Osun: The Rough Road Ahead Of Ademola Adeleke
Babatope, Adeoye, Farounbi, NUJ chairman set agenda for gov-elect
“On behalf of the chairman of INEC, I declare that Adeleke Ademola Jackson Nurudeen of the Peoples Democratic Party, having satisfied the requirement of the law, is hereby declared the winner and he is returned elected,” the Returning Officer for the Osun State governorship election and Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe declared on Sunday to announced Senator Ademola Adeleke as Governor-Elect of Osun State.
Adeleke had a smooth ride to victory after defeating his closest rival, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate and incumbent governor, Adegboyega Oyetola with over 28,000 votes. Prof. Ogundipe announced that Adeleke got a total of 403,371 votes to defeat Oyetola who got 375,027 votes in a keenly contested race. The PDP candidate’s victory lit the streets of Osun, especially his hometown, Ede and the state capital, Osogbo.
Considering the situation surrounding his victory, different individuals and groups have tasked Adeleke, christened as “the dancing Senator” due to the frequent display of his dancing skills, to commit himself to be assiduous and not be ferried away by the many jamborees that come with the seat of a governor. Worthy of mention is legal practitioner and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), who advised the governor-elect to perform well after his swearing-in or face rejection later from the same set of electorates that gave him their mandate. “The period of dancing ended on Saturday, we want to see results,” Olu-Adegoruwa advised Adeleke.
Osun State, created on August 27, 1991, by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babaginda is regarded as a civil service state because of its low number of companies and industries. Right from the days of the first civilian governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke (Senator Ademola Adeleke’s elder brother) in the Third Republic, Osun State relies solely on federal allocations. Osun has never had a robust financial status.
In 2016, a report detailing the distribution of Revenue Allocation to state governments by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for the month of January 2016, shared in February 2016, showed that Rauf Aregbesola-led Osun State was left with N6,229,795.23 million.
In 2017, the Aregbesola government boasted that the state government will no longer rely on federal allocation in five years’ time. It stated that it has put in place policies, programmes and infrastructure that will totally liberate the state from the shackles of the federal allocation.
When Aregbesola, however, handed over power to the incumbent governor, Adegboyega Oyetola in 2018, he left a debt of N170.6billion, made up of N141.1billion domestic debt and N29.5billion multilateral (external) debt. The figures were given by the Osun State Commissioner for Finance during Aregbesola’s first term in office, Dr. Wale Bolorunduro.
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During a radio interview in August 2021, Oyetola said he had not borrowed to finance any activity of the state since he was elected to pilot the affair of the state. He, however, added that “But that is not to say that I might not borrow, given the fact that you must do some of the major projects that need time; that is time-bound, particularly given the cost of infrastructure that is going on now. You may have to really find a way of ensuring that you complete whatever you’re doing. But what is important to me is the fact that even if I must borrow, I must do it in such a way that will not affect meeting my obligations to the people including payment of salaries and pension. However, as of today, August 27, 2021, we have not borrowed.”
Governing Osun State may not be as rosy as it looks from the outside because the challenges that come with financing the 31-year-old state have nearly consumed subsequent governments. The question on the lips of many is how the Governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke intends to overcome the obstacles on his way; the same obstacles that have hindered the governments before him to a large extent.
Political observers and public analysts are of the view that managing the economy of Osun State, which is a civil servant state, will top the agenda of the incoming administration. One of the major challenges of the Aregbesola administration was its inability to pay workers’ salaries. Aregbesola could not gather enough finances to pay workers’ salaries and thereby resorted to paying half salary, which made his government owe two years’ salary before bowing out of office in November 2018.
Oyetola, who was the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola came on board and change the situation by paying regular salary to the staff and till he left office, he never owe staff salary. But many are of the view that Oyetola’s government paying the two-year arrears salary and other entitlements to serving and retired civil servants in the state cost him his re-election. As Adeleke come on board, no doubt prompt payment of salaries will be one of his top agenda. He is also expected to address pending salaries and entitlements of workers.
The Governor-elect is also expected to address the issue of infrastructure in Osun State as many residents of the state will expect him to provide some basic amenities and infrastructures that will make residents of the state live a comfortable life and enjoy the dividends of democracy.
Ahead of Adeleke’s resumption into office on November 27, indigenes of Osun State as well as people outside the state have started expressing their views on the Governor-elect and what they expect him to do as the fifth governor of Osun State in the present Fourth Republic.
Speaking to AN24 in an exclusive interview on Thursday, a former Minister of Transport and Aviation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, described Adeleke as a humble man and prayed for a successful tenure after his swearing-in.
Chief Babatope, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP and Director of Organisation of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) during the Second Republic, said the governor-elect is from a family that has deep roots in business. He expressed trust in his ability to govern Osun State.
“He is from a family that is very business driven, his family is in business. His father was a former UPN senator who was very resourceful and calculating as a businessman. His late brother was also very resourceful and I have no doubt in my mind that he will leverage all these experiences to build a fertile economy for the people of Osun State,” Babatope said.
Also speaking to AN24, a veteran journalist and former Nigeria Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Yemi Farounbi, tasked the governor-elect to ensure he delivers on all the promises he gave during his campaigns if he wants to continue to enjoy the goodwill of the electorates.
He said: “My expectation from the incoming government is simple. One of them is for him to earnestly work on the plans he presented to the public during his various debates and campaigns. That he will stick to the plans he promised to do for Osun State in terms of improving education and industrialisation. That is all I expect.
“In a democratic situation, a candidate must be held responsible for all his promises because he was elected on the basis of those promises. To continue to be in the good book of the electorates, he must fulfill his promises to them.”
A chieftain of the PDP in Lagos State, Adelaja Adeoye said he is hopeful that Adeleke will deliver on his campaign promises, create changes when necessary and also “not go on vendetta route.”
Adeoye, a member of the PDP National Convention Organising Committee said the people of Osun will see the difference between the governance of APC and the PDP when Adeleke is sworn in.
Talking about the Osun State governorship election paving way for the PDP in the 2023 presidential election, Adeoye said, “There are different peculiarities for every state. We have to be honest about it, the yearning and demands of the people differ. But generally, people want a change because the APC government has not served the people as expected.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Osun State Council, Wasiu Ajadosu said, “We expect the best from him (Adeleke). We want him to accelerate the development of the state and put Osun on the track of development so that the state will be an enviable one in the country.
“He should also make his policies and programmes people-oriented. You focus on people, improve our economy and embark on human development and effective management of human and material resources.”
As Senator Ademola Adeleke resumes the seat of power on November 27, people are watching with keen interest how the governor-elect will fulfill his campaign promises and how he intends to manage some of the policies and programmes he will inherit from the outgoing Oyetola administration.