by Gbenga Olorunpomi
Sadly, no government, no matter how good, exists without detractors and Osun state has more than its fair share. However, it is comical that the loudest of the doomsayers are those who held the great people of Osun back for years and denied them good progress.
Only last week, the ex-Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, was chatting with a few loyalists in his home when the news came that he had been deposed. It couldn’t have been more shocking to him, even though he had only been president for one year. He probably knew the same tsunami of protests that paved a way for him to get elected at the polls was still strong enough to send him packing. He must now wish he never stood in the way of the people when they demanded he changed tactics and acted more democratically. He stood in the way of a movement. The movement swept him away.
In the State of Osun, Nigeria, a different kind of revolution is going on. It is one led by the People’s General and the enemy here is Poverty. This is the Oranmiyan Movement and all forms of human deprivation seem to be in danger of being swept off to Neverland. One by one, by God, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is removing every obstacle that stands between the people and their economic, social and political prosperity. As the phrase, “Oran Mi Yan” means “My Issues have been resolved”, their leader is settling the matter of his people. And he is doing it his way; he is practicing “Government Unusual”.
In late May, I honored the invitation of a friend to visit Oshogbo, the capital of Osun State. As I had never made the trip before and could not find anyone to drive me there, I opted to go by public transport. The questions pulling at my heartstrings were numerous: how will I find my host? How comfortable will the hotel be? How many hoops will I have to jump through just to meet my host?
I really shouldn’t have bordered. Since I began interacting with government people in 2008, I have never been privileged to witness a more organized unit like the guys working for the Ogbeni Aregbesola-led administration. Like a well-oiled machine, my transition from a Lagosian to an Oshogbo guest was smooth as Cold Stone ice cream. With a smile on his face, my handler, Kunle, made sure I was satisfied with my hotel arrangements, well fed and had access to transportation. When I told him I was not sure if I would enjoy my 3-day stay in that town, Kunle looked at me and with a sly smile on his face, promised, “Bros, you will enjoy your stay and even spend one day more.” He was right.
Keeping promises is one of the hallmarks of the current Action Congress of Nigeria-led administration in the State of Osun. Ogbeni Rauf is a man on a mission and has been single-minded in his approach to see his beloved land be a success story much like Lagos state.
Within the first 100 days of his administration, as promised in his manifesto, 20,000 youths were employed under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, OYES. After two years, another 20, 000 replaced this first set, making 40, 000 beneficiaries. This is an initiative that is now being replicated by other states – including the federal government – and has won high praise for its ingenuity and implementation by the World Bank. OYES acts as a conduit for the introduction of N200 million monthly into the grassroots economy of the state. I met a lady who used her money to set up a kerosene business after her two-year deal with OYES elapsed. She can now stand on her very own feet after serving her community. There are countless success stories like her around.
OYES is such a success that the Oyo state governor also launched his version of the programme and tagged it ‘YESO.’ Recently, even the World Bank confirmed that it’s Youth Initiative with the Federal Government, The Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) is primarily inspired by OYES. If this is not an endorsement of good governance, I don’t know what is.
I was quickly made aware that the government truly wanted to hinge its success on that of its educational programme, hence the investment of N30billion into that sector. First, the uniforms of the children in all public schools were standardized. Because of this unification and the fact that the government was paying for the first set, Sam and Sara, a major garment making enterprise in the country has built the biggest Garment Manufacturing Factory, in Western Africa in Oshogbo.
So, by simple government policy and commitment, a one-and-a-half-million-uniforms-per-year industry was created for the benefit of the local economy. I understand that once at full capacity, 3,000 tailors would be directly employed there.
Also, over 252, 000 elementary pupils are fed free lunch daily, hence increasing access to education and providing jobs for 3,000 caterers. Because of this OMeals initiative, the hitherto dormant poultry farms and feed factories have now been given a new lease of life.
While all these are happening, public school buildings are being replaced with model ones. All this is excluding the very novel ‘Opon Imo’ project, which is seeing 150,000 senior secondary school students, each getting an electronic tablet preloaded with electronic Textbooks, tutorials and past questions and answers.
While there is much talk about Islamic Banking and its prospects of unlocking cheap funds for development, the government of the State of Osun has went and concluded plans to issue Nigeria’s first sukuk bond, starting with 10 billion naira ($62 million). The funds will be used to finance the construction of education projects in the state. Already, tuition fees in all state-owned tertiary institutions have been reduced by 30% while 40 young farmers are being sponsored to Germany for Agricultural training.
All these have not stopped the construction of roads and the provision of basic healthcare for the people of Osun. Over 900 kilometers of roads are being constructed across the State, in a mix of Super Highways, Intercity, Township, Local Government and Rural Roads.
Such is the dexterity of the state’s efforts in road infrastructure development that the World Bank and the French Development Agency, selected Osun among only 4 states across the country, to develop 500km of rural roads through the RAMP 2 programme.
Also of special note, are the 216km of municipality roads being constructed across the 31 local governments and area office. Recently, an insider explained to me – with frenzied energy, I might add – how the government is building two ring roads around the circumference of Oshogbo. He said the inner ring road would service residents of the town, giving them valid alternative to the inner-city traffic. The other ring road, he explained, would provide easy access to Oshogbo from other parts of the state and from the neighboring states as well, making the transportation of farm produce as short as possible. How ingenious!
The Osogbo Railway Station is also wearing a new look, after years of neglect. I understand this renovation is a component of the state’s effort to run dedicated rail logistics service between Osun and Lagos, for the movement of agriculture and finished goods.
On health, Osun Ambulance Service Authority was established with 400 OYES youths specially trained as paramedics while 9 State Hospitals and 12 comprehensive health centers are being rehabilitated. Also, 74 new Primary Health Centers have been built. Just recently, all primary school pupils were de-wormed across the entire 30 LGAs. Yes, all 252, 793 of them!
Sadly, no government, no matter how good, exists without detractors and Osun state has more than its fair share. However, it is comical that the loudest of the doomsayers are those who held the great people of Osun back for years and denied them good progress. Since they have not been able to attack the good work of the governor, they have chosen the route of attacking his person, his appearance and even lately, his family. But, if you know how powerful the Oranmiyan Movement is, you’d know the campaign of calumny is one that will end in futility.
The people of Osun know their true leader. They understand his passion and perceive his commitment. That internally-generated revenue has jumped from N300m monthly to over N700m is an indication that people are putting more into the state coffers via taxes because they are happy with the progress they see. Senator Omisore and his fellow travelers in the PDP can either join the train or find better ways to criticize the government. Falsehood and blackmail has failed.
Today, put two fingers in the air in Osun and the people understand you automatically. They see it as the symbol of progress, the sign that things are getting better. Their matter is clearly being settled by God through his humble servant, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
As I travelled back to Lagos, after spending the extra day like Kunle predicted, one of the many thoughts that occupied my mind was the question; Can the Oranmiyan Movement sweep its way to inspiring a new direction for our entire nation? I wonder. I wonder.
Gbenga Olorunpomi is a senior digital marketing strategist. He has over 5 years in the marketing communications business and has designed social media strategies for major brands like Coca-Cola and The Economist. He is experienced in the media, having worked for two years at one of the country’s biggest public relations firms as Media Relations and Content Manager. Gbenga is a Principal Consultant with Cyborg Nigeria. He is affiliated to the ACN. He tweets from @gbengagold
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.