Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties in Osun State, Olalekan Badmus, yesterday, spoke on the second year anniversary of the state government. Yinka Kolawole presents the excerpts:
Governor Adegboyega Oyetola will be two years in office on November 27. How will you access his administration so far?
First, let me appreciate, on behalf of my principal, the good people of Osun for their trust and supports we enjoyed in the past two years. The administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola has no doubt brought relieve to many aspects of the state’s economy.
He has been able to touch significantly several sectors. Health, they say, is wealth. His commitment and passion for this sector is top-notch. The reconstruction of 332 Primary Health Care Centers across the state has brought a lot of succor to our people. The PHCs are usually the first point of call in health delivery and the idea is to make sure that there is the presence of at least one PHC in all the 332 wards in the state.
Through this initiative, we have brought functional and quality healthcare to our people’s doorsteps. And it is no gainsaying that we have started reaping from this initiative as statistics over the last one year indicate a drastic reduction in maternal and infants mortality. This simply implies our pregnant women now receive better treatment within their immediate community.
Also, let me state with all form of confidence that this administration did not stop work on all on-going infrastructural projects flagged-off by the last administration. Upon assumption of office, he ordered all contractors back to site.
Aside this, we are also constructing new roads across all Local Government Areas in the state. Although we might not have all the monies yet but Mr. Governor, through his ingenuity has figured out a way to carrying on with projects and also perform the statutory duties of paying workers salaries as and when due. In fact, gratuities are now paid to our retired workers. In all, one can say that this administration is visionary, purposeful and focused.
What is the spate of development in Osun, compared to other states in the last two years?
One thing that we must get very accurately clear is that Osun is not part of the top 10 earners of federal allocation in the country and no full-fledged industry is operating here save for Tuns Farms, Justrite, Dipson Plastics, Breweries in Ilesa and a few others.
We cannot boast of having any industry yet the unemployment level in the state is one of the lowest in the entire country. You will agree with me that the best form of development is investment in human capital and capacity building. How were we able to do it? We sustained all our social investment programmes.
There are numerous programmes in place to fully engage our youths, women and aged: OYES, O’MEAL, O’TRAM, EduMarshals, etc. All these programmes have been able to assist a lot of people off the street.
Some of the beneficiaries now build their own houses and set up their private businesses after a while. We are not going to stop at that. There are programmes in the pipeline to further improve the state’s general outlook. Without doubt, we have an edge in terms of provision of jobs.
Mr. Governor and his team are also working on how the Ilesha brewery can return to its status. The parties involved are assiduously working on putting back things in shape.
Aside from all these, the economic summit organised by this administration has helped a lot. The three focal areas include Agriculture, Tourism and Minning. As we speak, the three sectors have witnessed tremendous patronage. Our farmers through several programmes and initiatives have been duly supported in this regard.
The numerous tourist attractions sites in this state have been duly identified and efforts are seriously ongoing to ensure they come into full operations.
The third, which is the mining sector, has received great attention. At least, we all know it’s not business as usual again. Proper MoUs have been undertaken with companies with vast experience in that sector. By the time this comes to full operations, the rate of unemployment will further reduce.
Another factor is that of security of lives and property. Prior to the ENDSARS protest that was hijacked by some hoodlums, which resulted in the breakdown of law and order throughout the country, Osun has always maintained its place as one of the safest in the country.
When we came on board, we consolidated on that by paying attention to all security matters. Just like other Southwest States, we set up Amotekun Security Outfit to complement the activities of orthodox security operatives. Their role is to secure those places other security operatives cannot go to.
They are to also secure our communities for most of them know the terrain better. We also have the Joint Task Force set up by Mr. Governor with a view to ensuring that we are on top of our security situation throughout the state.
What are the outstanding achievements of the administration?
Yes, there are numerous achievements that we have recorded since the past two years. They have left many wondering how we were able to get here without borrowing. As much as we are servicing the previous loans yet massive infrastructural development is still ongoing.
Let me begin with the most recent one, which is the implementation of National Minimum wage by the state. Only four other states have done this and one must know that whenever Mr. Governor makes pronouncements, he follows through.
He only says what he can do. He has never been a dishonest leader. He would rather not talk about it than to raise false hope in the people. He has assured that by the end of this month, workers are getting their new minimum wages.
Secondly, this administration has worked on servicing debts owed to our lenders without borrowing more. It takes serious financial discipline and engineering to achieve this. I’m glad just as every other well-meaning people of Osun that we have someone as Mr. Governor at the helm of our affairs.
Previous projects are ongoing and new projects are springing on board. No doubt, payment of salaries and gratuities fully has become problems for some states in our country despite their huge resources. It is no magic only that we have been able to get our priorities right. For us, it is what remains after paying salaries that we use for infrastructural development, and it is working quite well for us. In no distant time, we’d be seeing a rebuilt Osun that will be industrial and self-sustaining.
We are have constructed numerous roads in addition to the Ona-Baba-Ona Road nearing completion. Construction of Ara-Ejigbo-Ede Road has been completed, GRA/Ilobu road has been constructed, Alekuwodo/Akindeko/WAEC Road has been completed, 2.25km Road within Ilobu has also been completed, additional 650m Road Extension within Ilobu Road, GRA is completed too. Also, 280m Engr. Benjamin Olamijulo Road in Ilobu has been completed.
Also, at Ereja Roundabout-Ereguru-Isaare-Irojo Sabo-Ilesa/Akure Expressway has been completed within two years as well. Famia Road, Ipetumodu-Asipa-Ife/Ibadan Expressway, Moro-Yakoyo-Ipetumodu are also some of the roads completed. Moro to Akinlalu spans over 8 kilometre and this road shall be delivered this month. As of moment, they are laying its asphalt and touching some other necessary areas. This project is perhaps the highest capital project in history in that area.
Aside our strides in road constructions, we have touched some schools, like Oroki LG High School, L.A. Commercial Grammar School, Iwo, provision and equipping of Vocational Centre at School for the Special Needs, mass employment of teachers is also ongoing. We are not neglecting any sector. We may not have it all, but again, we have our priorities right.
I really don’t want to talk about this but the Dry Port at Dagbolu is one of the most important things that need to get us talking. When Dagbolu International Trade Centre is completed, would further drive our potential as a state. It is going to provide a lot of jobs.
How true is the insinuation that Governor Oyetola has disconnected himself from the legacy of his predecessor?
There is no scintilla of truth in that insinuation. Every individual has a distinct style. What is obtainable with Mr. A may not be with Mr. B. Such a thing should not be judged at all. Let me use a close example. Some people can read and assimilate while the music is playing loudly while some cannot. That doesn’t mean that those ones listening to loud music while reading would not pass or what they are doing is wrong.
For instance, when we came in, Mr. Governor did a thank you tour of the entire state and during that tour, the people complained about the single uniform adopted by the state. They were bitter and obviously do not align with the idea of using same uniforms in our schools. Mr. Governor promised them on this and it’s all about what the people want and not about differences.
Recently, the governor was attacked by hoodlums at the EndSARS protest ground in Olaiya, Osogbo, what does this portend for his popularity?
We all know the attack was not carried out by the peaceful protesters but by opposition elements. It was a calculated attempt to take the life of Mr. Governor. They knew it would be difficult to defeat him at the polls and the only option they have was to make attempts at his life. Mr. Governor is very much loved by the people but oppositions will always try their best to smear the personality of a good man.
As the commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties, what is the success story of this administration in your ministry?
We don’t have a specific activity in the ministry. It is more of stepping in to execute tasks at any time, that notwithstanding, we did the decoration of major cities in the state in December 2019 to welcome the yuletide period. During that time as well, we also held countdown to 2020 Fiesta
Again, despite Covid-19 pandemic running through the month of June, Democracy Day celebration did not suffer as we organised a befitting event using the opportunity of mass media technology.
Mr. Governor also gave us the approval to hold a weeklong Hijrah 1442 celebration during the month of August. In that month too, we celebrated the 29th celebration of the state’s creation – an event, which ran for a whole week.
We were actively involved in the state’s Covid-19 pandemic management as I served on several committees, including Taskforce and Enforcement Committee and Logistics Committee. We had the opportunity of organising Independence Day Essay Writing Contest where top three went home with interesting prizes. I also worked closely with DAWN commission in actualising the goals of states in Southwest Nigeria.
What do you consider as the challenges of this administration?
It is a publicly known thing that we are lacking financially. But very soon we are hopeful that the story would change for the better. The entire team is working really assiduously and we would get the desired results soon.