By Kola Odepeju
To say that the State of Osun under the leadership of Governor Gboyega Oyetola is steadily moving to a welfare state is to basically state the obvious. This is a statement of fact given the way the governor has made the people the centre of his administrative policies since assuming power in November 2018.
To confirm the veracity of this statement, however, it may be germane to look at the definition of a welfare state to see if the above assertion about Osun under Oyetola is correct or not.
A welfare state has been defined as “a government in which the state protects and promotes the economic and social well being of the citizens, based on equal opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for citizens unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions of a good life.”
Given the above definition, juxtaposing it with the nature of governance in Oyetola’s Osun the opening statement of this piece cannot be said to be incorrect. Retrospectively, the steps the governor has been taking so far since assuming office have been in tandem with what obtains in a typical welfare state.
This is no exaggeration but a statement that could be backed by empirical evidence as visible on ground. A few examples will suffice here to buttress my position.
In protecting and promoting the socio-economic wellbeing of the citizens, for instance, a welfare state does see to it that workers are paid their salaries as and when due. So, in line with the biblical injunction that “the sweat of labourers must not be allowed to dry before they are paid the wages of their labour,” Osun, under Oyetola, is one state today where this injunction is being strictly and religiously adhered to.
This is made possible not because the funds are much available but it is due more to Oyetola’s commitment to workers’ welfare. In fact, and glaringly too, Osun today is one of the states being highly affected by paucity of funds.
With the level of indebtedness Oyetola inherited on assuming office, only a financial engineer and a prudent leader who is not given to frivolous spending would have been able to succeed in respect of the above biblical injunction.
Again, a welfare state sees to it that citizens have access to good healthcare system. Indisputably access to good health care system is a priority to Governor Oyetola. This he has demonstrated through the construction and delivery of 332 primary health centres (PHCs) within two years of his administration.
With this, every ward in the state has its own PHC where people can easily go to get treatment. This has eliminated the stress associated with having to travel far to get treatment even for minor sickness.
It is important to also mention that these PHCs are well equipped with drugs and other necessary medical facilities. This cannot be regarded as a mean feat for an administration that is battling with paucity of funds. Of course, the Osun Health Insurance Scheme (OHIS), which is of substantial benefit to the people, is also worthy of mention here.
A welfare state further ensures that citizens have access to good roads and other social amenities that make life easy for people. As visible on ground good road network is also one of the ways through which the administration of Governor Oyetola is making life liveable for the people.
As l write this piece, road construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation are going on across the state. But Oyetola is not only constructing new roads, he is also putting finishing touches to those roads that his predecessor couldn’t complete before leaving office.
In a nutshell, the issue of abandoned project, which is one of the banes of governance in our country, is not in the lexicon of Osun under Oyetola. Even the airport that couldn’t see the light of day during the last administration, efforts are on to ensure that the project is completed and delivered.
Furthermore, in a welfare state, hunger does not find abode. In Osun today, under Oyetola, efforts are on to ensure that hunger is banished from the society. Apart from efforts being taken to ensure food sufficiency, the Osun Food Support Scheme was introduced a few months ago.
The scheme was designed to address the food needs of the underprivileged. No fewer than 30,000 vulnerable citizens are being given free raw foodstuff monthly and this comes with no discrimination. Like the Yoruba do say; “if hunger is removed from poverty, then the rest is minor.”
What’s more, Oyetola is not leaving pensioners behind in building a welfare state. As day dawns today, well over N35 billion has been paid to settle pension arrears. This doesn’t stop continuous payment of monthly pension. But what amazes people is the fact that, with all these achievements, Oyetola has not borrowed a dime. All these and others have been achieved by his sheer competence in fiscal management.
These and more are Oyetola’s steady moves towards turning Osun to a welfare state. No wonder these efforts are today garnering endorsements for him in the state. So also the recognitions and honours being given to him by the media. Indisputably, one good term surely deserves another.
•Odepeju writes from Osogbo, Osun State