Kunle Oyatomi is the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State. In this interview, with Morning Mail’s Managing Editor, AKINJIDE AKINTOLA, he took the opposition PDP to the cleaners for their non performance while in office which he described as the era of the locusts, saying the people of the state will not allow such again. Excerpts:
Aregbesola is in the race for the election for his second term. How do you react to his second term bid based on his performance?
To those who have eyes and brains, there is tremendous progress in the State of Osun and it is visible. But to the blind, envious and politically-distorted minds, nothing, absolutely nothing has happened since about the last 38 months that Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola has been governor of the State. I pity them: To help you appreciate better, let us reel back into the immediate past to see what was on ground when the current governor took over.
The state was on the edge of bankruptcy. Education had not only collapsed; the infrastructure in most schools and colleges was in frightening decay. A massive environmental degradation was already causing deaths in numbers throughout the state that the governor had to declare a 90-day state of environmental emergency, immediately he
came to power.
Roads infrastructure was in a parlous state, and the situation in Osogbo especially was totally disgraceful, as a capital. Youth unemployment at that time was in serious crisis, which threatened peace and stability. In summary, Osun was in meltdown when Aregbesola assumed office in November 2010.
Before Ogbeni Aregbesola became governor, Osun was at the bottom of the scale of performance at both internal
and external examinations, but today the State is amongst the first eleven across the federation, just within 38
months!! How did he do it? He restructured, refocused and massively funded the institutions, employing 54.8
per cent more teachers than he inherited. In all, Ogbeni employed 10,407 new teachers to all categories of schools.
Currently there are12,715 teachers in primary schools, and 7,848 teachers in secondary schools. Every year, his government pays N16.8 billon for salaries and pensions of primary school teachers, and N10.3 billion is similarly spent for secondary schools. As incentives for parents and students alike N3.6 billion is spent yearly to feed students in primaries One to Four a very rich meal a day. Besides, N900 million was used to provide all students in state-run
schools new uniforms. To ensure that there was adequate furniture for students and teachers Aregbesola’s government also committed N 2 .5 billion naira. No state-owned school in Osun had instructional materials
when Aregbesola assumed office in 2010.But since then till now, he has spent N503 million providing the schools with instructional materials. One of the outstanding signatures of the Aregbesola’s achievements on revolutionanizing education in the state is the electronic tablet for learning (Opon Imo), which envious people have criticized but the world has acknowledged as a model. So far on this learning aid the government has spent N1.2
billion. And on capital projects, involving the construction of 13 brand new elementary schools, 14 middle schools and 12 high schools ( all brand new), Aregbesola’s government has spent N14.4 billion; while the sum of N1.6 billion has been spent on renovating old structures.
O N R O A D S INFRASTRUCTURE
Since Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola became governor, 1,132.57Km of roads were identified and designed for construction and rehabilitation by the state government across the state and local government areas. Of this
length of roads, 572Km have been completed so far; that is over 50 per cent. A breakdown of this include 100.29Km of roads completed in individual local government areas, and 471.71Km also completed across the state. There is limited space to name all the roads here, but Osun challenges any doubting Thomas to come over and see things for himself or herself. What has been done so far on road projects is not only astonishing, considering the limited resources of the state, it is also unprecedented since the state was created.
Other achievements? When you take a holistic look at what Aregbesola has done in Osun, something strikes you
immediately-where is he getting all the funds from, you may ask? Those who want to replace him have no idea how to outperform him, and plot his downfall with lies, hopelessly outlandish security reports and the use of violence to unseat him. But the truth is that until they can articulate an alternative that is superior to what Aregbesola has
provided, there is no way they can destroy what he has done. Aregbesola’s work in Osun is ground – breaking. We should not forget that the more queer elements demonize Aregbesola, the more acclaim the man gets from the world and institutions of superior assessment abilities. They saw a model in his OYES programme that so far has taken 40,000 youth off the streets and the unemployment market. Even the British Parliament invited Aregbesola to share with the world his approach to feeding thousands of children in primary schools across the state.
And those who know its value were moved to give an award to Ogbeni for his Opon Imo that people of twisted mentality in Nigeria-especially from the opposition camp in the State of Osun- condemn. And 99.99% of Osun citizens are normal.
So what is actually wrong with the reclassification of schools?
There is nothing wrong with the reclassification, it is some people who tried to influence certain things, and get this
correctly, whatever you have seen, either protest or something cannot be regarded as a crisis; is not a crisis.
Reclassification in the first instance is a policy that is aimed at actually transforming our students to first class people in the world. There is nothing in the reclassification that has anything to do with religion, it has nothing to do with religion. The alarming rate at which our students fail external examinations in the past was disturbing. And a s a government , we brought knowledgeable people; professors and stakeholders to proffer solutions to the problem.
So the policy that emanated from the meeting is what you are seeing today. The results of the reclassification will come up gradually and then people will know that the policy is in tandem with the best practices in the world.
In Iwo, the schools that were merged are St Anthony, St Augustine, United Methodist, St Mary, Baptist Grammar School and Baptist High School. These schools, by the mention of their names are Christian schools. It is on record that at least three of these schools had hijab wearing students in their previous schools- that was before they got
to Baptist High School. The Baptist High School accommodates 2,123 students. From this figure, only 261 wear
hijab. But because the Baptist School will not have anything to do with hijab wearing students even if they are five, they would still have kicked. Even when they know that there is a subsisting case in court over hijab. And the government has said many times over that it did not give approval for the use of hijab in any school. So what do
you expect government to do? To expel hijab wearing students?
The opposition says Governor Aregbesola has taken too many loans, what’s your reaction to this?
I don’t know where they got their figures f rom. Any intelligent and literate mind will know that no bank, even if
the Managing Director is your father, will give a loan you do not have the capacity to repay. It is other people’s money for God’s sake. When a bank gives loan to a state government, it looks at its income which largely is based
on what you take from federation account and your IGR. In the last 3 years, the Osun income has not gone
beyond N5 billion a month. To any bank, you have a term of five years. So five times 12 months times four years that is N240 billion. Will a bank give you all that? No, Capital No. Won’t you pay workers? Won’t you run government? And since when did taking a loan become a bedroom ar rangement? Won’ t the Central Bank, the Federal Ministry of Finance and or Debt Management Office know about it? Those bandying these outrageous figures are lazy. Very lazy. Aregbesola as unusual governor? He declared 90-day state of emergency on the
environmental degradation in the State. And everybody stood in total amazement when he cleared up all the
dump heaps within the capital city and other major town of the State. It was an amazing spectacle,
when the citizens of Osun woke up to see unusual machine excavating the waterways and heaps of refuse that had blocked the drains which hitherto had caused floods that drowned people and destroyed score of properties all round the states. The effect of this is that since Aregbesola became governor, neither human being nor property had been destroyed by flood.
The rebranding of the State was another unusual thing he did. He did several other things which were so unusual, but which turned out to be universally accepted that all over the world, including Nigeria, he is being presented
with awards. For instance, he won an award for the Opon Imo in far away Sri- Lanka. In Ghana, he got an award for redef ining governance and integrity. The British parliament had to invite him to give an idea to the world as to how he is able to feed 240,000 pupils everyday.
Then, what is the relationship between the government and religious organizations?
I would rather say the relationship is robust and engaging. On all sides, people expect something from government other than what government is doing and the government is engaged in a delicate act of balancing trying to meet each religious organization mid-way into their demand to create stability and harmony. Osun State is stable. It
is peaceful and disharmony is minimal; in fact that is why we have the level of peace that we have in the State today.
Wherever issues are yet unresolved, they do not create any crisis, except in the minds of vicious people who trade in
discord and disharmony.
So, those who are conjuring crisis in their thinking are the ones talking about religious crisis in the State and their anarchist friends outside the State are trying to give traction to what is essentially fantasy.
How do you rate his performance generally? How acceptable is he by the generality of the people?
Osun people are neither gullible nor impressionable. They must have solid reason why they are defecting from
PDP and supporting Aregbesola. The PDP is a house of fraud, lies, violence and destruction. They were at their best 90 months before Aregbesola came to power; it was the period of the locust. They ate the State up and left it a desert. But now, Aregbesola has been in change 38 months on, and the desert is now flourishing. And the
difference is clear, not only that Osun is progressing, it has never seen this level of progress, since it was created.
The kind of food which the PDP never provided and are threatening to stop when they come to power. Osun people
will not like to witness all over again, the violence, the brigandage and the killing with which the PDP terrorized the
State, especially between 2003 and 2010.The people of Osun will never again allow the vagabonds in power who
allowed flood to kill people and destroy property whenever it rained. So, if there are some infrastructural projects that are ongoing in addition to all these, it is a credit to Aregbesola. If the opposition politicians are smart, they won’t make it a campaign issue. Aregbesola has done so much for Osun people and we are sure they will be grateful by returning him with a landslide margin during the next election.