By Adetayo Adegbemle
There is no shortage of sad news from Osun State these days. And the more depressing news is that there is no end in sight yet. Osun State is deeply lost and adrift in the financial and policy mess that the incumbent Governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola has put the State.
I am compelled to write this piece, chiefly because of a discussion I was involved in recently on twitter, where some championed vehemently that Ogbeni Aregbesola is helpless, and that Osun State cannot be viable unless the Federal Government Monthly “handout” keeps coming. Their position therefore is that it is not the fault of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, but the fault is on the dwindling oil prices.
For a State like Osun State that could, and should, be the food basket of the South West Nigeria at least, this is a myopic and depressing opinion to express. What’s worse still is the fact that this same school of thought also insists that Ogbeni Aregbesola is on the way to achieving wonders in Osun State, until…
First, let us look at the policies that Ogbeni Aregbesola tried to implement, and failed in each of them
The School O-UNIFORM: According to the Osun State Government website “The unification of school uniforms is part of an effort by the State of Osun to create a unique identity for our students, promote our culture and stimulate the local economy. This innovation ensures uniformity and engenders a unified sense of belonging among all government owned public primary and secondary school pupils.”
Personally, without giving much credence to the reports going around that the project was awarded to “Sarah & Sam”, a company rumored to have belonged to a close ally of Ogbeni Aregbesola, I believed this to be unnecessary waste of the little revenues trickling down to Osun State, and could have been used to better effect.
In another knee jack brainwave, the Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration introduced the O-MEAL, the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme. This received lots of media coverage, and some overzealous press hype. That was in 2013. The O-MEAL was reported to have fed almost 300, 000 children daily, but the germane question is: At what cost is this to the State Government??? Has the Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration ever released empirical data to support these claims? Can we quantify the benefits of this scheme to the Osun State people?
I was one of those technology enthusiasts who wrote glowing reviews of the Opon Imo, the School Tablet as definitely a good move. I was quick to add a caveat though. Now that the government has launched the platform, they should have eased out and allow the private content and support providers take over the new EcoSystem the Opon Imo brought with it. Osun State would have also seen the boost, and host, the ICT sector. This never happened. This program is also riddled with claims and counter claims of all sorts. Again, how many of these tablets were given out? We do not have figures on how many schools got what, what class of the high school students OR a data on how it was distributed. Ogbeni Aregbesola just said he gave 150k students without verification and he expects us to believe. Okay.
There are further claims by the Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration that Osun State IGR has increase from 300million naira to 1.5billion naira. Has anyone verified this claim? If true, how is the Tax payers’ money being spent? Are we not supposed to know? What are the sources of this IGR?
Osun State as we speak is littered with unfinished infrastructure projects, and the State is riddled with debt here and there, Civil Servants salaries into serious arrears, and we can’t even talk of Pensioners yet. To make matters worse, FG handout as at September 2015 stands as paltry N55.8 million naira only.
If Osun State were to be a Limited Liability Company, it would have filed for bankruptcy, or go into administration.
I am not here to knock Ogbeni Aregbesola, but I am here to let him know that he has failed the trust of the people of Osun State, who had believed he is the one to lead the state to prosperity. He has failed to use the leadership entrusted unto him bring innovative ideas, policies and projects that could have elevate Osun State. You don’t embark on a project without minding the cost.
One of the major failures of Ogbeni Aregbesola is the attempt to copy/paste policy statements from Lagos State. Same mistake made by the Kayode Fayemi’s administration in Ekiti State.
Just like every other State won by Bola Tinubu’s stooges from Lagos, Ogbeni Aregbesola promptly deployed AlphaBeta to handle the State Internally Generated Revenues, with any commensurate and serious effort to increase IGR. Taking into consideration of the peculiar situation of Osun State, is this really necessary? Everyone is aware of the antecedents of AlphaBeta Consulting, but let’s not even go there.
Osun, or any other State for that matter, cannot continue to wait for handouts from the Federal Government. State Governors should start thinking like CEOs, and realize that the elections they won was to make the State prosper, and not to leave it in ruins. It serves no one for State Governor to be reckless in policy and spending, and be throwing up both hands, or asking us to pray to God(Whatever that means) when the reality sets in.
We cannot continue with the same set of thinking that put us all in this mess, and expect different result.
We cannot continue with the same set of people that put us all in this mess, and expect differently.
The Change mantra has been abused, by the same set of people crossing from one political party to another party simply for their selfish gains.
My appeal to Ogbeni Aregbesola is simple: Lay a foundation for the prosperity of Osun State by allowing new thinking and inflexion. Start the generational handover of control of Osun State today. The ancient city of Ile-Ife has shown us all what the gods are saying. Follow that part, and be glorified.
You have failed once, but you can still redeem yourself. Choice is yours.
Osun State is a unique state, blessed with arable lands, good educational institutions, mineral resources, tourism, and proximity to States like even Lagos. Things can still be better. Things can still be turned around for Osun State, but it will take a change of thinking and rent seeking mentality, especially with the results we have seen so far, by Ogbeni Aregbesola, or Osun State will have to wait until the next election, and hopefully get it right.
Agriculture alone can turn the fortunes of this State around. Osun State is blessed with good farm lands that could yield crops all year round. Osun State can create agriculture cooperatives that will ensure farmers have outlets for their produce, thereby increasing yields and encouraging food processing. Incentives can be worked out with Bank of Industry, and like Ogun State, farm lands can be made available for large industrial farming.
Osun State is further blessed with unique tourist attractions like the Osun Osogbo festival, Erin Ijesha Water Fall, and beautiful sceneries. Why is Governor Aregbesola not looking at marketing Osun State as a Tourist Attraction???
As much as the mineral resources goes, Osun State can encourage mining, and start to contribute to the FG coffers, rather than waiting for FG handouts all the time.
Osun State is viable, if only the State Government is ready to explore the possibilities. Osun state is viable, if only Governor Aregbesola is ready to change the rent seeking mentality.
Adetayo Adegbemle is a public opinion commentator/analyst, researcher, and the convener of PowerUpNigeria, a Power Consumer Advocacy Group, based in Lagos. (Twitter: @gbemle, @PowerUpNg)
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