The Oasis Reporters
November 26, 2018
As Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola leaves office tomorrow, November 27, 2019, his emotion laden farewell speech to his people resonates with feelings of nostalgia, an absolute sense of entitlement syndrome and the belief that his Osun people are still truly with him.
Aregbesola must have drawn so much comfort in drafting a hollow speech that has become the talk of scorn on the streets of Osogbo.
Hear the governor :
“One of the biggest challenges we have had to grapple with is rising expenditure, especially wage bill, within the contrast of falling revenue”.
What is a governor who would spend more than he earns? Where’s the intelligence in that?
Actually this is what is on ground : Civil servants were placed on 50 percent salaries since 2015. For three years of Aregbesola’s government, workers were underpaid and owed humongous amounts, so where’s the boast? Osun state has been thrown into unmitigated debt such that it would take generations yet unborn to get it out unless they get the uncanny ability of a Governor Peter Obi who understands how to grow a state economy, the very knowledge, social spender Aregbesola did not learn.
While Peter Obi left 75 billion naira for his successor whereas he inherited a destroyed state without a State house, or other infrastructure (destroyed by agents of warring godfathers), he, the Anambra State governor built everything back by encouraging industry and raising internally generated revenue.
Meanwhile, Aregbesola kept waiting and praying for improved crude oil revenue. It failed him.
Indeed like Rauf Aregbesola said in his speech, Osun people gave him “undivided support in the 2007 governorship election, not considering the mortal risk and existential threat that came with it. You braced up to the grim challenges of the April 2007 election and the persecution that followed it for nearly four years.
The largest coercive apparatus of the Nigerian military had been assembled in Osun, with balaclava wearing goons and fearsome dogs in tow. You welcomed them with your brooms and the praises of our party and for me as the candidate then. You fearlessly voted, stood by your votes and you made them count as you gave me a fresh mandate which will expire on Tuesday. You were calm in the face of provocation and thwarted any diabolical plan to disrupt the election. I will remain eternally grateful for this”.
While Aregbesola may remain eternally grateful for the electoral support in 2007, he lost it less than two years later because of his absolute lack of prudence and planning, reason he faced “humongous financial challenges” because it became extremely difficult “to pay workers”.
To him, Osun State citizens “resisted the promptings of the opposition to plunge the state into chaos and unrest”. Perhaps the outgoing governor didn’t understand that a servant is deserving of his wages. And as a hungry man is an angry man, civil servants did not need any external promptings to down tools. Typical of a failure in governance to blame external forces.
The same man who is eternally grateful to Osun people for defending their votes were equally browbeaten in Aregbesola’s desperate attempt to install a successor, who was his Chief of staff in almost 8 years. With the APC in power at the federal level, he brought in lorry loads of military personnel to provide security during the gubernatorial election two or so months ago. It didn’t quite go his Party’s way, and with manipulations carefully documented by election observers, PDP was said to have been cheated out of a win, so as to drive the election into an undeserved second round, that was heavily militarized and the opposition PDP emasculated.
His candidate then won in an election being contested in court right now.
Because the PDP did it four years ago, Aregbesola felt entitled to do it four years later, forgetting that the present initial loss was a referendum on his monumental lack of distinction in eight years as governor.
“Last but not the least, you honoured me by voting for the candidate of our party, Gboyega Oyetola, at the last governorship election. You have done me the distinctive honour of handling over to a successor from our party, which has never happened”.
How sure is the outgoing governor that it was free votes that gave Gboyega Oyetola a win?
“My unmistakable historical mission therefore is to liberate the masses from the clutches and stranglehold of the few, by empowering them majorly through education, health and minimum resources needed for survival, thereby freeing their creative ability. On this I stand on the shoulders of giants. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, earlier apostles of this Fabianism”.
The travesty in this statement that mentions the sage, Chief Obafemi Awololo was that he built an economically viable region, provided free education, etc without borrowing money or driving the Western Region into disastrous debt because he built an unrivaled economic power house that funded his free policies. There was not even much of crude oil then.
But in the case of Aregbesola, he practically demolished the economy of Osun state, worse still, in the last six years. Imagine paying salaries of a few 2015 months in 2018. What would happen in the years to come with the huge backlog of debts to be settled?
Chief Obafemi Awolowo provided free books to pupils and awarded scholarships to deserving students.
But the much hyped Opon Imo tablets Aregbesola provided for school children were all later withdrawn.
Ask any Osun student.
“These past eight years, I am glad and fulfilled that we have affected Osun in a very positive way.
We began with the reawakening of our Omoluabi consciousness with the launching of our state’s logo, flag and anthem, in the grand preparation for the journey to greatness”.
When did State logo, flag and anthem become a journey to greatness?
“We are also one of the states that pioneered free school feeding programme. In the programme, healthy and nutritious meals are being served to 262,000 elementary 1-4 pupils in all public schools in the state, every school day.
This is not an isolated programme. It is integrated into the agriculture and economic empowerment programmes of the state. This is because under it, 3,007 food vendors were engaged and trained to cook healthy and hygienic food for the pupils. To be able to feed these pupils, 15,000 whole chickens, 254,000 eggs, 35 heads of cattle and 400 tonnes of catfish are weekly bought off farmers and other producers in this state.
O’MEALS was so successful that it attracted the attention of Partnership for Child Development (PCD) of Imperial College, London and the World Bank, both of whom have supported it and recommended it to other states and countries, as part of Sustainable Development Goals. I have also been invited twice by the British Parliament to speak on the programme. Osun has also been the template for its national rollout. Sometime in 2016, Osun hosted and trained other states preparing to launch this programme in their respective states”.
There is an incongruity in raising the agricultural production bar as claimed by outgoing governor Aregbesola in a largely rural agricultural community like Osun state, yet it takes school feeding program to attract children to school.
Would farmers not have food in their houses to feed their children with?
Something is simply not adding up here.
It shows a state that is so depressed economically that despite the abundant and fertile land available, the people cannot feed their children. A buoyant economy as rosily portrayed by Aregbesola should under normal conditions not have problems with basic food provision.
Besides many Osun people are saying that the Osun school feeding program is cleverly subsumed under the Federal government school feeding program.
So who is really feeding Osun children in schools, the APC state government or the APC federal government?
Let Aregbesola come out clearly on this salient point.
“The overall effect of” all the interventions in Osun is that “according to UNDP”, Osun has “the least poverty rate in Nigeria. Unemployment rate for Osun also reduced from 17.2 per cent in 2010 (27th highest in the country) to 5.3 per cent in 2017, the second lowest in the country, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Osun ranked the second less miserable and poverty-ridden state with a misery index of 35.56 per cent in 2017 – The Misery Index Report released in January 2018 by independent research firm, Financial Derivative Company Limited, Lagos. Also, Renaissance Capital (RENCAP) in its 36 shades of Nigeria economic review of states ranked Osun as the 7th largest economy in Nigeria”.
Wonderful scorecard there, until you visit Osun and see workers groaning for one year without salaries, and you say they are not poor?
Finally, it is right to say that Aregbesola came into power with good intentions. Take for instance the bridge he constructed across Gbongan village to shorten the journey to Oshogbo, the state capital. It’s such a monumental overhead bridge that would impress people traveling along the Ibadan – Ife road when they see it above, giving a feeling of great works being done. But at the foot of the bridge is an impassable earth road. Grandiose projects dot Osun State. Many of them, abandoned. It shows a governor who knows what is good but lacks the ability to plan properly. The financial intelligence to back projects up is grossly lacking.
It is doubtful if history would be kind to Aregbesola because the highly educated Osun people are not likely to indulge failed governance. That was not why they voted for a man who would bite more than he could chew, leaving the state in an underdevelopment condition with scores of abandoned projects, all the money down the drain, and huge debts overhanging on the state.
As he said in rounding up his broadcast, “I leave you in peace and commit you into the hands of the Almighty, to keep and protect you and lead us all to the promised land of prosperity and abundant life for all.
Osun a dara!”,
Osun people would be angrily telling him to just go away, with pain over the locust years in their hearts.