Three days ago, I was surfing my mobile library in preparation for my weekly column and I came across a political report I authored eight months ago titled “From brothers to Enemies: How rosy relationship between Oyetola and Aregbesola went sour” which was originally published by WITHIN NIGERIA online newspaper. I read this long, revealing article and concluded that there is no friendship or brotherhood that can not turn enmity.
I could recall that some readers who are followers of the duo felt uncomfortable with the use of ‘enemies’ in my title. They claimed the dispute between the duo is reconcilable and it can be easily resolved by the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu. They waited in vain as growing differences escalated the situation. Two brothers wrestled power till they lost it. When two cows fight over grass, a nearby goat roaming carelessly always end up being the beneficiary.
Sadly, Aregbesola and Oyetola are not the major losers here. Their direct lieutenants might not be major losers too. Aregbesola is a two-time governor and current Minister of Interior while Oyetola is a two-time Chief of Staff and current governor of Osun State. If peradventure Tinubu emerges as president, there is possibility that Oyetola will be appointed as a Minister.
The main losers are ordinary party members who were direct victims of (2006-2010) struggle. Persons who see politics as a profession and only survive when their preferred party is in power. Party loyalists who lost everything and gained nothing in the 12 years of APCs rule are the main losers. But the essence of this writing is not to discuss the electoral loss of APC and its consequences on members of the party. It is purposely written to discuss or analyse the effects of rift between Aregbesola and Oyetola on governance.
When the administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola came on board, people projected that it would be continuation of Aregbesola’s eight years. Political analysts who watched the debate and monitored campaigns also calculated that the tenure of Oyetola would not be a clear departure from Aregbesola’s template of governance. They maintained that Oyetola would not only continue as APC governor but also not neglect the six point agenda of his predecessor and former boss.
It is interesting to note that Aregbesola increased Osun domestic debt from N10 billion to N148 billion without the inclusion of debts incurred from uncompleted projects and salary arrears. These loans were mostly used by Aregbesola to fund his legacy projects while in power. Legacy projects such as Mega schools (10 completed), Bisi Akande Trumpet road (completed), the infamous Ona Baba Ona (uncompleted), airport project (abandoned), Ayegbaju international market (uncompleted) among others.
Beside legacy projects, Aregbesola also embarked on some programmes such as Igi-Iye (planting of trees), Opon-Imo (tablets of knowledge), O-Reap (agricultural advancement in rural areas), O-Yes (Youths empowerment), Osuwon Omoluabi (Measuring scales for virtuous people), among others. These programmes such as Igi-Iye, Opon-Imo, Osuwon Omoluabi and few others experienced deaths before he left office in 2018.
Aregbesola also introduced new policies to change the political and socio-cultural narratives of the state. From single uniform to reclassification of schools to same gender. He switched the system of local government from presidential to parliamentary.
Aregbesola changed the state’s identity from ‘Osun State’ to ‘State of Osun’. He also changed the slogan from ‘state of the living spring’ to ‘state of virtuous’. He introduced coat of arms and anthem. Within 8 years, Aregbesola changed the face of Osun, a product of ‘self thought’ achieved through collective efforts.
Barely a year in office, the actions of Governor Oyetola proved the expectations of political analysts wrong. He did not adopt the full governance template set up by his former boss. He embarked on a journey of stripping his former boss naked. He firstly set up a committee to review the educational policies in the state and vowed to enforce the recommendations of the committee. Within four years, Oyetola reversed all policies associated with education his former boss, Aregbesola introduced.
The governor reversed the 4-5-3-4 educational system introduced by the Aregbesola administration to 6-3-3-4. He activated old students associations. He reversed the single uniform system and reverted to old names of the schools. He also decentralised the school structure by separating the merged schools that, hitherto, operated as girls’ and boys’ schools.
When Aregbesola introduced these policies, the main opposition party (PDP) alongside pressure groups tackled them. There was loud ovation in the state when these policies were reversed yet some people were shocked that Oyetola not an opposition governor reversed these policies.
Out of all 11 proposed mega schools, 10 were completed and the one situated in Iwo has reportedly reached 85%. These schools are currently in despair. They were not maintained too. Government conducted integrity tests on the buildings and informed the public that these buildings failed integrity tests. As at the time of reportage, the mega schools are empty and in despair.
Recent developments have shown that Oyetola is still busy stripping Aregbesola’s naked despite electoral loss. Governor Oyetola recently ceded the runaway and the entire airport corridor of abandoned Moshood Abiola Kasimawo (MKO) International Airport which was proposed and initiated by Rauf Aregbesola while in office to the Nigerian Air Force.
Barely 24 hours after ceding the proposed MKO airport to Nigeria Air Force, the Osun State House of Assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Timothy Owoeye announced that it has reversed the system of local government from parliamentary to presidential.
Recall that Aregbesola, who is the current Minister of Interior, had during his government in the state, adopted parliamentary system for local governments in the state and argued that it is in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is possible that Aregbesola, a two-time Osun state governor might end up with little legacy projects and no new policy to his credits. I doubt if there is any policy introduced by Aregbesola aside identities that has not been reversed by this current administration.
Even though most of these policies when introduced were tackled by pressure groups including the about to be ruling party in the state but some analysts are simply worried that Governor Oyetola with assistance of Rt. Hon. Timothy Owoeye might end up stripping Aregbesola’s naked before he vacates office in November 26, 2022. From reversal of educational policies to switch of local government systems to …. The people of Osun are anticipating next moves.
Sodiq Lawal Chocomilo writes from Osogbo, the capital of Osun State