November 27th is decisive in the history of political evolution in the State of Osun. Ten years ago, the mantle shifted after an epic battle into the hands of a progressive forward-looking current with Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the pivot.
With this seminal change of guards in Osun, a shot was fired which reverberated across the country. Here was a reinstatement of the age-long Yoruba ethos of Omoluabi so famously stated in the manifestos of the Action Group, that the essence of governance is a social contract in which “life is made more abundant” for the overwhelming majority of the populace and their families and not just for a few. In this way, the thrust of the excellent reform agenda pioneered in Lagos State by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu could now be extended into the hinterland.
The efficacy of the progressive agenda which kicked off 10 years ago can be seen in the wholesale adoption of Osun State’s Social Intervention Programme by other states as well as most crucially the Federal Government. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the acceptance of the thrust of these programmes is an indication of a decisive and irreversible shift in the current of political thinking in this country.
As adumbrated earlier, progressivism in the West began with Chief Obafemi Awolowo under the Action Group. This tradition passed to Chief Bola Ige in old Oyo. Senator Isiaka Adeleke’s short-lived administration had a whiff of progressivism to it. Then there was a long hiatus of military rule before Chief Bisi Akande’s emergence under the Alliance for Democracy (AD), returning full-fledged people oriented progressive administration.
Chief Akande, a good man, enjoyed only one term before he was schemed out by the forced of darkness which imposed a reign of terror on Osun. It was the darkest era in the annals of the state in which people slept with eyes wide open. Scores of people were killed either by soldiers and other occupational forces or the political thugs of the ruling party who enjoyed absolute impunity. Of course, Nigeria became a huge killing field but Prof Wole Soyinka’s description of the PDP as a ‘Nest of killers’ aptly fitted the seven and a half years sadistic reign before God mercifully intervened through the incorruptible judges of the Court of Appeal in Ibadan on November 26, 2010. That was 10 years ago.
The first dividend of the return of progressive government was all round peace in the state. Other followed like landmark progress in education, agriculture, wealth creation and the social intervention programmes mentioned earlier. It was a new dawn and the state has never been the same since then.
It is also noteworthy that the progressive baton was also handed over smoothly to a similarly inclined successor government. This is crucial as the absence of succession planning is a bane of our progress leading to policy stultification.
The first two years has been challenging but the administration has steadied on, making imprints here and there in prompt and timely payment of salaries, road rehabilitation, hospitals rehabilitation and so on. It though has been largely restrained by the national financial outlook and, since the beginning of this year, by COVID-19.
However, it has courted more controversy, particularly in education, not for what it is doing, but what it is undoing – the legacy of his predecessor. Nevertheless, coming from the great tradition of the progressives, the state governor, the suave and debonaire Adegboyega Oyetola, will get in the right groove and surpass all expectations.
On a note of caution, he must be wary of courtiers and buffoons dangerously egging him towards delinking from the source. The Yorubas have a proverb that says the river that is delinked from its source will soon dry up. He inherited a great legacy and he has an onerous duty to make it greater, not devalue it.
Great challenges – political and administrative – will surely come as he enters into the third year of a four-year term. He will need all the goodwill he could get. He should therefore not be making enemies of his friends, people who stood by him and risked all to make him the governor. He must not destroy the legacy coalition that brought him to power. Don’t burn your bridge because you will always need it!
We wish him a very happy anniversary and all-round success in office that will commend him for another term.
We will also like to acknowledge the great efforts of the tens of thousands who took part in a mass democratic movement to reclaim the mandate given to the progressives, mercifully their efforts have demonstrably not been in vain. We also continue to pay obsequies to all those who paid the supreme price in the course of the struggle, we pray for the repose of their principled soul.
The coming 10 years will be decisive. A post-COVID-19 world would have to be built. Fortunately, there is already a template within which to do so. We commend the efforts of all those who have worked so hard to sustain progressive change and wish them great decades ahead.