Amidst putting finishing touches to some of the initiatives that commenced under the Oranmiyan’s administration, it should be the vow of Ileri Oluwa (as Oyetola is better known now) to sail on with fresh ideas that would push further the beauties that continuity should natural bring forth.


Let me make this categorically clear ab initio. This piece is about continuity. I have taken a decision to be this open from the outset to avert taking readers through a needless interpretative exercise and in the course of that, get lost in the labyrinth of navigational dilemma.

For those genuinely concerned about real development in this part of the world, how governments (or should I say administrations) pass on development from one hand to another should be a major subject of interest. We have been confronted in the past by breaks in development transmissions, such that when a people are blessed with a good visionary leader who sets a new revolution in motion, his exit, compelled by the dictates of the Constitution, automatically brought an end to his good era. That has been one of the known causes of the regression suffered in many parts of the country.

It is fascinating to discover that, pertaining to individuals, there can be a systematic arrangement and order that a state could adopt to get a development template which would survive times, personae and conditions, and still deliver on the goods.

If you define your goals, prioritise, set deadlines, understand your strengths and weaknesses, recognise opportunities and threats, develop new skills, take actions and get support, you are most likely to have achieved a reliable plan to follow in ensuring development for a people, regardless of who is in the saddle. A consciously developed state plan is definitely at the heart of the transformations, which Lagos State has experienced.

Twenty years after the launch of a plan that has remained uninterrupted till date, Lagos, arguably the most stable, and most successful of Nigeria’s 36-state federation, presents development-oriented scholars the best example in the gains of continuity.

Today, you need not sweat much to convince anyone that the heights that Lagos has attained in the areas of infrastructure, health, transportation system, housing, security and education have been part of the fruits of a single unified development template that has defied any form of interruption since 1999.

The Lagos model becomes much more appreciable in this, considering that part of the bane of development in Nigeria is the failure of cooperation between and among successive administrations at different tiers of government. This has bred so many unfinished projects and by extension, the waste of scarce resources. Even successors on the platform of the same political parties have been known to jettison projects of their predecessors in order to, according to them, “create their own identities.”

Welcome to Osun where, before former Governor Rauf Aregbesola rounded up his eight years in office, he had prepared the collective psyche of the electorate well enough to embrace continuity as a strategy for sustaining the revolution which commenced under him in 2010. Understandably so, since the political leadership in Osun is also an offshoot of the development-oriented and ‘expansionist’ initiative of the Lagos political family, things could not have been done differently.

Less than a decade after, the story of Osun has changed for good. The eventual incursion of Oranmiyan (as Aregbesola’s political train would be called) had marked the beginning of a new phase.

Aregbesola, with his team, came with a unique agenda. They sought to make a loud statement in the need to develop other settlements that would offer great appeal, apart from the known cities of Lagos and Ibadan in the South-West geo-political zone.

“Lagos would be in a mess if we fail to develop and make other cities liveable for our people,” I recall vividly Aregbesola’s constant admonitions as governor. Hence, his passion for sizeable and modest development policies that would ensure that Osogbo, Ilesa, Iwo, Ede, Ile-Ife, Ila, Ikirun, Ejigbo and others offer enough incentives for people to minimise rural-urban migrations, which was the in-thing.

The ambitious urban renewal project, a partnership with the global Habitat initiative, would later be an intervention project to change the face of our cities.

I once visited Dublin, in the Irish Republic. One of the glaring realities there was the development that hallmarked smaller cities around Dublin, such that residents of Adamstown, Ardgillan Demesne, Ashtown, Balbriggan or Balcartie never felt out of place in their small but comfortable settlements.

This is the observation as well in Switzerland, where apart from Geneva, adjoining cities like Nyon, Montreux, Morges, or Vevey, though small, give residents quality living experiences.

The point of the above references is this: A well-thought out development strategy, which took eight years to implement has laid a solid foundation for future development which incoming administrations would only require to build upon and then consolidate.

The strategic educational system, which left behind those gigantic schools infrastructure has created a new pathway for the future of the state in academic excellence. The gains are already coming in.

In the same vein, eight years of building a new network of durable roads to link communities and also enhance commerce had taken the entire Osun out of the woods; creating a new environment ready for an explosion in economic prosperity.

This was the Osun handed down to Oyetola one year ago.

One year after receiving the baton, it is sufficient to say that the people of the state are watching with bated breath if the promised goodies of continuity would come or not.

But the signs are there that there is nothing to fear.

Solidly laid foundations could become moribund without follow up super-structures. Conversely, constructing gigantic structures in the midst of poor foundations or none at all, would literally amount to idiocy.

Of course, there is even a unique reason to expect the development template to continue. It is a known fact in Osun and beyond that the current governor was more or less the “assistant governor” during the Aregbesola years.

Indeed, insiders are quick to admit that whatever had sailed through Oyetola’s desk as the chief of staff had passed the most difficult test and would therefore not have any issue on the table of Ogbeni. That was eight years of a perfect blend of the administrative wizardry of Oyetola servicing the political sagacity of a master strategist. This is the ‘marriage’ Osun needed yesterday, needs today and must necessarily need tomorrow.

Amidst putting finishing touches to some of the initiatives that commenced under the Oranmiyan’s administration, it should be the vow of Ileri Oluwa (as Oyetola is better known now) to sail on with fresh ideas that would push further the beauties that continuity should natural bring forth.

Instances of these include the Oba Adesoji Aderemi Second By-Pass Road, an 18 kilometre ring road, which had attained about 70 per cent completion before Aregbesola exited. The same goes for the Osogbo-Ikirun-Offa Kwara Boundary road and the MKO Abiola International Airport. Others include the completion of some of the schools such as the Iwo Government High School, one of the 11 eye-popping high schools many of which had been commissioned.

In his one year, the administration has created some heavy impacts with its massive renovation of the primary health care centres, which after completion, will have seen at least one PHC fully functional and located in each ward across the state.

Osun, under Ileri Oluwa, must continue to set the pace in other spheres, such as the social protection schemes. It is still a thing of pride to Aregbesola and Oyetola and their entire team that they gave the Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2015 ready-made answers to the then urgent need to halt the impending boom in social upheavals.

Tested programmes, such as the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), the home grown school feeding programme and the special provisions for the elderly had gone a long way to make a huge difference.

The essence of continuity, and this passes for everywhere advancement is desired, should be the constant reviews of programmes and policies and tailor them along the line of prevailing demands. In other words, policies that worked for the good of Osun people some eight years ago must pass through period reviews to align with current realities without obliterating their basic tenets.

After Lagos, Osun might just be the next poster-state, a specimen to preach continuity as necessary requirement for sustainable development.

Semiu Okanlawon, a journalist, author and communication strategist served as Special Adviser, Information and Strategy in Osun under the Rauf Aregbesola Administration.