By Sarafa Ibrahim
In the heat of the 2022 governorship election in Osun state, those opposed to the choice of Senator Ademola Adeleke as governor came up with a petty argument to downplay his suitability for the role. They played up his hobby of dancing as a weakness that should discourage the electorate from settling for his choice, casting serious doubt on his ability to handle the enormous responsibility that comes with being a governor of a state like Osun, struggling with daunting challenges caused by past maladministration.
What they missed, and now quite evident, is that a happy man will always radiate happiness to the people he leads. This has been the experience with Governor Adeleke in the last 11 months of his assumption of office, not just shattering the wicked expectations of his traducers, but proving the Osun electorate that entrusted him with their mandate right.
The most recent example is the unveiling of a multi-billion infrastructure fund for the state. Massive? That is right, but more appealing is the insight into the future and the ambitious resolve to birth a new Osun that was reflected in the infrastructure plan. Another thing was the spread, which clearly was a departure from the past, which saw projects usually concentrated in the state capital, Osogbo.
In the infrastructure plan, at least five overhead bridges will be constructed in the state, with two of such to be situated in Osogbo, while the remaining will go to the two other senatorial districts. And to note that the infrastructure plan will be funded without any loan from financial institution, to the extent of burdening the future, makes it even more superb.
And not just overhead bridges, but the dualization of identified roads in Ede, Osogbo, and Ilesa in a bid to ease traffic jams and reduce accidents. In addition to this, Governor Adeleke will be undertaking the construction of a total of 45 kilometers of roads across the state, with each local government having at least 1.5 kilometers to improve connectivity and enhance the local economy.
As usual, some people, noticeably from the opposition, tried to introduce their infantile thoughts with the question of why the state needs such infrastructures at a time like this. The limitations those thoughts conveyed were aptly countered by a citizen on X (formerly Twitter) with the handle @ibkzee1 by noting that “Presently now all this flyover don’t really needed but it will be needed in the next 5 years. Maybe! So, if you do it now is a plus(+) for us. No wahala.”
Any reasonable mind will share this sentiment. The government should be forward-thinking otherwise will leave the people with the pain of failing to act in time. Most of the challenges we are facing today could have been solved yesterday, and even at a cheaper cost, but reasoning as the one openly expressed by APC elements did not allow it.
To be clear, the infrastructure plan of Governor Adeleke answers the questions of not just today, but also seeks to put Osun in a good standing in the future. This aspiration was loudly echoed by Governor Adeleke at the unveiling ceremony when he said “Osun as the cradle of Yoruba nation must move quickly on the ladder of development. We can and must surpass those presently leading among comity of state.” What an ambitious push!
By investing in the rehabilitation of 345 health centres in the 332 wards in the state, Governor Adeleke would be expanding healthcare access to people at the grassroots. Because this would not just be about painting the walls of the centres as we have seen in the past, but a total overall of the facilities and provision of portable waters, new toilets, bedsheets, solar power installation for 24/7 electricity, and more importantly, drugs to ensure that they can serve Osun people better.
This will be complimented by the Imole Surgical and Medical Outreach, which according to Governor Adeleke, will now hold every quarter to render needed medical services to the people of the state. So far, the Imole Surgical and Medical Outreach has been held twice, and no less than 50 thousand people, mostly residents have benefited from all sorts of medical interventions ranging from free surgeries for Cataracts, Pterygium, Hernia, and some swellings on the body. Persons with medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, malaria, cough, and tuberculosis, among other diseases, were also catered for.
And education sector was not left out of the infrastructure plan. It must be noted that in the last 11 months, Governor Adeleke had embarked on the rehabilitation of public schools in Osun state to improve the learning environment. At least, one public school in each of the local governments has seen an infrastructural upgrade, addressing the debilitating state of some of these facilities.
Governor Adeleke, according to the infrastructure plan, will continue in this direction, as one school in each of the thirty local government areas and area office will get a complete infrastructure uplift. Just as done in phase one, identified public schools in Osun state will wear a new look with an infrastructural facelift, and also equipped with essential learning tools, including desks for students. These investments will soon be complemented by the recruitment of competent and qualified teachers as Governor Adeleke hinted that “a need assessment is ongoing to determine the teachers’ requirements across subjects and schools. This will help to determine the numbers of teachers to recruit.”
The provision of clean and portable water for the people also got the consideration of Governor Adeleke, as the infrastructure plan included the sinking of 332 motorized boreholes in the entire wards of the state. Just as achieved with the first phase of the boreholes project, the new set will avail underserved communities in each political ward with access to clean and drinkable water. Also inside the infrastructure plan is the lighting up of Osun through the installation of solar-powered streetlights in all major towns, particularly Osogbo, to enhance security and contribute to the economy.
And here is the most fascinating aspect of the infrastructure plan– it will be delivered within 12 months. That is, by this time next year, we should be having the full effect of the infrastructure, and the impact on the people and the economy of the state can be better imagined. Don’t also forget the commitment of the Governor to local content in the execution of the projects by declaring that “Osun money will be spent in Osun. We are determined to eliminate capital flight as witnessed in the past.”
In short, the last 11 months of Governor Adeleke in the administration of Osun state have been refreshing, and if we consider the bold prospects of the infrastructure plan for the state and its people, the future looks even more promising. This is why it will be so hard not to share the comment of a friend, John Shuaibu, in a WhatsApp group that “He (Adeleke) is doing well. The dancer, the performer.” I’m sure the fiercest antagonist of Governor Adeleke will agree in their minds that they were wrong about him, although, may find it hard to say it out.
• Sarafa Ibrahim is a Special Assistant to the Osun State Governor and writes from Iwo, Osun State.