As we mark the first two years of the tenure of Alh. Isiaq Adegboyega Oyetola as Governor of the State of Osun, I remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America, whose early days in office were so eventful that history has hoisted him as a rare leader who didn’t need a long stay to prove his mettle. In only two years, Kennedy revived his country’s lowballing economy with legislations and policies that sought to eliminate America’s debilitating racial fault lines and bring succor to the disadvantaged of the society. According to a Wikipedia account, ‘’The economy (under Kennedy) experienced steady growth, low inflation and a drop in unemployment rates…He established the Peace Corps and promised to land an American on the moon.’’
This is the dream of leaders and the government they lead: to achieve in half of their tenure what others don’t attain in a full term or two. It has been said of Kennedy that by his midterm he had surpassed the record of most of his predecessors. Observers still rank his short-lived administration as one of the best in America’s contemporary history. The charismatic JFK was assassinated in 1963, when he had spent less than three years in the White House.
Critics’ opinion about what we are encountering in Osun under Oyetola’s watch also suggests that we are face to face with a fast-paced administration which works as if each day would mark its last in office. This has led many to conclude that the All Progressives Congress, APC, administration is working with the speed of a hurricane. Nothing stands in the way of the storm. Every hindrance is brought down for its passage. Its royal route repels obstruction, no matter how firmly rooted.
Leaders who want to make a difference don’t wait for the end of their time to present their report card for appraisal by the people. They want to be judged by their everyday activity. It is the impact of the actions of each day that determines the verdict of history. That has been the story of Oyetola over the past 24 months of his residency in Government House, Osogbo.
For the common man and civil servants in Osun, what they will remember Oyetola for in the past two years is his renewal of their faith in the civil service. The workers have begun to enjoy the job stability traditionally identified with government work. Oyetola has not only lifted the embargo on the workers promotion and yearly increment of their salaries, but has also ensured prompt payment of salaries and pensions.
The education sector has also felt the impact of the ‘hurricane’ pace of Oyetola in the last two 24 months. The system has been overhauled to make way for the scrapping of the single uniform policy across the state and the modernization of teaching methods to rhyme with the digital age and diversity of standards. To be sure, these have yielded top dividends.
In health, the citizens have seen Oyetola’s Midas’ Touch at work. About 332 public health centres have been constructed in all the wards of Osun. State-owned hospitals and maternity hubs are in addition being renovated and upgraded while being kitted with modern equipment and stocked with the most essential drugs. The government has equally put in place a progressive health insurance package that is benefiting both private and state employees.
Along with these strides in health, agriculture is undergoing a revitalization that engages the private sector and financial institutions for the delivery of an agrarian revolution in the State. The idea is to make Osun sufficient in food production, given its rural population. One project in that direction is the Osun Ethanol Bio-Refinery Factory at Ayekale in Boripe Local Government. It will be planting, harvesting and transporting and converting cassava into ethanol for final marketing. The project is billed to create 10000 jobs.
Flooding menace has been tackled with the dredging of waterways and canals in areas long known to experience the insufferable consequences of heavy rains during the wet season in both the urban and rustic regions of the state. The problem has led to dislocations in the economy and unbearable trauma for the victims. Beyond people’s expectations, hundreds of kilometers of roads have also been rehabilitatated, constructed and tarred across the state.
In the period under review, the government’s loyalty to the people of Osun was put to the test with the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. But Oyetola’s government rose to the occasion as it rolled out containment plans that prevented the plague from causing widespread havoc. The authorities provided isolation centres, facemasks, sanitizers and drugs among other supplies during the lockdown. The people also got palliatives in the form of food and cash to prove official sympathy with the masses in their moment of need.
While it has been an eventual time, the past two years have also demonstrated the ability of the Oyetola Administration to prove that it is a worthy custodian of the people’s mandate freely given to it in 2018. Its testimony of successes so far indicates that the people didn’t make a wrong choice at the poll afterall.
OYATOMI is the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of APC in the state of Osun
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