The governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola held an interactive session with Osun State indigenes at home and in the Diaspora on Friday, 5th of May at the WOCDIF Centre, Osogbo. The programme started at about 11pm and ended 5.30am on Saturday, 6th of May, 2017. Elder statesman, Pa Reuben Fasoranti also called at exactly 2.48 am to show solidarity with the governor. The governor provided answers to questions sourced from the audience in the hall, via telephone calls and through the social media. AKINLOLU ABAYOMI brings you snippets from the governor’s interview.
When we came in 2010, we met IGR of about N200 million monthly and we have made effort to have it increased to N700 million and N1 billion monthly but it is still a far cry from what we need to get things done conveniently. Projects, policies and programmes of our government were based on generated revenue and the allocations and there seemed to be no cause for alarm until July 2013 when the story changed and we have continued to battle with it since then.
What is the future of LAUTECH?
It has been greatly challenging funding LAUTECH with other institutions in the state. There is also a cloudy atmosphere surrounding the institution in terms of financial independence and a possible self-funding arrangement. It is intriguing that Uniosun has a student population of about 12,000 while LAUTECH has about 30,000 and the difference in fees payable in Uniosun is 5000 naira above that of LAUTECH. It becomes worrisome therefore why it is possible for Uniosun to be self-funding while LAUTECH is still largely dependent on subventions. An audit firm, KPMG has been contracted to audit human and financial strengths of the university and its commitments and while we wait for its reports, I implore our people to exercise patience.
Easing issuance of Certificate of Occupancy?
I agree with you without reservations on the need to put machinery in place to hasten the process of securing certificate of occupancy for the people.
Who will be his successor?
The governor who revealed that the day he would leave office falls on a Tuesday got the audience shocked as it showed that he is mindful and conscious of his exit from power soon and that it is just a few months away.
‘Only God knows my successor, only Him would direct the minds of the people and I pray that God would make them bring out the best, but for now, the delivery of the jobs we promised the people should top our agenda. Our party has declared that there is no campaign for now’, he said.
Crisis in Osun State APC?
Our party is as solid, strong and effective as any party could be, no aspect of the party’s organization, administration or management has suffered in any form. We are collected and working, I doubt if there is any party that is as cohesive as we are. I can understand that your fear is that of the little one from those who are trying to cause trouble and it is not unexpected in a big party, but it is minor.
Is he planning to shift base to Lagos for the rumoured senatorial ambition in 2019?
Politics is resolution of conflicts; what matters is ensuring the betterment of the people is focused and addressed and that we solve problems of the society. When I mentioned the intention to move down to Osun to contest in 2004 to my relations, they opposed the idea and advised that the commissionership in Lagos was okay and sufficient. But it is now a realized mission, the ruling party then described my action and activities in various ways ‘irritant’. Later ‘oranmiran’, it also graduated to ‘Oranmiyan’ and eventually to ‘governor’. If I have to contest, I can do that anywhere, it is God and not my power and also the support of Asiwaju Tinubu and the people of the states concerned. Politics is a noble calling and a profession.
It is saddening that while we are promoting regionalism, some people are fanning the embers of sectionalism. If we are sincere about regionalism agenda, no one should have bothered about where a Yoruba man comes from, once it is a location in Yoruba land, you would agree with me that the glorious moment we had was the era that we had regions. What the critics don’t know is that I am one of the few politicians that is as large as I am in more than a state, am as large as I am in Lagos as in Osun. The other point is that from the time I would leave office to the time of the election, it is clear six months, therefore we would have enough time to make up our mind. It should be noted, however, that there is no decision yet on it but I can appear anywhere I so desired.
Last moments with late Senator Isiaka Adeleke
We had good rapport; his house in Lagos is adjacent to mine. We have been good friends before we met in politics and before I travelled to China on 28th March, he came to my house and we left to attend Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s colloquium. We also attended the commissioning event of a bridge in honour of Asiwaju Tinubu together. We later registered presence at the dinner in honour of the Lagos State former governor. He was a political associate and a friend.
Any new initiative?
We are trying an idea and we want to use Ife South as a model. We would rehabilitate elementary schools in the local government and we plan to complete it within 90 days if we are convinced about the reasonability and viability of the project. We would move to Ifedayo and from there to other local government areas.
Is the promised creation of Osun Food Market in Lagos a mirage?
We are coming up with an initiative that would provide an electronic platform for farmers to register and have their capacities for production documented and the links with the off takers and other necessary stakeholders would be facilitated by the government. I know I promised the establishment of the Osun Food Market in Lagos during the electioneering campaigns and I assure you that before my tenure ends, there would be a dedicated market for farm produce from Osun in Lagos.
On the payment of half salaries to workers?
Majority of the workers get their full salaries, you know it is like a pyramid. Those on the lower part of the rung of the ladder are higher in number , we have paid level 1 to 8 their full salaries up to date. It is only those above that level that have got half salaries and this is not unexpected cognizant of the trying and challenging period we have experienced and still experiencing. If Saudi Arabia of 40 million population and the highest producer of oil could cut salaries of its workers for a year because of challenges; ours should not be strange.
Rumours about the university he allegedly established in Kogi State?
I don’t own a house in Kogi let alone a nursery school, secondary school or a university. Anyway, it is not difficult to find out the number of universities we have and the owners. The National University Commission has a portal that could be assessed.
I don’t even own a bank account, the one I was using when I was Commissioner in Lagos got closed down because I didn’t go for the BVN and I challenge anyone who knows of any account belonging to me anywhere in the world to name it.
Why has the ‘Walk To Live’ Programme been suspended?
Yes, I agree with you that the ‘Walk To Live’ Programme helps in enhancing physical fitness, overall health and wellness. We have not done if for a long time now, just like the ‘Ogbeni Till Day Break’, the last edition we had was in July 2013. But I am happy to tell you that it is one of the enviable records we have to our credit. Apart from Mao of China and Fidel Castro of Cuba, no one has beaten our records in terms of having the head of government walk with the people on the road. In all, we have covered 91.5 kilometers during the ‘Walk To Live’ Programmes, it shows faith in the people to walk among them for that stretch. Another one in that category is the school feeding programmes; as at December 2016 we have fed pupils in the state 200 million plates of food though our social intervention programme, the World Bank used the state as a model and an example. The commodities used in providing the nutritious meals are locally produced and purchased.