By Jibola Oyekunle
A somewhat melodramatic pose played out at a recent press briefing by the Governor, State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, held in Iragbiji, the Governor’s country home. A question, reminding the Governor of his promise to run an all-inclusive, all participatory government and seeking to know if that would literally translate to possible appointment of members of the opposition parties into his cabinet had put to test the brilliance and intelligence of a man with few words but mighty action.
The questioner had, perhaps, misconstrued the notion of all inclusive leadership to mean a direct involvement of the opposition or he merely intended to generate such as controversial news feast for his medium. On the faces of some came an expression of disapproval and you could hear them susurrating like the wind fingering the pines. Then, there was sudden silence and of course a suspense, as all waited with bated breath to hear from the horse’s mouth. It was the first time the Governor would speak on what the composition of his cabinet would be.
Before then, there had been concerns over a fake list of commissioner nominees circulating on social media. In his remarkably calm, unruffled nature, the Governor had decided to keep mum over the fake list and keep people guessing. But this time, Mr. Governor must clear the air. His terse response would later douse the tension. No member of the opposition parties would make the list of his cabinet already being prepared through the instrumentality and thorough scrutiny of party nominations from across the federal constituencies in the state.
What is curious is that this iconic image of purposeful and responsible leadership that characterizes Oyetola’s diplomatic approach to governance in Osun would easily give him away as a true party patriot who has the excellent mastery of bringing standard and finese to the agelong global democratic practices of appointing persons to government posts on the basis of partisan loyalty.
His approach is simple: the party should nominate the best from their respective constituencies, since the ruling party itself, with a wide spread across the state, parades a membership of brilliant progressives who share the same manifesto with ability and compulsion to drive the good programmes of government for the people and take the land of virtue to greater heights.
It would have been a disservice to the good people of Osun for Oyetola to allow an incursion of strange fellows from the opposition parties with ulterior vision and selfish agenda to loot and further put their future and destiny on a repeating loop. To draw a thin line between the patronage system and his all-inclusive policy, Oyetola said his government would remain open to good ideas from the opposition on how to better drive his government’s developmental programmes. That is just an aspect of his pledge to make its government an all participatory one.
Oyetola’s policies and programmes are driven by citizens’ needs, which were harvested during the Thank You Tour/Town Hall Meetings, where the people presented their yearnings and aspirations to the government. This responsible and all-inclusive approach has been validated in a report of the United Kingdom Department for International Development’s (DFID) funded Citizens’ Needs Assessment exercise in Osun recently submitted to the Governor.
The report recommends that the government should integrate citizens’ demands into the State’s planning and policy development and implementation frameworks. The report also recommends the need for the government to establish and strengthen the platform for feedbacks from citizens on project implementation. The last recommendation in the report centers on the need for government to build trust with citizens through fiscal implementation and accountability.
Also contained in the report presented to the Governor was a plethora of demands by the citizens of the State including farmers, youths, women and children from Oyetola administration. Part of the short and medium term demands of the citizens, according to the report, includes sensitisation of adult citizens on parental responsibilities, creation of an enabling environment for business and setting up of monitoring team on waste disposal. Other needs include a direct dealing by the government, provision of infrastructure, irrigation facilities for farmers in the rural areas, improved security, improved water and power supply among others.
The Governor, while receiving the report, thanked the foreign agencies that conducted the exercise for further assisting the government in reaching out to the residents and citizens of the state to know their needs. He assured that the government would implement all the recommendations in the report which he described as constructive and being in tandem with the plan of his administration for the state and the people.
Since he received the baton of leadership in November last year, Oyetola had hit the ground running, offering the best at an appreciable pace, in spite of pausity of funds. Cabinet or no cabinet, commissioners or no commissioners, his achievements in the last nine months have been a quantum leap. From stemming the tide of insecurity, revamping the health sector, boosting the educational profile of the state to continuous infrastructure development, the race to greater heights has continued unabated.
As the Chief Security Officer of the State, the Governor’s efforts at securing the lives and property of residents and people of Osun have been very rewarding, so much so that the State of Osun has continued to retain, sustain and maintain its agelong status of being the most secure and peaceful state in the South West if not in the country. An elder statesman and former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.) attested to this during his visit to the state early this month with his Nigeria Prays Movement team. Another testimony of this feat, is the just concluded Osun Osogbo festival, which pooled over 1 million participants, including tourists from different parts of the world. They all came, had a great time and left in peace.
The success story continues in the area of education. With the newly established Ileri Oluwa Fulfilling Promises Educational Programme, educational sector now awaits a new phase of transformation. The programme, according to Oyetola, comes with a consolidated approach whose key elements are rebuilding, remodelling and total rehabilitation of existing school buildings and construction of new blocks of classrooms in a redesigned and repackaged approach to school infrastructure renewal, intended to reach every nook and cranny of the state within available human and material resources.
As part of its educational support programme, the government of Oyetola also founded Osun Edu Marshals with core responsibility of enforcing discipline and regular attendance by pupils. It is believed that this intervention will substantially improve the profile of education in the state and nudge it to the frontline among educationally performing states in the nation. Already, the government has commenced action on implementation of this laudable programme with recent commissioning of school projects at both Telemu Comprehensive Middle High school and Morinu Community Elementary School , in Ola-Oluwa Local Government and Iwo Local Government areas of the state, respectively.
What would interest you most in this government’s developmental programmes is its aggressive drive toward improving the health sector, through the deployment of technology-based approach, to ensure quality and affordable healthcare delivery to the people. This administration had on assumption of office commenced work on the revitalisation of nine General Hospitals and 332 Primary Health Centres – one per ward – across the state. About 100 PHCs already completed, awaiting commissioning.
The government’s revitalisation programme is holistic. It comes with the use of technology to boost healthcare delivery, provision of modern equipment, training and re-training of staff for efficient Healthcare services. The essence of this aggressive focus on health, which experts say is wealth, appears to be born out of a resolve to power all the sectors of the state to deliver prosperity and good life to the people.
In order to give prompt vent to this resolve, Oyetola executed the flag off of the facilities in Ejigbo (Osun West) and Ifetedo (Osun East) Senatorial Districts, barely three months into his administration. Work has reached advanced stages on the two projects. They will be delivered very soon.
A few days ago, the Governor moved to complete the one-per-senatorial district revitalisation of hospitals with an expansion project at the State Specialist Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo as he turned the sod of 120-bed ward and 30 doctors’ quarters within the hospital, being the flagship of the facilities under the Hospitals Management Board. It is instructive to note that this administration had earlier carried out major works on the theatre complex, blood bank building, medical laboratory, trauma centre, hope clinic and the external wall of the hospital.
This year, the government of Oyetola has executed six major campaigns and capacity efforts to boost impact and efficiency. These are Maternal, Neonatal and Child Week; Immunisation Plus Days; Exclusive Breast Feeding Campaign; Polio Eradication Campaign; Net Hanging Campaign and Facility Level Training for the Activation of Basic Health Care Provision Fund in Osun. And to cap it up, the State of Osun Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (O’SACA) will soon start a project that will involve the introduction of incentives for pregnant mothers who attend ante-natal clinic and have HIV test results.
The story of Governor Oyetola’s all-inclusive approach to governance cannot be narrated in a hurry. The impacts of his administration are being felt by the people, both in the rural and urban settlements of the state. Nobody is being left out and everybody is being carried along. His commitment to the welfare of workers (both active and passive) remains unshakable. Workers have been getting their full salaries as and when due while huge amounts of money are being released from the available resources, time to time, to pay the pension benefits of retirees.
More than five hundred kilometers of mechanically maintained roads are being constructed in rural communities across the state, with 228 kilometers already commissioned while the remaining 306 are at various completion stages. These roads would aide easy transportation of farm produces from rural to urban areas. Eleven fully equipped fire service stations have been reconstructed across the state, with 14 fire fighting vehicles. Two of the fire stations were recently commissioned by the Governor in Ede and Ejigbo. All these, to mention a few, are in addition to the ongoing rehabilitation and maintenance of all existing roads within the state and the state’s huge contribution to the ongoing collaborative efforts of the states in the South West in building a formidable security network to fight crimes in the region.
What is most amazing is how Oyetola has managed the available meager resources to achieve so much within the short time frame. And for him, the work has just begun. It is no surprise that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described him as an encyclopedia of finance. Personally, I see him as a gift to humanity and a deserving blessing for the good people of Osun State. It may appear too early to begin showcasing his score card, but those who can fathom the depth of the numerous achievements of his administration in the last nine months would quite agree with me that Oyetola deserves a locomotive applause.
Jibola Oyekunle is a Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the Governor, State of Osun
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