So much has been written and shared on the attitude, lifestyle and administration of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola and usually, opinions differ depending on which side of the political divide you belong.
Some see the former Commissioner for works in Lagos State as Tinubu’s puppet in the state who has fleeced the state for the benefit of his god-father, some others see him as a religious bigot who wanted to institutionalize the wearing of hijab in public schools and to some other people, Aregbesola has set the pace which is now a benchmark of performance in Osun state. All these opinions are nothing compared to what NAIJ.com discovered in a 3 days "overtly covert" operation in Osun state.
Three major things struck us on arrival in Oshogbo. First is the fact that nothing tells you that you are in Oshogbo. No welcoming sign post. We had to look out the window to read the inscriptions on a sign post to know we are in Oshogbo, Osun state capital.
While still pondering if we were indeed in Oshogbo, here comes a big roundabout and on looking to the right, we find the Osun State Government Secretariat.
This resolved all doubts as to our location. The second thing that struck us about Osun state is the fact that for the first time, we saw top government officials living a modest life style devoid of the usual opulence and grandeur.
Some commissioners drove themselves without security details in moderate cars owned personally by most of them. It was said that a particular commissioner (name and office withheld) turned down an official car on the ground that the state is not rich. He came to serve. He "donated’’ his personal SUV and the plate number was changed to reflect Osun State Government. This is contrary to another state earlier visited where even P.As to P.A gallivant with black coloured, tinted glasses Land cruiser SUVs.
The third thing noticeable in Osun state is the relative peace and security. Crime is so low that it is almost non existent. Little wonder that state government Officials drive themselves without security details.
We do not recall seeing convoys blaring sirens which is a common phenomenon in several states. A police officer in one of the red coloured armoured personnel carrier adorning several locations in the state said off record, that "this governor invested heavily in security because of his Lagos mentality’’. To the government, investment in security is a pro-active measure. Despite the barrage of can of worms soon to be unveiled in this write up, Osun state is a safe haven for investment.
How over N16b were moved using the omeal in the education sector
From a tip off, the sting operation delved into the education sector and beamed its searchlights to reveal the ‘can of works’. The first noticeable thing are the state-of- the-art infrastructure. The public schools will remind you of the exclusive rich private schools in other states of the federation where millions of Naira and sometimes foreign currencies are paid as school fees. Well maintained lawns, decent buildings, cozy classrooms.
According to the Headmistress of Anthony Udofia elementary school, Mrs Farinloye Oluyemisi Olufunmilayo, she has taught in the state for 35 years and nothing can be compared to the last seven years of the Aregbesola’s administration. The children are fed everyday with balanced diet and this has translated to increased and retained school enrolment, mental development and a sustained zeal and interest in learning. The feedback of the children according to the Headmistress is that the best daily meal of some of these children comes from the school feeding programme. From NAIJ.com's rough estimate going by over 228 million meals that have been served in 7 years to over 252,000 pupils in the state at an average of N70 per meal, N16b or more would have gone into the meals alone. This is aside the cost of free uniforms, and the physical infrastructure which are second to non by any other state government in Nigeria.
A random teacher NAIJ.com spoke to attests that motivation of teachers has never been this good. She has benefitted from the training and retraining of the teachers coupled with regular payments of their salaries. Without prompting, NAIJ.com ventured into one of the classes at random and spoke to 4 pupils while they were eating. The revelations confirmed that they get the balanced diet every school day. While inspecting one of the modern secondary schools in Ilesa, we came across the commissioner for education (a workaholic on the field), Hon. Omotunde Young. Without much ado, he agreed to the impromptu interview which was quite revealing. Among several lexicon that crept into the state included these 2. “Opon imo" and "omoluabi".
According to Hon. Young (he corrected the interviewer that he is Mr. Young and not "Honourable Commissioner"), Opon imo which means "tablet of knowledge" was a project of the state government which is the first of its kind in Nigeria. "Opon Imo" in the hand of a child transforms a rural agrarian child into a digital child instantly. It is a complete alternative to textbooks as it provides the child with a complete classroom experience and private studies.
The statistical impact of the opon imo is such that in the last WAEC examination, Osun state rates 8 compared to 28th position it used to occupy before the government interventions. Omoluabi connotes the total child in terms of positive character and progressive thinking. These transformation came as a result of the passion of the governor who summoned an enlarged stakeholder’s meeting. The meeting came up with far reaching initiatives which directly translates to the visible reforms.
How several billions left the treasury into road construction
The state capital, Oshogbo is replete with so many road networks. Several have been completed while others are in various degrees of completion. According to Ileowo Kikiowo, the Head of media Communication strategy, close to 1,300 kilometres of road have been tarred in the state by the Aregbesola’s administration. These included rural roads, township road, intercity roads and boundary roads.
Something about some of these roads shows the deep impact the victory of the governor at the supreme courts which restored his stolen mandate in 2011 had on him. One of the roads is called ‘October 5th’ to commemorate the date of the judgement. Another road is called ‘5 Judges’ to commemorate the 5 Judges that gave the historic judgement. Yet another road remembers the day the Governor took the oath of office. It came to the knowledge that the desire to give the state capital a facelift has pitched the Ilesha born governor against his own people who felt the governor ought to concentrate his attention more on Ilesha.
From NAIJ.com's assessment, the Aregbesola regime has done well in the area of road construction going by the paucity of funds available to the state government. But posterity is like the proverbial Oliver Twist. More is obviously needed. It is obvious that if previous regimes had given attention to roads infrastructure like the Ogbeni’s regime, the general outlook of the state should be Eldorado by now.
Tourism Potentials Still Blooming
There are 3 major tourism potentials in Osun state. The first is the annual Osun Oshogbo festival that usually attracts local and international visitors to the State. It’s a 2 weeks long festival that attracts the high and mighty to the Osun Oshogbo grove. The annual influx has led to the springing up of several hotels across the land scape to cater for the teeming crowd. This event is better experienced that described. It is even worth the while of Nigerians to plan their annual vacations around this event to witness it. This year Osun Oshogbo festival will be in August and you can be sure that NAIJ.com will be live with their cameras, streaming it live straight from Oshogbo.
The Erin Ijesha Water falls was a thrilling experience. You cannot but wonder at nature’s architectural wonders when you visit this site. A group of young students were in 3rd heaven as they bask under the waterfalls in commemoration of the birthday of one of them. ‘’Fiam, Fiam’’ went this reporter’s camera in dozens of selfies as it clearly became a holiday of sorts for me. Jeez! Don’t tell my ‘’ogas at the top’’ who sent me here! Hope am not mixing business with pleasure but who can help it once you are at the Erin Ijesja waterfalls?. The environment is quite thrilling and relaxing. Young couples can plan their honeymoons at the Erin Ijesha waterfalls and what is more, several cozy hotels abound in this small peaceful village to cater for strangers. The villagers themselves are very accommodating and warm in their reception of visitors.
The Fantasy Called Bimi
It is a known fact that many governors will just come up with a "white elephant" project they know is impossible just to have the reason to "move" money from the treasury. A little bird told this reporter that one of such projects is called BIMI. After several questionings to ask for the directions, we finally got to Esa Oke. That reminds me of the "cisero of Esa Oke", the late former Attorney General of the Federation who hails from that little peaceful village.
BIMI stands for Bola Ige Mechatronics Institute. It is the biggest Mechatronics Institute in Africa.
According to Mr. Ajiboye Oluwatosin, an Instructor at the Institute, it was like a dream which only those with serious malaria do have. The difference is that unlike malaria dreams, this was a reality beyond Hollywood. The State Governor in 2015 took some young Osun State indigenes to one of the best automobile companies in Germany where they were trained by the Germans on modern car engines and general auto care. ‘when we came back, the government did not abandon us’’ said Oluwatosin. The BIMI was established in collaboration with the German auto Institute and it is affiliated. Artisans especially auto mechanics, auto electricians are now being trained by these trained personnel on the proper and modern methods of maintaining autos. The school since inception has trained several artisans and graduates of mechanical and electrical engineering. All the top officials of the state maintain their vehicles there. The centre also maintain all the shuttle buses in the state as we saw several of them in the compound.
The commissioner for Information in the state, Hon. Adelani Baderinwa gave major insights into the workings of the government of Aregbesola who according to him must be the fulfilment of ‘’let there be light’’ in Osun state going by the turn of events since Ogbeni(as the Governor is fondly called) mounted the saddle. Honourable Baderinwa in summising quoted Obafemi Awolowo that at nights, while men carouse with women of easy virtues, Governor Rauf Aregbesola thinks only of how to move Osun state forward.
This video clip will give more insights into the transformation summarised by Honourable Baderinwa while chatting with NAIJ.com in his office.
One thing is sacrosanct as discovered by NAIJ.com; The Aregbesola’s regime in Osun state has redefined governance and has set an enviable standard that future regimes must use as a benchmark for improvements. NAIJ.com joins all Osunians to say congratulations for the dividends of democracy which you voted for. Your vote indeed, has worked for you.
VISIT OSUN STATE TODAY!