In this interview with Uhuru Times, Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties, Ajibola Basiru, has described opposition critics of Governor Rauf Aregbesola as political upstarts, who should not be taken seriously. Excerpts:
The opposition in Osun State believes the financial health of the state is shrouded in secrecy. What is the true position of things?
The so-called opposition cannot honestly believe that the financial health of the state is shrouded in secrecy unless they are outrightly mischievous or ignorant about governance and financial matters. It is in the public domain that, twice this year, the state approached the Capital market with bonds issuance and twice the state offering were oversubscribed by sophisticated investors in the capital market. Part of the regulatory requirements for assessing the capital market is publication of your accounts and this was done by the state and published in national dailies. How can what is published in national dailies be shrouded in secrecy? Will the investing public put their money on a state that is not healthy financially? Also, there was regulatory requirement for credit rating so that certain categories of institutional investors can invest in the State’s bond issuance program and leading rating agencies in Nigeria rated the State AA. How else can discerning and sincere mind get the feelers that the state is
in good financial state? But you see, the so called opposition, whose ranks have virtually thinned out will have to say something and that is why, being astounded by the massive infrastructural development being undertaken by Aregbesola government have to be lying shamelessly and exhibiting crash ignorance by stating that the financial health of the state is shrouded in secrecy. Are these opposition minorities not aware that there is a debt management office both at the state and local government levels where information on indebtedness of the state can be obtained? Were these opposition in slumber when the Federal Debt Management office recently published list of debtor states and Osun was not among them. To show their level of shameless ignorance and mischief they even claimed that the state is indebted to the tune of N300 billion! Where will the state get the lenders to advance such huge loans having regard to the existing financial legal and regulatory environment? The truth is that by probity and integrity and
financial engineering the opposition are confounded that the state is developing in an unprecedented manner. Really, the signpost of the opposition in Osun is lying shamelessly. There is one of their aspirants who claimed that this government has not completed any project and that only one school has been completed and that that school is not even in use. One wonders how a shameless liar like that can be aspiring to rule our people. Completed projects abound all over our towns and villages in Osun and students have completed a full term in the school that he said has not been put to use. Several other new schools have been completed all over the state. They also lied that work of Old garage to Kwara State boundary has been stopped, whereas work is going on day and night. The so called opposition lack integrity and should not be taken serious by anyone.
Unemployment is a major issue in Nigeria, and Osun State has its fare share of it as well. Beyond efforts by the state government to employ into its public service, what is your score card concerning employment generation?
Contrary to the shenanigan by lying opposition, our state under the leadership of Ogbeni Aregbesola has a most pragmatic approach to addressing youth employment. The flagship program of Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) which was launched with 20,000 youths is in its second batch of another 20,000 making 40,000. The success of the OYES program has been acknowledge not only by the World Bank but by the Federal government and our OYES is the template used by the Federal Government and the World Bank for the YESSO program now in
some other states. When I read some upstart aspirant criticisng the program by saying graduates are engage to cut grasses, I wonder if the program is bad as such will their bosses at federal level embrace it. The truth is that OYES program has provided a gateway for meaningful engagements of the teeming unemployed youths who are now gainfully employed even outside the scheme. Is it not hypocritical that it is the same opposition that said the youth are not gainfully employed in OYES that are saying that we ought not to give preferential treatment to them in engagement in civil and teaching services. Overwhelming majority of the first batch of OYES are now engaged productively elsewhere. The OREAP Youth Academy is also one of the areas where the youths are engaged. Many other youths and women are engaged in the school feeding program. One wonders whether the upstart aspirants in
the opposition are not aware that the National Bureau of Statistics scored the state as 2nd in tackling unemployment in the country.
Unlike Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Ogun states, there has been no sign of division or crisis with the APC in Osun State. What is the magic wand used in achieving this?
There is no magic wand here o! We are not magicians. The APC in the state has been blessed with qualitative and fair-minded leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. As we all know he is an experienced politician that is just, honest, sincere and fair to all leaders, members and stakeholders in the party.
In concrete terms, explain what the Osun State electorates should look upon to give the governor a second term opportunity come November this year.
At the risk of sounding immodest, I do not entertain any doubt that Osun electorates will re-elect Ogbeni. The electorates should look forward to the continuation of implementation of the six-integral action plan that has seen the state developed in all spheres in the past three years. As published by the National Bureau of Statistics, the state is the best in terms of Human Development Index in Nigeria. We will not change the winning formulae. As I am speaking we are already working on the GREEN BOOK 2.0, which will be the revised edition of our manifesto, in line of what has been accomplished. This will be unveiled when the campaign start proper. I must digress to laugh at the theme of campaign of one of the upstart aspirants in the PDP that said his campaign theme is “Rescue Mission”. He must be victim of delusion. What is there to rescue in a state that has become a success story in the last three years by a man who spent 8 years in the senate and has nothing to show in terms of positive impact on the people?