Osun 2018: Whose Head, The Cap Fits Better? By Asawe Oluwatobi

As the state of Osun governorship elections draws closer, political actors and gladiators across party lines have swung into actions with all efforts geared at conducting all-inclusive primaries which will allow respective parties to unite and forge common front.

On one hand, the incumbent, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has set high standards by delivering excellently across all sectors of governance. He has set paces with unprecedented strides in areas of road construction, infrastructural development and unrivalled investment into education. These feats have further endeared the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) to the omoluabi (The Virtuous) in the state of osun.

With only a few weeks left before the ruling party, APC elects her flag bearer for the governorship election, aspirants numbering up to 20 have expressed interest in the race for Bola Ige house. In order for the APC to retain control of governance in the state, it must not only rely on the popularity of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola among the electorates but must also see to the emergence of a candidate which will be accepted across board.

Like a game of chess, political gladiators are already positioning themselves and scheming all manner of tactics to become the elected flagbearer of the party at the gubernatorial polls scheduled for September this year as stated by INEC.

Memories of Osun west senatorial district election last year, are still fresh in our brain, it was a necessary litmus test for the Progressives in the state. This is where it becomes dicey and where APC has to play the right card because the party is in possession of the joker.

It’s crucial at this progressive moment that the state party leadership led by Hon Gbenga famodun must identify prevailing issues, viz zoning and home base/foreigner dichotomy, and see to it that these concerns are adequately catered for in choosing a flag bearer for our party.

Close to three decade of creating the state of Osun, the baton of governorship has often been exchanged between two main senatorial district, osun central and osun east. A close study shows that the first civilian governor, Late Isiaka Adeleke is a native of  Ede, Osun west but his laudable plans to transform the state were short lived as his twenty two (22) months of governance was truncated by the military junta. At the return to democratic dispensation in 1999, Chief  Bisi Akande from Ila Orangun, Osun Central emerged as the governor. Akande failed in his reelection bid in 2003, which paved way for Prince Oyinlola olagunsoye from Okuku, the same Osun Central again, to become the governor, he ruled from 2003 to 2010.

One would have thought that fairness and justice would be served to the people of Osun west to produce the number one citizen of the state but as fate would have it, the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola from Ilesha, Osun East won in the tribunal court after three years of Oyinlola second tenure. Simply put, for the 242 months for which the state has governed under democratic dispensation, Osun west senatorial district has only led for 22 months.

Osun west has for long been unduly marginised in this regards, this is worrisome because the state has denied the wealth of leadership expertise, intellectual strength and strategic insight which the citizens of the district could have contributed.

Opinion sampling and visitations to different political brokers within the state reveal that incumbent speaker Rt Hon Najeem Salam, beats all criteria and comes up as one that will help the course of APC in the forthcoming election.

The speaker hails from Ejigbo, Osun west senatorial district, a zone that has been generally accepted to produce the next governor in line with party stakeholders arrangement since it is the only zone that is yet to produce a governor to complete a single tenure.

Furthermore, a glance at the stewardship report of the state house of assembly under the incumbent speaker, Rt, Hon Najeem reveals his dogmatic efforts and proven leadership strength to deliver and improve the quality of lives of Osun residents. The synergy drawn between the legislature and the executive in the State despite the dwindling financial resources available, can best be described as the equilibrium point at which development of the State is engendered.

Since his election as the Honorable speaker to preside the fifth and sixth assembly, the legislative house under his watch has passed a total number of forty eight (48) bills, fifty two (52) resolutions has been taken and also conducted public hearing sessions on seven bills during which views, opinions and observations of stakeholders and members of the public were taken.

It would interest you that, Rt. Hon Najeem salaam and his parliamentarians also reviewed the cases of the disengaged staff of the State Tertiary Institutions in Ilesa, Esa-Oke, Iree and Ila-Orangun and approved the reinstatement of some of them and also considered the report of the  House Public Accounts Committee on the audit exercise carried out on the income and expenditures of the  four State Tertiary Institutions in Ilesa, Esa-Oke, Iree and Ila-Orangun and recommended, among other things, a self-financing status for each of these institutions.

Moreo, the Legislative house as well, held an interactive session with the Management of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso which deliberated extensively on such vital issues like joint ownership, staffing, admission policy and challenges facing the Institution; and mediated in the prolonged industrial action embarked upon by Medical Doctors in the service of the State of Osun, and this, among other efforts, led to the suspension of the strike action by the Doctors.

Similarly, Rt hon Najeem Salam has practiced politics within the state all his life. He has identified with party members even before APC seize control of governance in the state. The speaker is therefore “osun-bred” and is certain to pacify proponents of a home based individual as the next governor. The emergence of Rt hon Najeem Salam as APC candidate will calm all nerves and unify political blocs within the party. This can only result into victory for our party at the polls.

The party leadership must thread carefully and provide a level playing ground for all aspirants at the primary election.

As members of the progressive folds, the only way to ensure continuity of good governance that the state presently enjoys under Ogbeni is to return another progressive as next governor of our dear state of osun at the elections. This is a debt that we all must pay. State of Osun must never again return to the days of backwardness as witnessed during the reins of the opposition.

In my opinion, if you ask me again, whose head, does the cap fits better? I confidently go with Rt, Hon Najeem Salaam

asaweoluwatobi@gmail.com

@ATM_ReGe

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Osun 2018, Politics Of Zoning, And The APC’s Big Gamble, By Olalekan Adigun

Keen observers of Osun politics are never caught by surprise about its unending drama especially during election seasons. Things got to the climax during the preparations for the 2003 elections which saw some of the darkest and lowest periods in Osun political history.

This period saw unimaginable forms of barbarism, savagery, and disorder manifest in the shape of broad daylight election rigging, political thuggery and violence, and series of assassinations (and disappearance) of well-known political figures including the yet-to-be-resolved murder of Chief Bola Ige, Cicero of Esa-Oke, former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

As though these were not enough, 2007 elections in the state refused to win turn pessimists to optimists as all known attempts in the books were deployed to steal the people’s mandate by the powers that be. Nothing was spared to achieve this objective. Fortunately, in 2010, the tables turned when the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan, against all odds, delivered a landmark judgment in favour of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, the rightful winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election.

Needless to say that Rauf Aregbesola will later win the 2014 governorship election to become the first governor in the state to be re-elected in a free and fair election since its creation in 1991. The rest, as they say, is history!

This background is necessary, first, for those who may not be too familiar with developments in Osun since 2003. And, second, for those who may be familiar, it serves as a reminder about the immediate dark (and bloody) past on her path to the present.

With Governor Aregbesola’s successful completion of tenure later in 2018, understandably, the competition among other contestants for the exalted seat is gradually heating up.

The political landscape of the state shows that two leading parties- All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- have fairly equal strengths and weaknesses. For analytical purposes, we may add the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who will fancy its chances with the party’s latest acquisition of Senator Iyiola Omisore, a former deputy governor of the state.

While the two APC boasts of the current governor Rauf Aregbesola and a retinue of influential figures in the state, the PDP on its part lays claim to the governorship seat with its profile as the former ruling party in the state.  Also, of the three Senatorial seats in the state, APC has two as against PDP’s one which it got in the recent landslide victory (winning 9 out of 10 LGAs) in the Osun West Senatorial by-election. On the surface, things may look rosy for the ruling party, but things are in fact, murky especially for lovers of the party if it fails once again to respond to the challenge from Osun West.

The recent by-elections in Osun West show that there have been questions APC strategists are not answering. And this is very strange!

This writer is not a big fan of “zoning” in electoral democracies. But, as a keen observer of Nigerian politics (which is strongly based on primordial sentiments), this author thinks there are good reasons why the APC must zone its ticket to Osun West.

First, let us do some political reality checks. The 2014 governorship election results show that the APC candidate won elections in 22 out of the 30 local government areas of the state scored a total of 394,684 to defeat PDP’s Omisore (as he then was) who got 292747 votes from 8 LGAs mainly from Osun East and two from Osun Central. The difference between the two candidates is 101,937 votes.

From this, let us remove the votes from the 10 LGAs in Osun West and give them to Omisore. With Omisore winning (assumedly) 18 LGAs against Aregbesola’s 12, this will produce one of two situations most political strategists will prefer to avoid: first, a possible re-run, if the votes from Osun Central (especially Osogbo) will still be strong enough to charge APC on in the election.

The outcome of such situation would have been largely unpredictable. Second, with 18 LGAs against 12 and with PDP armed with the power of “Federal might”, the party may just kiss the governorship goodbye like it happened in Ekiti.  And with the 2015 elections in sight, the morale of the party’s supporters would have been seriously dampened!

Let us also take a look at the merits of the argument of the people of Osun West for the governorship. Late Senator Isiaka Adeleke was elected during the Third Republic under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as the first executive governor of the state for a period that unfortunately ended after 13 months.

In the Fourth Republic, Osun has had a total of three Governors: Chief Bisi Akande (1999-2003), Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (2003-2010) and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (incumbent). Of all these, both Akande and Oyinlola from Osun central while Aregbesola is from Osun East. Other zones have spent 19 years against Osun West’s 1 year! Isn’t it just logical and natural for the Governorship to return to Osun West after over 25 years of waiting, yearning, and agitating? Who best should lead this charge if not the APC? Who benefits more from returning the exalted seat to Osun West than APC? If not now, then when?

If Osun West will get it soon, how SOON is soon? For how long should people from Osun West wait and endure? How are we so sure their patients aren’t running out?

Let us look at another possible scenario. If the PDP fields a candidate like Senator Nurudeen Adeleke (who recently signified his intention to join the gubernatorial race), who is from the influential Adeleke dynasty in Ede and APC fields a candidate from another zone, even if APC can brag about bulk votes from Iwo, that will still be a big gamble it does not want to take going by figures from the latest Senatorial by-election and the damage may be incalculable.

Even though Iwo has been the traditional fortress of progressives in the Osun West, recent experiences should have taught the APC leaders the bitter lessons of assuming too much that “Iwo will always respond”. To avert a messy situation in the forthcoming election, APC leaders should field a strong candidate from Osun West. If they are to take my line of arguments and field a good politician from the zone, such may serve two strategic functions: first, it will placate the seeming eternal yearnings of Osun West people on their chance to produce the governor; second, it will neutralise the threats parties like the PDP might pose thereby reducing complications that might arise from other unpredictable areas like Ife which might prove really damaging to the APC’s chances.

APC leaders will be engaging in a big gamble should they fall for the temptation(s) to choose their flagbearer from Osun West. Too much is at stake in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state. Some of us are old enough to know the consequences of returning to our immediate dark past.

One good reason to return to this past will be APC’s choice of flagbearer outside Osun West. This will be a massive gamble with terrible implications!

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and author of the fast-selling book WITNESSING THE CHANGE. He can be reached on +2348136502040, +2347081901080 or email: adgorwell@gmail.com. He tweets from @adgorwell. He blogs at http://olalekanadigun.com/

 

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Jamb To Hold Admission Policy Meeting June 26

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has fixed June 26 for the 2018 admission policy meeting to kick-start the admission process into the nation’s tertiary institutions.

Dr Fabian Benjamin, the JAMB Head of Media and Information, made this known on Monday in Lagos.

Benjamin said; “The main reason for the meeting is to define all modalities for admission of qualified candidates into the nation’s tertiary institutions for the 2018/2019 academic session.

“The board has concluded arrangements for this year’s admission policy meeting with all stakeholders in the education sector.

“This kind of meeting is to give room for contributions as well as ensure fairness and equity in the conduct of the 2018/2019 admission process.

“We are expecting in attendance all heads of tertiary institutions across the country.

“We shall be convening this meeting, for the first time, in the South-West, Osun precisely.

“All the South-West governors have been invited coupled with other critical stakeholders.

“To ensure that there is no misrepresentation of facts or information, there will be a live coverage of the meeting on NTA from 11:30a.m. to 1:30p.m, so that Nigerians can follow the proceedings,” he said.

Benjamin said that in addition, Nigerians would also be able to get first-hand information on how the admission would be conducted, especially the requirements needed.

He assured Nigerians that the board would continue to ensure it brought on board innovations and reforms that would give the candidates an edge over admission process challenges.

“Our determined objective is to ensure that every prospective candidate is treated fairly and equally under a transparent platform.

“We will also continue to strive to open up the space for healthy competition.

“As it was done in 2017, this year’s admission process will also be conducted through the Central Admission Processing System (CAPS).

“This system eliminates all human interference in the admission exercise, where candidates are selected purely on the basis of defined criteria,” Benjamin said.

NAN

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Guber Election: Osun Speaker Insists On Osun West Agenda 

The Speaker of Osun State House Of Assembly, Dr. Najeem Salaam, has reemphasied his long held opinion that Osun West Senatorial District should produce the next Governor of the State.

Speaking to reporters in Lagos on Saturday, the Ejigbo-born political leader and a leading aspirant in the upcoming gubernatorial elections, insisted that the zone must be allowed to stake its claim on the position in the spirit of fairness.

“The people of Osun West have always demonstrated deep maturity and patience in the political history of the State,” he said. “Despite having eminently qualified people to lead the State of Osun, we have always towed the line of sacrifice for the greater good and bid our time.

“For the avoidance of doubt, 2018 is the time of the people of Osun West and I, as a proud son of Ejigbo, will never betray that stance. Our resolve to take what we – along with the majority of Osun electorates – believe is our right remains unshaken.

“Any rumour or story to the contrary should be seen as lies from the deepest part of hell. On Osun West Agenda we stand!”

As the race to the elections heats up, there have been agitations by several political interest groups that the position of the next Osun State Governor be ceded to the Osun West Senatorial Zone. This is because the zone has only produced the governor once, who was in office for barely 22 months. The two other zones have led the state for a minimum of 8 years.

As the Speaker of the House for close to 8 years and one of leading contenders in the race, there are rumours that Dr. Najeem is facing serious pressure to step down for another aspirant within the ruling All Progressives Congress.  When asked if this was the truth, the Speaker said, “That’s to be expected. As politicans, we are under pressure daily to take far-reaching decisions but it is left to the individual to know which decisions he can live with and those that go against his principles.”

“Although, I am yet to make a formal declaration to seek the highest office in the State of Osun, it is clear that some people are threatened by our chances and have been spreading the very malicious stories. I want to plead with our supporters to keep the faith and hold the fort. Our agitation is righteous and we will not be afraid.”

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Trouble Looms In Osun Community Over Planned Installation Of Oba

Trouble is brewing in Iwoye community of Oriade local government of Osun State following the planned installation of a new Oniwoye of Iwoye by the council chairman, Hon. Bunmi Obeisun, allegedly without the approval of the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Though he has not been officially presented with staff of office, it was learnt that Obeisun recently formalize the appointment by ‘raising the hands of Prince Adewunmi Ogidiolu as the new Oba’ at a ‘special event’.

According to some concerned stakeholders in the town, said the selection of Ogidiolu “undermines the tradition of the Iwoye people, guidelines set aside for whoever is to ascend to the throne, processes incorporated at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the suggestion of His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the issue.”

According to the petitioners, the gazette of the State of Osun, states that whoever will be the King of Iwoye must be 40 years old or above, hold a first degree from any University, maintain a reliable source of income amongt other requirements as stipulated in the gazette.”

They added that “It is, however, disheartening to note that, Prince Adewunmi Ogidiolu does not possess any of the above stated requirements for him to be King. He is a 35 years old holder of Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE). Then, one may be quick to ask that, why then, was he made a King. The reason is not far to seek.”


They alleged the lawmaker representing Obokun/Oriade federal constituency, Hon. Wole Oke, of conniving with the Chairman of Oriade local government, Mr Bunmi Obeisun against the Governor to install the King.

“Oke, in a bid to establish his influence in Oriade, is encouraging the local government Chairman to disobey the Governor just because he want to take control of Ward 4 in Oriade local government simply because of the population of the ward and the fact that, the people of this ward are highly politically inclined,” they added.

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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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Aregbesola’s Bid To Restore Healthy Living Saves 12,000 Lives

The Restoration of Healthy Living part of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s Six-Point Integral Action Plan in the State of Osun has since 2010 saved over 12,000 lives.

The initiative which revolved round all strata of improvement, development and upgrade of the health sector of the state has its legacies in all segments.

Efforts to restructure the health sector of the state started with the upgrade of 18 health facilities across the state with the three of the state General Hospitals in Asubiaro Osogbo, Ile-Ife and Ijebu-Ijesa being upgraded to the state-of-the-art Specialist Hospitals.

Aside this, 50 ambulances were procured to provide emergency services to residents of the state in distress during accidents or other emergency needs with 404 paramedics employed, trained and allocated dedicated phone lines to aid their operations in every nook and cranny of the state.

Also, about 53 health projects ranging from Primary Health Care centres to important health initiatives were initiated and completed during the time frame with support from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The government in the last seven and a half years has also spent over 290 million naira on the procurement of equipment and basic amenities with half a billion naira expended on drugs that are provided free for patients across the state.

A patient who spoke to newsmen at the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo expressed her gratitude to the State Government of Osun for its support towards catering for the health conditions of its citizenry.

She said with the mechanisms put in place, adequate care and attention is given to patients for their quick recovery and wellness which she is also a beneficiary.

Her words “I want to thank the government for taking care of me despite how critical my condition was. I am also grateful to them for the grant they have given me to take care of myself when I leave here. If not for their efforts, I may not have been alive today but I’m grateful to God that through their support, I am alive today.”

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Osun West Senatorial District: Close To Two Decades Of Unfair Treatmeant, By Biodun Popoola

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.”

You can also click to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfJiMTB6dIM

Biodun Popoola for Coalition of Osun West Youths.

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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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Osun Police Command Arrest 55 Murder, Robbery, kidnap, Other Suspects

The Police Command in Osun on Monday said it had arrested 55 suspects for various offences, including murder, kidnapping, defilement of minor, armed robbery, cultism and rape. The command’s Spokesperson, DSP Folashade Odoro, said this in a statement in Osogbo on Monday.

Odoro gave the breakdown of the suspects as follows: cultism, 27; armed robbery, 16; kidnapping, five; ritual killing, five; rape, three; murder, two; and defilement of minor, one.She said that 29 dangerous weapons, including guns, cutlasses and knifes were recovered from the suspects.

The spokesperson also said 43 vehicles were recovered while a kidnap victim was also rescued.She said some of those arrested had been charged to court while others would be prosecuted as soon as investigations into their matters were concluded.

Odoro said that the successes achieved by the command were through the collaborative efforts and support of the vigilante and the residents of the state.She urged them to continue to give useful information to the police on suspicious movements around their residences, offices and dark spots to ensure reduction of crime in the state.

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FG Spends N2.8bn On Road Reconstruction, Rehabilitation In Osun

The Nigerian Government says it has spent N2.8 billion on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gbongan-Iwo-Oyo Road.

Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, disclosed this  in Gbongan, Osun State, while inspecting the project.

Fashola said that the road was awarded to Kopek Construction Company by the previous administration in 2011 at the cost of N6.9 billion.

Represented by Mr Adetunji Adeoye, the South-West Director of the Ministry, Fashola said that Nigerian Government was committed to the speedy completion of the road.

He said that the contract, with 18 months completion period, was delayed for three years by the previous administration due to delay in release of funds.

Fashola said that the current administration had been providing funds to the construction company.

The Minister said that government was working on the review of the contact rate to accommodate changes in prices of materials.

Earlier, Mr Wasiu Atitebi, the Federal Controller of Works in Osun, said that the 32.2 Kilometre road links Gbongan, Iwo in Osun state and Ibadan in Oyo state.

Atitebi said that the contractor was mobilised back to the site in January 2017 after three years delay, adding that the project was in its fifth extension.

Mr Pascal Harfouch, the Kopek contractor, said that some parts of the road were for rehabilitation while other parts were total reconstruction.

Harfouch, who confirmed that government did not owe them for now, said the company was working on a review of the contract sum due to changes in prices.

He added that local people in the area were employed in executing the project in line with Federal Government local content policy.

Harfouch pointed out that the road is at 61.6 per cent completion.

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