Osun at 28 and the continuity agenda

Leading stakeholders in Osun State are hopeful on the leadership of the state, which has turned 28 years, on further raising the bar in the present political dispensation. KUNLE ODEREMI writes on the kind of synergy the leaders have promised.

CREATED 28 years ago, Osun State has had nine successive state chief executives. The list includes four military  administrators and five civilian governors. Each of the leaders played their part. However,  the period of military interregnum did not provide the needed seamless continuity because of command structure, unlike in a civil dispensation.  Today, in the 20 years of restoration of democracy, Osun has had its gains and challenges in the quest by the political leadership to raise the bar. After eight years as governor, last November, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, bowed out, transferring the baton of leadership to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola. It was a remarkable event as it synchronised with history and precedence set by the sage, Obafemi Awolowo in the First Republic. It also reflected the scenario in Lagos State, where power has oscillated among members of the same political party and lineage since 1999, with its seamless positive impacts on the state.

The celebration of the 28th anniversary of the creation of the Osun brought to the fore the existing synergy between the governor and his predecessor, especially on the shared aspirations and programmes designed to take Osun to the next level.  Apart from demonstrating the political will to sustain the legacy of his predecessor, the incumbent has also shown the clarity of purpose and direction. Governor Oyetola used the anniversary to reflect on how he has been making sure that his word remains his bond with the people.  “We promised to pay full salary to all our workers, we have not defaulted,” he enthused. “We promised to pay our pensioners; we have also not defaulted. We promised to rebuild, remodel and, in some cases, carry out total rehabilitation of existing school buildings in series four classrooms, five classrooms, six classrooms, eight classrooms, 10, 15 and 20 classrooms at a maximum of 50 pupils/students per class, to cater for communities at 200, 250, 300, 400, 500, 750 pupils per school. We have commissioned completed projects in that regard in Telemu and Morinu, in Olaoluwa and Iwo local government areas respectively. Our work as a government so far points to one fact: better days ahead. We have also reconstructed and equipped 11 fire service stations, with 14 fire fighting vehicles to give confidence to the fire fighters in the discharge of their life and property saving duties. We are doing all these because security is meaningless without safety,” the governor said.

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Indeed, the anniversary brought together a lot of distinguished sons and daughters of the state from all walks of life. Traditional rulers, business moguls, former technocrats and other major stakeholders were in attendance.At a banquet held in honour of the governor and Aregbesola, the governor restated the administration’s commitment to stimulating the economy of the state and bring about development that will make it difficult for opposition parties to contest future elections. According to the immediate past Commissioner of Finance and chairman of the planning committee, Bola Oyebamiji, the occasion was to celebrate Oyetola’s triumph at the Supreme Court and the appointment of the immediate past governor, Aregbesola by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Minister of Interior. The governor said the government was resolute in sustaining the continuity of good governance, the foundation of which the progressives had laid in the state through the implementation of policies and programmes with direct impact on life the citizenry. Expressing his gratitude to the people of the state for their continued support for the government, Governor Oyetola said: “I am extremely elated to be honoured today alongside my predecessor who is now the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. This is another great thing in the history of our state. My emergence at the poll and our subsequent victory at the court was a clear manifestation that truly God’s will always come to fruition. It is God that sent us to govern the state and I thank God that we have been following the path He laid for us, as reflected in the wonderful things that He had allowed us to do and to be doing in the last nine months of our administration. “I am happy that I was part of the last administration and I am equally happy to have worked with my immediate predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who God used to create modern Osun. Our focus is to continue to do things that will make the confidence that our people have in us permanent and which will help to retain progressives in government because we believe strongly that one way to ensure the masses are one’s side is to continue to prioritise their welfare. This is what we have been doing since we came on board and we will remain focused and determined to replicate the legacy of continuity being experienced in Lagos, such that oppositions will find it difficult to contest future elections against us in Osun”, Oyetola said.

For Aregbesola, it was yet an opportunity for him to deeply reflect on the path he and his collegaues had to pass through road to secure victory at the poll and court. He began his speech by commending President Buhari for the courage in appointing him as minister, in spite of the opposition from certain quarters, stressing that the celebratory banquet reception would serve as an “motivating and encouraging,” impetus and challenge for him and the governor to do more. His words: “I just want to thank God for all He has been doing in our lives. I was here July 6, the day after the Supreme Court’s victory of my successor where I said I would be glad if God can allow us to have a state-wide celebration for his victory, not knowing that I will become a minister and it will be a double celebration for us. Though it was difficult for us to return to government, as the road to where we are today was rough and thorny, we thank God that in spite of all the challenges, we came out victorious. I am thankful to God that in the entire South-West, after late Obafemi  Awolowo and Senator Bola Tinubu, I am the next that God favoured to have been able to successfully hand over power to a successor from the same party. This is a rare feat.”

The individual remarks of all  the other personalities, including the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Gboyega Famodun, on the events that culminated in the APC victory and the role of Aregbesola and Oyetola, who the chairman described as blessings to Osun and its people, as well a worthy ambassadors of the state, were instructive.

For example, the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran and Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, lauded Oyetola for sustaining the legacies of Aregbesola. Oba Aromolaran described as “worthwhile,” the consolidation approach of the present administration, which according to him had ensured the continuity of good governance and meaningful development.  He described as divine the victory of Oyetola at the poll and at the Supreme Court, saying God installed Oyetola to consolidate on the good legacies of the immediate past administration.

Similarly, the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Olanipekun, commended the major strides of the APC government in the last eight and half years in the state, which he noted included development of the state capital, Osogbo. Oba Olanipekun said: “The progressive government has brought unparalleled development to Osogbo and other major towns in Osun. Aregbesola did a lot. Oyetola has taken the rest up. I thank God for giving us Aregbesola and Oyetola. They are political geniuses and epitome of development”.

Senator Ayo Fasanmi, who described Oyetola as a transformer, commended the governor for being passionate and aggressive towards advancing the economy of the state.  urged the governor to remain focused in his commitment to turning the fortunes of the state around.

With all the leaders promising to sustain the tempo of collaboration among them, they have set an agenda, which encapsulates economic growth and development, as well political harmony. In a way, they have collectively provided the veritable yardstick for assessment.