By Jide Afolabi
In less than two months, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osun State Chapter, would elect its candidate for the September 22 Governorship election in the State of Virtue.
Many aspirants have indicated interest in succeeding the outgoing Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the current governor of the state. As the ruling party prepares, opposition parties are not left out. Just last week, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held a South West Rally at the Nelson Mandela Freedom park (one of the legacies of the current government) in Osogbo, Osun State capital.
The rally had in attendance bigwigs from the main opposition party including the party’s Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; a former Vice President (and perennial presidential aspirant), Alh. Atiku Abubakar; a former governor of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Chairman of the Osun chapter of the party, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, among others. The choice of Osun for the rally was not accidental. Osun has been under the progressives since 2010 when on November 27, 2010, a Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo state after seven and half years, sent Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola out of the Bola Ige House in Abeere through that landmark judgement. All efforts to regain the state by the PDP even using federal might have proved abortive. Ogbeni Aregbesola appeared to be spot-on in countering PDP schemes in the state.
Not just only PDP. Last Saturday, an Alliance for Democracy (AD) governorship aspirant declared his governorship ambition at the popular Nigerian Union of Journalist’s (NUJ) Hall in Osogbo. The newly registered Social Democratic Party (SDP) are not left out in the preparation. As at last count, there are at least 20 different political parties contesting the September governorship election in the state with not less than a hundred aspirants.
The ruling APC had its own internal problems, even in Osun. A prominent member of the party, Alh. Fatai Diekola, popularly called Jagun Asoro, defected to the PDP during the South West Rally.
Also, the agitation from the “West L’okan”, literally means, “it’s time for the West”, is becoming louder and clearer. APC has about 20 governorship aspirants. Key among the contenders in the party are the Chief of staff to the Governor, Alh. Gboyega Oyetola; the Secretary to the State Government, Alh. Moshood Adeoti; the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Najeem Salaam; a former Chief of staff to the former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Chief Peter Babalola; and the popular underdog, Barr. Kunle Rasheed Adegoke (K-RAD). The “West L’okan” group are rooting for candidate from Osun West senatorial zone. In Iwo alone, there are at least 7 aspirants. Peter Babalola, Najeem Salaam and Moshood Adeoti are all major contenders from the West. Gboyega Oyetola and Kunle Rasheed Adegoke are from Osun Central while Senator Jide Omoworare from Osun East is also rumoured to be a contender.
However, among these major contenders, Kunle Rasheed Adegoke stands out. The Osogbo born lawyer is the youngest among them. He has a very intimidating profile. His vision for the state is unparalleled and his mission is very clear. He is exceptional.
One may want to know who Rasheed Kunle Adegoke (K-RAD) is. K-RAD was born on September 5, 1969, in Osogbo. He attended Ansar-ud-deen Primary School, Osogbo between 1975 and 1981; and Ansar-ud-deen Grammar School, Osogbo between 1981 and 1986. He did his Advanced Level studies in Osogbo Grammar School and later gained admission to the University of Ilorin where he studied English Language and Literature between 1989 and 1992. As a result of his activism thereby demanding a better academic environment and welfare for his colleagues, he was expelled by the management of the institution.
The expulsion in his final year did not deter the young Adegoke from getting a tertiary education. He proceeded to the University of Lagos in 1994 to obtain an LLB Degree from the Faculty of Law.
K-Rad discharged many responsibilities in various capacities as a student leader. And he was never found wanting. Also, he has been associating himself with the progressives even as a young and energetic student in the early 90s.
His campaign identity – “Tiwa n Tiwa L’Osun” is gradually becoming popular even within the political class and his slogan “Ojo Ola ti o daju”, “Assured Future”, has become a household song in the state.
His campaign has been issue driven, a clear departure from the madness being exhibited by major players in the field of Nigerian politics. K-RAD has been assuring the good people and residents of the state of Osun a better future with him as their Governor.
In a recent interview with Tiwa’n’Tiwa crew, Adegoke while commenting on how his government will eradicate poverty and reduce unemployment said, “I have a blueprint and agenda that would confront the twin vices of poverty and unemployment. Under my administration, for the unemployed, it is either you are earning or you are learning. Our focus will be on engaging and empowering Osun citizens in all our interventions: in agriculture, infrastructural development, security, health, sports, tourism, industrialization etc. Strong emphasis will also be placed on entrepreneurship and government patronage of output by these entrepreneurs.”
Adegoke commended Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the infrastructural development in the state noting that he would maintain the existing infrastructure and build new ones if elected.
“I must first commend the revolutionary approach of Ogbeni Aregbesola in the area of infrastructural development. Look at his 10 kilometre per local government initiative. I grew up in Osogbo and I know what used to be the standard of drainage system constructed in the past, as compared to the ones done by the government of Ogbeni. Many corners of the state where you could not expect to have tarred roads in the next 10 years have been taken to the future by his government. Even though, I must say on a lighter note, that the road leading to my house did not benefit from this commendable intervention, yet I cannot deny its spread across the state. The government under my watch will definitely ensure that the standard of the roads and the drainage system does not fall below the current one, but rather increased.
With respect to other areas of infrastructural development, we shall ensure that those ones in existence shall enjoy maintenance as we lack maintenance culture in this part of the world which explains why lots of government infrastructural facilities are in gross state of decay. Government infrastructural development is a way of supporting the economy as it creates jobs for the people as well. We shall patronise local and indigenous contractors only to be aided by foreign experts where local knowledge and expertise cannot effectively guarantee adequate delivery”.
K-RAD’s vision for the youths of the state is unparalleled. He said, “Our youths must be productively engaged. It is either you are in school or learning a trade or you are employed or have a work or trade of your own. It is my aspiration that no youth of my state shall stay idle by choice. I believe that a young man or woman who read Agronomy or Agric Economics and Extension has no business working as a teller in a bank. We need his knowledge and skill acquired over the years through academic rigours and farm year experience on our farms by which we can effectively deliver on our agric promises and development of our people.
The philosophy of our government is woven around a productive engagement of the youths. There is a great under-utilisation of manpower in this country. Under our government, it is going to be about what you can do for your state to help yourself, not what the state can do for you. It is going to be a government of the people in truth. I am afraid, he who is lazy may not find the state comfortable to live in. We are looking forward to a situation where all able-bodied ready to be useful shall be meaningfully engaged in what we call full employment”.
Though a lawyer, Adegoke is very vast in the area of economy and has his template in shoring up the state’s economy through improved internally generated revenue.
“We have two major sources of income in mind, namely agriculture and tourism. There are other areas like industrialisation but these two are the core sources. It is going to be a governance like never before. For you not to forget, just register it in your mind as A and T. That is Agriculture and Tourism. Those are the two major areas our government will draw its income from. We do not intend to wait on the Federal Government for the monthly handout before we execute the very many laudable projects we are conceiving for the benefit of every corner of Osun. I did not just wake up one day and decide to become the governor. It is a job prepared for. It will be a great delight if you people can organise a bigger interactive session where my plans on these two areas of income generation will be extensively analysed and criticised”, he said.
Adegoke’s desire is to improve the education in the state to the extent that students from the state would be better than their peers. He said “Not only to compete with their counterparts in developing countries but to possibly outshine their peers even in developed countries.
The teachers will be motivated and made to love what they do. They will be timely and adequately remunerated. Teachers will periodically undergo training and retraining. Retired but not tired veteran teachers will be engaged to be part of the revamping process. Schools’ sports will be re-enacted and callisthenics refined and hugely encouraged by the current government will be sustained. Where it is affordable, boarding facilities will return to some of our secondary schools. Voluntary leadership training organisations such as Boys Scout, Man O’ War, Red Cross, Boys Brigade, Girls Guild etc. will be reintroduced into the schools and be made to function effectively as in the olden days. Literary and Debating Societies will be encouraged and promoted by the government. As traveling is a critical aspect of knowledge, culture of field trips and excursions will be reinvented. Indiscipline and hooliganism will be stamped out of our schools as we are going to be strict in return and maintenance of discipline. We will ensure that prefect-ship in our schools is determined by scholarship and election, as a way of truly inculcating the culture of hard work, responsibility and democracy in the young citizens. The elementary pupils whose sense of judgment is still at infancy will be excused in this regard. We plan to bake a crop of truly civilized young Nigerians with the right values”.
As a lawyer, pro-democracy crusader and human rights activist, he believes in rule of law in forming policies and reforming the system. He said “Under my watch, the three arms of government will run independently but complement one another with high degree of accountability and transparency in government business. Government and public money will be safeguarded and will not end in private pockets. Policies that deliberately impact and reflate the local economy through government patronage will be enshrined, while bureaucracy will be refined and made to work to run government business seamlessly. Ministries & MDA’s will be made more productive while capacity building and meritocracy will be enthroned”.
He is driven largely by the altruistic feeling to serve and leave behind a legacy of good name to be referenced long after he has gone as is being done for the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He is very comfortable and in thriving private practice that pays his bills, but he has chosen to take a shot at elective executive position to grow and develop Osun beyond its present state. And his template for good governance has shown that he has over the years prepared fully for this post, being travelling the world to see the way and manner things are done in areas of growth and development, researching into ways Osun can be lifted higher beyond poverty datum line, and creating prosperity supported by institutional structures that will enhance the advancement of Osun people.
With an intimidating profile of the man, any political party that yearns for a credible and intelligent candidate would be appealing to this great personality to fly its flag. Unfortunately, we are in a political system where money is placed above value, zoning above competency and party over candidate.
How can we for political exigencies – zoning or age – discard this blessing to the State of Osun?
Kunle Rasheed Adegoke is no doubt the best man to succeed Aregbesola because with him, Osun future is truly assured.
NOTE: This piece represents the opinion of the writer