BY GBENGA OLARINOYE
Osun State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola agrees with his critics that he is running an unusual government. In name, structure and philosophy, Osun State is unusual, drawing flaks and favour from foes and friends respectively. In this interview, Aregbesola responds to some of the issues that have trailed his three year administration of Osun State. Excerpts:
How have you been faring with the challenges of governance in the last three years?
We are being driven by the passion to turn around the economy of Osun State. We believe strongly in the divine intervention for guidance and success. This foundation made it possible for us to be guided in the appointment of the right people in the right places.
We cannot ascribe the success to ourselves but to the Almighty who will continue to support and make it possible for us to achieve our plans to execute mega projects that will attract investments to the state. And that passion definitely inspired more than ordinary effort to get our resources to drive our vision. However, God has established His laws; it is left to human beings to take maximum advantage of the laws of God for their benefits.
So, with the abundance of God’s provisions, human beings only need to put their minds in what they want and help from sources that are never envisaged will just come.
Management of resources
Yes, what we are doing in all spheres of life are definitely beyond the capacity of a state. So, effective, efficient and prudent management of our resources have helped to push the frontier of development. Our success in that regard is beyond the capacity to prudently, effectively and efficiently manage the economy.
That is where the divine angle comes in. You just realize that even with the best management skill, which we have on ground is just beyond the human comprehension. It is the gargantuan scope of our development strides that has inebriated the opposition to the point of hallucination. Now, they don’t even know what to say or what to do, others promote lies about debt burden.
They cannot talk about lack of performance because that is beyond them to do, even with their somewhat skilled sense of evaluation to whittle down our achievements and appreciation by the people. They still go about this totally uncoordinated hype on phantom debt burden which is unsustainable if you are going to be honest with it.
So, I used to tell people, in addition to what I just told you that I served under one of the best public finance experts in the person of the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The tutelage paid off so handsomely and the result is what you are witnessing in Osun today.
You are one of the most criticized Governors in the country, what are you doing to limit the criticisms against your government?
When a man is criticized the way we are criticized, it is due to success. Success brings criticism definitely. In fact, what I will say is that success largely brings controversy. Probably that is what is making people to criticize our government. Success brings controversy, success brings hostility and success brings envy.
We are indeed successful in our programmes and projects. You see, we were not unconscious of the reactions some of our programmes, projects and activities would attract.
Don’t forget, we heartily called our administration even during the campaigns ‘an unusual government’. We branded our government ‘an unusual government’ even during the campaigns. So, it would be difficult to be abnormal not to have the spate of antagonism that we have experienced over this period of time. It would be totally abnormal not to have such reactions.
Election for your second term in office is just few months away, how prepared are you for the election?
We have been working from the very first day with the firm belief that there will be a day of reckoning which elections usually mean to politicians. Elections are the days of reckoning.They are the judgment days for politicians. So, from the day we were sworn-in until now, we have been working assiduously for that auspicious day that our electorates will have the opportunity to renew our mandate for another period of time. For a thing that we have been working at for the past 37 months, I will want to say we are doing well at it.
The PDP has been engulfed in leadership crisis for some time now, what are the effects of the PDP crisis on the APC?
There was no crisis in PDP when we assumed office. To us, whether the party is one, fragmented or weakened by internal crisis, it is their own headache. We are engaged by the people and that is important to us.
Our engagement with the people has been so firm, so serious, so symbiotic and so wholesome. Whatever is the situation of PDP in Osun, it is of no importance to us. If they are together, they do not matter because the people are the sovereign. The people are the sole decider of victory or defeat in an election. Parties will only mobilize support from the people.
Parties cannot force the people. Parties can stimulate the interest of the people in their activities. Parties cannot compel the people to adopt or accept their programmes.
So, since we realized this from the very beginning, our works, our programmes, our activities are directed at meeting the needs of the people, satisfying the people, mobilizing the people to accept our programmes and policies, believe in us as their friends and people who are committed to their progress, welfare, peace and prosperity.
Our people-oriented programmes are also designed to adopt us as their own representatives. So once those critical or those fundamentals of engagement with the people are met, the rest is little.
With what we have done with the people, with the response we have from the people, it does not matter the crisis or no crisis in PDP. The crisis in PDP doesn’t matter anymore. Whether they are together or divided, weakened or strong, as long as we are one with the people and represent the aspirations of the people to give our people the hope of realizing their desires and wants, let other parties do whatever they wish to do. God be with us, success is our own.
How will you rate the economy in Osun State today?
For a state within such bad-managed nation to seek to isolate a constituent of such a nation, in economic analysis will be very difficult.
This is particularly a hard task when you bear in mind that this is a state that has been administered along the line of the Laize Faire economic management for over 19 years before our advent. Indeed, this will be very tough and I want you to see it from that angle.
Bearing that in mind, we are turning the economy of Osun around. Even with the obvious challenge we have as a nation, we have grown the income of the state. For instance, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state has jumped from N300 million to over N1.6 billion per month. We are attracting investments to specific sectors of the state and hope to achieve over N3 billion IGR.
We are supporting farmers at all levels, from peasant to new generation farmers and high commercial farmers. We are empowering our people to produce food and help them with the market for their products. We are supporting market men and women in their businesses. Part of the industrial development that took place since we assumed office is the Omoluabi Garment Factory where uniforms are being made for our students on a commercial and large scale basis.
This was initiated not only to reduce the cost but increase the quality of wears. Today, the factory is not only producing uniforms but it is producing other garments and uniforms for school children nationwide. It is producing other garments from other wears to T-shirts and sports wears.