If there is one governor in Nigeria who has been grossly misunderstood, it must be the governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Over the last few years all sorts of stories have made the rounds about him which had tended to paint him in bad light, as not doing much in the State.
Last week, City People spent 2 days in Osun, moving round the state and feeling the pulse of the people on the street, the common man and also sitting in with the governor in his office to see how he runs the great state.
And what we discovered was a pleasant surprise as City People saw a lot of massive transformation of the state, infrastructure wise, and a lot of state policies that have alleviated the sufferings of the youth and the aged ones in the state. And contrary to the picture hitherto painted of the state, City People found in Gov. Aregbesola, a grassroot man who never hides the fact that he is in office to serve the ordinary people of Osun and not the elites.
He is a man who is usually at home with market women, vulcanizers, traders, drivers, artisans of all lives. He reminds you of the politicians of those good old days who used to have mass appeal. He is also a great mobiliser.
He is also very frank to a fault because he will readily admit to you that his biggest problem is that he has great ideas but meagre resources to pursue it. So he has had to slow down. City People found out that the story of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is that of a Governor who came in with great and ambitious ideas 6 years ago but due to the drastic drop in revenue allocation as a result of Oil revenue and the cash squeeze which all the 36 state governors suffered, he has been unable to complete many of his projects and pay salary as at when due.
But that has not slowed him down. He has struggled to continue to fulfil all the promises he made when he came to power. If there is a state which has had its income dipped so badly since 2014 when he came in for 2nd term it must be Osun State. And because it is a largely civil servant state and largely agrarian not much can be done immediately to shore up taxes and the IGR. But the governor realising this has continued to be creative in finding a way out to keep running the affairs of the state on a shoe-string budget. When City People visited Osun State last week the Governor explained that despite the meagre resources he has performed better than many of his contemporaries. He said despite the little allocation available to him, he will not give up because the meagre resources and allocation he gets and generates is being judiciously used to make life more meaninful to his people. Seeing is believing. Going by some of the media reports of goings on in Osun, it is as if the affairs of the state had ground to a halt. People often cite the backlog of salaries of Civil Servants and a few uncompleted road projects as evidence of the enormity of the problems facing Osun. But City People discovered that contrary to the negative picture painted, a lot is going on in that state right now.
We discovered that over the last 6 years the governor had embarked on many valuable projects and policies. City People found out that some of the policies he introduced in Osun have been copied and adopted by other states to cope with the challenges they face in their individual states.
We discovered that even the federal government has adopted a few of Aregbesola’s policies, one of it is Osun State governments School Feeding Programme which the FG has now adopted at the federal level across the state.
Not only are all the other states adopting the Osun model, the FG has adopted the Osun model too. This is because the Osun model is replicable. Many describe him as an unsual governor who came in with a promise to be unusual in the way he runs the state. That he is radical in his ways is not surprising. He has always had a radical worldview to life.
He is an Engineer, born in the month of May, 1957. He had his primary and secondary education in Ondo State , and later attended The Polytechnic , Ibadan , where he studied Mechanical Engineering and graduated in 1980 . As a pupil in the primary school, Rauf was a centre -point around whom his mates hovered for guidance and direction . As a student, he was focused for remarkable performance which he made distinctively and seamlessly. In the Polytechnic, he positioned himself to conquer his environment by engaging in prolific studies.
Aregbesola has a wealth of experience garnered through wide exposure in the private sector, before establishing his own Engineering Services Company, Aurora Nigeria Limited , in 1986.
The company had handled numerous major projects for both government and private organisations in most States of the Federation.
Politically, he has been no less a phenomenon . His involvement in politics dates back to his undergraduate days when he was Speaker of the Students’ Parliament ( 1977 /78), The Polytechnic, Ibadan, and the President of the Black Nationalist Movement ( 1978- 1980 ) . He was also an active supporter of other progressive students ’ movements nationwide, which earned him , for instance, the life membership of National Association of Technological Students . In June 1990 , he became an elected delegate to the SDP Inaugural Local Government Area Congress. In July of the same year, he was also a delegate to its first National Convention in Abuja . Rauf Aregbesola , as a pro – democracy and human rights activist , was a major participant in the demilitarisation and pro – democracy struggles of the 1990s . Prior to his appointment as the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure ( 1999 -2007 ) , he was Director of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation ( BATCO) , w hich engineered the electoral victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the Governor of Lagos State in 1999 . He performed similar feat using the platform of Independent Campaign Group ( ICG) to ensure the re- election of Asiwaju for a second term in office.
The Commissioner Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola acquitted himself excellently as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 with the strength of his commi tment to selfless service . His diligence, sincerity and tirelessness in theadministration of the vast Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, as well as supervision of the Public Works Corporation and State Electricity Board, has been acknowledged as being responsible for the outstanding success recorded by the Tinubu administration , especially in road rehabilitation / maintenance and street lighting ; and achievement that solidly laid the foundation for the actualisation of Lagos as the model of development and good governance as sustained by former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. Indeed, it is a known fact that he is one of the brains behind the infrastructural re – engineering that has now resulted in the transformation of social amenities in Lagos State.
Some of the novel achievements and innovations due to Aregbesola’s visionary qualities and enterprise include the redefinition and application of new aesthetic standards to ministry blocks and offices as corporate workplaces ; vision and mission definition , annual staff retreats and modern manpower capacity building trainings; introduction of facility management practices ; pioneering achievements in PR ( ministry journal ) and IT ( website ) operation; Pioneering Private/ Public Sector Partnership Ventures ; Award- winning best practices projects ; etc. The believer and advocate of the rule of law Aregbesola ’ s belief in the sanctity of the rule of law is exemplary. Engr. Rauf Aregbesola , on the platform of the then Action Congress ( AC ) contested for the Governorship of Osun State in the April 2007 elections , and won . To be so declared, however , took close to four years
of what must go down as one of the most titanic mandate recovery legal battles of all time , and a moment for the manifestation of the omnipotence of the Almighty God and his steadfastness in support of those who rely on him.
Having gone through the tribunal of first instance, an appeal and a retrial tribunal , the second appeal court, delivering judgment on October 26, 2010, declared Aregbesola governor and ordered he be sworn in the next day.
Aregbesola, since assuming office as Governor of the State of Osun on October 27 , 2010 , has redefined the meaning of governance in the public sector, not just with symbolic posturing , but real and sustainable interventions that will presently enhance the quality of life of everyone that lives or works in the State of Osun. Rebranding of the state as the ipinle Omoluabi ( State of the Virtuous ) started from himself, adopting the title Ogbeni , simply Mister, in deference to the singular Excellency of the Almighty God. In just over a year , the chronicle of his achievements is astounding, and may be summarised as a chain of “O -Models”, the most astonishing been the engagement of 20,000 youth in the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme within his first 100 days in office; an accomplishment without precedence that has become the model for others to follow.
He is a born strategist . Throughout his life , whether as a pupil, student or career man ; political appointee or Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola has applied the art and science of strategy to ensure success in all endeavours in which he is engaged. He strategised and was outstanding as a student. He strategised and was efficient and effective as a career man . He strategised and was accomplished as a grassroots politician.
He strategised and was excellent as a Commissioner in Lagos State . He strategised to reclaim his mandate when he was rigged out in the race to offer selfless service to the good people of
Osun . He strategised to lay a sound foundation for a regenerated Osun State knowing that sustainable development does not happen with ‘ quick fix ’ methods, tools, and techniques. He is strategising to position Osun and the good people of the state appropriately in the geo- economic milieu of Nigeria. He is a fervent believer in the dictum that strategists do not fail and so will not fail the people of Osun.
Committed to a better, egalitarian society, Aregbesola, though fully anxious to build a society with massive physical infrastructures that promote better living, believes in first pursuit of those human values that can pave the way for the emergence of that total man , who is socially responsible . Hence his dogged pursuit of programmes extra – curricular schemes, such as the Calisthenics, Omoluabi Boys and Girls Club, and other schemes aimed at re -orientating the youths to channel their energies towards a society where the promotion of the common , collective goods will dominate the crazy pursuit of the good of the self.
He stirs the hornet’ s nests often; but , these are in his determined attempts to break the norms to achieve extra – ordinary results . To date , he has ignited debates on federalism , restructuring of education towards functionality , equity, justice and fairness in all spheres of life . Even in the face of mounting criticisms, he holds tenaciously to his ideas, convinced that oppositions to them are products of long years of military rule, ignorance of what is even good for humanity and the acute manipulative capacities of those whose interest it is to keep the ordinary people perpetually subjugated.
For these reasons, he is a thinker , ardent performer, a visionary leader , a transformational leader, an agent of strategic change, a man for the people.