The 'Dancing' Governor And Osun Peoples' Expectations

The 'Dancing' Governor And Osun Peoples' Expectations

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

The Yorubas will say; "eni a ro pe ko le p'ago, o se bi ere bi ere, o k'ole alaruru" (he who is thought to be inconsequential, has surprisingly attained great feat). Firstly, let me use this auspicious moment to congratulate our newly sworn-in Executive Governor of Osun State, the 6th since the creation of the state in 1991, Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, a.k.a "dancing senator", but now, "dancing governor". Also, the same felicitation is extended to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their members in Osun State. "Awon l'okan n'ipinle Osun" (lol).

This is a return of the party to power in the state after their inglorious exit 12 years ago when the then incumbent Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola was sacked by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was declared as the rightful owner of the "throne". Since then, Action Congress  (AC), later Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now APC, has held sway, with two terms of eight years of Aregbesola, followed by the just exited former Governor Gboyega Oyetola, who spent a term of four years too.

Although, it is a popularly-held belief within Osun State and outside, that PDP, through the same Senator Ademola Adeleke, won the governorship election four years ago but was "robbed". This was premised on the "abracadabra" nature of that election, particularly the rerun, after PDP has led the poll in the first instance. The election was declared inconclusive, an avenue many believed the powers-that-be used to manipulate the results against Adeleke. This seemed to have fueled the resentment that affected Oyetola's reelection. This year's election was like a protest voting against APC. This also reflected in the far wider margin of win this time around with 28,344, as against Oyetola's 2018 win with just 482 votes.

Although, many non-partisan, non-sentimental observer believed that Oyetola is a victim of circumstance by association. In his own merit, he performed very well, given the situation he met the state in 2018, in many ramifications; financial mess, political turmoil, workers resentment, citizens' distraught, and so on. He came, calm the nerves, sort out as many relationship troubles as possible, and restored Osun back to good footing.

If his claims in his farewell address were to be true; like leaving a cash of N14 billion in the state's cofer, paying off over N97 billion from the debts he inherited, not borrowing a kobo from anywhere, home and abroad in the last four years, expecting many funds to come in within next few months based on his plans and performances, paying full salaries, pensions and gratuities, clearing some outstanding bills, and still did many infrastructural projects, then, he deserves commendation. But, the electorates thought otherwise. He actually believes he won this year's election, as usual with politicians. This is why he is challenging the outcome at the tribunal and he is of the opinion that he only stepped aside and will return in no distance future. That remained to be seen.

History was made this week, on Sunday, 27th of November, 2022, when the new governor was sworn-in in Osogbo, the state capital of Osun. It was a delight to watch and see the irrepressible "dancing senator", a man full of life, took the oath of office. Historical in the sense that, 30 years earlier, his late elder brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke (Serubawon), was similarly sworn-in as the first executive governor of the newly created state then, under the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Their tenure was cut short by the unfortunate annulment of the June 12 presidential election by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (Rtd.). Ademola is the 6th. While his late brother tried to come back few times before his death, he did not succeed.

It was his exit from the politcal scene that actually paved ways for Ademola, who before then, was just a cheerleader of his brother, entertaining them with his skilful mastery of dance moves at campaigns. His brother's death gave him the senatorial seat between 2017 and 2019, from where he launched himself politically. From that point, he contested for the governorship election  in 2018, against many peoples' expectations because he was never given a chance, but he won at the initial polls, before his victory was overturned at the rerun. Actually, their family has been a political dynasty, starting from their father, Senator Raji Ayoola Adeleke, who contested and won a seat in the senate in 1979, in the old Oyo state. So, it has been in the family. They are one of the most prominent political families in Osun state.

Now that Senator Ademola Adeleke is the governor, what next? I saw in a viral video on social media, that was tagged as the "first official duty of the new governor". He was about to deliver a speech when the mischievous "disc jockey (Dj)" decided to tempt him with the reigning "Buga" song. Our dear governor could not resist it but took some digs in the music. It was a delight to watch him dance anytime, given the dexterity and ease with which he does it, despite his size. He is better than many professional dancers actually.

As interesting as it seems to see him dance at every opportunity, the task of governance is a very serious business. It is not a joke. A state governor is a manager of the affairs of millions of citizens and residents of that state, with the responsibility of providing security and good welfare for them, as enshrined in the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended). These entail a lot of work. They demand serious dedication and focus. Can or will Ademola measure up to the task? Time will tell.

As an optimist, irrespective of individual's biases, I always give people a chance, and usually hope they perform well, even if I have my reservations. I always hope that something will happen miraculously and positively too, which will make the people happy. So, personally, I am wishing him great success. Moreover, like the Yorubas would say, "eni ni k'aye dara, oun nikan ko lo ma gbe be" (he who wants the world to get better, he is not the only one who will live there). His performing well, delivering good governance and dividends of democracy to the citizens of the state, is the ultimate and should transcend political leaning or biases.

We all knew how rancorous the second term of Aregbesola was. Osun was always in the news for the wrong reasons and negativities. The half salaries, owing many months of workers' salaries, messing up the school systems by tampering with the 6-3-3-4 and mixing up of schools, using single uniform, constant fight with workers, political unrests, and so on. All these have been substantially remedied in the last four years. We won't want to return to a time like that. This is why many wondered if the new governor has not started on the wrong footing with many decisions and pronouncements he made immediately after taking over, followed by his Executive Order 5.

On assuming office, Governor Adeleke announced the sack of 12,000 workers and removed 30 Permanent Secretaries. He dethroned three monarchs of Iree, Ikirun and Igbajo. The reason he gave was that the workers' employment was done without due process and consideration for fiscal implications of how they will be paid sustainably. And that the giving of Staff of Office to these three monarchs were hurriedly done by the former governor. All these were done after he lost his reelection in July 16, 2022 governorship poll.

So, it is perceived as setting booby trap for the incoming governor. Governor Adeleke declared all actions taken since that election lost as invalid and has since, reversed them. These are genuine basis in actual sense. It is not unheard of whenever power changes hands between an incumbent and the opposition parties. It only showed how selfish politicians are and that they don't do things altruistically most times.

The people of Osun state, another reversal in name from "State of Osun", have been excited and looking forward to a new dawn, as his campaign slogan portrays; "imole de". Meaning that "the light has come". The completion of which is "okunkun parada" (darkness should disappear). You campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Time for rhetorics is over. The people expect him to hit the ground running, which he actually did with those pronouncements, though, with negative implications. The more positives are being awaited.

All the campaign promises, which swayed the voters to his side, are anxiously being awaited. And the people will not accept any excuse. He promised to turn the state to a tourists' destination, attracting visitors from all over the world, given the richness in culture of the state and a special one where "The Source of Yorubaland; Ile-Ife", is located. The numerous  myths that surround the creation and evolution of that ancient city is a fascinating story to hear.

Many tourists' centres like the Osun River is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ikogosi Warm Spring, Erin Ijesha Waterfall, and many more. Many cultural festivals in different, cities, towns and villages are resources for such project. All these will support such aspiration. In the process, foreign investors will be attracted to that sector, as well as others. Precursor to this is improvement in security of life and properties. The state has been relatively peaceful. This should be improved upon.

The promised infrastructural revolution is another thing the people can't wait to see. This should lead to many economic developments. Consequently, increase in economic activities in the state will generate employment opportunities, improve human capital and better life for the people. Osun state is largely an agrarian state. This is the strength of the state that should be explored and developed further. The new government should incentivise agricultural ventures in both food and cash crops. It is a shame if a state like Osun cannot feed itself with the abundance of fertile land. The target should be self-sufficiency in food production and taking the excess to other states locally to earn revenues, as well as exportation to earn forex by the farmers and the state, thereby boosting its IGR. The state should attract investments in the agricultural value chain, processing of products of the agriculture and not just exporting them in raw forms.

There is controversy as to the performance of the state in National Examinations like WAEC and NECO. A release, which was later debunked by WAEC, put Osun State at the bottom five. Even if not true, there might be an iota of truth in it. There is no smoke without fire. Whichever way, continuous improvement in public education should be the new administration's priority. "Omo ti a ko ko ni yio gbe ile ti a ko ta" (a child we did not train will become a menace to us at later time). The last administration has tried to stabilise the system from the previous distruptions by Aregbesola. This should be improved upon for the betterment of all.

"A ki mo rin k'ori mo mi" (no one is perfect). Despite the claim of financial discipline that Oyetola was known for, which helped him with all he could achieve financially, there would have been some leakages here and there, either through sabotage or negligence, they should be blocked. However, this should not be the main focus of the new administration which could be tempted to begin a witch-hunt of the previous governments by claiming to be fighting corruption. This will be a huge distraction and it won't be long before the administration will lose its goodwill. Governor Ademola should learn from President Buhari's case from 2015. Osun people will not accept excuses and blame game. I am not saying that the infractions should be overlooked but he should not let pursuing "perceived enemies" consume and distract him.

Healthcare, power, roads, rails, rural developments and many people-oriented and  impactful projects should be sacrosanct to the new administration. They all need adequate attention.

Only happy people dance, according to the "dancing governor". But, an hungry man is an angry man. An angry man cannot be dancing. So, many Osun people will like to feel well and happy enough to be dancing like their governor, whose responsibility is it to make it happen. As a people, they must also give their full support to him. Payment of their taxes and levies as and when due to the state government is a duty of responsible citizens. It is their civic duty. With that, they will have locus to question the administration as to how their money is being spent.

The people should also not allow themselves to be used to distrupt the peace of the state by unscrupulous politicians. Since Sunday, we have heard reports of various fracas among the transport unions who are trying to forcefully take over different motor parks. This dovetailed from political rivary between the two major parties in the state; APC and PDP. The unions are often divided in this line too and power tries to change hands whenever governing party at the state changes. This must be nipped in the bud and not allowed to degenerate to another bloodbath, putting the general public at risk in the process.

"Imole de". We hope this truly reflects in the situation of the state, going forward.

Once again, congratulations to Senator Ademola Adeleke, PDP and the people of Osun State for the new government. May his tenure be remembered for great feats, positive achievements and better life for the citizens of the state. May God help him, give him knowledge, wisdom and understanding to pilot the affairs of the state effectively, in the service of God and the good of the people and humanity.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

Email: [email protected]

December 3, 2022.

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