By OLUSESAN LAOYE
A political uneasiness seems to be building in Osun State shortly after the July 16 election that saw the incumbent, Gov. Gbeyega Oyetola lose to Senator Ademola Adeleke over the financial health of the state government, which has accumulated a hefty debt profile of N279 billion.
Before the election there was no doubt that the battle which was initially pinned to four political parties, namely, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) represented by Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, who eventually won the election; the ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC ), with the incumbent governor, Gboyega Oyetola; the Labour Party which had the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf as its flag bearer, and the Accord Party, which fielded an Insurance magnate, Akin Ogunbiyi.
As the race continued it was narrowed down to a two-horse race between APC’S Oyetola and the PDP’s Adeleke.
Ironically, the 2018 race was a fierce battle between these political titans.
While Adeleke won at the first ballot, the victory was miraculously up turned after an inconclusive pronouncement by the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC).
When the bell rang again after four years both Oyetola and Adeleke threw their hats into the ring but this time Adeleke did not leave anything to chance as Oyetola had believed that his second term was sure with the power of incumbency, a strong backing from the top, the supports of all the APC governors and the party’s presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who people believed would want to use Osun to prove that he is on ground in the South West, his home base.
But they were all shocked with the outcome of the election, which saw Adeleke on top with a wide margin of over 23000 votes having fulfilled all the requirements to be the winner and the next governor of Osun State.
With both the PDP and the people of Osun State who decided they needed a departure from the past 12 years of APC rulership still in the euphoria of of victory and election, what is on the minds of the people, is how will Adeleke and the PDP meet their aspirations and demands which have eluded them in the past years of APC reign given the huge debt being left behind.
Although Adeleke had a blueprint of how he would govern, which he came up with during his campaigns, the snag is how the Ede born politician and a brother to a business mogul, Dr Deji Adeleke, would wriggle out of the situation to deliver on his promises.
Although Demola is coming as the governor of Osun State 30 years after his late brother Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke ruled for less than two years between 1991 and 1983, as the first civilian governor the then newly created State, expectations in the state is so high now that Adeleke can’t afford to let them down.
The new governor-elect has become a beacon of hope, who is expected to leverage on the good will of his late brother, Isiaka, who till death was highly respected and loved by the people of Osun State, who would have become governor again in 2017 before his sudden death. The people are expecting nothing less than what Isiaka did in terms of love and accommodation of the People.
From the feelers across the State, Adeleke was reminded that for him to succeed, apart from the financial burden and huge debt he is going to inherit, he must separate the family influence from governance as he was perceived of being controlled during the election.
Although it was said that there was no way the family which doled out the chunk of the resources to prosecute the election would not benefit, it was argued that the entire people of the state irrespective of their affiliations, political parties or otherwise, should be considered as paramount in his government.
People believed that Demola should be seen now, as an Independent person ready to govern and not to be in the appendage of the his family’s apron.
However, with high hopes, there widespread belief that that his elder brother, Deji who bankrolled the election, would strongly guide him and would not want him to fail the people given his lack of experience in management.
Cracks in PDP.
Political commentators and analysts believed that the first step towards his success is to call for reconciliation among the aggrieved party members and resolve issues as well as integrate everyone into his government and not to exhibit the spirit of the winners take all.
Apart from members of his party, some people suggest he should look for intelligent and very brilliant people outside the political space, who would contribute meaningfully to the success of his government, which could make him the best governor, and to follow the legacies laid down by his brother and the last PDP government of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
Five point agenda:
The PDP ruled Adeleke’s government is ready to implement a five point agenda on Agriculture, Health, Entertainment, Unemployment Security and Education.
He promised that he has painstakingly studied the problems in the state and he gas the plans that would offsets their pains, in his five point agenda.
On Agriculture he said he would set the pace through the engagement of Zimbabweans farmers, just as it was experimented in Kwara State, during the tenure of Dr. Bukola Saraki as the governor of the State. The project was a big success in Kwara then and that is why analysts are saying that if it works in Osun, it means the state would improve agriculture wise.
Although the foreigners would come here to invest, it was argued that the incoming government of Adeleke, should not make the mistake of solely relying on the foreigners but should allow the local farmers and who ever intend to invest in Agriculture to operate side by side with the foreign investors in agriculture.
Former governor, Rauf Aregbesola was transporting the agricultural produce of the state to Lagos by train, a project which eventually collapsed. With the state incurring a huge debt from the project, meant to fetch Osun State huge internally Generated revenue.
But one of the leaders of the PDP in Osun State, Prince Olalere Laoye, said the Agric project of Ademola Adeleke would be far different from that of the APC initiated by Aregbesola, which failed. He said many things were responsible for the failure of the APC agric project in Osun from logistics to its implementation.
Prince Laoye said, the PDP government in Osun State would carry along local farmers, saying “the foreign farmers would only have their area of specializations along with the locals and other Nigerian investors to come into the project, to improve the IGR of the state.
On heath Adeleke intend to set a new pace in the implementation of both primary healthcare delivery systems in the state and ensure that the hospitals are well equipped.
Again it was argued that this should not be a tall dream which the financial resources of the state would not permit him, since he has not been at the helms of affairs, to know what the real figures of the state are.
The governor elect also promised to look into the proper welfare of workers, pensioners and ensure payment of their wages and emoluments, though he believed that payments of Salaries, should not be counted as his achievements because both workers and pensioners are entitled to be paid for the services they are rendering and rendered.
On security he promised to engage the local security outfits and equip them to render community policing in the state along with conventional police and other security agencies.
Though all these promises have been made, the issue at stake is how the incoming government would manage with the high debt profile of Osun State, which from 2015 as the 6th indebted State In Nigeria now rose to be the most indebted state, followed by Balyelsa, Ekiti and Plateau States.
Osun initially was had over N179 billion debt, which is to be paid in 20 years. This now means that the Osun indigenes individually are billed to repay N2, 237.5 as debt owed.
According to the statistics, if divided per day, then, that means every citizen of the state with the population of about 4 million would have to pay N6 daily for 20 years.
But in 2021 it was calculated by a financial expert, economist and historian Dr. Tunji Ogunyemi that with the debt mess of Osun, it means that every citizen of the state is now owing N38,140
It was however argued that the governments of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and that of Aregbesola compounded the debt profile, with their borrowings. Though it was said that Oyinlola’s UBA loan was redeemable, the huge loan by Aregbesola from Suku put the State in this big indebtedness and has been affecting the financial resources of Osun State, with low IGR.
Oyetola tried to Increase it which eventually caused the hatred Osun people who are not tax and revenue conscious had against his reelection.
The people of the state saw Oyetola’s revenue drive as a burden forgetting that it is only through robust IGR that the state could develop.
Also the government has been accused of taking more loans to cripple the incoming government. According to governor-elect, Senator Adeleke, the government has initiated fresh moves to borrow.
“We have it on good authority that Osun State assets within the state, Kogi, Lagos, Abuja and outside the shore of the country are being tampered with for private acquisition.
“We have detailed reports of several properties currently being processed for ownership transfer involving serving commissioners and top government officials. There is an elaborate plot to further bankrupt the state to complicate governance under the new administration”.
However, Osun State Commissioner for Information, Funke Egbemode, denied such allegations as cheap blackmail.
“We did not take any N17bn loan to prosecute the election, just as no government official has embarked on any looting or diversion of any government assets/property as claimed by the PDP.
“Those who are suddenly realising the enormity of governing a state like Osun should own up to their fears rather than making laughable allegations. Oyetola has creatively managed the assets of the state in the last three-and-a-half years and has picked all the bills of the state without taking loans. Why would he start taking loans at this time?”
It was the only PDP Senator Fadahunsi, who in 2020 frowned at the debt profile of the state and requested for the accountability of how the the $20million world bank loan was expended
Fadahunsi had said that Osun State had exceeded its debt threshold and had become too insolvent to go Into further borrowing, with a total debt of over N170 billion.
A financial expert, argued that as a government there is no way the incoming government would not borrow to execute some of his laudable projects and people of the state would want to look in this direction as to how the Adeleke’s government would not put the state into further financial burden.
It was also argued that Adeleke being a business man would not want to run the state with low IGR and there is no way the people will run away from paying taxes and the earlier they realized this, the better it would be for all, both the government and the people.
To wriggle out one would suggest that Adeleke should immediately organise an economic summit that would include financial experts, technocrats, legislators, civil servants both serving and retired, with traditional rulers to deliberate on how to take Osun state out of the woods.
Meanwhile , a member of the National Assembly in the House of Representatives, Hon Bamidele Salami who was Adeleke’s Returning officer in the election, has said that the PDP is prepared to excel in Osun state this time around and have put all machineries in motion that would work out good governance, since the people of the state have spoken through their votes to express the government they want.
Both Akogun Lere Oyewumi who is going to represent the PDP in the 2023 Osun West Senatorial election and the Director General of Demola Adeleke’s Campaign organisation, Chief Sunday Bisi have said that the people of Osun State should be happy that a new dawn has come and that the PDP would serve them better.