No doubt, the years ahead promise to demonstrate a full flowering of hope and progress from the solid foundation that has been built. Certainly the people, the focus of Aregbesola’s eight years of relentless toil, will enjoy the full benefits of this sturdy substructure.


Former American President, Barack Obama’s valedictory speech remains one of the greatest in the annals of political speech-making. I lifted the lines below from that speech, finding them significantly relevant to this piece.

Obama had said to his audience, with tear-laden eyes, on the verge of his exit from power: “If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history… if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons programme without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11… if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

“But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.”

For a moment, imagine the outgoing governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s expected speech on November 27, 2018, when he is constitutionally expected to hand over the baton to his successor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola: “If we had told you that we would create another Osun where a new set of values and orientation in tandem with the Omoluabi ethos would take over; institute good governance that would ensure provision of infrastructure that had never been witnessed in this state before; change the face of our education system and make it functional again with state-of-the-art facilities and raise the performances of our students in WAEC from a miserable 15 per cent to 70 per cent; create a new network of roads that map the path to future progress and developments; halt the expanding and frightening population of unemployed people and create a new empowerment and employment template that Nigeria and indeed Africa would find most ingenious and applicable; enthrone sustainable peace that would make this small corner of the globe a beckoning attraction for businesses and holidays, you would have said those amounted to mere figments of the imagination and political demagoguery.

“But today, we stand before you, proud that we have even surpassed the very targets we set for ourselves. That, however, is because you have made it possible for us to redirect the ugly course of our state with your cooperation and involvement. The lesson we have learnt, we must admit, is that development, real development, only happens when the people are involved.”

There shouldn’t be doubt over the state in which Aregbesola is handing Osun over to his successor. The eight-year tenure has simply redefined the over four million people populated-State in so many ways. We admit that naysayers might controvert this, but it is certain that history will record Ogbeni as the visionary who came to make Osun rediscover itself, with a new life that confirms its sustainability.

Controversial? Yes, he may have been! But in this part of the world, it is doubtful if anyone in such critical position would make any headway, set new records and templates if he elects to go by the existing norms and is afraid to break the rules.

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In the dogged pursuit of his messianic mission, there were no way the resolve to phase out the old order in the educational system would not have triggered some uproarious protestations. There was no way that tearing down structures, including mosques and churches and schools, to give way to developments and urban renewal would not have caused some hoopla. And was it really possible for a new government to seek an overhaul of the bureaucracy for effective service delivery without inviting some condemnations unto itself.

Critical examinations of the Aregbesola way shows a systematic challenge to some of the anomalies of the federal system that Nigeria claims to practise. Without saying so, Aregbesola indirectly bailed the states of the federation out of their lethargy, which had somewhat trampled them into some kind of servitude.


For every sector in which Aregbesola recorded resounding and remarkable achievements, there was always one brick wall or the other that had the capacity to truncate his dreams for a new Osun. But with his will, there was always the way out.

It is within this context that one would get the explanation for the controversies that hallmarked the eight years of the Aregbesola administration.

Aregbesola doggedly sought to give his state a new life. But in doing this, he was to necessarily thrash some existing orders. Some people took Aregbesola’s controversies as needless creations of the governor. However, he is currently basking in the euphoria that most of the experiments he risked and endured have been adopted by the majority of those who called him unprintable names in the middle of his relentless experimentations.

These were not only even about the physical developments of the State he governed. Critical examinations of the Aregbesola way shows a systematic challenge to some of the anomalies of the federal system that Nigeria claims to practise. Without saying so, Aregbesola indirectly bailed the states of the federation out of their lethargy, which had somewhat trampled them into some kind of servitude.

Until the rebranding of Osun, components of which included a new crest, an anthem and a flag, not many states of the federation realised the enormity of their independence from the federal might. And until the then Vice President Namadi Sambo visited the State and Aregbesola was not on hand to receive him, it never occurred to many Nigerian states and their governors that they were not constitutionally bound to obey such protocols.

The message is this: In many ways, federalism has been better served as Aregbesola sought to build his state, while creating the awareness that states are not in a master-servant relationship with the federal government in a truly federal system.

In some ways akin to how the government of Ahmed Bola Tinubu stood up to the federal government to claim the rights of Lagos as a constituent unit of the Nigerian federation, the Aregbesola administration sought to and succeeded in giving fillip to the independent entity that Osun represents within the federal system.

Taking cues from that, I doubt if there is any state in Nigeria today that has not keyed into this realisation, and created its own identity, whilst seeking to reinforce this as part of the prerequisite for economic, social and political prosperity.

For the first time, the State has been given a 10-year development plan through the efforts of its economic strategists. A good understanding of the model of development which has lifted the state to what Aregbesola will be handing over to Oyetola come November 27, 2018, shows that the people will be better off with continuity.


And so, the story of the successes under Aregbesola transcends the physical, gigantic infrastructure that the State is now blessed with. Although we know that many would easily want to applaud the feats of this governor on the strength of the size, colour, aesthetics and grandeur of the State’s educational institutions; innovations as exemplified by the birth of the Tablet of Knowledge (Opon Imo); the quality and durability of the wide network of newly constructed roads; the state-of-the-art security equipment and ambulances stationed in strategic points throughout the state, etc. Those who recognise the indices of true development would appreciate his eight years of hard work in enthroning a new culture that appreciates productivity and responsible citizenship.

Through the instrument of one of the widely acknowledged empowerment initiatives, the Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme (OYES), there is a new orientation that elevates work ethic above the increasingly unbridled desire for wealth.

In an age where wealth without work has seeped into the culture of the people, the Aregbesola administration has, while seeking an ingenious solution to the growing unemployment scourge, killed two birds with one stone (as Yoruba would say) by ensuring that the over 60,000 Osun youth who have passed through the rigours of the scheme, emerge as ambassadors and preachers of a new work ethic and the orientation gospel that comes with the volunteer scheme.

In the same vein, the people of Osun have been made to accept taxation as being synonymous with responsible citizenship. It is part of the ways to teach our people that you cannot hold any government accountable for good governance if you are not a partaker through the instrument of tax commitment.

There is a new effervescent spirit in town. At least, as far as Osun is concerned. Governance has been given a new definition never known to those who had suffered stagnation.

For the first time, the State has been given a 10-year development plan through the efforts of its economic strategists. A good understanding of the model of development which has lifted the state to what Aregbesola will be handing over to Oyetola come November 27, 2018, shows that the people will be better off with continuity.

No doubt, the years ahead promise to demonstrate a full flowering of hope and progress from the solid foundation that has been built. Certainly the people, the focus of Aregbesola’s eight years of relentless toil, will enjoy the full benefits of this sturdy substructure.

Semiu Okanlawon is special adviser, Information and Strategy, State of Osun.