By Semiu Okanlawon
(A response to Jamiu Orimolade’s Between Sleeping in Holy land of Mecca and Waking up in Medina; the Osun NLC just woke up)
Let’s assume that Jamiu Orimolade is real and not a mask. His writing vividly reveals an ugly study in self-contradictory delusion. Were he not existing just in name but in flesh and blood, he would be a fine illustration in confused personality. But we can look at the message and not the confused messenger.
Orimolade represents the small clan of those who have tried vainly to demonize Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his government especially in the face of the global economic meltdown that has not left out Osun.
He began his unfortunate tale by the inability of his imaginary uncle to bail him out of crisis of existence; the same excrutiating experience in joblessness that formed the first task before Aregbesola when he assumed power in 2010. If Orimolade had truly been a jobless youth in Osun as claimed, he must have forgotten that Aregbesola, in 2011, began the process that eventually took more than 40,000 youths off the streets through various ingenious strategies such as OYES, OYESTECH, and a host of other initiatives through agriculture. Are beneficiaries of those schemes the same after taking part? The answer is no!
The clan of naysayers that Orimolade belongs has definitely forgotten that this government is not an happenstance. It is a product of rigorous years of thinking and cerebral activities. Had this government done things haphazardly, it perhaps would have been herculean dismantling the huge mountains of lies and fabrications that are the hallmark of this club that is obviously blind to what the blind can feel.
If only to remind them. This government has tailored its development agenda along its 6-Point Integral Action Plan. This is listed as:
1. Banishment of hunger,
2. Banishment of unemployment
3. Banishment of poverty,
4. Promotion of healthy living,
5. Promotion of Functional education
6. Promotion of communal peace.
Through these carefully crafted programs, the problems of Osun had been analysed and enduring solutions proffered. And so when the government settled for business, its religious adherence to the agenda was not negotiable.
Let those who want to take Rauf Aregbesola to the pillory avail themselves of the trends in some other places over salaries, pension and gratuities, infrastructure provision, health, agriculture, security, social welfare and others. It is only then that fair-minded critics among them would pause to ask whether they have not been terribly unfair to a man and his team who had taken Osun to this height in a record time of just four years.
If we may ask, with what did Aregbesola secure his second term in office? He bulldozed his way back to office matching on the heads of a disgruntled electorate? No!
This second term governor, if we must remind the few whose sense of what happened in 2014 August have gone awry, rode his way back to office because he had wormed his way into the hearts of Osun- the young, the old, the elite and the commoners with his people-centered programmes.
We do not think that with the gargantuan, frightening State apparatus deployed against him by the desperate PDP government at the centre then, anyone could have survived the onslaught and won the election. But the people, having seen and benefitted from good governance, patriotically formed a human shield around Aregbesola against the most horrendous forms of harassment ever witnessed in the history of election in Nigeria.
Rather than be smashed; Aregbesola smashed the PDP.
Today, an objective look back into the life of Osun reveals massive transformation never witnessed in its history.
Let the Orimolades of this world avail themselves of the record in education reforms which has led to a 60% improvement in performance of High School students in WAEC and NECO examinations. The indices are there for those who wish to compare the performances in the pre-Aregbesola and the Aregbesola years.
We didn’t set out to improve on examination results and leave our pupils morally bankrupt. The Aregbesola education agenda had in-built, a comprehensive moral ingredient that ensures that they become productive, cooperative and committed citizens to their state.
Today, the impact of our Tablet of Knowledge (Opon Imo), more than 60 mega schools already completed for use, introduction of calisthenics, enhanced school running grants and a host of others have combined to produce results that make the Aregbesola administration’s education era an enduring one.
Today, the Orimolades of Osun would easily put aside the landmark moves of the administration in changing the fortunes of the workforce. It’s easy to forget the annual end-of-year bonus which started with 25 per cent rising to 50 and eventually to 100 per cent of basic salaries. It is easy to forget that the Aregbesola administration jerked up car loans by 400 per cent doing same for housing loans. It is easy for the naysayers to discountenance the increase in state commitment to pensions monthly from N150million to over N650 million. The allegations of Orimolades would have been strengthened if only they could point to many other states that flaunts the record that Osun has on pensions commitment and other pro-workers policies than Osun especially before the economic meltdown.
A TRUE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
Is this government unaware of the dangerous plots of the opposition to set the state ablaze using workers? No! Today, the Adekomi-led NLC may be a target of the opposition attacks simply because the evil plots have failed.
Labour activism is not about setting the house on flame. It’s about objectively representing the workers’ interests within the context of what is feasible and practicable. To that extent, the labour’s MOU with the government was predicated on what is visible to all in the face of the grinding national economic challenges.
Even if the NLC, based on certain misconceptions, threatens to disregard the MOU earlier signed, it is a matter of continued engagement between the labour and government and not any crack that the opposition’s opportunists can hope to latch on.
Only a government that has nothing to hide would initiate the birth of a committee comprising labour and government representatives to oversee the apportionment of available revenues for salaries and other crucial aspects of running government. Nothing could be more transparent and those seeking to drive a wedge in-between workers and the government should rather find the reason for the memorandum of understanding in this idea.
It could not have been Aregbesola’s making that Nigeria’s economy started its decline in 2013 when the then Federal Government declared daily theft of 400,000 barrels of crude. The irony is that while many maintained criminal silence, Aregbesola was vociferous alerting Nigerians to the doom that lurked in the criminal pillaging of the national resources.
Not only was Nigeria saddled with the ‘theft’, the resources coming in was also frittered away desperately pursuing the agenda to perpetuate PDP in office. And then the last straw that broke the carmel’s back; the glut in crude oil market and the consequent precipitous collapse of the revenue accruable from that sector.
The ‘crime’ of OGBENI was his zeal to develop infrastructure that will launch Osun into modernity. What are governments for? Perhaps, that is where to begin. As the anti-people, anti-development and anti-progress ilk of the Orimolade’s hue would prefer, governments are there to simply pay salary. This is incorrect!
Governments, like all businesses, are there for production of goods or services. In discharging these responsibilities, staff must be engaged. The remuneration of these staff though very important, cannot supersede the primary objective of government or any company. For governments therefore, social and economic infrastructure are fundamentals that nothing must jeopardize, followed by welfare services. This is so because legitimacy of governments is guaranteed by those things; tangible and intangible that are recorded for posterity.
For instance, who remembers anymore the prompt payments of salaries for 40 months, who remembers anymore the end of year bonuses, who remembers anymore other largess granted to the civil servants when the economy effortlessly permitted, very few.
Today, Nigeria, and the South-West part of Nigeria remembers and celebrates our late sage, Obafemi Awolowo not for the salaries he paid but for the enduring legacies that lifted millions up and set a good, enduring stage for the development of this part of Nigeria.
However, the market women, farmers, poor artisans and commercial vehicle owners and drivers, school children, vulnerable aged people and un-employed youth that directly benefit from OGBENI’s massive infrastructure developments, O’meals, Agba-Osun allowance, micro-credit schemes, Callisthenics, walk-to-live, destitute rehabilitation called O-REHAB scheme, O’Reap, free train services, Opon-Imo, OYES, OYESTECH, commercial agric loans to farmers, O’ Schools, environmental sanitation, etc, will forever appreciate these interventions.
The Osun workers, highly valuable and trusted hands in our task of changing Osun, have never been relegated to the background. And that accounts for the very committed elevation of their welfare despite lack of agitations for those when the economy was stable. Nothing has changed!
Just as we owe them their welfare, this government owes its commitments and passion to the downtrodden and not the disoriented petty bourgeois elements who think that the rest of the society must be sacrificed for their own comfort.
MINDLESS OPPORTUNISTS KNOW NO GOD
Should we marvel at the disparaging comments over the trip abroad with President Muhammadu Buhari and the opportunity to seek the face of God in Nigeria’s affairs? No! Those given to opportunism really don’t have place for God in their calculations. That accounts for the many unkind words of Orimolade over the trip of Mr. President, Aregbesola and other members of his entourage to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The Osun project, as complex as it was when this government took over, committed in the hands of God. The good people of Osun themselves have never left out prayer.
The real people of Osun prayed. They embarked on days of fasting to ensure that Aregbesola triumphed over the forces of retrogression. Their prayers were answered and the forces of evil were defeated. Whatever challenges Osun faces as its own share of the global economic crisis, the people have not left God out of their affairs. The opportunists may do that