From its creation in 1991 to date, Osun has passed through many developmental spheres as a subset of the Nigerian State. From economic to political, to infrastructure, to social, to cultural stages, the State of the Virtuous has carved a niche for itself and has got its own share of the saying that every society gets the leadership it deserves.
But like every growing entity, Ipinle Omoluabi must mature and get its own identity after about thirty-one years of existence.
As a State, Osun within the Nigerian political ecosystem, inherited the handout regime, going to Abuja, cap in hand every month, to collect its share of the proverbial national cake. Typical of the outcome of this economic paradigm, development was achieved in fits and starts, with its growth hinging on the health of the petrodollar in the volatile international market.
Characteristically also, economic innovation and diversification were stalled while creativity and productivity were shoved to the driver’s seat.
Osun politics was not left out in the theatre of the absurd. ‘Buje budanu’ (mindless spending) blurred good governance and development, the real essence of democracy.
Infrastructure development answered to the price of petrol in the international market and the size of allocation from Abuja. When both sneezed, project execution and payment of salaries and pensions were stifled.
Poverty, hunger and unemployment, the hybrids of mismanaged economy and the ravaging economic downturn, made our culture and Omoluabi ethos victims at the hands of our leaders of tomorrow.
Because money was almost always available, necessity, the mother of invention, travelled out of the window and creativity went on Sabbatical. The party was soon over and resilience, the borrowed robe we always dressed ourselves in when we survived a crisis situation, demonstrated to us that it had limits. It refused to come back from Sabbatical. We were thrown into an economic whirlwind till further notice.
We are now faced with the lessons of failure to save for the rainy day. It would appear that our monolithic economic model that produced economic curse did not allow our leaders to master governance in a depressed economy. And unfortunately, the people have been conditioned to recede into the on-and-off mode of prosperity today, austerity tomorrow.
Whether in government or in corporate climes, leaders are elected or appointed to manage good and challenging times, to prosecute set goals and the vision of the establishment – no excuses. The character of leadership comes to the fore at challenging times, every leader can pretend to be doing governance when the going is good. Challenging times are here and they show no sign of abating soon.
The Osun of yesterday belongs to the class of governance with scant productivity. That paradigm cannot fit into the economic complexities and realities of today. And sorry, voters, nay the people, do not understand the language of excuses. They have slid into the solution-creativity mode. Electoral promises must be fulfilled.
When economic drought came visiting in 2015, Osun needed a new governance paradigm shift that is hinged on strategic thinking to lift it out of the woods and set it on the path of sustainable development. Then entered years later a new leader schooled in managing challenged businesses and entities and water sprang out of the rocks and the desert to offer water to the thirsty people of Osun.
The desert does not transform into a luxuriant forest overnight. It requires creativity, persistence, hard work, discipline and employment of Omoluabi ethos to turn the desert around. These qualities are not found on the dance floor; they don’t answer to propaganda.
Osun, in the last three and half years, has been on its two feet despite the throes of economic uncertainties as a result of a well-thought-out Development Agenda whose strategy answers to creating wealth to sustain electoral promises. This new-found wealth creation strategy was not part of the economic principles of the yesteryears.
Any wonder our economy was always in the woods and debts piled up for today and tomorrow generations? Creating wealth is not limited to exploiting Osun’s resources buried in its soil. It also includes creatively exploiting the potential of the human capital – facilitating funds and projects through friends, associates and the workforce of the State.
The new leader understands that funding projects and programmes is doable with or without cash; he is skilful enough to know that doing projects is possible in a depressed economy. He introduced the dynamics and mechanics: financial discipline, innovation and creativity -plugging loopholes, cutting costs (wastes), employing Alternative Project Financing technique, taking advantage of development windows offered by the Federal Government and facilitating projects through strategic local and international partners.
The new sheriff in town birthed the era of inclusive governance, participatory democracy and equitable service delivery to the people, including the poor, the needy, people living with disabilities and the youth as channels of service distribution. Thus, the era of provision of adequate, quality, and equitable services across the State with the people as the deciders of their needs was born.
These strategies, wrapped with a large dose of political will, have given birth to a new Osun and transformed the Osun economy in the last three years. They have created an Osun of possibilities and opportunities. They have replaced the State’s wooden legs with the steely props. They are steadily releasing the State’s neck from the debt noose, ensuring workers’ salaries and pensions are paid as and when due and tapping the State’s untapped resources.
They are steadily delivering social services and innovative strategies, including but not limited to revitalisation of General Hospitals in the three senatorial districts and 332 Primary Health Centres in every Ward across the State; management of Covid-19 pandemic; building structures; convoking Osun Economic Summit that brought over 1, 000 local and international investors to the State with over 20 of them signing Memoranda of Understanding at the venue; reconstruction/rehabilitation of hundreds of rural and urban roads across the State for socioeconomic development; construction of the iconic Olaiya Flyover; renovation of schools across the State; provision of educational materials for students and training and re-training of teachers to enhance their capacity; recruitment of teachers; provision of affordable, adequate and functional education to students; provision of loans and credit facilities for women and youths; and cultivation of youths as the face of government’s sustainable development efforts.
This clear-cuts governance and paradigm shift in the management of the economy of Osun in the last three and half years has catalysed Osun’s economy into the class of transformational economies and set it on the path of sustainable development, using strategic thinking and strong political will as channels.
Suffice to say that in Osun, we may not have all the billions, but we are surely getting our priorities right under Governor Adegboyega Oyetola. Despite the paucity of funds, the Governor has so far kept faith with the vision of the founding fathers of the State to sustainably build Ipinle Omoluabi – State of the Virtuous.
Since coming on board about four years ago, the Governor has demonstrated that he not only understands and appreciates the peculiar needs of an average Osun person, but he is also passionately interested in growing the State from where his predecessor left off.
Rather than reel out excuses, he has been silently fulfilling most of the promises he made to the citizens of the State during the electioneering. From the Igbajo road, which was last touched 33 years ago, to Atakumosa Market, which got burnt in 2015, Oyetola has validated the popular axiom: “the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Hear what the Asiwaju of Igbajo, a legal luminary, Chief Solomon Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), who led a delegation of Igbajo Development Association (IDA) on a “Thank You” visit to Mr. Governor said: “For many years, this (Ada-Igbajo) road has been crying for rehabilitation. Even before I became the Commissioner for justice in the State (1991-92), this road had been in a terrible state.
“But today, we thank God for using your government to come to our aid. This will go a long way to redefine many things in the benefiting communities.
“You have given us a great relief. Osun is very lucky to have you as Governor at this time. You have come to power with deep experience in both the private and the public sectors as reflected in the way and manner you have been prudently and sensibly running the resources and affairs of the State.”
Oyetola is set to take Osun to the next level, going forward. The Governor Osun deserves in 2022 is one who understands the dynamics of autopilot and sustaining good governance and service delivery in a depressed economy; one who believes in consolidation; one who has plans for generations yet unborn; one whose purpose in government is the security and welfare of the people and who sacrifices for their welfare.
Osun governance has left the analogue stage. Those who don’t speak the digital governance language of the people have no place in the Abere topmost job.
Omipidan, a former Politics Editor of The Sun Newspaper, is the CPS to Oyetola