The process, challenges of creating the state of Osun By Gen Ajiborisha.

by Adabanija Kamorudeen
Major-General Leo Segun Ajiborisha (retired) is the first Military Administrator    of the State of Osun, after it was created on August 27, 1991    by the General Ibrahim Babangida-led Federal Government. Ajiborisha ruled the state between August 1991 and January 1992. He recently spoke on the 30th Year Celebration of the state’s creation in a programme on Rave FM, a private radio station based in Osogbo. 

AJIBORISHA said he felt elated that the state he midwifed its creation is 30 years old, commending the founding fathers of the state for their determination in having a political space of their own.

Ajiborisha said: “When I look back at the date when Osun was created, I get elated and happier that what we had as Osun State, which was just like a small town in developmental level, has grown up to be a full self-state in terms of development.”

Speaking on the challenges in running the state after its creation, the former military administrator said: Remember that from time immemorial, Osogbo, the state capital, used to be like the provincial headquarters and there were some little quarters the previous governments which inherited the development from the colonial masters had been using.

“Therefore, when we got there, it was not easy. We had to sacrifice, do a lot of things. We had to leave a basic means of survival. We felt in our heart that we were doing these for posterity and the posterity is what we have today. Where I was living as the State House was a two-bedroom apartment. It was not rosy; it was something else. We just needed to sacrifice. And of course, one of the challenges was that we had to move over 20, 000 people – civil servants we inherited from Oyo State, who are Osun State indigenes – to Osun. The question then was: ‘where are we going to settle these people, in terms of office place to live?’ What we quickly did for accommodation was to give them allowances so that they could get accommodation. That quickly solved the challenge and some of them before the creation of the state had homes in Osun.

“My Secretary to the State Government was living in the machine tools area. We were able to get one small building there. He was living with four other Permanent Secretaries. Imagine that! We do close work around 11 to 12 midnight and we had to resume by 7am the following day. We were virtually living in the bush, in the sense that once we started office, we ran from available space where we can create our needed buildings. And don’t forget that we had created a bank and the politicians that were already on ground. Particularly, we had the State Assembly that had been established.  We did Gubernatorial Elections, then the Presidential Elections.

“After the Gubernatorial Elections, we had to create space for the Governor and his Deputy.  That was when we created the Government House. Where the Governor is living now is Phase 2, I created the Phase 1. I provided everything that the Governor would need with his office. I thank God. The people of Osun State knew what they wanted – they wanted a state and they were ready to overcome all obstacles that would prevent them from achieving it. They were so supportive. So, I determined not to disappoint the people of Osun. I said to myself that posterity would not forgive me if I disappointed the people of Osun. I thank God for supporting me to do the little things I could do in Osun State.

On the role played by the founding fathers of the state, Ajiborisha stated: “The founding fathers, some of them have died now, were meeting me. I had to cancelled several pre-arranged meetings, developmental meetings for their own sake. Anytime they came to me, even unannounced, I attended to them because they own the state. But in terms of what the Government wanted to bring to them, they didn’t know. We wanted to provide for Government administrators, legislators, civil servants we inherited and building offices. I said I was living in the bush. Someone who read Telecommunications Engineering, I became a surveyor looking round the bush for available spaces to build houses, reading plans every time, discussing with my engineers on what to do. It was a bad experience.

He mentioned the personalities involved in the state’s creation, saying: “I can remember Chief Inaolaji Aboaba, my SSG then, Chief Abija of Works, who gave us the tractors to clear bush when the Federal Government in 1991/1992 gave us the instruction to provide a space for the construction of State House and House of Assembly. I remember we had quarrel between Ede and Osogbo on the ownership of the land where the Secretariat was sited.

“May God grant the late, Baba Kabiesi of Osogbo Aljanat Fridaus and the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. Both of them did a lot for the state. I salute the late Owa of Igbajo and the current Ogiyan of Ejigbo. They are fathers. They all did a lot for us during that time.”

Asked how fair Oyo was to Osun in the assets sharing then, he said: “Lest I forget, I did not pay more tribute to my people, the people in the communications world who came from Oyo to Osun to create Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, which started from Ile-Ife. They did very well. Blessings to all of them.

Coming to assets sharing, the Federal Government did what they should do. They formed a committee and scheduled three factors to be considered for the assets sharing between two states or local governments to be shared. The factors are: 1-equality of states, 2- population (you recall that Oyo State was in third position on the Federal Government population rank as at then. Osun population was very low. I think they were just about 3million people.), 3- land mass (you can see in terms of land mass, Oyo State had the day.)

“So at the end of the day, the assets sharing formula was 55 to 45 percent in favour of Oyo. I was appointed initially as part of the negotiations team because they (Oyo) were unfair. They were selecting machineries that were older for us. They even drove out our people from offices. They even asked Oyo indigenes that were married to Osun spouses out of their offices to go and join their husbands in Osun.

“I had to quickly call late Col. Adisa, my senior, who was the Military Administrator of Oyo State to call the situation to order. That was why I give kudos to our people in OSBC then, particularly on our jingles. I was forced to write a letter to General Babangida on that issue. They refused to appoint Mama Atinuke (late Justice Atinuke Ige) as the Chief Judge and asked her to resume in Osun when the state had already had Acting CJ. But the Federal Government quickly gave her appointment in Abuja. At the end of day, we came out victorious. So, the challenges made us to work harder.

“We had The Polytechnic in Ibadan, with other satellite campuses, among which 2 were in Osun. We converted the two satellite campuses Iree and Ilesa to our own Osun State schools. We had Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso which was created a year before the creation of the state. So, there was nothing to share among the two states. As at that time, none of the university’s property was here in Osun and if you wanted to share it, it can only be in terms of money. We would need to get good capitalist to make the value of the university and 55 of the cost would to Oyo and 45 to Osun. But we did not want to do that. We wanted to have what would be binding us together, like Cocoa House in Ibadan is binding all the five Oodua states together now. We were looking at the oneness of our people that time because it was political delineation that separated us.

Speaking on the takeoff fund and the allocation of the state, Ajiborisha said: “The Federal gave us N30 million and Oyo State gave us N10million from the joint account we had over the years. Every month then, I think the allocation Federal and state used to be about N52.1million.”

Ajiborisha said he would not abandon the state, even as he expressed disappointment on the attitude of successive government to him.

He said: “There is no how I would abandon the state that I pioneered its creation. I am like a foster father. And don’t forget that my retirement during the time of Obasanjo was based on the fact that I was former military administrator in Osun. During the Aregbesola’s tenure, I was always invited to everything the state was doing. And when the present Governor and Deputy came, I congratulated them as I always do. At times I don’t get replies.

It is very painful. I lost a dearest daughter last year at the age of 39, everybody and the Governor of Osun heard about, but none of them wrote me a letter of condolence. It is painful when the people you suffered for just abandoned you. I don’t have money but I’m contented with what I have.”

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