One of the banes of development in the country and Osun State, too, is the lack of continuity in government programmes.
In just three days, the battle for the governorship of Osun State will enter its final decisive stage. Flag bearers of all the contending political parties will be placed before the people in a final contest that will determine who takes over the reins of the state from Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola whose tenure of office will soon lapse after eight years in office. The contest for Osun Government House has been a very interesting one. It is one in which all the flag bearers have been at their best, projecting their candidatures and telling the people why they are best suited for the governorship seat of the state at this time. Largely, the debate has been on the performance of the Rauf Aregbesola administration so far and the desirability or otherwise of the continuity of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration in the state.
Will the state want a continuation of the various O’ Initiatives of the Aregbesola administration such as O’ Meals and the social empowerment programme such as O Yes? Will the state’s people want more of the investments in agriculture, roads and mega schools or try out another party at the helm of power? There is no doubt that the APC administration has been a defining one in the state. It is marked by intellectualism and a passion for initiatives that could change the story of the people of the state.
However, the generally poor economic situation of the country which significantly reduced the federal allocations to the state and made the state unable to pay salaries and pensions as due has been a major factor in the campaigns as it has been used as a tool by the opposition parties to take the APC in the state to the cleaners.
Channels Television station has played a significant role in bringing the leading contenders for the governorship seat into focus. It organised a debate which saw the APC candidate, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Chief Iyiola Omisore, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC,) Fatai Akinbade and Moshood Adeoti of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) participating, while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Ademola Adeleke staying away.
The debate, which was ably handled by Channels TV, saw many of the candidates not giving a very good account of themselves on the questions they were asked. Some of them spoke of their former positions, but not the results they had achieved to make the people of the state to repose such huge confidence in them. Mr. Akinbade, for instance, said he had worked under three regimes but he has changed his party three times to get the governorship ticket of his latest party, the ADC, in the state. Mr Adeoti said he wanted to be governor because he believed it was the turn of Osun West Senatorial District to produce the governor of the state, as if the governorship was some kind of goody to be shared, and not an important job to be done. Adeoti is a former Secretary to the state government who moved to the ADP after losing out in the APC.
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Adeoti was ambivalent on his position on the performance of the incumbent government, which he was a part of until recently. He both praised and criticised some of the government’s policies and was not even coherent on some of the policies, even though he was the SSG until he decided to take a shot at the governorship. He said some of the government’s policies were good, but not necessarily beneficial to the people of the state. These include the identical school uniform project, and the building of mega schools at a time when some states were only renovating theirs. He, however, promised to improve the state’s finances through massive investments in agriculture, especially the cultivation of cash crops like cocoa, which, however, takes years to mature, and may not generate funds during his tenure in office, if elected. He also promised to increase the number of people paying taxes in the state and gave the thumbs up to the state’s school feeding programme, thereby commending the good work of the administration in that regard
The candidate of the APC, Oyetola, was the candidate of continuity and as the chief of staff to Governor Aregbesola, he put up a spirited defence of the state government’s policies. Among the things he intends to continue with are the government’s policies on education which have been widely acknowledged to be good, even if they are still in the process of yielding the desired fruits in the mould of much better results in external examinations by the state’s school products. He also said he would continue with the state’s massive investments in infrastructural development and saw not much merit in zoning, which is a legitimate position as zoning could be counterproductive as it may not produce the best candidate for the governorship of the state at a time when merit and the very best hands available are required to move the state forward.
Contrary to what has been in the public domain, he said the state was not owing Levels 1 to 7 workers any salaries, but was paying Levels 8-12 officers 75 per cent and those above level 12 about 50 per cent. To him, these are not ‘ half salaries’ as widely reported but modulated salaries that would be paid in full as soon as the state’s finances improve and the state is also able to get more money from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC). Mr. Oyetola is sold out on the mega schools and will definitely continue with them, if elected.
Mr. Omisore, a former deputy governor of the state also came well prepared for the debate and gave a lot of figures and statistics to back up his points, Home of which were supported by the crowd with cheers, while others, such as his position on opon imo that they were not in existence in the state were booed, especially as he came out to criticise the contents of the non-existent computers. His figures on the true indebtedness of the state were also criticised more so as he had no backing for them. he also promised to review many of the programmes of the state government and save 4 billion from wastages alone. He also condemned the government for the falling standard of education in the state and zoning, which he describes as lazy.
From the debates of the candidates, it is obvious that Mr Iyiola Omisore came prepared with ideas on how to change the policies of the incumbent government while the APC candidate preached continuity and an improvement of the current policies. One of the banes of development in the country and Osun State, too, is the lack of continuity in government programmes. Each government comes into rubbish the ideas and abandon the policies of its predecessors.
Hence, the country is on an endless swing, with ideas of preceding governments jettisoned. Nigerians may be better off learning to be patient with their governments to get the best of the governments’ plans for them But, how will the pendulum swing on Saturday? Only the people of the state can say. But the elections should be fair and credible, with everyone playing the roles expected of them. Let the poll be free, fair and credible, and may the best candidate emerge.