By Alani Atayese
Please permit me to underscore my opinion with this folk tale.
Opalaba is a proverbial sage whose knowledge of tradition and human issues was enviable. Opalaba often counselled his friends and comforted them whenever they were troubled by human angle issues.
One day, a friend came to Opalaba to complain about his spouse: “My spouse is too promiscuous.” Opalaba told him to be thankful, because that is not an insurmountable problem for him to fret over. Another came: “My spouse is a thief.” Again, Opalaba calmed him down and told him that was not a problem for him to raise his blood pressure over. Yet, a third friend complained that his spouse was suffering from the disease of jealousy (Owu in Yoruba). Opalaba also calmed him down and told him “Owu” is not anything that should make him worry.
One day, Opalaba decided to call the three friends together and told them, “none of you has the problem that I have. My problem is the most difficult and appears insurmountable.” They wondered what problem could be more difficult than theirs. Then Opalaba told them that his spouse is suffering from shamelessness, and, as such, she combines all of the problems of each of them and more and has become an embarrassment and threat to his family and the community. Opalaba told them a shameless person will steal, lie, break promise, kill, flirt, deceive, plunder the treasury, and do all these with a bold face. A shameless person will swim in the mud and drag others into the mud with him and find nothing wrong with it. Each of the friends ended up sympathizing with Opalaba for his plight and agreed that indeed he had a more serious problem which looks irredeemable.
The problem of the current Governor of the State of Osun is nothing but shamelessness and for this he has become an embarrassment and a real and apparent danger to himself, the state of omoluabis and indeed the progressive family. Sadly, there are too many shameless people within, around and external to the Governor and the State who may not see the danger in the inglorious path he has chosen all in a bid to be seen as the superman of Osun politics.
It is unimaginable that a man who served for 8 years in the administration of his predecessor would embark on such a display of shamelessness and needless caustic rivalry and animosity for his predecessor who is the current Minister of Interior and both of whom still belong to the same faith, same root, same party and have the same benefactor, mentor, godfather and leader in one of the greatest men to come out of the South West and indeed Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a man respected within and outside Nigeria for his political sagacity.
For those who may not know, nothing happened in the State of Osun between 2010 and 2018 when Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was Governor without the vetting and signature of his Chief of Staff who is now the Governor of the State, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola. Nothing here means absolutely nothing. No contract was awarded without his vetting and approval and nobody could take a dime out of the State’s treasury without the vetting and signature of Alhaji Gboyega Oyetota, the powerful Chief of Staff to the Governor. His vetting, comment and signature must be on any document that ever required the approval of Mr Governor. He was simply the gate keeper in that Administration for 8 years. That was how powerful and influential he was, partly out of the profound respect, undiluted loyalty and trust Ogbeni has for Oyetola’s brother or cousin, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the proven professional and management track record of Oyetola in the private sector. Ogbeni must have felt he had the best of two worlds and could go to bed with his 2 eyes closed without realizing there was a dangerous enemy within. At the right time, yours truly would do an expose on the activities of Governor Gboyega Oyetola as Chief of Staff to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for 8 years. Oro nba oro bo, eegun alare.
It therefore smacks of shamelessness for the person who was more or less the de facto Governor for 8 years to turn around to be the one seeking to cancel everything the Administration in which he was a principal actor did. It is only someone who combines inferiority complex with shamelessness that would seek to put out someone else’s candle just for his own to shine. Instructively, this was the same candle that was used to light Oyetola’s own despite many candles that were already on and shinning in the State. Otherwise “ta ni mo okolo Oyetola ni Osun?” Who is Oyetola in the political landscape of Osun? A man who with all his resources cannot win councilorship election in his local government. What has humanity turned to that people shamelessly encourage treachery and betrayal just to be relevant?
We have seen conflicts between predecessors and successors in government but none is as comfounding, foolish and destructive as what is playing out in Osun. We learn everyday and what is happening in Osun is something that could not have been predicted by any soothsayer or taught in any school of human behavior.
The Administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, of which Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola was a principal actor, delivered major infrastructural projects that has reshaped Osun’s landscape for the next 50 years. The Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration met a State in comatose, but left it on November 27, 2018 much better than when he took over the reins of power with the hope that Governor Oyetola would build on the globally applauded achievements recorded in a sleepy and rusty State left in ruin by Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Even the magnificent State Secretariat in Abere built by Chief Bisi Akande from meagre resources was not spared by PDP’s machines of ruin that operated in the State under Prince Oyinlola. When Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was sworn in as Governor of the State, the IGR was an abysmal N300million; but left the State when it started generating an average of N1.1billion monthly with necessary foundation laid to generate more. The Administration worked tirelessly to ensure it’s Six Points Integral Action Plan was realised in order to improve the standard of living of the people of the State of Osun, which collectively was nothing but a huge village in 2010 with decrepit buildings and infrastructure.
It is obvious that the desire of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, who is manifesting that he is bereft of self confidence and still wallowing in inferiority complex for reasons difficult to understand despite what he has achieved in life, is to cancel the relevance of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the State and all he tirelessly worked and sacrificed for and stands for. Of course this is not possible and is clearly an effort in futility which can only be seen in its right perspective by anyone who is endowed with wisdom. Ogbeni’s relevance cannot be canceled as time would teach Governor Oyetola.
Readers should be kept abreast of some of the landmark signatures of Ogbeni which have made him relevant and therefore cannot be canceled despite the deep rooted animosity and shamelessness of his former Chief of Staff who now governs the State.
It cannot be canceled from history that during the Administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the National Bureau of Statistics described Osun as the second economic development state after Lagos in the South-West, and noted the remarkable economic improvement in the State during Aregbesola’s administration. It cannot be canceled that Ogbeni made a huge difference with the visionary investments his administration made in infrastructure which was only possible through loans considering the abysmal monthly cash flow of the State. It cannot be canceled that the new public schools constructed by Ogbeni’s administration across the State cannot be matched by any State and even by many of the very expensive private schools. For the first time in the history of the State, many children of the masses now study under state of the art, comfortable school buildings and infrastructure. That cannot be canceled by Governor Oyetola.
Governor Oyetola also cannot cancel the fact that the United Nations’ Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index consistently ranked Osun second richest state in Nigeria during Aregbesola’s administration. Governor Oyetola cannot cancel the fact that Renaissance Capital, a leading emerging market investment bank in Africa, reported that Osun, Ekiti, Lagos and Oyo states were the leading economies in Nigeria at that time. It is worthy to point out that these ratings and accolades were only possible because of the social and economic multiplier value of the various investments the state made under Aregbesola through loans and prudent management of the resources of the State with focus on the general good of the public.
It is pertinent to mention, for the benefit of readers who may have been misinformed about the half salary issue, that the need to prudently manage the resources of the State for the general good of the public was what led to what is widely known as half salary (HAFSA), which was a collective decision of the Executive Council of the State and the organized labour unions. It should be emphasized that Governor Oyetola, as Chief of Staff to the Governor, led and chaired the Committees through which these decisions were arrived at.
It was realised that the salaries and other benefits of the over 40,000 civil and public servants in the State consumed almost 90% of the entire revenue that was meant for the 4million people of the State leaving next to nothing for development which would benefit the general public. Government is not about paying salaries and no Governor or President would be remembered by generations to come for paying salaries and not embarking on development projects. Many States are currently being held down by this inequitable utilization of resources where a few privileged government workers consume what belongs to the general public which is the major reason for the poor infrastructure development across the country.
The options available to the Administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was limited but clear. It was either the Government retrenched or right size the public service and damn the consequences or the government workers, including political appointees, sacrificed in the interest of the development of the State. Osun political appointees were also affected by the half salary which made them possibly the most poorly paid during the period. Ogbeni, being someone with communist background would never endorse the sacking of anyone and therefore approved the lesser of the evils which was sacrifice by all in the interest of the people being served, half salary to the higher levels of civil and public servants, including political office holders, while the more vulnerable ones who belong to Grade Level 1 to 9 earned 75% of their salaries. I’m not sure the decision of that administration could have been faulted by any objective economist and public policy analyst because in the long run it contributed to the impressive socioeconomic ratings received by the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and contributed significantly to the low crime rate record in the state all through the period. .
Rapid development in any economy would be extremely difficult without an infusion of debt particularly for a state that has been slow to catch up with the standard of development in the South West. Osun debt profile was put at N179billion by the NBS at some point. The loan was well within the capacity of the government to access and pay back in a normal economic situation and the Administration was indeed servicing its debts effortlessly before the People’s Democratic Party induced economic recession took its toll. The loans obtained by the Aregbesola administration was prudently and judiciously used for the transformative development that was evident in every part of the state. With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been difficult for the State to leapfrog its peers today if those loans had not been taken. It has become very challenging for most States to achieve the level of infrastructure development recorded in Osun especially at this time of global recession and economic uncertainty. Meanwhile, a significant part of the loans have been repaid and even significant refunds from the Federal Government are being received on projects executed by the Administration of Ogbeni thus leaving the current Osun administration with impressive positive cash flow and receivables while the current valuations of these infrastructures in Osun have become far in excess of their original cost which is another testimonial of the visionary leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The balance sheet of the State, by now, is more robust than many of the States richer than Osun in terms of revenue. With the global economic situation, the State is unlikely to be able to afford many of these important projects which have implications on development. It is important to draw attention to the financing strategy of China and U.S.A that are the most developed economies in the world and are incidentally countries with the highest debt profile which suggests that as rich as they are, their resources are still not enough to cater for their vision and development plans, thereby resorting to loans. UAE has also achieved its rapid level of development as a result of massive investment in infrastructure funded significantly through debt. Audacious development vision would require debts.
Governor Oyetola cannot cancel the fact that the investment of the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola in rapid development of infrastructure has enhanced the value of real estate assets of the citizens of the State and made Osun a reference point and cynosure of good governance in the country. This alone is one of the things that the people of Osun would never forget Oranmiyan for and which has endeared him to them. Perhaps, this is uncomfortable for a shameless man with inferiority complex. Land that was sold for N10,000.00 prior to 2010 suddenly became N10m from 2015 when places started opening up. Prior to 2010, there was nowhere any apartment attracted rent beyond N200k. Today, there are places in Osogbo where rents are over N1million and it is not in GRA.
It cannot be canceled that Ogbeni’s administration rehabilitated and completed 230 State roads spanning 368km. His administration partnered with Local Governments to deliver 226 council roads across the 30 local governments with a combined length of 216km. The administration also innovated solutions in community-based rural road maintenance through the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) in partnership with the World Bank and French Development Agency through which the State completed another set of almost 250km of roads. Osun is one of just six states selected to partake in this programme and Governor Oyetola cannot cancel this. That administration improved more than 1000km of roads across the State in 8 years. The state currently has five bridges/flyovers, when none existed in 2010 when Aregbesola was sworn in as Governor. The Trumpet Bridge at the interchange of Gbongan on the Ibadan/Ife Road has saved many lives that were commonly lost while making U-Turns or crossing the highway into the Gbongan/Osogbo road. All these cannot be canceled by Governor Oyetola however he tried to rubbish Ogbeni directly or through his army of low life aides and Facebook miscreants that are often needed and found around people with inferiority complex.
It cannot be canceled that Aregbesola’s administration invested heavily in security to ensure citizens could go about their business activities peacefully during the day and sleep soundly without fear throughout his reign in Osun. There were functional patrol vans, several Armoured Personnel Carriers and other security gadgets which were positioned at strategic locations in the State. It cannot be canceled that Osun was repeatedly rated the safest place to live in Nigeria, during his tenure as Governor. It also cannot be canceled that within Governor Oyetola’s 2 years in government, Osun has become unsafe, an unenviable legacy of a shameless Governor with inferiority complex who is envious that even his shadow is taller than him.
Governor Oyetola cannot cancel the many accolades that was poured on the Government of the State of Osun led by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola at national and international levels, and the fact that many of its projects and policies have been copied at national and international levels.
Governor Oyetola cannot cancel the fact that the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme (O-MEALS) launched in the state under Aregbesola to provide free daily meals in school to students, in a move to encourage school enrollment, which at that point had dropped significantly, has become an international case study in educational development. Osun won several accolades from the World Bank and other international bodies, with the House of Commons in the United Kingdom also inviting Aregbesola to address it on the impact of this ingenious programme on child health and education. The United States Ambassador paid a visit to Osun in June 2017, where he commended Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for his implementation of this social investment programmes. Governor Oyetola cannot cancel these recognitions.
The O-MEAL programme fed about 252,000 elementary school pupils daily and helped increase school attendance by 25% within 6 months of its commencement including enrollment of underage children in schools just to take advantage of the free meals. In addition, the scheme engaged over 3,000 women as community caterers and thousands of small holder farmers all of which added to the impressive socioeconomic and standard of living ratings the State received. It is through policies like these that poverty is reduced if not eradicated.
Today, O-MEAL is being used as the template for the current Federal Government’s Home-Grown School Feeding Scheme. Governor Oyetola cannot cancel that.
The question well meaning Yoruba people and indeed Nigerians should then ask is, what is the reason for the “beef” Governor Oyetola has for his former boss who made him the most relevant factor in his Administration? This is a pertinent question we must ask for posterity and leadership development and the responsibility falls on all well meaning Yoruba leaders should ask the Governor with a view to stemming a dangerous tide and leadership attribute unfolding in the land of Oduduwa.
Rather than build on the enviable foundation they collectively laid for Osun to continue its development stride Governor Oyetola and his newly found bandit of fair weather friends are more interested in neutralising the political influence of Ogbeni in the State. In whose interest for crying out loud? The only common denominator in the narratives of Governor Oyetola and those backing him in his self destruct mode is that Ogbeni did not support him to be Governor. What can be more ridiculous? What can be more outrageous?
We have read from the folk tale of the proverbial sage Opalaba that a shameless person would tell lies and manipulate facts. The situation with Governor Oyetola is even more scary because he apparently combines shamelessness with inferiority complex which is a terrible combination. Otherwise, what does it take from the Governor to acknowledge and submit himself to the political supremacy of a man you worked with for 8 years, who sacrificed relationships for you and whom you know the strengths he brings to the table, a man who made you too relevant in his Administration to the consternation of many and who worked extremely hard for you to emerge at the party’s primary election and the general election. The Osun West Lokan campaign, which was the call of the people of Osun West Senatorial Zone that it was their turn to produce the Governor of the State, almost consumed Ogbeni and contributed to the strong showing of Ademola Adeleke who is from Osun West. The same sentiment reflected in the impressive number of votes scored by Alhaji Moshood Adeoti who is from Iwo in Osun West despite running under an unknown party. The political naivety of Governor Oyetola is making him to be blind to the many political equations that could unfold as we approach 2022 and 2023. It is difficult to understand why he cannot see that the hurdle before APC in 2022 in the State is even much higher than it was in 2018 and that all hands must be on deck to overcome the challenge. I cannot see how detaching himself from Ogbeni would add to Oyetola’s electoral value even using simple political arithmetic. Governor Oyetola needs to understand that Osun is different from Edo in some way and that the sentiments expressed against his brother or cousin, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in Edo are stronger in Osun. The agitations of Osun West people to produce the Governor would soon manifest and become stronger.
Nobody was more tensed than Ogbeni during that election. Would Ogbeni have preferred an Ademola Adeleke to Oyetola? Has Oyetola forgotten so quickly that it was because of his ambition that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola fell out with his former Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, a grassroot politician who was unrepentantly committed to the Osun West project? Where was Governor Oyetola or his agents during the party primaries that produced him? Where was Governor Oyetola in the 3 days preceding the run off election when strategy meetings were going on all through the days and nights on how to win the needed votes during the runoff. He was not at any of the meetings and knew nothing about the strategies that went into that election. Governor Oyetola in his right frame of mind devoid of his shameless tendency and bridled inferiority complex cannot ascribe the success of the runoff election to anyone but Ogbeni and his trusted aides who put their lives at risk in the areas where the run off elections took place. They penetrated enemy strongholds to solicit for votes and brought home the trophy which Governor Oyetola is now using to try unsuccessfully to cancel his predecessor’s relevance in the State.
I will like to state unequivocally that, contrary to beer palour political analysis, Senator Iyiola Omisore contributed absolutely nothing to that run off election victory and Governor Oyetola knows this except he wants to take his naivety to another level. Senator Omisore also knows this fact if he’s to be repentantly sincere which is a rare attribute of the Senator. But that is a story for another day. There is nobody among the people that Governor Oyetola is cultivating now that had a bigger stake and commitment in that election than Ogbeni who used his trusted aides to maximum advantage to secure victory.
It is shocking therefore that Governor Oyetola would have a hoe or hoes at his disposal and publicly use his hands to pack feaces. It is only a shameless man that would do such. Personally, I think the problem is more than that election and it is personal to Governor Oyetola and is obviously psychological. We can only leave him with his conscience hoping that he would one day come back to his senses and not use his shamelessness and glaring inferiority complex to destroy the gains of the past 10 years. For me, it is the inferiority complex that worries me the most about a leader. Governor Oyetola wants to show that he has grown teeth and the person he feels should be bitten is the one that nursed him to grow the teeth with minimal pain.
Of note however is the stoic silence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on this matter. Unknown to Asiwaju, this Osun matter is slowly but effectively damaging the foundation of his political stronghold in Lagos and elsewhere. Edo people spoke clearly and loudly. If Asiwaju’s brother or cousin can be so disrespectful to political leadership hierarchy in Osun then Asiwaju has a moral challenge to contend with. Unfolding is a big but needless and avoidable challenge to his authority and supremacy in Lagos in no distant time. The opposition have enough arsenals to use and they will refer to his silence and tacit approval of what his blood relation is doing in Osun. Asiwaju has stopped being Governor of Lagos State since 2007 and 14 years after he is the numero uno in the political hierarchy in Lagos and nobody has challenged his authority as the undisputed political leader. Why then is it difficult for him to admonish his blood relation to respect the political hierarchical structure in Osun where Chief Bisi Akande is clearly the political leader, followed by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the immediate past Governor and followed by the incumbent Governor who would one day become an ex Governor too. It is public knowledge that Ogbeni never interfered with how he is running his administration. He has his hands full with his job at the Ministry of Interior. Reports have it that Ogbeni never interfered in Oyetola’s choice of commissioners. Even if he did, would someone who gave you so much powers as his Chied of Staff be asking for too much?
It should be placed on record that the political administration in the State is suffering on account of this needless friction that has degenerated into social media war and demarketing of the party which the opposition is watching gleefully and enjoying. The game is just unfolding. The wise ones should be careful in throwing their hats in the ring with the Governor. The miscreants on Facebook are as shameless as their principal Oyetola. They are easily mobile and carry no shame.
The bulk however stops on the desk of Asiwaju. He needs to be more decisive in the matter of Osun except he’s telling the world that all animals are equal but his blood relations are more equal than others and that blood is indeed thicker than water in politics. Nigerians would not forget his deafening silence and tacit approval in a hurry.
Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola is that man that cannot be canceled whether in the history of Osun or Nigeria.
Bi eera ba fini pe igi, se ni a won danu o. Teni begi loju, igi a ruwe o. Ipinle Osun, Ipinle Omoluabi ko ni baje o.
_Alani Atayeshe, eki ijamo, omo adifa gba eru, aji fepe sere, sangiri, lagiri, olagiri kaakaakaa is a public affairs analyst who writes from Ibadan and I come in peace._