By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
How Osun State got to its present point is not surprising for many. The spite and spark that spilled from the campaigns, and then, the judicial crusade by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for the governorship in the last decade indicated that Osun was bound for something unfathomable. Following his landmark inauguration in November 2010, the idea of what awaited the people of Osun State even remained more in the sphere of imaginations.
The governor had campaigned with the motto of reversing what his supporters termed the years of the locust under the Olagunsoye Oyinlola administration.
However, rather than immediately address what the locust had supposedly ravaged, the governor commenced his era focused on intangibles and the ephemeral.
The change in the designation of Osun State into the State of Osun and with it, its attendant cost and confusion, was one of such controversial concepts that only a few enthusiasts of the governor could properly articulate. It was, however, lauded as being in the spirit of Omoluabi, to wit, the restoration of the dignity and honour of the people.
Following that was the reconstruction of the school system which inevitably put products of the Osun State education system out of sync with the rest of Nigeria, and with that, also came the merger of the schools leading to the avoidable religious face-off that first smeared the governor’s first term. Under the mergers, missionary Christian and Islamic schools were merged in a way that removed the legacy of the missionary efforts, which was in itself, allegedly a direct breach of the provision of sustaining the identities of the schools at the point of the takeover of the schools in the 70s.
The intangible policy permutations of the governor eventually found bearing on the ground and with gusto, the governor embarked on several construction projects which at once drew commendations from far and near. The massive construction projects which led senior administration officials and political associates of the governor to swagger that Osun was a major construction site, however, sooner exposed the underbelly of the leadership.
Most of the projects it soon emerged were mostly funded from external sources, and it was not long after the re-election victory in 2014, that the truth of the state’s finances began to show. The backlog of civil servants’ salaries stretched into months and at one time was reported to have approached ten months.
It is into this soured milieu that the threat of religious acrimony arising from the pitched battle between the two major religious groups in the state is about to compound.
The ridiculous setting of a classroom with school children attired in religious garments could worsen the underlying distress among the citizenry in Osun. The state desperately needs help and it should.
Osun, like all the Southwest states had largely resisted the venom of religious conflict until now. It was especially so given the saying that almost all homes in the Southwest have worshippers of Christianity and Islam. This is seen even in the religious configuration of the homes of some of the most recent governors in the region. Governors Ibikule Amosun and Abiola Ajimobi who are both good Muslims are married to Christian women.
Former Governors Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola of Lagos also practicing Muslims are married to Christians. The present exceptions are Aregbesola, who is married to a Muslim; Segun Mimiko and Akinwunmi Ambode, who are themselves Christians married to Christians. The needless faceoff between the Christian and Muslim communities in Osun is also a distraction from their felt needs.
In the midst of the commotion, relevant issues on how to settle the difficult economic crisis in the state are largely ignored. It may seem a reprieve for the administration but in the end, as everyone knows, it can only be a fleeting faceoff for when the real issues of bread and butter arise, the hungry Christians and hungry Muslims will refocus on the immediate issue of first filling the stomach!
Okorocha’s presidential ambition
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State recently announced his decision not to contest the 2019 presidential election which is increasingly approaching. The announcement came out of the blues especially given that he had since 2003 contested in one form or the other all the presidential contests held in the country. Even as an incumbent governor of Imo State, in 2014, he still sought for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, but failed.
His abandonment of his dream is not wholly surprising. Many other veteran presidential aspirants are covering their tracks. Associates of Atiku Abubakar, these days say that the man who has also been a participant in all the presidential elections of the Fourth Republic is not a full-time politician as they point to his increased zest in business engagements.
Oshiomhole’s Options in Edo
Given the massive support behind the governorship aspiration of Mr. Godwin Obaseki in today’s APC governorship primaries in Edo State, it would be a shock if the result does not favour him. But what are the options for the comrade governor if Obaseki loses out? Associates of the governor say that his deputy, Pius Odubu is totally unacceptable, but that they would not mind Chris Ogienmwonyi, Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula or any of the friendlier aspirants who honoured Oshiomhole last Wednesday at an interactive session.