written by Olakunle Abimbola of The Nation News paper.
How is Osun faring? Compare and contrast June 2011 and June 2023.
In June 2023, the Ademola Adeleke government clocked six months. In June 2011, the Rauf Aregbesola government — the one he dubbed “government unusual” — had reached that same threshold, after assuming office on 27 November 2010.
In those first 100 days, Aregbesola had delivered OYES — Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme — his government’s volunteer scheme to put graduate and non-graduate youths to work; and give Osun’s sleepy economy a wake-up jab.
OYES rolled out 20, 000 youth volunteer jobs in 98 days. But OYES was only the flagship for other development policies and programmes:
— O’Meal: free school daily feeding for the first four years in public schools.
— O’School: the most comprehensive modernization of public education infrastructure
(school buildings, atmospherics and teachers’ re-tool) in Osun history.
— O’Ambulance: a free and ready public ambulance service, for emergency auto crashes; and to offer support medical care for Osun’s poor, frail and helpless elders.
— Agba Osun: an old age health and welfare scheme for the poorest of Osun elders, scientifically picked, with a monthly stipend of N10, 000.
Then, an integrated road-bridge-canal system, urban and rural, that boosted the economy and salvaged the environment.
OYES came the World Bank’s YESSO: Youth Empowerment and Social Support Operation.
YESSO would birth the Nigerian Social Register (from which the Muhammadu Buhari government paid N5, 000 to Nigeria’s poorest nationwide, under its conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme. The World Bank also used that register to extend US$ 800 million to fund Nigeria’s post-subsidy palliative payments to the poorest of the poor.
OYES would also preface the N-Power national graduate volunteer job scheme, with its initial 500, 000 beneficiaries bigger than the federal civil service (then put at 88, 000).
Much of these are captured in Ogbeni: The Osun Renaissance Years, a book on that era (by yours truly) that should be out before this year runs out.
That was Osun 12 years ago. But now — June 2023?
Unlike the developmental clatter all through Aregbesola’s first six months, drawing study visits from all over Nigeria, what defines the evolving Adeleke era?
The governor and a former senator, trying each other out for space, at the Osogbo eid prayers, during the 2023 Ileya (Eid-el-Kabir) Muslim festival! What a sink!.
Former Senator Ajibola Basiru, PhD, was Aregbesola’s attorney-general and Justice commissioner. His ministry gave teeth to that era’s development-friendly policies.
Governor Ademola Adeleke was an opportunist senator, on account of the sudden death of his better-known brother, a former senator too and Osun’s first elected governor (January 1992-November 1993): Isiaka Adeleke, aka Serubawon.
Adeleke’s willy-nilly insistence to replace his dead elder brother, within Aregbesola’s APC on which ticket Serubawon was elected senator (though a latter-day defector from PDP), created the first succession chink of the Aregbesola era.
Adeleke would go ahead, on PDP ticket, to win the Osun West senatorial seat; and come back in 2018 to contest the governorship against APC’s Gboyega Oyetola, amidst a clangorous Osun West clamour: Oyetola was from Osun Central.
Though Oyetola would win with a wafer-thin margin after a run-off, that election badly splintered the Osun APC.
Many of its leading lights from Osun West (most notably, the Shehu: Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, from the Iwo progressives bastion) rebelled to push for personal glory.
Osun APC hardly ever recovered. The Osun progressives debacle was born!
On his own, Governor Adeleke (with all due respect to his high office) was never a perceived serious figure, beyond inherited family privileges.
“Ade Dancer”, his dismissive and irreverent moniker, all but says it all. So, hardly anyone expects the world from his government — in any case, not when compared with the policy Olympus of the Ogbeni years; or even the more placid Oyetola era.
But dancer or no dancer, Adeleke would hand Governor Oyetola a hat trick of electoral thrashing, starting with Oyetola’s gubernatorial ouster, though that was a close race.
But as sitting governor, PDP’s Adeleke would inflict a severe double-whammy: first, in the 2023 presidential election: APC’s Bola Tinubu lost to PDP’s Atiku Abubakar — the first APC candidate’s loss in Osun, since the 2010 progressives’ take-over.
Then, in the state legislature election: Adeleke wiped out the APC Osun legislature presence: from 24 seats to a solitary one, in a 26-seat assembly! In this terrible hat trick, each follow-up drubbing was more hideous than the previous one.
Enter, the Osun progressives meltdown, perhaps even more severe than the 2003 Alliance for Democracy (AD) fiasco — which the defunct Action Congress (AC) stepped in to correct and erase from 2007, though a blind PDP vote-steal wouldn’t allow a reclaim of power till November 2010!
Why the debacle, though?
Oyetola, all through his four years, benchmarked himself against a government in which he was Chief of Staff; and not against the Osun PDP conservatives that the APC ousted, after three-and-a-half years of crunchy legal challenge — aside the blood and gore that drenched the 2007 heist, which President Olusegun Obasanjo then dubbed “do-or-die.”
In the ensuing war of attrition, the Oyetola government lost the potent social capital — from the poor-friendly developmental policies — that fetched the Osun progressives 12 uninterrupted years in power.
Ogbeni himself blundered into an unfortunate verbal attack on his long-term mentor, President Bola Tinubu — a tragic brawl that pitched hitherto beloved ideological son against a no less doting ideological father.
That attack has risked, for Ogbeni, isolation from his progressives family. The Yoruba progressives aren’t the most forgiving, once they are charged!
Yet, for Osun, that’s a clear path to perdition: those who screech for blood lack street value. Those whose blood they crave are undisputed champions of the street!
It’s a peculiar mess that could well doom the Osun progressives to perennial future electoral slaughter — except, of course, more clinical minds break this cycle of happy-go-merry mutual destruction, on a lightning-fast emotive lane.
While the gladiators will sort selves out, it’s paradise lost for the Osun masses.
In November 2018, Osun placed second (behind Yobe) in SOML — Save One Million Lives Programme for Result (SOML-P-for-R), a World Bank-Federal Government national public health contest, on child health and maternity care. The state won US$ 20 million as prize, to further invest in its public hospitals.
In March 2020, Akintade Abdullahi, a product of the Aregbesola-era mega model public schools, was Nigeria’s best schoolboy scientist, earning a university scholarship up to PhD, as his win.
Will Osun ever repeat such feats — as Nigeria’s best schoolboy scientist — with the humdrum of governor and senator brawling over sitting spaces at eid?
culled from The Nation as written by Olakunle Abimbola.