Quoting several development experts, Yinka Kolawole writes that the social protection policies of the Osun State government has had a huge impact on the state’s residents
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, (UNICEF), has described the Governor of Osun, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, as a symbol of service to the course of human development. The international organisation hinged its commendation passed on the governor on his commitment to human and infrastructure development since he assumed office in 2010.
The Chief of Field Services of UNICEF Nigeria, Dr. Annefrida Kisessa, made this observation at a get-together party organised by the state in honour of the representatives from 15 states and leadership of UNICEF on a visit to Osun to learn more about the state’s Social Protection Programmes and its successes. Kisessa expressed her delight over what she described as “good governance in action,” saying Osun has revolutionised governance in Nigeria. She applauded Aregbesola’s sense of commitment and passion to humanity, describing Osun’s social protection programmes as one of the best in the country.
The UNICEF team head said the social intervention initiatives of Aregbesola have been assessed to be one of the most impactful, beneficial and rewarding. According to her: “I have visited about 15 to 20 states in Nigeria and since I have been visiting, I have not seen a leader like Aregbesola with rare passion for people’s welfare. I have seen your passion to banish poverty, banish hunger, restore healthy living, promote functional and quality education for your people among others. I have also seen your passion to develop your people and your state. I am really proud of your achievements because I have seen your indelible legacies in all sectors.
“With what I have seen, it is clear that Osun has shown that education is the key to development. Your programmes are no doubt centred on the people as your social protection projects are designed to better the lives of your people, especially the less privileged, vulnerable and downtrodden. Your initiatives, like O’MEAL, O’YES, O’HUB, O’REAP, O’AMBULANCE, all have direct impact on your people.
“I am also happy because all the achievements of this state are properly and accurately documented. I have seen that Osun has genuine statistics and database for all its programmes. I have seen rare difference in governance in the case of Osun because, since I have been visiting states, Osun is the only state where sanitation takes precedence in the activities of the government as everywhere I have visited was clean and streets tidy even more than some of Abuja streets.
“Osun is a place I will like to be. I am very impressed with the quality of Osun Social Protection Programme. This shows the quality of Aregbesola’s leadership. It shows that Aregbesola is a very good leader and a symbol of service to humanity. I have come, I have seen and I have many memories to talk about.”
Director General, Office of Economic Development and Partnership, Dr. Charles Diji Akinola, said the social protection programmes of Osun has indeed helped to ameliorate poverty and improve the well-being of the citizenry since Aregbesola became governor. He said the state had been further encouraged by the supports from agencies locally and internationally, saying the contribution of UNICEF in consolidating and solidifying the initiatives of Osun government on its life-long human and capital development projects remains commendable.
He said: “About two years ago, Osun Government had collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on the need to strengthen the state’s social protection programme. Today, the visit of the leadership of the UNICEF to Osun is a demonstration of the robust relationship, between the organisation and the state.
“The idea behind this partnership is to consolidate on Osun’s social protection programmes, which have been the central concern of this administration; 13 of these projects would be discussed and shared with the visiting team. We have been encouraged with what UNICEF has done in ensuring a mutually-beneficial partnership.”
In their separate remarks, the Zamfara State Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Moukhtar Luga, said Aregbesola is one of the successful Nigerian politicians that has made the country proud. He noted that the governor has changed the face of governance in such a way that old beliefs and practices have been re-modelled.
He said: “I have seen so many projects. I have seen the quantum of infrastructure development put in place by the Aregbesola-led administration. I have seen a revolution going on in all sectors. I have seen how people are made to realise that change is about good governance and commitment to human and capital development. I have seen the passion and commitment to development as some of Osun policies and programmes have been replicated locally and internationally.
“I have gone round some of the schools built by your administration and I am impressed with what I have seen so far. I am going back to my state to ensure the replication of all these programmes.”
Sokoto State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sheu Balarabe, said he was elated to see the achievements of the state in all sectors. He described as heart-warming all he saw on his tour of some of the facilities, saying all the governor’s intervention programmes are highly conscious of the people.
According to Balarabe, “We have learnt a lot most especially on how things are being done in the state to record these laudable feats. We have been exposed to programmes like Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programmes called (O’REAP); Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES). We have also been told of how model schools built across the state came to limelight as well as other social protection programmes.
“I am proud of all these projects because I have been to schools. I have seen how children are being motivated with government programmes. I have seen the energy in the pupils as a result of support, which your government is making. All you are doing is about building an assured future for your state and the country as your projects are designed to meet the present and future needs of the people of the state.
“Osun has built a template and as well harnessed its potential in such a way that Nigerian Government and by extension the whole world could learn and tap from. Osun has built a template for education revolution. So, we have learnt a lot and we are ready to apply this in our states.”
The Head of Service, Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Idris, said the governor has, in six years, done what his peers would find difficult to do. “Aregbesola had achieved within six years of his administration what many of his peers could not achieve even if given third term to administer their states,” he said. “Aregbesola is one of the most successful politicians in Nigeria. You are one of the respected governors in Nigeria whose passion for development could not be tainted or distorted.”
On his own, the representative from Federal Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Dr. Samson Ebimaro, said what he saw in Osun was very amazing, emulating and commendable as they justify the honour given to the Governor in 2013 as one of the few working governors in Nigeria.
“I know all these are achieved with the supports which Mr. Governor received from his cabinet. So, as donor to both local and international agencies, we shall continue to support and encourage Osun Government to enhance quick realisation of its objectives since the state had taken first in all sectors,” Ebimaro said.
The Lagos State Director of Economic Partnership, Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Adejola Bankole, noted that with what he has seen in Osun, it is clear that all negative reporting in the newspapers are being concocted by some people to discredit Aregbesola’s administration. “I have gone round the state and I have seen real development and change and I encourage Mr. Governor not to be deterred but rather, double his efforts in taking the state to the Promised Land,” he said.
Earlier, Chief of Field Services, UNICEF, Akure, Nigeria, Dr. Tejinde-Singh Sandhu, noted that the “Osun government had demonstrated what government and good governance is all about as this was reflected in the passion of Governor Aregbesola to humanity, saying he has not seen “In any state in Nigeria where government caters for its citizens from cradle to grave as is being done by the Aregbesola-led administration in Osun.”
In his response, Aregbesola expressed gratitude to all representatives of the 15 visiting states most especially the leadership of UNICEF in Nigeria.
He said, “I thank you all for choosing Osun and for identifying with our successes in supporting our people. Our mission is to provide better quality of life and advance the general welfare of our people. It is our belief that this partnership will be sustained in furtherance of our collective efforts to enhance the living conditions of our people.”
He therefore enjoined UNICEF’s leadership on the need to prioritise seminars and meetings, which according to him would help to further strengthen development among the states of the federation.