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Nigeria’s future bigger than any political aspirations

By Denrele Animasaun

Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation — Simon Sinek

In the late 90s and early 80s, my friends and I would stay up to the early hours and often we took time to wait for the election returns announcements. As it is now it was a more or less a two-horse race between the two major fore runner political parties: the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). There were others but they were very much at the fringes.

We were all so idealistic then and we cut our political teeth fresh from university, we thought that our votes accounted for something, that it will make the elected politicians accountable, that they will act in the best interest of the people.

We were wrong. We were very wrong, it soon dawn on us as we sat eagerly awaiting the results as we shifted alternatively from the TV and the radio as the numbers were announced we noticed a pattern: the numbers did not add up, kept changing and shifting, one minute it was going in one direction and then another direction. It was contrary to the projection of the political pundits. The wholesale skullduggery was unheard of, here we were witnessing gerrymandering and ballot rustling at a level never encountered before and it shook Nigeria to the core. Of course, honesty and values began to descend from that time onwards.

As a youngster, we were deeply disappointed because prior to that result, we knew only coups, curfew and restrictions. We had hoped that we would at last, enjoy a free and fair election but most importantly, a democratically elected government.

We dreamt of the day when we did not have to wake up and the armies were out of their barracks and every major road had boots on the ground.

We wanted to taste real freedom. I felt we were cheated both by the army and then subsequent civilian administrations. We did not get what we were promised. If we thought it was bad, we could not have imagined what it is now. At least we experienced free education, healthy employment opportunities, some standard of living and access to health care. We even had better power outage.

For us, we saw politics, the birth of dirty politics and the rise of corruption, the dearth of honest living, good morals and the erosion of the middle class.

Slowly, we lost our belief in a bright and aspirational Nigeria. For many of us, it was the message to leave for pastures new, abroad. It got so bad that there was a campaign to stop the exodus. Andrew was begging us not to check out.

So fast forward to 2018, our experience not a distance memory, pales in comparison. We now have a do-or-die politics and grand scale criminality. It is a waking nightmare. I dread to think, what 2019 will bring and at what cost.

The  recent Osun election debacle is a case in point.

The election we were made to understand was inconclusive, with very small margin between the two fore runners PDP and APC. And the rerun did not settle the melee as both party tried and vowed the third party candidate had promised them his support. Some horse trading went on and yet, the real victim here was the voters.

It is often said, that politics is the second oldest profession after prostitution. So true that, far too many changing partners for a price. And boy, Omisore played both sides. He said through his media aide that he had told his supporters to vote for any candidate of their choice: “Osun State has always been a stellar example of democracy where the people have consistently and freely expressed their franchise to determine who governs them”

On the other hand, Senator Ademola Adeleke, the PDP   governorship candidate, described the rerun election as a ‘coup’ and that PDP were denied access to ballot papers in the election: “Our supporters are being harassed and are not allowed to vote at all. Let the whole world know that this is not democracy,”

Watch this space this is definitely not over, not until much much later. Suddenly 2019 seems so far away.

From my archive: 2015

My  father was not too pleased when I wrote that I wish I was from Osun. For those that read my page you know that I find the Ogbeni’s leadership inspiring and refreshing. Ogbeni puts his opinion of leadership so well when he said: “Indeed, it is my belief that leadership offers a golden opportunity to serve the people and bring improvements to bear on their lives and existence. I also do hold onto the view that leadership is a core pillar upon which a viable and successful human society can be built. And that “Indeed leadership is all about rendering service to the people and this”.

When something works and works well, it is important to admit and admire the process and that is what I do.

With well over half of the Nigerian population unemployed, poverty is higher than it has ever been, subsequent   administrations and the present government have promised to improve our lot and they have consistently let us down and not delivered.

The Osun administration has employed the highest number of civil servants in any other states in the country. So, here is an administration that does exactly what it set out to do. It did more and beyond to improve the lives of its people.

One of the few states in the country that has consistently improved and laid down solid structures and sound governance. This is essential in order to get the country working again.

Margaret Thatcher was once asked what her government’s top priority was, without hesitation she said: “Education, education and education”. Education is the key. That is exactly what Ogbeni’s administration has done. Making education free at the point of entry means more children are educated. This means that the future of Osun is brighter as more children are given the opportunity to better their lot. They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the people bear witness to the changes in the state.

In the Ogbeni, the people of Osun have witnessed a committed and hard-working governor who is willing to work for the interest of its people.

He has single handedly transformed his state and its people. He has produced results for all to see. The feeding programme is a master stroke after all the army matches on its stomachs they say.

No point sending children to school on empty stomach. So they offer free nutritious meals so that the children’s bodies are optimised for learning and development. The programme’s sublime quality is that it considers every aspect of the health of the children as the programme also includes the de-worming programme and distribution of free uniforms and school materials. This means that every child is equal at the point of entry.

As a result of all these innovations, the school attendance has improved exponentially and more teachers are recruited to deal with the demand, Osun government spends more than N3 billion annually on its home-grown elementary school feeding, O’Meal. N600 million was spent on about 3,000 community caterers as well as transportation fare to the various schools.

As a result of the feeding programme, there has been an increase in the enrolment of children and decrease in absenteeism. The meal programme employs local people; farmers, butchers, fishermen and trained women meal supervisors. You raise the most vulnerable up, then everyone benefits.

 

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