The Rauf Aregbesola administration clocks one year in office this weekend. This piece examines the achievements of the administration against the background of the expectations of the people.
OGbeni Rauf Aregbesola, will be one year in office as Governor of Osun State this Sunday. The question is being asked, what difference has he made in the lives of the people of the State of the Living Spring? The question is coming against the backdrop of the fact that the governor came into office with a lot promise having assumed office on the pedestal of ‘progressivism’.
He came into office on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The last one year has been quite eventful in Osun State as the government has tried to put smiles on the faces of the people especially in critical areas such as agriculture, youth empowerment, education and tourism.
Only recently, the state government organized a retreat for top officials in the state to see how far the Aregbesola administration has gone in terms of the implementation of its six points Integral Action Plan and chart the way forward.
“The retreat delivered more than what we the organizers thought about”, Mr. Femi Ifaturoti, the Director-General of the Osun State Bureau of Social Services which is in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Governor’s programmes said at the retreat.
“The retreat afforded the executive arm of government and the top echelon of the administration the opportunity to share the vision of the governor. It was a melting point and battle of ideas during the retreat.
It created a robust opportunity for the people in government to know how programmes are being run in various arms, especially the O’TOUR, O’REAP and O’YES. During the retreat, people saw the passion of the governor for the state and people left the retreat fired up”.
Also speaking on the retreat, the vice chancellor of the Osun State University, Osogbo, Prof. Sola Akinrinade, said the major agenda was geared at driving the state forward. “The government, through the retreat, planned for its success, planned so that there won’t be failure from any side of government”, the vice chancellor stated. He pointed out:“The critical issue is just moving from planning to implementation and that is the challenge I am going to give the government.”
Assessing the achievements of the administration in the education sector, Akinrinade said:
“We must commend the intervention of the present government in the education sector, because things have never been done this way before.”
“The attempt to rehabilitate and remodel our schools right from the primary level to the tertiary level is something commendable. I believe that if the plans that have been put in place are aggressively pursued, they will change the education sector totally. The impact of these laudable efforts may not be seen in the next two years but, in the long run, the people of Osun State will see that a solid foundation has been laid for the education sector in the state”.
According to him, the model schools being built, courtesy of the Aregbesola administration, at the primary and secondary levels are efforts aimed at transforming the education sector in the state, and an attempt to put facilities and infrastructure that will match the aspiration to create an administrative system that could serve the purpose of the 21st century.”
Beyond the accomplishments in the education sector in Osun as testified to by Akinrinade are the land marks in the agriculture, youth empowerment and tourism sectors where the governor is using O’REAP, O’YES and O’TOUR respectively as the tools of revolution.
O’REAP, according to Ifaturoti, is a major programme focusing on food production in the state. “We have done much in the area of agriculture and food production in Osun State”, the director general of the Bureau of Social Services said.
He stated further: “We started in February this year and let me say O’REAP is focused on food production with much interest in food crops. Osun State strategy is to capture 10 percent of the food bill of Lagos State. By that I mean the foods that are sold and bought in Lagos State which by today is estimated at N3.5 billion.”
“The administration has made agriculture a good drive for economic transformation of the state. Mr. Governor said agriculture is over 50 percent of his promise to the people of Osun. All the six points Integral Action Plan of Governor Aregbesola centres on agriculture.
The whole aim is to use agriculture as the key engine for economic transformation in the state of Osun. We have fertile land in Osun, we have commodity areas where we can build national competitiveness and one of those areas is rice.
Research has shown that Osun can actually be a market leader in the production of lowland rice and not even upland rice. We also have competitive advantage on cassava, vegetable and okro and even live stock, because, if you look at Iwo, you will see that there are livestock development opportunities in that area.”
Ifaturoti sees Osun becoming the food basket of the South-west and indeed Nigeria courtesy of Aregbesola’s O’REAP
“This year alone, we have done about 7,500 acres of land, I don’t think there is any other state in the South-west that has done that ,”the director general of the Bureau of Social Services said.”We are 90 percent through with 49 kilometers rural access roads in the state.
“We have had over 300 co-operative societies registering for the O’REAP programme because the governor believes we must use co-operative as the major driver for the agricultural transformation of the state. Now, we have farmers gathering together to form co-operatives for food production and marketing. O’REAP programme is a business of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ministry of Commerce and other ministries.
“We had experts in the field of public administration and that is the paradigm for development globally. No agency can do things alone. We need a number of agencies working together. If for instance we need water in the farm settlements, we will go to the Ministry of Water Resources, if we need power, we go to the Rural Electrification Board, if it’s roads, we consult people in the Ministry of Works and Transport.
So, in the transformation of a state, the work cuts across the various parastatals and agencies of government. So, what is important is to have a very strong co-ordination of all these efforts and a sharp capacity in the ministries to drive the transformation agenda.”
Farmers, according to him, are at the centrepiece of the O’REAP programme. “Roads are constructed to the farm settlements and we are making life meaningful and comfortable for farmers. The road to Mokore farm settlement is now under construction and this road has been abandoned in the last 40 years.
So, farmers are to benefit more than any other people in the O’REAP programme of the state government”, Ifaturoti added.
For O’TOURS, it is built by the Aregbesola government on the strategy of drawing people to Osun natural heritages in the traditional festivals like the Osun Osogbo and Olojo in Ile-Ife. “We are ancient people and we work on history.
Osun State is the centre of gravity, of Yoruba history”, Engr. Abimbola Daniyan, Team Leader, O’TOURS, stated .Daniyan added: “Yoruba in all parts of the world, either in Brazil, Cuba or America, cannot do away with Osun State because of its rich cultural heritage.
On government intervention to take over Osun Osogbo festival fully, Daniyan said it is the duty of government to expand the economic and social space such that the benefits of culture can translate into economic benefits to a very large segment of the society.
During the last Osun Osogbo festival, the Team Leader of O’TOURS said the state government introduced toilets for sanitation and provided security at the groove and in all parts of Osogbo.
“We also have tourist centres like Jalumi and Kiriji war sites which are the results of our history and we are going to develop them to make them attractive to tourists. We also have Ayikunnugba water fall in Oke-Ila.
These are wonderful natural settings that already draw in people, but the point is to make it draw more people to the state, so we are going to develop them to international standards. We have the duty to satisfy our tourists and we have to be careful so that we don’t send wrong information to them, hence the need to develop them well.”
On O’YES, designed by the Aregbesola administration as a youth empowerment programme and to stem unemployment, one of the 2,000 volunteers who earn N10, 000 per month said, “The impact of O’YES is enormous”.
But he will like the state government to consider the volunteers for permanent employment rather than the status quo which affords them participation in the scheme for one year. The scheme costs the state government 200million naira every month.