Governor Aregbesola’s Celebration of Mediocrity

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Ring True with Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

Governor Rauf Aregbesola spent most of this week celebrating seven years of his administration. I am still struggling to understand the essence of the celebration. This is a state where civil servants and retirees die daily, waiting for salaries and pension. It is even more painful that he wasted state resources for this celebration of mediocrity, amidst so much hunger, disease, poverty in the state. Key infrastructure in Osun public hospitals and schools are in a tattered state, yet, Aregbesola is celebrating. The truth be told; no administration has ever inflicted this much pain on these luckless people. Aregbesola and his seven-year-old administration represent anguish. This governor, with unprecedented impunity, owes civil servants salaries running into several years. Once a while, he pays half salaries. Only God knows what that means. As a result, public servants are perpetually on strike and persistently curse the day they voted for this “governor from hell”.

While Aregbesola was celebrating, the 21-day ultimatum given to him by lecturers at the polytechnics and colleges of educations owned by the Osun State government to resume payment of full salaries and address other issues including obnoxious taxes, lack of good roads and toilets for students, elapsed on November 27. The lecturers, who are operating under the aegis of Council of Academic Staff Unions of Osun State Owned Tertiary Institutions, (CASUOSTI) said that they had been placed on half salary for the past 26 months and had been paying high tax despite this. The ultimatum was signed by Olusegun Lana, Chairman of CASUOSTI and some of his colleagues.

The lecturers said: “For several years now, the academic staff of the state-owned tertiary institutions have been subjected to untold hardship, frustrations and unprecedented levels of demoralisation by the harsh effects of un-addressed festering issues ranging from unfulfilled collective agreement, selective justice in the reinstatement of disengaged members of staff, withdrawn statutory benefits tantamount to salary reduction, salary modulation (half salary) regime now up to 26 months, cut-throat tax, injuriously administered contributory pension scheme to several other painful conditions.” Aregbesola was also accused by CASUOSTI of not remitting pensions deducted from salaries of civil servants to appropriate pension fund administrators.

In this state of Osun, civil servants have been turned into paupers. Retirees are also in a mess. Aregbesola has spent the last seven years pummeling these hapless pensioners. They were again on the streets of Osobgo recently to protest against non-payment of their gratuities and the preposterous payment of half pensions by the state government. Omoniyi Ilesanmi, Chairman, Forum 2011/2012 Retirees remarked: “Aregbesola’s refusal to pay our gratuities and pension is the height of wickedness and we retirees will not stop fighting for our right.”
These pensioners have become beggars after serving the state for years. The plight of those who retired in the last seven years is most pathetic. While they were in service, salaries and allowances were irregular, no thanks to Aregbesola. After retirement, pension and gratuities were also not paid. This is man’s inhumanity to man.

The Osun State governor never ceases to amaze me. His trickery is legendary. One of such bogus projects he launched with fanfare was the state’s airport project located in Iddo. It is appalling that despite all the abracadabra around the project, the airport remains a pipe dream. Clearly, Osun State does not need an airport, considering the fact that there is one, just a stone throw in Ibadan. This project does not make any economic sense. This governor has also plunged the state into unprecedented debt estimated at about N200 billion. Just as Segun Akinwusi, former Head of Service, HOS, of Osun State, stated recently, “When a government chooses to indulge in trivialities, the end result is for it to be looking for scapegoats to cover its infamy. Osun state economy today has collapsed, the debt profile has reduced the state indigenes to beggars and destitute.”

Aregbesola is usually not happy with people like Akinwusi. The governor recently sent the EFCC after this foremost critic of his style of governance with a dubious petition. A cooked up allegation of abuse of office was leveled against him. I doubt if this can silence a dogged fighter like Akinwusi. May Allah save Osun State.