Today marks the sixty-first birthday of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola. Media houses, private and public, in the state have been jostling to be part of the historic event. His birthday, every year, has become an annual ritual but what makes this to be unique, according to feelers from almost every segment of the public is that it is a valedictory birthday of a man, like Obafemi Awolowo, Karl Marx, Oranmiyan and many other sung legends who have changed the historic narratives of their respective environments.
“Bayii ko l’a b’Osun” is gradually becoming a poetic theme in government and non-government circles. Government hard core loyalists are saying and appealing to our sense of recollection, through the theme, that we should look very well at our very recent history, dispassionately, and compare and contrast the two epochs. One is the developmental situation before this government and two, that of the present government and be the judge.
Two key areas of visible development which the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has excelled are in education and rural transformation. In education, for example, the government provides state-of-the-art building infrastructure and other functional equipments. The elementary school feeding system became a classic example from which other states and even the federal government borrow from. Schools were reclassified to be in tune with modern educational requirements and realities. The good thing in this is that these massive schools turn-around spread across the state. Result? Public school enrolment went up exponentially to a level never witnessed in the history of the state. Private schools in the state witnessed and continue to witness low enrolment, year after year…a far-cry from what normally obtains in many other states. Many private school proprietors and proprietresses aren’t finding things easy such that some members of the National Association of Private School Proprietors of Nigeria, Osun state chapter, confirmed that the decline in the rate of pupils and students enrollment into private schools in the state had been on increase in the last few years. Two of the proprietors described the huge investment made in education sector particularly the education infrastructure being put in place by Governor Aregbesola-led government as major cause of their travails. But they are nonetheless happy that good things are happening in the state.
This educational reform has also indirectly and positively impacted on tertiary education in the State. In a recent chat by this writer with Professor Labode Popoola, Vice Chancellor, Osun State University, he said ‘’ My position to the issue of the development of tertiary institutions may differ from popular opinion in terms of their expectation. People most often judge by those visible infrastructure in tertiary institutions, which might be okay but really, it goes beyond that. What the governor has done may not be readily visible. If you want very strong tertiary institutions, it has to start from the primary, or what we call here the elementary schools which no doubt form the foundation of formal education.
Then you build it up to the secondary level. That is when you can have good quality tertiary institutions. This is what the governor has done excellently well. So, my conclusion is that he has prepared for the tertiary institution of the twenty-first century by strengthening elementary or primary and secondary education. So, we will begin to see the results not necessary now but maybe in the next five to ten years record that many students from this state actually passed the entrance examinations to higher institutions more than all other states. That is one good thing that I think this administration has done”. What else can one say?
The other area of top priority of the present Osun government is in rural transformation. On this, top on the agenda of government is to connect the rural areas with the urban centres for obvious mutual benefits. To achieve this, the government has invested heavily in rural area upliftment through agencies relating to them. One of such is the Osun Rural Access Mobility Project (O’RAMP). The Project Coordinator, Engineer Adelere Adeyemi Oriolowo told reporters, “Specifically, I can tell you along the road constructed in Iwo to Isero to Ikonifin, you will see residential buildings, commercial buildings; religious buildings evolving, and in those places where they were selling lands for about 40,000 naira per acre, hardly will you get a land for 250,000 naira per plot there again, not acre but plot because everything has gone up in value due to the access roads we have constructed in the areas and all these can be verified.
It has indeed impacted positively on our people. And also, if you go along Ikeji, Arakeji areas where people used to carry their commodities on bicycle, motorcycles or by women efforts on their heads, all these are now a thing of the past due to our efforts as people can easily drive on the motorable roads to bring their goods to town. The economies of all these areas have tremendously improved and even the school enrolments around the places have been visibly enhanced, all of these can be verified across the State.
Ogbeni has redefined what public governance is, he has given a new and real definition to what governance is, he has really shown that leadership and governance is not about politics alone. He is a good manager of men and infrastructure, he is a project manager par excellence because what is involved in public governance is more than politics and Ogbeni Aregbesola has brought everything it requires into governance, he has brought sound knowledge, he has put in required energy and integrity. For any project or programme to succeed, you need those three things and Aregbesola has brought those three things into governance in the State of Osun”.
As the people’s governor celebrates an unusual birthday today without pomp or pageantry but with supplications to the Almighty as well as a healthy walk-out on the streets of Osogbo, many citizens and residents are happy to have an Ogbeni who came, saw and has conquered despondency and backwardness. They say “Bayii ko l’e b’Osun”
Akinola writes from Osogbo