by the government in beefing up the security of the state.” It is even more than that! Osun is, as we speak, Nigeria’s 2nd richest state. Currently, it is 2nd on the Human Capital Index and has maintained the 2nd position in four years in a roll in the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). In Agriculture and Food Security, dear state is now 2nd only to Oyo State in broiler production and its forestry sub-sector ranks 5th in the country.

Osun is now Nigeria’s 5th largest economy with its GDP growing at 7.3% per annum. Its position (between 1st and 3rd, since 2013) in the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) matriculable students in Nigeria has not only rubbished the premise that “WAEC rankings” of states should be the only yardstick for measuring states’ performance in education, it has also gone a long way in demonstrating that government’s transformational investments in the education sector have not been in vain. In Sports, the state also came 9th in the recently-concluded National Youth Games, a feat that has for a long while eluded the state.

For the sake of clarity so as not to be left in the ambience of ambiguity, this government is reputed to be the first in the country to have led a new understanding in parliamentary Local Government administration in Nigeria. It is also the first in the country to replace books with computer tablets called ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ aka ‘Opon Imo’ to further stimulate the interest of students to learning as well as completely turn learning into play in schools.

While other states were wallowing in the cesspool of salary conundrum, courtesy of the national economic dislocation, Aregbesola’s government became the first in the country to creatively adopt a robustly-designed salary apportionment model which “makes workers from grade level 08 and above collect between 75 and 50 per cent of their salaries.”

However, while its ranking as the state with the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation in Nigeria, courtesy of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), demands the attention of all, facts are that Aregbesola’s parliamentary gift to Osun will in no small way help in expanding the potentials for accountability, transparency and societal capacity building.

Though by no means a great feat, Aregbesola’s administration’s latest cap did not come as a surprise. Certainly, it is one of the expected results of his administration’s renewed efforts at fostering, especially, a secured, virtuous state. Prior to his assumption of office on November 27, 2010, Osun was home to all kinds of security challenges which no doubt compromised the people’s lives and diminished their influence. Though sitting on a sea of possibilities, the state was broke, with its IGR at the time standing at a paltry N300 million monthly average. Put in strict terms, Aregbesola took over the reins of power when the state was in an economic dilemma as a result of structural deficiency, gross misrule and mismanagement of resources.

Aregbesola became governor and the narrative changed! Without being sycophantic, Ogbeni’s commitment to security of lives and property remains unimpeachable as he has consistently maintained that no state, not even country, can reach its full potentials in an atmosphere of violence and insecurity. It was against this backdrop that government set up the Swift Action Squad (SAS) as a dedicated a crime response team to compliment the efforts of the regular police in securing the state.

It also procured and distributed 125 security patrol vehicles and 25 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), in addition to provision of other logistics, to security agencies in the state for the purpose of ensuring peace and communal harmony in the state. Vigilance and neighborhood watch groups were also encouraged to provide support for the regular security agencies.

Another area that demands commendation was the administration’s fostering a “co-existence blueprint” in resolving herders/farmers crises in Osun, a situation the Sale Bayari-led Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) said has been responsible for a “silent and peaceful” state.

Talking about Aregbesola’s administration in the eye of history, this, again, is why Nigeria’s tribe of Pharisees who always hunger for the wrong reason needs to wake up from its hatred-infused slumber. Rather than engage in needless spleen-venting or muscle-flexing wiles that take nobody nowhere, present challenges should unite actors in the Osun political landscape to look beyond political sentiments and needless emotions in the choice of Aregbesola’s successor.

Jokes apart, one pathetic paradox of what Kingsley Moghalu referred to as ‘politics of vested interests’ in this clime is that, in spite of all that Nigeria has been blessed with as a country, she’s still rated as the poverty capital of the world, with more than 80 million Nigerians now live below poverty level and over-3.7 million currently faced with food insecurity which, if care is not taken, may increase to 5.2 million by August 2018. Nigeria, interestingly, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, is now world’s 125th poorest country. The sad side of it is that, of the world’s poorest countries, 18 of them are in Africa; and, Mauritius, which currently serves as Africa’s best, is world’s 45th.

Less than 3 years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, Nigeria’s external debt, already considered as the biggest in all of sub-Saharan Africa, now stands at over-$18.91 billion (over-N5.787 trillion). And, as if difficulties are gender-sensitive, Nigeria currently ranks worst in women’s participation in politics, courtesy of Nigeria’s unhealthy political environment. On the World Happiness Index, she is 91st. In Industrial Gross Domestic Product (GDP), she has the lowest on the continent, beaten by less-endowed countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Ghana. In

Budget transparency, she is world’s 90th; and 23rd in Africa behind Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Liberia. Even, the best university in Nigeria can only fit into 1099th position globally. To make a bad situation worse, Nigerians, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF), are now poorer than they were three years ago!

Without being immodest, Nigeria is in troubled times and Osun as an integral part of the country is not immune from her many predicaments. According to information, 34 states can’t pay workers’ salaries without running, cap-in-hand, to Abuja for monthly handouts. The trials being faced by Nigeria’s crude oil in the international market are yet to abate even as dear country is yet to smart out of its mono-economy status.

It’s in the midst of these threats that the incoming governor will be expected consolidate on Aregbesola’s achievements, win the confidence of his people, improve on the payment of workers’ salaries and perform wonders along the line of infrastructure development.

Looking at Nigeria’s current political and socio-economic dynamics therefore, those who truly love Osun will have to do more than debating, counter-debating and panting with polluted affinity on the colour or size of the next governor’s ethno-religious garb. In my considered opinion, Aregbesola’s successor must be a personality who has all along been partaking of the many surgical operations aimed at healing the wounds created by the enormity of its challenges. Failure to incorporate this into the DNA of our choice process may be likened to deliberately preparing dear state for doom. God forbid!

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in the State of Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Needless Controversy Over Osun IGR, By Abiodun Komolafe

Lies, when told too often, unchallenged, have the capacity to be mistaken for the truth. As an indigene of the State of Osun, a key stakeholder in the Osun project; and as a living witness to Rauf Aregbesola’s judicious use of the taxpayers’ money for the development of the state, surprise was a better word to describe the recently-released Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) status of Osun for 2017 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In the report, NBS stated that internally generated revenues for Osun declined from N8,884,756,040.35 in 2016 to N6,486,524,226.45 in 2017, representing a -26.99% drop. But, in what could be considered a swift reaction, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenues Service (FIRS) and Chairman, Joint Tax Board (JTB), Babatunde Fowler, disclosed that the Aregbesola-led administration raised the state’s IGR by over-30% in 2017. Contrary to the Bureau’s misleading position, facts at the disposal of yours sincerely did reveal that the state’s actual full year IGR for 2017 was N11.9 billion.

Of course, it could have been much more, but for the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ tax audit outstanding, totaling N4 billion, to the state.

Established by Section 86 (1) of the Personal Income Tax Act cap. P8 LFN 2004, findings also revealed that JTB is the body statutorily mandated to contribute to the advancement of the tax administration in Nigeria”, especially “in the area of harmonization of Personal Income Tax administration throughout Nigeria.” Well, one can only hope that appropriate quarters would use the circumstances in Osun to resolve needless conflicts in job descriptions between NBS and JTB.

As Aregbesola remarked while declaring open the Board’s 140th Quarterly Meeting in Osogbo, tax payment is about the most important component of any civilized and forward-looking society; because, “without taxes, there’s no government.” Essentially therefore, sustaining any government involves active participation of the people; and the way to it is taxation!

Well, though Osun is at the moment not there in terms of IGR and tax remittances, it bears repeating that the present administration has done well in growing the state’s IGR base from a miserable N300 million monthly average in 2010 to where it currently stands. It is therefore believed that, if the taxable population is mobilized to pay its dues “adequately and sufficiently”, the state will no doubt be better for it.

Let’s come back to the Bureau and its inaccurate information! When Benjamin Disraeli wittily painted “lies, damned lies and statistics” as three kinds of lies troubling our world, he probably might have had our NBS in mind. This is because inaccurate information distorts facts and misleads the people. It exaggerates accomplishments and stigmatizes performance in subsequent tasks. It impinges on the evaluation of the government in power and habitually sets the led against their leaders.

Though endowed with human and natural resources, Osun had never come close to fulfilling its potentials until Aregbesola assumed office as governor. A classical example of impressive performance and impactful governance in times of an unstable economic situation, it is interesting to note that, right from his days in the Bola Tinubu-led administration in Lagos State, Aregbesola has been a passionate advocate of efficient taxation in Nigeria. That he has conspicuously and consistently deployed his unwavering resilience, unmistakable commitment, innovative ideology, administrative ingenuity, political prowess and determined efforts towards making Osun a good example to showcase to the world that taxpayers’ money can be used to develop a society for good did not come as a surprise.

Information feeds democracy! Beyond NBS inaccuracy and cynics’ duplicity, one can easily see that Osun taxpayers’ money is working! For instance, no fewer than 13,000 persons have accessed the Free AMBULANCE services and no fewer than 250,000 students in 1,382 public primary schools across the state have been covered in its one-free-meal-per-day policy since its inception.

So far, so impressive: primary and secondary healthcare services at public facilities, including anti-retroviral medication, are being rendered free-of-charge. This is in addition to free laboratory services and surgery for pregnant women, children under the age of 5, and elderly persons in 876 Primary Healthcare facilities and 51 Secondary Health facilities across the 67 Local Government Areas, Local Council Development Areas, Area Councils and Area Offices in the state.

Between 2010 and 2017, more than 50,000 qualified youth have been employed and empowered under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) and no fewer than 100,000 smallholder farmers have so far benefitted from the state’s ‘Agric Land Bank’ programme. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 7,000 farmers from 500 cooperative societies have benefited from the state’s low interest loans under the Quick Intervention Programme (QUIP).

Besides, Osun Rehabilitation Programme (O’REHAB) has succeeded in treating no fewer than 100 persons with mental disabilities, particularly those who had been living on the streets while 1,602 elderly persons of age 65 and above, who met poverty criteria, have been receiving N10,000,00 monthly for their upkeep, in addition to medical care, under the ‘Agba Osun’ scheme.

While Aregbesola’s unprecedented revolution in infrastructure development and massive road construction are visible to the naked eye, I had probably underestimated the differences between the education system in Osun and elsewhere in the country until Abiola, my 8-year old boy, had a taste of its carefully-planned academic programme. At a stage, I was close to confronting his headmaster when I learnt of the ‘hurdles’ my little boy would have to cross on his way to qualifying for the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination.

With these tip-of-the-iceberg achievements, one would have expected a data-dependent organization and statistical information provider of NBS status to be without blemish in the discharge of its responsibilities to the public.

However, obviously imprecise information like the one on hand cannot but compel one to ask if Osun is a state against itself in terms of timely release of facts and figures to relevant agencies for processing. Or is it a case of some prodigals and prostitutes, somewhere, mightily profiting from making dear state a systematic target of slippery, sloppy rumours and conspiracy theories?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in the State of Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

Abiodun Komolafe,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

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Osun 2018: Is It About Aregbesola? By Abiodun Komolafe

‘Dreams have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely.’ – William Faulkner

Reactions have continued to trail the publication of my article, entitled, ‘2018: the governor Osun needs’ (See ‘The Sun’, March 2, 2018): some satisfyingly soothing; some, not too good; others troublingly disappointing!

While some commentators saluted my courage for putting together such “a brilliant and balanced piece at such a critical time in the history of dear state”, others accused me of acting so pusillanimous that I failed to insist that it’s the turn of a particular zone of the state to produce the next governor. Some even went as far as condemning me for “selling” my “conscience to a particular All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain”, who, on my honour, I can’t even recognize in a crowd of three. But let those who do not know me well enough be informed that my interest as a key stakeholder in ‘Project Osun’ does not go beyond my concern for its future. After all, I have no other state I can call home than this ‘Land of Virtue.’

That said, let me sympathize with those who are accusing Governor Rauf Aregbesola of playing games with the issue of succession because they have forgotten that governance is chiefly about finding a need and fulfilling it.

On the other hand, those hawks who once made the state ungovernable for commonsense but who have suddenly transmuted into apostles of mischief need to realize that these are trying times for Nigeria and that Osun is a constitutive constituent of a country trying to find its feet after many years of despoliation, depravity and despondency.

Irrespective of whatever anybody may think or say therefore, the salient truth is that Aregbesola has done well for the State of Osun. The rest is left in the hands of posterity to judge him as appropriate. Also, whatever may be the opinions of naysayers, what cannot be taken away from this man of incredible resilience is that he has passion for this state and that he has always acted swiftly to confront the challenges which sometime attempted to damage its tranquillity and coexistence.

Aregbesola’s government has succeeded to a large extent in inculcating in the people a national and moral rebirth that will inspire them to do things that will be beneficial to the people. His approach to wide-ranging infrastructure development programmes and economic growth has been pleasingly massive; his delivery style, hugely impressive; and his method of tackling accumulated failings of the past, terrifically decisive. Talking of material things, his coming to be governor was no doubt a loss to him. The comforting truth resides in the fact that, what he lost in terms of material things, he has gained it by writing his name in gold.

‘Ogbeni’, as he is fondly called, has added world-class buildings to existing school structures in Osun and constructed more than 1000 kilometers of both intra- and inter-city roads across the state.  He has fed pupils and provided job opportunities for those who, ordinarily, would have been roaming our streets, unfed and unkempt. The issue of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) has been resolved to a certain level and the story of Osun social protection, adjudged to be the first of its kind in Africa, has been one of tremendous success. It is gratifying to note that most of these robustly designed and perfectly implemented intervention programmes have been adopted nationally and internationally.

His administration’s vision of getting at least 10% of the N3.3 billion daily food exchange bill in Lagos has largely been accomplished and expansion of the state’s economic base through diversification and increase in production has been awesomely realized. By so doing, this symbol of courage has shamed those who, for obvious reasons, have refused to purge themselves of all their presumptions that governance is all about doling out free money to the people.

While other states were wallowing in the cesspool of salary conundrum, courtesy of national economic crunch, Aregbesola’s government creatively adopted the salary apportionment model which “makes workers from grade level 08 and above collect between 75 and 50 per cent of their salaries.” He also purchased Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and several patrol vehicles, in addition to provision of other logistics, for the use of our security agencies.

I doubt if those 87 medical students from Osun State University who were sponsored by this administration in 2013 to study Medicine at Karazin V.N Kharkiv National University in Ukraine will forget the governor’s gesture in many years to come! The beauty of this entire story is that the governor has broken barriers and set new records which will be difficult even for cruel foes to beat.

But then, the reality of our circumstances is that Osun has gone too far to be relegated to a state reeling or sleeping in pains. So, is September 22, 2018 about Aregbesola or should the governor give an indifferent shrug in a matter as sensitive and as important as electing his successor?

Well, while the impression that post-Isiaka Adeleke controversies have weakened Aregbesola’s political machine is puny, pallid and castrated, the funny side of our Nigerianness is that those who once rejected Obafemi Awolowo as their leader have not only suddenly become madly in love with ‘Awo cap’ as a stamp of ‘ideological solidarity’, they have also surrendered their surnames for the late sage’s as the preferred passport to power and patronage.

In this part of the globalized village where risks like social exclusion, stigmatization and marginalization are commonplace scandals, Osun needs a man of intelligence, integrity and industry; a man of purpose whose humility is legendary and a governor who can sincerely key into this administration’s Six Integral Action Plan. Personally, I have a dream that Aregbesola’s successor will detest handouts-from-Abuja-compliance. Instead, he will appreciate personal sagacity and political shrewdness in seeking solutions to political logjams and socio-economic upheavals.

Above all, he will be loaded upstairs, ready to put more boots on the ground in the interest of the state, the people and humanity as a whole.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in the State of Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

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2018: The Governor Osun Needs, By Abiodun Komolafe

Osun governorship election is some few months away. In a way, the interplay of forces between ‘Continuity’ and ‘Change’ will soon come to the fore; even take its toll on the state. While the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) might have been scratching its head on how to present a candidate that’ll be acceptable to the generality of the people, pondering the opposition’s foray into another charade of unrealistic fantasies and false utopias may also not be out of place.

As September 22, 2018 nears us by the eyelids therefore, we need to interrogate where we are coming from before taking a decision on our next course. Conscious of our recent experience in Rivers, Kano and Kaduna States, we also need to peep into the fortunes of our desired paradise and the profiles of our candidates in order to avoid falling victim to the nominal, hot-and-cold “political dealers” who always explore the people’s gullibility for vicious, ridiculous, hippomaniac and megalomaniac purposes.

Well, that Nigeria is currently at war with herself is no longer news! Like Prophet Isaiah’s Israel, Nigeria seems to be on a moral and spiritual decline, with a lot of anger taking the better part of the land. From Boko Haram and herdsmen terrorism, to a bastardized economy which nosediveness has practically taken food off the table of the ordinary man, the country stinks and the opportunists rejoice! Quite unfortunately, Osun has been deeply affected by the misfortune which previous administrations wittingly or unwittingly unleashed on the country. But while the buck undoubtedly stops on Muhammadu Buhari’s table, the president’s shortcomings – real or imagined – may be excused on the fact that the government he currently leads was an emergency contraption, prepared, packaged and contracted to the retired General who didn’t weigh its contents or asked for appropriate prescriptions for the ostensibly bitter capsule. Little wonder we are where we are!

Coming back to the forthcoming Osun governorship election, our major challenge as Nigerians is that we always consider politicians who can deliver votes without factoring-in the electorate who do the real job of voting. This is why we are always bent on zoning as if it is one-size-fits-all thing. The way I see it, zoning is an unconstitutional but a party arrangement which, in most cases, only ends up robbing the electorate the chance of choosing the best candidate. While the last Osun West Bye-election has again demonstrated some of the incalculable inconsistencies inherent in such an arrangement, religion, on its part, has only succeeded in adding its own flavour to our political psyche as a people.

Poverty does not recognize the politics of zoning, seeds of ethnicity or the politicization of religion. That a governor comes from a zone is by luck, not design. For instance, I doubt if the judicial processes that eventually delivered victory to Aregbesola was on the basis of his being from the East Senatorial District of the state. Aregbesola became governor and the East adopted him as its representative in ‘Bola Ige House’. Even with his administration’s demonstrable spread of infrastructure development across the nooks and crannies of the state, Aregbesola is arguably the most misunderstood political leader from that zone at the moment, especially, going by some people’s misreading of the politics of capital city. But will Osun Central Senatorial District forget his contributions in a hurry?

Perhaps more importantly, what Osun needs at a time like this is a man with scientific approach to issues of governance who understands where the state is coming from in terms of development and what the Next Level truly means in the life of the state. Our next governor must be one who appreciates the worth of coaches whose traits revolve around discipline, hardwork, confidence and competence. He must also show love to bystanders, meanderers, even cheerleaders. Otherwise, politics may be said to have lost its essence.

Osun needs a governor who will not take away the electorate’s responsibility, thereby rendering them irresponsible. Preferably, he must be an astute administrator with popular connection that can extract and maximize capital with greater efficiency. God forbid our state is hit by economic challenges! It will require the expertise and ingenuity of an upright governor to galvanize available resources within as well as tap into the critical threshold of competent global leaders to mobilize funds and investment opportunities to the state.

So, who shall APC send as its candidate to the battle of September 22? Anyway, this is where the ruling party has to read the signs right. In many ways, the greedy power elite as represented by the opposition has no future in the new world order. But its feigned docility or inactivity should not impose a weird veil of quietness on the ruling party. Those of us who once accused the late Sani Abacha of recklessness failed to realize that he, like Napoleon Bonaparte, saw “an empty throne” and “the urge to sit on it fell on him.” Abacha capitalized on the weakness, the incompetence, the incapacity and the illegality of the Ernest Shonekan-led Interim National Government (ING) and the uncoordinated approach of Nigerians to the issue at stake and the rest is history!

In my considered opinion, the accident of coming from the same political party should unite the aspirants within the APC fold against defeated thinkers and habitual moaners who always end up succumbing to the vagaries of socio-economic hazards. Moving the state to its pride of place shouldn’t just be in mouthing platitudes but in the practicalities of delivering dividends of democracy. It is only by voting Aregbesola to succeed Aregbesola as governor that Osun can continue on the threshold of a new era. It is by so doing that there can be a total triumph for democracy and a historic victory for the temporal and moral good of Osun people. After all, the sound and the taste of a bitter kola do not mean the same thing. Candidly, if food is all that matters, then, one has no justification for leaving his parents in the village in search of any Golden Fleece in the city.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

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The Road Once Traveled, By Abiodun Komolafe

Osun Local Government election has come and gone. Evidently, it has been won and lost! Winners have been declared, magnanimous in victory; and losers have emerged, graciously accepting to lick their wounds for some time to come.

According to Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC), 318 councilorship candidates were returned unopposed while election took place in 71 wards. In all, 6 political parties participated in the election, adjudged to be free, fair and credible by election observers.

As a people, that we are now far better than having to move backward is no longer in doubt. With the level of development that has enveloped Osun in the last 7 years – in spite of the country’s overwhelming economic bunk, not by the aid of it – time is no longer on our hands to experiment political leadership with the dreamers and the adventurous whose sole mission is to practically reduce the masses to perpetual slum dwellers and the forgotten people.

Albert Einstein describes politics as a “pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.” I have argued elsewhere that success at the Local Government poll may not result in victory on September 22, 2018 unless purposeful political reengineering is undertaken where necessary. Similarly, that the ruling party somehow missed it on July 8, 2017 does not translate into lost hopes for its adherents.

Not unexpectedly too, attempts at supplying answers to some probing questions are likely to end up throwing up more questions.  For instance, what kind of political leadership should Osun expect as from November 27, 2018 and how can the state build on the huge success recorded on January 27, 2018, preparatory to the bigger battle, slated for the latter part of the year? How do we sustain Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s responsive and human-centred efforts at making life uncommonly meaningful for the people and who do we run to, in case our assumptions fail us?

Stated in unambiguous terms, those who are expecting the governor to stand aloof or play the second fiddle in a matter as important as the choice of his successor are only trying to insult our collective intelligence. While this is a topic for another day, I am most convinced that an insider who understands the internal workings of the government and one who can continue the Aregbesola tendency will be most suitable for the job.

 

But then, if the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, then, this is where our newly-elected Councillors have a lot of work to do. It’s time they took concrete steps, aimed at demonstrating leadership, ingenuity, creativity and courage in running the affairs of their Councils. Nigerians are in a hurry and are no longer interested in those who create excuses for non-performance. Willingly or by happenstance, Nigeria has also joined a ‘changing world’ where ‘greening the street’ is expected to be complimented with ‘greening the stomach’, lest an ‘ungreened’ stomach lead the battle for the ‘disgreening’ of the greened street. So, rather than surrender to the vagaries of stunted monthly allocations from the Federation purse, our Councillors should work towards shoring up the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR),.

Wrangling is not alien to democracy. Curiously, post-Osun West bye-election has compelled some quarters to erroneously conclude that party politics is dead in the State Chapter of   All Progressives Congress (APC). However, those who are familiar with the stories of David and Shimei (2 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 19: 16-23; 1 Kings 2: 13-25) and Solomon and Adonijah, his brother (1 Kings 2: 13-25) will admit that political sins are rarely overlooked.

They are seldom forgiven. But this is Nigeria!  In the spirit of sportsmanship therefore, elected officials and those who wish the party well must strive to bring back into the APC fold the aggrieved, the disgruntled as well as the “Internally Displaced Politicians” who, at one time or the other, were either rumoured, even  seen to have worked against the party. Most importantly, a party that wants to beat the opposition to its silly tricks must take urgent steps to upgrade its winning streaks when such a step still has honour.

Interestingly, part of what distinguishes Aregbesola’s Social Welfare politics from, say, the late Isiaka Adeleke’s “Stomach Infrastructure” can now be seen in the price per plot of land on  n ‘Ona Baba Ona’ in Osogbo and ‘Oke Gada’ in Ede, both in the State of Osun.

Strategy must have continuity! It can be restructured, repackaged, even constantly reinvented! Again, this is where political will, not politics, comes into play! For instance, had Obafemi Awolowo’s ship of Universal Free Education not been forced to sink mid-sea, one is not in doubt of what Nigerian youth would  have year-after-year made of its generosity to evidently predict their future!

Similarly, had Larry Koinyan’s Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) not been shot to extinction somewhere along the line, its marked shift in focus from previous policies as a result of its unprecedentedly wide scope would have taken Nigeria’s rural infrastructure development to the Next Level. Once upon a time in this country, ‘Vision 2010’, and ‘Better Life for Rural Women’, among others, happened to us like a thief in the night. But, since the Nigerianness in us is one in which the image of motion is always mistaken with the idea of progress, these programmes flew away immediately their promoters left office.

Lastly, is religion, which unfortunately has now become as natural as the blinking of our eyelids, our bane in Osun? Is it our population? Or zonal arrangements which, curiously, have suddenly become Nigeria’s war games? Or the advantage or otherwise of age on the part of our political gladiators? Well, while  religion deals primarily with man’s relationship with his Creator, Donald Trump and Dimeji Bankole have shown that exploring age as a parameter for gauging demonstrable leadership is not only castrated, it also occupies the backwaters of the truth.

In all, while no one can blame self-seeking, self-serving and ill-assorted cynics for their inability to crack the code, thank God: Aregbesola as a man of ‘talent and potentials’  has shamed all-whip-and-no-hay bigots who once tagged him a religious fanatic on a mission to Islamize the state.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

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