Dear Ogbeni Aregbesola: Congratulations once again on your victory at the Osun State governorship election of August 9, I’m sure it’s not too late to felicitate with you.
You’ve fought a good fight and it’s your inalienable right to savour the victory that you secured through doggedness at the polls. I love your political expediency; I mean who could have imagined you and former governors Isiaka Adeleke and Olagunsoye Oyinlola in the same political party? As an Osun State citizen, I feel there are few areas that I need to draw your attention to as you pilot the affairs of our state for the next four years.
I remember our meeting on June 12, 2013 some few minutes before midnight in the company of three other journalists who are fellow citizens of Osun. That was the first time I was seeing you closely and as they say, first impression last longer. Earlier before that meeting, you met with civil society organisations and community leaders and I was touched by the fact that you joined the queue to take your food like the rest of us at the banquet hall of Government House that night bluntly refusing any gastronomic privilege. Naturally we sang aluta songs and you listened to the complaints and suggestions of your former constituency.
Our interview afterwards went smoothly until you started interjecting and cutting us short before we could ask questions. “This man from Iwo I know where you are going” was your constant refrain to the extent that my colleagues stopped talking at a point leaving you and I to continue. Ultimately, I could not match your unbridled enthusiasm that late night. Like many people, you seem to enjoy hearing your own voice more than that of others but I think you need to listen more as you embark on your second term. I hope you know that it takes greater skills to listen than to speak, please work more on this so that you can prove those who claim that you dominate cabinet meetings for hours wrong.
Further, allow your communications team to do their jobs dear governor. No one goes to a medical doctor and insists on a particular drug; instead we take whatever doctors prescribe for us. That’s the way of political communication too as your messages must be shaped with the correct nuances. I strongly feel that you would be better served with a well-oiled communication machine in delivering specific messages to specific audience. Maybe your controversial schools’ reclassification policy would not have ended in a fiasco like it did if there was a communication component. By the way, I hope you will look into the issue again without further accentuating the fault lines in our state. New school buildings are good and serve political purposes very well but most of the schools I saw last week in three local governments I visited were still with the old buildings. Will refurbishment not be more economically viable than new and gigantic buildings that might not go round?
Further, I hope it would not take almost nine months before you appoint commissioners like what happened earlier in your first term just as it would be good to empower more Osun citizens who reside in our state. The joke among folks in Lagos is that Lagos is your first home while Osun is just an annex and I trust that you will stay more in Osun than before. Those who usually drive to Bola Ige House, the secretariat, and sign contract papers before zooming off to Lagos will also become a rarity. Let’s have little or no duplication of offices also as seen in the appointment of commissioner and special adviser for the same portfolio; a lean cabinet is what Osun deserves this time around.
Evaluate your urban renewal programme again and look critically at how it can be done without its attendant pain and anguish. Can we have ‘new cities’ and thereby preserve old historical structures as heritage sites? You equally need to look into the debt profile of the state too, please. Development is a continuous exercise no doubt but I think the debt level must be sustainable without mortgaging the future of generations unborn.
Since all politics is local, I need to remind you of the large crater dug at my former school, Baptist High School Iwo. I learnt that your government dug the place for a “mega building” until the merger crisis forced the project to be taken to another school. It is not only defacing the school, it is also denying the students ample use of the field where we used to play football and hockey among other games in the past. By the way, I hope you will equally give attention to the Iwo-Osogbo road just as you are doing to Gbongan-Osogbo road; both are federal government roads, dear governor.