BY GBENGA OLARINOYE
The recent reclassification of the educational system by the Rauf Aregbesola administration is generating a lot of heat between the Christian community and the government.
The main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, is cashing in on this development to garner more support ahead of the 2014 governorship election. Our correspondent spoke with leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and PDP on the issue. It is simply explosive.
Prince Diran Odeyemi, the Peoples Democratic Party’s Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, like Oyatomi, was a seasoned journalist before he veered into politics. He spoke on PDP’s position on the issue.
WHY is PDP opposed to the new educational policy and merger of some public schools by the Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration?
In a civilized environment, before a government embarks on such a programme or policy, there should have been adequate preparation, orientation and education of the people and everyone that is concerned. When you are talking of these schools, you are talking of the society.
There is no average person in OsunState that does not have a child in a school, even if you don’t have, one of your relatives will have. So in a way, this is a policy that concerns everybody in OsunState.
Now, before you embark on such a programme, we expected a kind of good orientation, education about the programme, a kind of debate, not a kind of propaganda. You employ sensitization, you have to bring people together, and this is a programme that concerns everybody.
We should all be partakers. This is not a military era; it is a democratic session in a democratic environment. You have to bring everybody on board, the Christian Association, the Muslim Community, even educationists both from Osun and outside Osun; let us discuss this thing, its importance and the outcome, and how the programme will help us. There is no policy that does not have its disadvantages. Let us know its disadvantages and advantages.
It is after these that we can now sit down and amend our way of doing things. But in this situation, you are the only one knowing what the policy is all about and there was not even a good preparation to accommodate this policy.
In a good setting you can say I want to do this thing next year and start planning for it now, not necessarily that you think “I am the governor I have to do it in the next two to three months”. No, education is more important than that and it affects everybody.
You just have to sit down, there is no need for you to be in hurry about this, you just went ahead when students are expected to resume you said they should be given another two weeks which in way disrupted the education calendar. Now they are coming back to school you are merging some schools, you are destroying the schools, and you are doing everything to confuse the people and nobody understood anything about your new policy.
So , as far as we are concerneded in PDP, the new policy is rubbish. Are you the only person in this country that knows so much about education that your own policy will now supersede the federal government policy? Why are you treating Osun as a peculiar state? Why is everything turning upside down? It is only you that gave holiday to the Isese people (traditionalists), no state in Nigeria except Osun composed an Anthem,etc.
You see, the way he is going about this government, he is getting everything wrong. It is not that we are against him as a person but we are against this policy as a result of the way he is going about it. If the policy is good, I think we should all know the disadvantages and advantages then we can now take a kind of consensus of opinions. But in this situation, it shows he is ruling us as if we are in a military era and we will reject that.
Will this crisis not jeopardise the future of Osun children?
Of course, it is the APC that wants to jeopardise the future of these children. We in the opposition, all we are doing is just constructive criticism, and the criticism is that this policy cannot work. We are not the only one. The Christian Association of Nigeria is not a political party.They are opposing it because the policy cannot work even the Muslims have rejected the policy.
Now tell us, if the Christians are opposing it, Muslims are opposing it, PDP is opposing it why is it that it is only you? I am sure that APC in other states are rejecting it.
We are not criticising the policy for a political gain, we are concerned about the future of our children and about the future of this state.
As the main opposition party in the state what will be your next line of action?
It is not about PDP now. Honestly, it is about the generality of this state. If you are limiting it to PDP then you are making a big mistake. We as a party, we will only go in line with the people.
The people who are primarily concerned are the Christian Association, the Muslim, the school teachers, principals even the students themselves.
You know as the party in opposition, we can only talk, we cannot act, but the people who are concerned will react just as the Christian association has given 7 days ultimatum. Now, let us wait for that 7 days and see what will happen but whatever position the people take we will support them, so it is not primarily APC and PDP affair. It is OsunState affair.
For peace to reign in Osun State what is your advice to the Governor?
Of course, government do make mistakes, human being too do make mistakes. To err is human. Even as opposition, whether we like it or not, by the Grace of God, he is the governor of this state today. Until that mandate terminates in November next year, he is still the governor. If he does it well, we are going to benefit from it. We cannot say that wherever he tars road it is only the APC members that will pass on that road and that no PDP member will pass on the road. Even CPC, ANPP ACCORD and everybody will pass on the road.
In this situation, we will continue to pray for him for wisdom. In this case, he should just accept that this policy is a mistake and reverse himself and that will be more honourable and that will give him a kind of respect in the state even among people in Nigeria. But if he insists on bringing us back to the era of the military by saying “I have done it then go to hell” and if that is what he is saying, we will remind him that by 2014 the coast will be clear and even if you say we should go to hell then we will see in 2014.
So, as PDP we will continue to pray to God to give him wisdom for him to reverse himself or else, we will just be part of the people for whatever action they want to take. Protest is normal, in as much it is peaceful; it is a kind of saying “we disagree with what you are doing”. In as much as it is not violent, it is just a kind of saying, “look we are not happy with what you are doing and it cannot work” and protest can be in many forms: let the children not go to school, let them stay at home, that should a send signal to him. And let the teachers continue to stay at home that would also send a signal to him. Let the missionaries both Christian and Muslim do the same thing. Now does he have any child going to school in OsunState? Maybe that is the reason he does not feel the impact of the policy. So if he has children going to school in Osun or any of his relatives in Osun he will know that Osun is not a peculiar state.