FAREWELL BROADCAST OF GOVERNOR RAUF AREGBESOLA TO THE PEOPLE OF OSUN, MONDAY 26 NOVEMBER, 2018
My good people of Osun,
It gives me great joy to make this valedictory address to you. The the journey we started eight years ago, when I assumed the governorship of this glorious state will come to an end in the morning of Tuesday November 27th. However, our relationship has not ended.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo once told General Yakubu Gowon on the eve of his departure from Gowon’s government that ‘If we are related, we shall meet again’. In my own case, we are related and shall remain with you and relate well with you in other capacities.
I must therefore thank you most profusely for your kind support and assistance to me and my administration these past eight years.
Indeed, our relationship started from the day I approached you on the platform of Oranmiyan on the 16th of April 2005 and you received me warmly and enthusiastically. You gave me your undivided support in the 2007 governorship election, not considering the mortal risk and existential threat that came with it. You braced up to the grim challenges of the April 2007 election and the persecution that followed it for nearly four years.
In this cause, many of our patriots, friends and supporters were killed and wounded. These include but not limited to Hassan Olajoku, Ayo Oni (aka Ayo Kemba), Adebiyi Saheed, Gbenga Obalola and Sogo Adekoya. Scores of peaceful demonstrators were killed in Ilesa after the election, including a pastor who was just coming from his church.
Their memories are evergreen in our hearts. Every day we spend in office, we are conscious of their heroism and sacrifice and we are determined that they will not die in vain. May God grant their souls eternal repose, and may they receive comfort in their next estate.
I recollect fondly your heroic stand in the face of intimidation and harassment by security agencies in the run up to the 2014 governorship election. The largest coercive apparatus of the Nigerian military had been assembled in Osun, with balaclava wearing goons and fearsome dogs in tow. You welcomed them with your brooms and the praises of our party and for me as the candidate then. You fearlessly voted, stood by your votes and you made them count as you gave me a fresh mandate which will expire on Tuesday. You were calm in the face of provocation and thwarted any diabolical plan to disrupt the election. I will remain eternally grateful for this.
I recall again, the evil plan to stampede me out of office in 2015 by agents of darkness who planned to precipitate civil unrest and at the back of it ask for my impeachment. The plot failed spectacularly because you are solidly behind me.
The financial challenge we faced was humongous. When it became difficult to pay workers, you resisted the promptings of the opposition to plunge the state into chaos and unrest.
Last but not the least, you honoured me by voting for the candidate our party, Gboyega Oyetola, at the last governorship election. You have done me the distinctive honour of handling over to a successor from our party, which has never happened anywhere in the South West, outside of Lagos. We are not just having a proper handling over ceremony, you made it possible for us to be succeeded by one of our own. For these and many more, I thank you most sincerely.
When I came to you to seek for your support in my quest to become the governor, I did so with integrity of heart and sincerity of purpose. It was based upon my deep conviction that I could provide leadership and galvanise the energy of the people for development.
I brought to the administration an ideological consciousness shaped in dialectical materialism. This is an outlook that conceives of history in terms of dialectics – the struggle and unity of equal and opposites. It conceives of the society and the government as reflective of how economic powers are possessed by the few at the expense of the majority and how this economic power is used to construct political and social hegemony with which to oppress the masses.
My unmistakable historical mission therefore is to liberate the masses from the clutches and stranglehold of the few, by empowering them majorly through education, health and minimum resources needed for survival, thereby freeing their creative ability. On this I stand on the shoulders of giants. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu are earlier apostles of this Fabianism.
These past eight years, I am glad and fulfilled that we have affected Osun in a very positive way.
We began with the reawakening of our Omoluabi consciousness with the launching of our state’s logo, flag and anthem, in the grand preparation for the journey to greatness.
In less than 100 day of our inauguration, we established Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) through which we employed 20,000 cadets into public works. In two years, we doubled the figure to 40,000 and increased the number to 60,000 later.
We gave the first and second batches safe landing with jobs in teaching, various agriculture schemes and ICT. For this, Osun now has one of the least unemployment figures in Nigeria while the state is also among those with the lowest crimes rate.
Agriculture has been of serious importance to us. Our intervention in agriculture has been massive. We set up the OREAP, through which we have been able execute many other programmes like rural development, land clearing and access and youth training in agriculture. We have made available to farmers more than N2 billion zero interest loans in addition to yearly provision of farming inputs and additives. We have sent two sets of youths to Germany for training in modern farming techniques.
Our greatest impact is in education. Our first task when we came to office was to hold an education summit, which was chaired by Prof Wole Soyinka. From that summit emerged the blueprint we are implementing on education.
We have built state-of-the-art 20 elementary schools, 22 middle schools and 11 high schools which have been completed and commissioned.
Beyond new buildings, we are also rehabilitating the old schools. We have carried out renovations on 40 other schools which give us 1,694 standard classrooms in the existing elementary, middle and high schools. They provide accommodation for nearly 90,000 pupils. We have provided for them more than 100,000 desks and chairs, toilets and boreholes and made schools decent places to be.
We have provided 50,000 eLearning tablets (Opon Imo) for grade 12 final year high school pupils in the state. This has benefitted five sets.
In addition to building schools, we recruited more than 12,000 teachers to boost manpower in the school system. We also put in place a policy that makes teachers in elementary and middle schools to rise to grade level 16. We have, in addition, appointed three Tutors General, equivalent of Permanent Secretary, in the three senatorial districts in the state and nine Headmasters General for effective coordination, management and administration of elementary and middle schools in each of the nine federal constituencies in the state.
We established the Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency to assure education quality and enforce morality in our schools.
We also distributed free uniforms to pupils in public schools. The programme gave birth to a garment manufacturing company, Omoluabi Garment Company Ltd, which can employ 3,000 workers at full capacity. With the company now valued at over N3 billion, the state government’s investment in it is worth N750 million.
We are also one of the states that pioneered free school feeding programme. In the programme, healthy and nutritious meals are being served to 262,000 elementary 1-4 pupils in all public schools in the state, every school day.
This is not an isolated programme. It is integrated into the agriculture and economic empowerment programmes of the state. This is because under it, 3,007 food vendors were engaged and trained to cook healthy and hygienic food for the pupils. To be able to feed these pupils, 15,000 whole chickens, 254,000 eggs, 35 heads of cattle and 400 tonnes of catfish are weekly bought off farmers and other producers in this state.
O’MEALS was so successful that it attracted the attention of Partnership for Child Development (PCD) of Imperial College, London and the World Bank, both of whom have supported it and recommended it to other states and countries, as part of Sustainable Development Goals. I have also been invited twice by the British Parliament to speak on the programme. Osun has also been the template for its national rollout. Sometime in 2016, Osun hosted and trained other states preparing to launch this programme in their respective states.
One of our first acts in office was to reengineer the finances of Osun. When we came in, even in the midst of plenty, salary was in fits and falls. The state was under a financial burden of loans obtained at unfavourable terms. But we were able to restructure the loans on longer and more favourable terms. We were then able to pay salaries on or before the 25th of every month and for four successive years, we paid 13th month salary.
We have carried out the most comprehensive and successful social programme in Nigeria. This is because we incorporated women, widows, the elderly, lunatics, physically challenged and other vulnerable groups in governance.
We were paying a monthly stipend to the critically vulnerable senior citizens, in addition to taking care of their health. We also took care of the destitute and the lunatics, rehabilitating them and reintegrating them back into the society.
One of the biggest challenges we have had to grapple with is rising expenditure, especially wage bill, within the contrast of falling revenue.
Through various agencies, we have disbursed N4.5billion to 27,352 beneficiaries in micro, small and medium enterprises in Osun.
Under our medical ambulance services, 14,675 persons consisting of 9,245 males and 5,430 females have been rescued from road accidents and critical medical emergencies since 2013.
Indeed, over 300,000 households have been provided with improved access to potable water and sanitation in the rural communities.
Therefore, the percentage of people with improved drinking water in Osun increased from 74.7 per cent in 2011 to 88.5 per cent in 2016, according to Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2016/17 conducted by the UNICEF/ National Bureau of Statistics. For this reason, there is barely zero incidence of water-borne diseases in Osun rural communities.
We have implemented human development programmes and in addition economically empowered them.
The overall effect of all these interventions is that Osun, according to UNDP, has the least poverty rate in Nigeria. Unemployment rate for Osun also reduced from 17.2 per cent in 2010 (27th highest in the country) to 5.3 per cent in 2017, the second lowest in the country, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Osun ranked the second less miserable and poverty-ridden state with a misery index of 35.56 per cent in 2017 – The Misery Index Report released in January 2018 by independent research firm, Financial Derivative Company Limited, Lagos. Also, Renaissance Capital (RENCAP) in its 36 shades of Nigeria economic review of states ranked Osun as the 7th largest economy in Nigeria.
This is our score card, a monumental legacy of development, whose impact will be felt long after we have left the scene. I have great confidence in my successor, Gboyega Oyetola, that he will continue with the good works and take it to the next level. I am therefore asking that you support him, just as you have supported me all through my tenure.
I want to express my profound gratitude to all the people, groups and association that have been part of my journey these past eight years and have made it worthwhile.
I will begin with the national leader of our party and my mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who nurtured me in political leadership and without whose assistance and encouragement, I would not have made a success of my tenure. Our leader, Chief Bisi Akande, encouraged and stood by me like the Rock of Gilbreath, I thank you sir.
My sincere gratitude goes to President Muhammadu Buhari, who took a special liking for Osun and has supported us with federal might, especially on financial matters.
I express deep appreciation to the members and the national leadership of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for providing the platform under which we came to power and for supporting us in every way.
I will not leave out the APC in Osun. The leadership and members of the party in the state are our battle axe. They fought and won for us three times in a row. They demonstrated great understanding and made huge sacrifice for our success in politics and governance. You are true heroes.
I must thank all the people who worked with me in my first and second term, including members of the state cabinet. They worked hard and denied themselves perks that are taken for granted in other places. Their motivation has always been to serve.
I thank the workers of Osun for their industry, enthusiasm, unwavering support and sacrifice. They demonstrated great professionalism and discipline that enabled us to serve the people with distinction.
I thank my wife and other members of my family for their unconditional love and the absolute faith they have in me.
I thank most immensely the women and their groups, market women and men, traders, artisans, workers, retirees, students, transporters, commercial motorcyclists, employers of labour, organised private sector, the business community, financial institutions, non-governmental organisations, community based organisations, youth organisations, security agencies, the media, political parties, opposition members, traditional rulers, community leaders and religious organisations and their leaders.
I leave you in peace and commit you into the hands of the Almighty, to keep and protect you and lead us all to the Promised Land of prosperity and abundant life for all.
Osun a dara!