By abiodun KOMOLAFE
Rauf Aregbesola’s tenure as governor of Osun terminates, effective, 11:59 pm on November 26, 2018. As the outgoing governor takes a bow after ‘eight years of enviable stewardship to his people’, Nigerians can only wish him the best that life offers henceforth.
In his congratulatory message to Adegboyega Oyetola as Aregbesola’s successor, President Muhammadu Buhari urged the governor-elect to “always remember that the the electorate expects an unreserved commitment to delivering results that directly impact their lives and families.” In my view, that’s a good premise to start this intervention.
A cursory look at the outgoing administration with the eye of history would suggest different things to many different people, depending on perspectives, ideological cum political divide the analysts belong. To insist that Aregbesola is perfect is to attempt to play God. To say that mistakes were not made while in office is to be economical with the truth. Nonetheless, what makes his government totally different is his passion for, and fearless approach towards Change and Development.
Expectedly, Oyetola will be taking over the mantle of leadership as a prominent erstwhile member of the outgoing administration. We can safely say, therefore, that the governor-elect has his job well cutout for him. As such, it is his duty to continue in the tradition of making outlandish achievements attainable, even improve on the tradition of making Osun as the state with the lowest poverty rate, Nigeria’s most peaceful state, and the first in parliamentary Local Government administration in Nigeria, among other firsts.
As we are aware, the battle of February 2019 is already here with us! Therefore, topmost on the list should revolve around uniting party members in the interest of retaining the state for the party in next year’s general elections. In this kettle resides the strategy of how the party can win majority of the seats in the State House of Assembly as anything short of that is a signpost to instability and a recipe for chaos. Conventional wisdom is that the approval ratings of the party in power must not be seen, or appear to be spiral falling! As Lagos has recently shown, the people own the party while the party owns the government.
A time like this presents the administration with an opportunity to give the electorate what they ask for, reward them with what they hope for; even surprise them with what they have not asked for, but considered expedient. Basically, there is an urgent need to continue and sustain the tempo of development attained during the Aregbesola-led administration. The immediate task therefore is how to consciously design a template to reunite old folks where necessary, reconcile warring factions where applicable, fine-tune strategies where feasible, make adjustments where achievable, tamper with current narratives where such is needed, and encourage participations where expedient, all with a view to deepening a people-focused government.
Next on the list is the issue of workers’ welfare, which is very important. In truth, a lot has been done to retain the confidence of both the workers and the people of the state, especially, as regards prompt payment of workers’ salaries. While the challenge is no doubt national in shape and size, civil servants and pensioners in Osun will expect some policy pronouncements targeted at this embarrassingly knotty issue towards ensuring that modulated salary structure never raises its ugly head again in Osun! Of course, these solutions shouldn’t end with the conclusion of next year’s general elections. After all, 2022 started on September 27, 2018!
Once upon a time in the history of Osun, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) dropped to as low as N300m per month and allocations from the Federation purse was in the negative. They are just picking up. Thanks to the doggedness and the financial ingenuity of the state government. One can only hope that the incoming administration would sustain this positive development. While payment of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ allowances is a given, that should not translate into stoppage or abandonment of existing projects; or the initiation of new ones, if and where necessary.
Kudos to the outgoing government for the rare feat it has recorded in the education sector, which peaked with the 70% pass in the 2018 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Again, that Osun recorded 284% in the performance of student in WASSCE from 2010 to 2017 is no longer news. However, since government is a continuum, the incoming administration must continually fine-tune extant education policies with a view to achieving a yet higher and excellent standard.
One major challenge of our Nigerianness is the collapse of our reward system. Conventionally, political appointments are treated not only to reflect a state’s geo-political idiosyncrasies but also as empowerment strategies which trickle-down effects are immense. Fair is fair: revisiting the issue of political representation with all the vigour it demands will help Oyetola’s government.
Since no one talks just because he likes the sound of his voice, a government that gives room for positive criticisms and healthy debates will likely be a responsive government; and such will be a plus for the incoming administration. Interestingly, Kogi has in recent times demonstrated the roles of the media as watchdog in a democracy and the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) as the bridge between the government and the governed.
If time and resources permit, the recently concluded Osun governorship election may be reviewed with a view to inculcating the right and time-tested values in our youth. Though the people have spoken with their thumbs in favour of a candidate with the right credentials and moral rectitude, nothing can be too much to give the leaders of tomorrow a sense of direction in a world and society easily sold to easy virtues and philistinistic tendencies. As a matter of fact, yours sincerely is still at a loss on how some parents who spent so huge an amount of money to give their children the best education in the land succumbed so carelessly to the wiles of vengeance, vendetta, and democracy of the stomach. Sad that it is happening at a time the international community is urging Nigeria to embrace interventions that can help reduce the number of ‘out-of-school children’!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
O20, Okenisa Street,
PO Box 153,
Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.