By Ismail Omipidan
The above statement did not come from me. It emanated from an Economic Historian , Lawyer and a Public Affairs Analyst, Dr. Tunji Ogunyemi, who just got off from a current affairs discussion on radio, Frank Talk, on the popular Rave 91.7 FM, Tuesday, July 5. The programme ran from 9am to 10 am.
He was asked to set an agenda for the next governor of Osun. In responding, he argued among other things that Osun needs a level-headed and serious-minded person as Governor and not a jester.
He proceeded to say that such a person must practise budget discipline by ensuring that not less than 30 percent go to infrastructure development.
He went further to say that the serious-minded person must manage the debt situation of the state in such a way that it does not affect the present and future development of the State.
Dr. Ogunyemi further said such a person must reduce what he termed “political jobbery,” adding that Osun does not need more than 10 commissioners, saying such a level-headed person as Governor must invest in three critical sectors of the Osun economy vis: Tourism, Agriculture and Mining.
I must confess, I took copious note of all the other issues he raised on how to grow the economy. We will no doubt learn from some of the useful tips. But before then, let’s critically analyse the issues raised by the foremost Economic Historian against the background of what Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has made of his governorship in the last three and half years and see whether or not he indeed merited a re-election.
First, it is not in doubt that Governor Oyetola is not only a level-headed person, he is also a serious-minded person. And from the way he has run the state and is still running it so far, he has proved that the job of governance is too serious to be left in the hands of a neophyte.
Verdict: Oyetola fits the bill
Two, Dr. Ogunyemi further said such a serious person who wants to be Osun Governor must ensure budget discipline such that not less than 30 percent of the budget goes into infrastructure development. Again, Governor Oyetola has not only ensured budget discipline in the three years plus, he has also enshrined prudent management of the scarce resources. Little wonder, people ask how he is coping, paying salaries and pensions most people thought were impossible before now, including building infrastructure.
As a matter of fact, one of the grouses some persons have against Governor Oyetola is his refusal to open the vault to them. This is so because as a leading player in the private sector with over 30 years experience, his financial and managerial skills have been brought to bear on the distribution and management of Osun scarce resources in a depressed economy.
Again, since 2019, the percentages of the capital expenditure to that of recurrent have been consistently over the 30 percent being recommended by the Public affairs analyst. As a matter of fact, it has always been between 50 and 60 percent.
Verdict: Oyetola is on the right track
Three, Dr. Ogunyemi, while declaring that those canvassing for government involvement in running business in this time and age must be living in the past, further declared that the serious person and not a jester who must be the next Osun Governor must be able to manage the Osun debt in such a way that it does not affect the present and future development of the State. With less than two weeks to the election and with about four months to the end of his first tenure, it is on record that Governor Oyetola has not borrowed a dime, yet he is building infrastructure just as he is reducing the debts he inherited without necessarily inflicting additional burden on the people of the State.
Verdict: Oyetola fits the bill
He should be given another chance to consolidate on the gains of this first term.
The lawyer cum economic historian also argued that the next Osun Governor must reduce what he termed “political jobbery,” insisting that Osun does not need more than 10 commissioners. The idea here according to him is to reduce cost of Governance. In Osun, with 30 Councils and one Area Office, the commissioners appointed by Governor Oyetola are 23 in number. However, compared to other previous administrations before him in recent years, that of Oyetola remains the smallest. Besides, he took very drastic measures to reduce the cost of Governance and the results are glaring for all to see.
On the investment in the key critical sectors of the Osun economy, Governor Oyetola has done credibly well. For instance, long before COVID-19 happened, Oyetola set out from day one of coming into office to diversify the Osun economy using Agriculture,Tourism and Mining, otherwise known as ATM. He ran Osun like an enterprise, bearing in mind that governance is not for profit making. Consequently, he introduced creativity into the running of government business by setting his priorities right.
So far, Osun may not be where it is expected to be, but surely Oyetola has all it takes to drive it further. For instance, apart from our investment in the health, education, security, agric, social intervention and other sectors of the economy in the past three years plus, we are equally not doing bad at all in the mining sector. We set out seven project streams in our Osun Minerals Development Plan. As I write, Osun is working in partnership with a private investor to establish a Gold Buying Centre to be christened Omoluabi-Badger Commercial Gold Buying and Refining Centre ( CBRC), Osu .We have also set up MIREMCO ( Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee) to regulate mining activities in the state, just as we have set up an RFID-enabled database and have captured over 13,000 miners awaiting the finalisation of the partnership with the PAGMI — Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative. This will up the skills of the local miners and buy off whatever they produce locally.
On Tourism, Osun may not have reached the zenith, but the story is changing positively from what Oyetola inherited in 2018. Today, we have an Osun Tourism Master Plan. We have declared every Thursday as Adire Day. We shall be establishing Adire Osun International Market at our Free Trade Zone to create market for expected increase in production owing to the above policy. We have done enumeration of producers in the State and are being linked to our Ministry of Commerce for financial support. We are developing six tourist sites: Olumirin Waterfall, Owalla Dam, Ayunkunungba Waterfall, Kiriji War Site, Igila in Amire and Jalumi War Site in Inisa.
For Owalla Dam- we intend to have a Wakanda Village, Tourist Estate and to do Bolt operations in the area.
Kari-Ile Odua – a cultural festival. Our links are working in the US and Brazil in particular. We are collaborating with OPU (Odua Peoples Union) a foreign arm of OPC to host the festival in Brazil and other foreign countries. Kari-Ile Odua has been registered with the Brazil government as a vehicle to bring people to Nigeria.
Yoruba Museum and World Heritage Centre to be located in Ile- Ife, and the work has commenced. The essence is to tell the history of Yoruba, where we are coming from, where we are going and our relationship with the entire world, particularly in the area of politics, technology etc.
Very soon, we intend to train 1,000 youths in 13 key areas of Tourism: Tour Operator, Tour Guides, Tour Escorts, Event Planner, etc.
In terms of Revenue, we may not be where we want to be, but there is an upward trend in this regard since we came in. For instance, from Olumirin Waterfall which most of you know as Erin Ijesa Waterfall, we made N6million in 2020, up from N1.8 million that was generated in 2018.
Other Tourism sources: N100, 000 was made in 2017, N150,000 in 2018 and N350, 000 in 2019. But in 2020 and 2021 alone, we made about N20million. It is thus clear that we are making progress in that regard. For the first time in the history of the State, we attracted a Grant of N35 million which is being deployed to restore the Ile Ifa, in Ila, Ogedengbe palace in Ilesa and Ika ancient Palace, near Ejigbo.
By and large, if we are to go by the submission of Dr. Ogunyemi, which obviously is informed, scientific and pragmatic, we need not look any farther, Oyetola remains our best bet in Osun. He is not a jester. He is level headed and serious minded.