The top echelon of the All Progressives Party relocated to Osogbo, the Osun State capital on Tuesday campaigning for the governorship election scheduled for Saturday. From the president to the party chairman, governors and ministers with other apparatchiks, ensuring the party’s victory in the election engaged their attention and time.
Once a general, always a general and so to President Muhammadu Buhari, Osun residents must vote for APC whether they like it or not. Like those days when he used to command soldiers in his division, he issued the order. Except that this time around, folks armed with their voter’s cards will only obey their instinct and pass judgment on the eights years administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola. Indeed, the election is a referendum on Aregbesola’s performance and little wonder he has been campaigning more vigorously than even his party’s candidate. The cacophony of voices from APC and other parties is, however, not enough to deceive the citizens who have bore the brunt of what has passed for governance in Osun for the past eight years.
From interviews and chats across different local government areas of the state in the last three weeks, I can say categorically that the anger is real and folks are waiting to exercise their franchise come Saturday. Sadly, as those who watched the debate on CHANNELS television among the four contestants on Sunday will testify, it is doubtful if any of them has what it takes to take Osun out of the woods. The only person who demonstrated a fair grasp of the issues at stake, a major one is the humongous debts which even Aregbesola admitted in May this year to be N143. 6 billion aside other conventional loans and the N11.4 billion sukuk loan is Iyiola Omisore. The former minister and former senator appear to be the most prepared among the lot seeking to lead the state. The perennial candidate, I gathered, actually has experts working with him in fashioning out a blueprint if he wins the election. If Omisore loses the election, the winner will do well to integrate whatever plans he has with Omisore’s.
One of the ironies of Aregbesola’s tenure is the fanatical love and devotion shown to him by those who are neither resident in Osun nor citizens of the state in diaspora. This is quite understandable as they have never bore the brunt of his governance like those of us whose roots are in the state and who have supported the state most with our resources earned working outside Osun. Among his noteworthy projects include roads and the so-called mega schools, whatever that means, but while he did well with some of these projects even when they are unevenly distributed across the state and far too expensive compared to what they offer, his dyed-in-the-wool supporters cannot deny that he embarked on some white elephant projects too creaming the state of her lean resources in the process. One of such is the abandoned 839 hectares airport project in Ido Osun, Egbedore local government area where N3.6 billion had been spent with the project uncompleted.
And that is why the next government is crucial to bringing the state out of the financial coma she is presently. Creativity and ability to think on one’s feet are necessary if the state will get out of the woods. From an aspirant noted for dancing more than expression of serious ideas to one who is content allowing others talk for him after being imposed on his party members and another who does not know what to say beyond mouthing platitudes, it appears the journey to the promised land will take a while for the state. A large cache of money is already exchanging hands in Osun and it will take more than INEC’s ban on mobile phones at the polling stations to ward off its influence. For a people largely traumatized with unpaid salaries and pensions, it will take heavenly hosts to resist such inducement that the politicians are offering.
With the way civil servants and teachers have been treated and damaged emotionally by the outgoing government, it is little wonder that literacy have taken a plunge in the state while anything remotely connected with schooling is not appreciated any longer. Our results in school certificate examinations affirmed the priorities of the government and so that critical component of human development – human resource remains undeveloped with their potentials untapped. So even if a serious person emerges on Saturday, a demoralized workforce will be an issue to contend with.
It will be a lack of good sense or judgment to call this election for anybody; any of the candidates can win. Whether such will be good enough for the state at this moment is another issue entirely. One thing is sure; the turnout will be great as the people are ready to offer a verdict on what has been their experience in the last eight years.