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Resuming Our Journey To Greatness

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Speech delivered by Engr. Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, during his installation as the new governor of Osun State in Osogbo on Saturday

We stand today to celebrate the goodness of God and the unconquerable spirit of the people of Osun State. God and God alone is omnipotent. At His instance, tyranny crumbles; man’s pretence to omnipotence is shattered.

In recent years, it has been the fad for the purveyors of power in Osun State and in much of Nigeria, to forget that ultimately, power belongs to God. Those who attain power, whether by legitimate or illegitimate means, must never forget that they are only temporary custodians. Yes, only God’s power is everlasting.

We remind ourselves of this simple truth so that we may never repeat the tragedy of interlopers whose vision is blurred by the cataracts of selfish ambition and power run asunder. We are here today, not to merely claim the mandate of one man. We are here to claim, restore and enthrone the sovereign, inalienable, God-given and non-negotiable right of the people of Osun State to freely choose those who should govern them.

The peaceful, energetic and massive campaigns that we ran throughout the cities, towns, villages and hamlets of Osun State were driven, not by personal ambition for its own sake, rather, our inspiration was the necessity to urgently restore an epoch that once beckoned Western Nigerians to the glorious promise of freedom for all, life more abundant.

This was the promise that was evocatively espoused by sagely Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the visionary vanguard he led under the aegis of the Action Group. Awolowo’s tenure in office, first as leader of government business and subsequently as Premier of the Western Region of Nigeria, exemplified the truth that leadership and good governance have a lot more to do with clarity of vision, diligence of preparation and earnestness of efforts with orchestrated propaganda and bravado.

Awolowo’s enduring legacy taught us that government is a human invention for actualising the collective aspirations of a people. As such, good governance is not about the capacity of politicians to create the illusions of magic; it is about the capacity and willingness of servant-leaders to summon human ingenuity and steadfast efforts in tackling and surmounting the multitudinous problems that face society.

My copious references to Obafemi Awolowo are intended to remind us of a legacy of exemplary democratic governance of which every Yoruba can be proud. Indeed, Nigeria’s multi-ethnic enterprise would have made far better strides had Awolowo remained as Premier of Western Nigeria continuing to set for Nigeria and the continent of Africa, as he did, and internal model of progress and good governance.

Awolowo’s success in the Western Region of Nigeria, together with the healthy competition with the governments of Eastern and Northern regions yielded a pace of progress and development which remains unequalled even in the latter decades of oil wealth. Yes, we must remind ourselves that Awolowo’s undeniable achievements took place without the benefit of oil wealth.

More recently, Chief Bisi Akande met an empty treasury and mountains of debts when he assumed office as governor of Osun State, yet, his fiscal discipline and administrative genius resulted in his successfully executing and completing within four years, more projects than the man who has held the same office for the past seven and half years and who has had access to substantially higher revenues.

Indeed, Chief Bisi Akande’s performance in four years exceeded the combined record of all other governors who have ever ruled Osun State. Also, I had the privilege of serving as a commissioner in Lagos State under Governor Bola Tinubu who raised the internally generated revenues from N600 million per month in 1999 to N8.5 billion per month in 2007.

In other words, the absence of oil resources cannot and should not be used as an excuse for failing to embark on projects that will uplift our people beyond the stagnation, squalor and decay that have become constitutive in much of the Nigerian Republic.

Nigeria’s oil boom has become the doom of our republic because it has regretfully ensnared most of Nigerian rulers into a mind set that equates political power with the privileges, pomp and pageantry of its custodians. Many have forgotten that power, to its last particle, must be about duty and the ushering in of a greater tomorrow for the generality of the citizenry who have bequeathed such great honour to the custodians.

Therefore, it is with enormous gratitude to God and to the people of Osun State that I humbly accept the Office of Governor and the ponderous responsibilities that go with it. The visionary and purposeful leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo once inspired our people in a manner that ignited and unleashed their creative energy.

Today, we are gathered here to resume the journey that our people began with Obafemi Awolowo. The journey had continued under different settings with Governor Bola Ige from 1979 till 1983 and with Chief Bisi Akande from 1999 to 2003. Each time, the instrument of Federal power was misused to subvert the yearning of our people for progressive politicking and purposeful governance.

Today, after a foreboding darkness of seven and half years, God has lifted the eclipse of a reactionary governance from Osun State. Even so, we must not deceive ourselves about the magnitude of the challenges we face as we embark on the task of facilitating freedom for all and life more abundant for our people.

I, for one, have never deceived myself that the task of creating a new vision for Osun State belongs to me alone. Not at all, it is a task for all of us. In this vein, I call on the three arms of government; judiciary, legislature and the executive, to forge a smooth working relationship, through active collaboration that will guarantee the creation of a just, humane and prosperous society.

Education has been reduced in much of Nigeria that our young people have been deprived of skills and learning to empower them towards a life of dignity and self reliance. Our schools must be rebuilt and re-equipped to prepare our youths for the challenges of living in all spheres of life, including a modern technological age. I cannot do this alone. Together, we must do it. Ile-Ife, ibi ojumo ti mo wa, the cradle of Yoruba civilisation, deserves an uplifting worthy of the Yoruba throughout Nigeria and in the diaspora. I cannot do it alone. Together, we must do it.

Modern town planning for urban renewal must be restored to serve as pivot for economic development, wealth creation and promotion of small scale businesses as had begun under Obafemi Awolowo. In cities, towns and villages, environmental sanitation must be a daily exercise, not one relegated to the last Saturday of the month as is currently done. I cannot do this alone. Together, we must do it.

There is a global consciousness to arrest the effect of climate change on human and environment. As our own contribution to this laudable programme, the greening of our state is imperative. I, honesty, cannot do this alone. Together, we must do it.

Once upon a time, access to clean, pipe-borne water was the norm in our cities and urban centres. Typhoid fever, cholera and other water-borne diseases were kept from endlessly tormenting our people. We must provide clean water for people. I cannot do it alone. Together, we must do it.

A large army of unemployed youths are bound in our state. This is dangerous for our present and future. It is unacceptable and must be quickly arrested. I cannot do it alone. Together, we must do it.

Our tortuous experience of the last seven and half years, during which the power of incumbency was used to choke the political space of our state and to denigrate organs of state to instruments of terror, is a negation of the political liberalism for which we are celebrated. Our people must be permanently liberated from being pawns of power feint’s. I cannot do this alone. Together, we must do it.

Rebuilding Osun State was the promise we made during our campaigns. It is the duty we owe to ourselves as patriots who must reject the subhuman degradations to which our people are subjected. It is a duty we owe to the memory of Hassan Alabi-Olajokun, Saheed Adebiyi, Ayo Oni, Samson Olarewanju, Gbenga Sogo and others, whose lives were cut short simply because they partook of our mission to create a new Osun State. This duty we owe all our heroes past and present. It is a duty we owe our children and generations yet unborn. I cannot do this alone. Together, we must do it.

My dear people, we cannot perform all these onerous tasks without first embarking on thorough cleansing of the cesspit of pollution and the Aegean stable we are confronted with. To this end, I hereby order the freezing of all state accounts in all banks immediately. All ministries, departments and agencies’ cheque books are to be withdrawn and deposited with the state’s Accountant-General immediately. The Accountant-General is to collect all account balances as at Friday 26 November, 2010. This step is not punitive but to enable us have a clear and unambiguous picture of the state’s finances. I commit, from this day, to further re-dedicate myself to the cause of building this great state to its fullest potential, counting on the support of every one of you, because I believe, very resolutely, that it is possible.

I will devote all my energy, skill and talent to this very humbling and noble cause. Oranmiyan is here with us today. We feel the presence of the spirit of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo here today; we feel the presence of the spirit of Chief Adekunle Ajasin here today. We feel the warm presence of the spirit of Chief Abraham Adesanya here among us today. We feel the presence of the restless and rampaging spirit of our own Chief Bola Ige, who was assassinated by the deadly cabal in their bid to conscript Yorubaland into the reactionary fold. We feel the presence of the indomitable spirit of Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Alhaja Kudirat Abiola with us presently. We feel the presence of Chief Alfred Rewane.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me, at this point, recognise that it is God that has allowed us to come this far. We give Him all the glory and adoration. He deployed men and women of courage, grace and honour in the Nigerian judiciary to restore the mandate of his people. My gratitude to the Nigerian judiciary is fathomless. It has given hope to our people that all is not lost in the country. The independence and courage of the Nigerian judiciary continues to re-energise the rule of law as the critical requirement for sustaining democracy.

I commit myself irrevocably to these eminent values and I commend those eminent jurists who have displayed remarkable character and discipline. I salute the great men and women of our judiciary. I must also single out the dogged, courageous, irrepressible and indefatigable Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his total commitment to the cause of democracy, rule of law, true federalism, freedom, liberty, progress and development in our region and the nation. Tinubu, today, has become the leading light of the Yoruba resurgimento. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is my mentor, my role model, my leader, my motivator and benefactor.

My sincere gratitude also goes to Yeye Asiwaju, Chief (Mrs.) Oluremi Tinubu, the amiable wife of Jagaban of Borgu. This victory is my present to you sir, on this auspicious occasion of hope and promise for our fatherland. May your tribe increase in our land and clime. May you live long in good health and prosperity to witness the realisation of your lofty dreams for our land, our nation. I thank the government and people of Lagos State for their immeasurable affection, support and goodwill.

I thank the leadership and members of our great party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the flagship of progressive democratic movement in Nigeria for providing the platform for me to serve.

Worthy of mention are our revered leaders Chief Abdulkarim Bisi Akande, Usman Bugaje, Alhaji Lam Adesina, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo. I must also thank Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, Alhaji Muftau Olatunji Hamzat, Alhaji Suarau, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, Chief Henry Dele Ajomale, Prince Famodu, Hon. Wale Osun, Alhaji Akande, Alhaji Sunmola, Senator Anthony Adefuye, Alhaji Laka Orelope and Alhaji Keye Oyekan.

Let me recognise the full participation, support and encouragement of my running mate, Otunba (Mrs.) Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori. Her tenacity of purpose and dogged commitment to the cause energised the struggle. I commend her for her loyalty.

I must thank the brilliant and indefatigable team of outstanding legal practitioners, Ebun Sofunde (SAN), Akin Olujimi (SAN), Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Kola Awodein (SAN), Charles Edosomwan (SAN), Deji Sasegbon (SAN), Yemi Osibajo (SAN), Basiru Ajibola, Kunle Adegoke and others from MAB and Associates Chambers, the chambers that co-ordinated the entire legal process; Mutiu Ganiyu, Dapo Akinosun, Wale Afolabi, Gbenga Akano, Femi Faturoti, Funso Olukoga and others.

It is impossible to forget the commitment, contribution, encouragement, passion and sacrifice of our political base under the able leadership of Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku (Baba Eto) and Alhaji Ganiyu Badmus. We shall forever cherish your unwavering loyalty and dedication.

What do we say of Alimoso—Tinubu country—the crucible of our present political manifestation. Thank you for your zeal, enduring love and trust in my leadership.

I will like to immensely thank my mother, Mama Olobi, who had to leave her unbroken habitat of over 50 years on the pain of death since 15 April, 2007, due to my current political engagement. She was harassed, traumatised and irreverently chased out of her home, not because she is a politician, but because her son dared to democratically challenge a ruthless despot.

I thank Sherifat Aregbesola, the love of my life, the inspiration and stabiliser of the family. I appreciate your doting love, care and support for the family. To my children, I recognise your perseverance and patience. I thank you for your understanding and sacrifice. My eternal gratitude also goes to the Aregbesolas, the Adurojas, the Owoshos, the Ajisafes (my in-laws) and other members of my extended family.

I thank our allies, friends and associates, for their unflinching support and belief in our cause, the redemption of our people and land from the locusts; Oranmiyan Worldwide, Osun Support Group (OSG), Friends of Rauf Aregbesola, Aregbesola Victory Group (AVG), Rauf and Grace (R&G), Alliance of Collaborating Political Parties (ACPP), Oke-Ijetu Group, Agogo Igbala, De Young Mandate Group, Youth Solidarity (YS), Osun Renaissance Group, Osun State Civil Societies Coalition Against Rights Violation (OSCARV), Trade, Labour and Market unions including okada and drivers’ unions, women groups, student bodies, religious organisations and traditional institutions.

To the great and indomitable people of Osun, words are inadequate to thank you for your resilience, steadfastness, doggedness, courage and an unbending commitment to democracy and good life in the face of brutality, blood letting and tyranny of the slave masters in our midst. Your cry of anguish and agony has gone up to the Almighty, the owner of heaven and earth and the answer to your purposeful prayers led to today’s victory song in our mouth.

One more time in the history of our dear nation, Nigeria, members of the fourth estate of the realm have shown that they are reliable partners in the struggle for democracy and good governance. That you stood stoutly in defence of the truth and refused to be compromised, stand you tall as real men of honour. I thank you.

To the good people of Osun State, be rest assured that you now have a government of your own that is governing on your behalf and totally responsible to you. Today, be assured that we shall deliver on our promises. Be assured that today and with our victory, this government will seize the opportunity to return dignity to every Osun man and woman. Be assured that this government will make every Osun man and woman raise their heads anywhere and proudly affirm that “I am from Osun State, the origin (Orisun) of the Yoruba race.” We cannot be tired of asking for your total and undiluted support and cooperation. We shall do it together.

God bless you all.

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