By Kehinde Onasanya
There is no better way to celebrate a visionary leader than to take a cursory look at his works and benchmark it with the yearnings of the people.
The celebration of this elder statesman cannot be complete without making reference to his giant strides as Governor of Ogun State with landmark achievements documented for posterity. This is the time to go memory lane!
It would be recalled that during the second coming of Chief Olusegun Osoba as the Governor of Ogun State in May 2001, the then Ministry of Information documented his giant strides as encapsulated in a publication titled, “The Legend”, which indeed captured the landmark achievements of the visionary Governor within the period.
The title itself was informed by the execution of concrete projects coupled with series of attestation and “words on marble” by eminent citizens of the State on the remarkable achievements of the Governor in just 24 months in office. The title of the publication was apt and the well documented 24-month wonder of the legendary figure reveals thus:
- Electrification of 90 towns and village Water supply to 22 towns and villages Construction/rehabilitation of 76 post primary school buildings. Rehabilitation of Nine (9) Existing Water Schemes. Construction of 12 General Hospitals with five (5) already commissioned
- Construction of 20 major roads stretching over 177 kilometres across the State
- Payment of WAEC/NABTEB fees for final year students for the 1999/2000/2001
- Abolition of fees and other levies in secondary schools as well as provision of running costs in all post-primary institutions
- Increase in bursary awards and purchase of benches for secondary schools.
- Completion of the Third Ogun River Bridge in Abeokuta.
- Procurement of tractors to sustain mechanized farming
- Rehabilitation of the Gateway Hotels in Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode and Ota
- Installation of new transmitters and ancillary equipment for OGBC and OGTV.
- Rehabilitation of 150 classrooms and construction of 94 new ones in primary schools as well as promotion of 5,000 primary school teachers
- Construction of four (4) Olympic standard Lawn Tennis Courts in Abeokuta
- Acquisition of 40 new buses for the State owned Gateway Transit Ltd.
- Construction of Auditorium at the NUJ Press Centre
- Construction of a befitting annex to the Government House in Abeokuta among many other people oriented projects spread accross the lenght and breadth of the state.
Without any doubt, the feat recorded in the first two years in office before the incursion of the military provided a solid plank which gravitated into monumental achievements when Chief Osoba mounted the saddle as Governor again . This time around, the tempo of development was not only sustained but well throttled.
The attestation by eminent personalities, including the foremost traditional rulers in the State , aptly captured the mood of the State, on page 47 of another publication by the Ministry of Information in conjunction with SAKE and Co. Ltd. titled “Ogun State Today, An Appraisal of the Gateway State at 25.”
The compedium was published in the February , 2001 . Said the Awujale of Ijebuland , Oba ( Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona in the publication: “One thing I know about Ogun State is that education is its only investment.
In fact, the bulk of the State’s funds go to that sector. That is why I wonder where our Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, gets the money which he uses to execute all the various projects we are witnessing in this State from”.
Oba Adetona stated this at the launching of a N500 million Education Trust Fund for Yewaland on 17th March, 2001. That was not the first time Oba Adetona would make such remark. The Awujale merely reiterated the point he made so eloquently a few months earlier at the commissioning of Mamu road in Ijebu North Local Government area. Said the kaabiyesi to the cheering crowd:
“If you look at the pages of Newspapers or listen to Radio, you will see that for some time now, our Governor has been commissioning one project or the other. It is either electricity or water or roads. So much is happening in Ogun State today. As he commissions in Egba, he commissions in Yewa. As he commissions in Ijebu, he commissions in Remo. He commissions in Ake. He commissions in Oko. It has been a long time we have seen this kind of massive development in our State”
Speaking further, Oba Adetona said : “In fact, on many occasion, I have gone secretly, without telling anybody, to verify the claims being made by the Government on the projects executed or being executed. For instance, I went to see the Erunwon – Ijebu Igbo road and I was highly impressed by what I saw.
“Yet, I know that the greatest investment Ogun State has is education. A large chunk of our revenue goes to Education which makes me wonder where Akinrogun gets the money he is using to prosecute all these projects from. And I asked myself whether it is possible for the man to have a mint in his backyard”.
Then Kabiyesi led a song of praise and enjoined the audience to show their appreciation for what Governor Osoba has done for them .Certainly, Oba Sikiru Adetona is not known for idle talk. Neither is Kabiyesi known for sycophancy.
One particular virtue he is noted for worldwide is being forthright. Such is Oba Adetona’s standing in public eye that conferring someone with a chieftaincy title by the Awujale is regarded as a life time honor.
It was in that light that the public at large saw the conferment of AREMO on Governor Olusegun Osoba, indicating the great esteem in which Oba Adetona holds the tireless Chief Executive of Ogun State.
But Awujale was not alone in acclamation of Aremo Osoba’s 24-month wonder. Another Paramount Ruler, the late Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba (Dr.) Micheal Adeniyi Sonariwo, even went a little step further to see Aremo Oosba as a reincarnation of legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the defunct Western Region.
Speaking at the commissioning of two roads in Isara and Ode-Remo, the Akarigbo said that the last time massive development took place in any part of the South West was during Chief Awolowo’s era.
On his part, the then Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Late Oba (Dr.) Oyebade Lipede, hinted that “the whole State has witnessed development in one area or the other under Chief Osoba just as he prayed for a stronger love for one another, brotherly love and unity like never before.”
According to the Olu and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Late Oba (Dr.) S. A. Adekanbi, noted “the people of the State should be grateful to the administration of Chief Olusegun Osoba. I must tell you that the State and Yewaland in particular witnessed tremendous development during this period”.
Armed with avowed policy/cardinal programmes of the Alliance for Democracy, the party controlling the State, Chief Osoba left no stone unturned to ensure that basic amenities were brought to the door steps of the populace and the last two years of his administration recorded rapid development in the various sectors of the economy and also rekindled the glorious era of the first Civilian Governor of the State, Late Chief Victor Olabisi Onabanjo, whose administration laid a solid foundation for the development of the State.
In consonance with the policy of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) – the party controlling the State, Chief Osoba took the bull by the horn with concentrated effort on Infrastructural development which witnessed the opening up of the rural areas, with the Bureau of Special Duties under his direct supervision.
The Bureau of Rural Development provided the springboard for the construction of several kilometers of road, provision of water supply, and Electrification of several communities.
It is on record that many locked up villages were opened during the first coming of Chief Osoba (1992 – 1993) and a lot of achievements in the development of roads in the State were witnessed during his tenure.
The people of Ipokia Local Government, for example, would forever be grateful to Governor Osoba for constructing Idi-Iroko-Ipokia road while link between Abeokuta-Adigbe area and Obada Oko on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway was opened with the Third River Ogun Bridge which was generally applauded as a “bridge of necessity”.
During the period, maintenance of township roads was given prompt attention. Some of the roads that were either re-constructed or rehabilitated were Isaga-Joga-Imosan-Igbogila road, Owu township road, Orita-Imobi-Ebute-Imobi road, among others.
Although the return of the Military between 1993 and 1999 witnessed some rehabilitation efforts, but the second coming of Chief Osoba in 1999 marked the era of accelerated road development which peaked in 2003 with several kilometer of roads constructed and rehabilitated in the four zones of the State.
The golden era also witnessed remarkable development in the education sector with the provision of free qualitative education backed with provision of infrastructure.
The health sector also received a boost with the rehabilitation and upgrading of State hospitals across the State and completion of 12 new ones. While it is on record that an Ultra Modern Medical Centre and Staff Quarters were inaugurated at the Tongeji Island in Ipokia Local Government area of the State to ensure that the people of the island enjoy effective and efficient health care services, provision of sophisticated medical equipment, new ambulances and furniture items also featured prominently in the scheme of things at that period .
It was indeed an era of accountability in governance with various policies and projects as captured in another publication titled “Ogun State: 1999-2003, Major Projects and those at the helm of Affairs” published by the Ministry of Information, Ogun State in May, 2003.
Appreciating Chief Osoba on behalf of the government and people of Ogun State, the Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun extolled his virtues , saying he was proud of his uncommon pedigree as a thoroughbred reporter, editor , administrator, astute politician and statesman.
Prince Abiodun said the journey of Chief Osoba through life in the past 81 years has been strewn with honour, dignity, sacrifice, selflessness and dedication to worthy causes.
” We cherish your wealth of experience, exemplary leadership and the rich heritage that you have bequeathed to us in the Gateway State” , added Prince Abiodun. What a way to celebrate a quintessential leader of immense value . Happy birthday to a legend.
Onasanya is a Director in the Ogun State Civil Service