Oyetola: A leader that listens

THE administration of Adegboyega Oyetola, the current governor of Osun State, early this year, set up the Professor Olu Aina-led committee to review some extant policies on education in the state. The committee, comprising eminent and respected citizens, submitted its report and recommendations in February.

The government, without wasting time, accepted most of the recommendations, and put them into effect. Wide acclamations, throughout the state, greeted the decision of the government.

The reasons for these acclamations are not far-fetched. No need to go into the details of the demerits of the reviewed policies. For example, the case of the same school uniform in all schools in all the 29 local government areas, including Modakeke Area Office, of the state; the sheer primitiveness of the policy is both startling and stupefying. Besides, there is the scandalous speculation that top government functionaries and/or their wives are the sole suppliers of the uniforms, ripping off huge profits.

Also, briefly consider the Osun 5-4-3-4 education policy. Osun is the “State of The Living Spring” said to be always one step ahead. However, the unusual Osun 5-4-3-4 education policy seems to be several steps out of beat with the 6-3-3-4 National Education Policy.

Of all, perhaps, the re-classification and regrading of schools, leading to the loss of names, did the greatest damage to the fundamentals and psyche that propel education in the state. In the process of regrading and renaming, the two oldest schools in present Osun State, Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife (founded in 1932), and  Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa ( founded in 1934), lost their names. Oduduwa became a government high school, while Ilesa Grammar School was phased out completely.

This writer must admit that like Justice Kayode Esho, Professor Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, Phillip Umeadi, Sunny Odogwu, all of blessed memories; Pa Lateef Jakande, Justice Alfa Belgore and many justices, many former vice chancellors, innumerable professors, Wole Olanipekun and many Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), etc, he is a proud alumnus of Ilesa Grammar School.

In the same way, thousands of proud alumni of various schools across the state suddenly became “school-less” as the schools lost their cherished names.

And, there were many like that all over the state, schools like Fatima College, Ikire; Ayedaade Grammar School, Ikire; Olivet Baptist High School, Iwo; Olivet Baptist High School, Ede; Osogbo Grammar School, Osogbo; St Charles Grammar School, Osogbo, Oluorogbo Grammar School, Ile-Ife; Our Lady of Apostle, Ile-Ife; St. John’s Grammar School, Ile-Ife; Otan Ayegbaju Grammar School, Otan Ayegbaju; Ijebu-Jesa Grammar School, Ijebu-Jesa; Obokun High School, Ilesa, among many others.

The loss in names of those schools took away many things. According to a public affairs analyst, Remi Oyeyemi, the process “took away many historical landmarks of the schools. It took away memories; it took away nostalgia; it took away references. It took away the umbilical cord that connects the vision of the founders of the schools to the pride of the generations that went through the schools. Most importantly, the process took away history.” It is difficult to agree less.

However, the administration of Oyetola removed these demerits quietly, ending the most agonising disruption in the educational development of the state.

Incidentally, the reportage of the issue has been slightly slanted by the media. Most of the media reported it as a reversal of Rauf Aregbesola (immediate-past governor)’s policies. This is not correct.

Oyetola was Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff (CoS). Most of the present-day commissioners and top government functionaries were Aregbesola’s aides and foot-soldiers. Thus, Oyetola’s is a continuation of Aregbesola’s administration. And, therefore, indirectly, Aregbesola shares in the credit or otherwise of any step taken by Oyetola.

In this case, what Oyetola has done is simple. He saw his oga, a human being who, naturally, is not infallible. Having listened painstakingly to the people, he recognised that his oga, perhaps, during a blurred vision, took some wrong steps, and he (Oyetola) accepted the responsibility to make corrections. A correction is not the same thing as a reversal, nor is it repudiation. Correction stems from an appreciation of an earlier error and of the need to make amends. This is what Oyetola has done, and this is what stands him out as a leader. This is the mould in which statesmen are cast: The ability to recognise an error and quickly make amends.

I thank God for giving him the wisdom and native intelligence to do the thinking, and the courage to follow up the conclusions of his thoughts. The work that needs to be done in Osun is still enormous. I pray that God continues to help and direct him.

Still on education in Osun, and briefly on one side topic: Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), about nine years ago, the state government set up the Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe panel on tertiary institutions in Osun State. The panel did not request for contributions from the public, but this writer submitted a memorandum (unsolicited) to the body. Then, I argued that Osun should leave LAUTECH to Oyo. Almost ten years later, there is no practical cause to revise this advice.

Osun has two polytechnics, two colleges of education, one university with five campuses. Oyo has no university of its own, and Osun is still sharing LAUTECH with Oyo. This appears greedy, even to common sense. Over the years, the ground reality is that Osun has become a tolerable irritation to Oyo in the partnership. One wonders what Osun is gaining from the partnership that cannot be given up in the interest of a fellow Oodua state of common ancestry. Osun should encourage amicable dissolution of this relationship within the ambits of the law. The time is now; more so, that the two states have the unusually rare blessing of level-headed leaderships at the same time.

Finally, the last point, and this is strictly on a personal note. Oyetola is a human being and a Nigerian politician, few of who hardly stops to give thanks to God. The experience is that they just drive on and on.

But I will advise Oyetola to always pause, thank God, go on with his job and worry less about tomorrow. He should remember that about 10 years ago, when he was appointed CoS to his oga, he never dreamt of becoming governor. He just concentrated on doing his job well. But as of that time, the only One who knew tomorrow knew he would become governor. This time around, he should just pray for divine guidance to do the job before him to the best of his ability, to the satisfaction of his conscience and to the glory God. He should worry less about the future and leave that to He Only who knows tomorrow. All will be well.

 

  • Daramola writes from Obi Daramola Crescent, Fadahunsi Avenue, Imo Quarters, Ilesa, Osun State.
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