When my opinion essay entitled: Nigerians in search of heroes was first published in the Sunday Herald of June 25, 1989 it was one determined quest for the rare breed of highly patriotic, selfless and visionary home-grown political leaders. Leaders who, by their sterling achievements would connect the people with the vast natural endowments, part of which was then being brazenly plundered by the military men that held the reins of political power.
Decades later, and with the baton of political leadership now in the hands of duly elected representatives of the people, one makes bold to note that we have a handful of them now dictating the destiny of men and materials. That is, at both the state and federal levels. Without sentiments, one would gladly pin-point Governor Ibikunle Amosun, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as one of them. Only recently, President Goodluck Jonathan gave him a National Honour(… .).It was well-deserved, as verifiable facts and figures would attest to his exemplary leadership. Surely, the man with the trade mark, towering cap has lofty ambitions.
For Nigerians who have had the opportunity to visit Ogun State some four years ago and now go back there, one would be simply astounded at the monumental physical structures that have sprung up courtesy of Governor Amosun’s giant imprints on the sands of time. The expansive, dual-carriage roads constructed with effective drainage channels are welcome gestures, that indeed available state resources are being judiciously put to use for the benefit of the people.
Propelled by the pragmatic Five Cardinal Programme of affordable and qualitative education, with equal access for all; efficient healthcare system, increased agricultural production ,affordable housing scheme as well as rural infrastructure, these have facilitated the tag of Ogun state as the nation’s largest industrial hub. Indeed, it takes a committed governor and his workaholic team to have raised the Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) profile from 28th position out of 36 states to the enviable position of number two(next to Lagos state) within a short span of three years, four months. Notable too is that it has consistently generated an average of N5.2 billion monthly over the past six months, in spite of the fact that it ranks as the 29th state in terms of Federal Allocation. This is worthy of both commendation and emulation.
His commendable strides in the field of education reminds one of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blai who, when asked about his vision for the country said, “education, education and education.” It also brings to memory a Chinese proverb which states that: “If you are planning for a year, plant rice. If for a decade, plant trees. But if for a lifetime, educate the people.” In retrospect, Ogun State has for eons been regarded as the cradle of western education in Nigeria, no thanks to the citizens’ early contact with the white missionaries. For instance, Iwe-Irohin, one of the first recognized newspapers in the country was established there as far back as 1859 Some of Nigeria’s globally acclaimed brilliant minds, including late Prof. Adeoye Lambo, the late Afrobeat music icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and of course, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka have their roots firmly in Ogun State.
Currently, Gov. Amosun stands tall amongst his peers by building on the worthy legacy of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo with the totally free and compulsory education from the primary to secondary school level. Tertiary education, though not free is heavily subsidized. There is the provision of recommended textbooks as well as exercise books and writing materials. According to Amosun, one could imagine a sordid scenario whereby a subject master had to make do with one photo-copied textbook before he was elected governor. Back then, it was horrifying to note that his government inherited 10 new tertiary institutions with the scandalous situation whereby a huge pile of 19 months unpaid salaries stared him in the face. Public schools were established and two years on there were no subventions! Some tertiary institution went for eight sessions without convocation ceremonies! These were some of the seemingly daunting challenges he had to grapple with.
But not only were all the backlog of such salaries and subventions paid, his administration has gone ahead to establish most modern model schools, fully equipped with state-of-the art libraries and laboratories encapsulating virtually all science/technical subjects. Add these to the Operation Renovate 100 schools in 100 days and the picture of a purposeful approach to governance would be more appreciated. Said he in a recent media chat: “We are spending more on education than even on infrastructure. So far we have spent N160 billion on education.”Some 90 per cent of such monies go into wages of teachers, in addition to training and re-training “the trainers”.
Expectedly, so far these visionary initiatives have started yielding sweet fruits. Several students from Ogun state public schools are currently excelling in national academic competitions including mathematics and sciences as well as in School Certificate examinations set and marked by West African Examination Council(WAEC),NECO and JAMB.
Such enviable accomplishments have been extrapolated into the public health sector. Apart from equipping and renovation of existing, dilapidated structures, new ones have since been established and more medical staff employed with requisite training. About 70 per cent of the subvention for the health sector goes into salaries and wages of staff. Like their counterparts in the education sector they are well motivated and the results are there for all to see. Meaningful development must begin with the welfare of workers. That is the moral lesson. With a fully functional cargo airport and light rail gearing up for takeoff come 2015, one would gladly invite others to: Come and see ogun wonder! Surely, this hero of our modern democracy deserves a Second Term, without sentiments attached.
SOURCE: DAILY INDEPENDENT
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