17th June, 2013
By Olumuyiwa Jimoh
Leadership is rooted in the society. The society is anchored on the people. The degree to which every act of leadership impacts the lives of the people therefore greatly determines the failure or success of that leadership. It therefore becomes imperative that effective leaders must clearly at all times assess the needs of the people both futuristic and immediate, pursuing passionately investments in these areas. Commitment to investing in the people becomes the symbol of great leaders.
The realisation that the greatest capital of any society remains its human resources ought to be a Leadership Eureka; an eye opener, actually a liberating light for any leader driven by the sole aim of service to his people. This directs his thoughts, crystalizes his policies and dictates his programmes and his projects as he comes to the lucid realisation that governance is not about building skyscrapers, roundabouts, flyovers, etc. but should be about mindfully pursuing the building of the capacities and capabilities of the citizenry.
Events in the State of Osun have always enthralled me, thus have forced me to follow them with passion. The Rauf Aregbesola administration has shown and continued to show a classic understanding of what leadership ought to be – its meaning to her publics and what should propel it. He has avoided the path of the ignoble, the well-worn path of the nation’s political mediocre but has chosen to create the new and carve out niches for himself and the people of the State of Osun.
In OPON IMO he has once again shown that foresight and uncommon attachment and commitment to the people of the State of Osun, investing heavily in its tomorrow, guaranteeing that the state will remain at the competitive edge of national development despite the lean resources available to it. He has clearly followed the well – tested advice; put your food, where your mouth is. He has demonstrated repeatedly his belief that the people of State of Osun, when adequately empowered will throw up the needed critical mass to leap frog the state into greater levels of sustainable development.
Education remains the only vehicle for transmitting the culture – mores and norms of the society. Thus through it, the society recreates, reproduces and perpetuates itself. It is the empowerment that it brings through the unfettering of the mind and releasing the creative energies inherent in every person – child and adult – that makes it the most potent tool for the advancement, transformation and development of the society. It is empowering as it builds depths of capacities within the individual and makes him a developmental agent on his own. Professor Samuel Huntington, a political scientist from Harvard, proclaimed in an article titled ‘The Clash of Civilisation’ that the fundamental sources of conflicts in this new world will not be ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating sources of conflict will be cultural. But with all the emphasis at my disposal, that with Opon Imo, this Huntington view could be reformulated.
The import of this is that when a child is highly empowered through the provision of good access to high quality curriculum and appropriate instructional materials, the future of the child and that of the society is not only guaranteed, but capacities and capabilities for continuous socio-economic transformation becomes endemic and pervasive. This is what the Governor has tapped into. We may not see the result of this immediately but give it time and we shall begin to see the huge impact of OPON IMO as a project in the lives of the people and in the State of Osun.
That about 90,000 tablets have been provided for distribution to SS1 and SS2 students in public schools in the state and more are on the way is a statement of commitment and determination to serve. It signposts the height of governance and sensitivity to the desires and aspirations of the people that voted the leadership into government.
Opon Imo, the tablet, comes with electronic contents that satisfy all the requisite demands of the State Education curriculum for teaching in all subjects for Senior Secondary Schools and more. I was told that it lends itself to constant review and upgrading electronically whenever the need arises.
This is ground breaking not only in Nigeria but throughout the globe as it provides the child access under one platform to all the instructional materials, contents and up to date syllabus. The child at the touch of a button can read all the text books required for his level of education without going through the drudgery of heavy bags, torn textbooks and notebooks, etc. This is a one stop repository of information that is key to the education of the child.
The benefits of this project cannot only be seen in its empowerment of the child but could also be seen in the immediate economic gains through the value chain that would be created in the process. The multipliers would be such that an industry will immediately be created out of this, giving employment to ICT experts, electronic engineers and the commercial activities that will ensue from this. It is a humongous investment that would serve as a catalyst spurring development in other sectors of the state’s economy. The prognosis is indeed cheery.
This has never happened anywhere before on this scale and I am indeed thrilled in no small measure that this could be happening in Nigeria and much more in a state driven by an administration that I have had cause in the past to have predicted that would be creative in its policy thrust and programme directions which will give other states in the federation a run for their money.
However, am I surprised? No! Clearly the Governor – Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has demonstrated the moral high ground of his antecedents. Anything less than these pacesetting projects and programmes would have been the surprise indeed.
Through this project, he has refused to follow the crowd of aberrant but prevalent behaviour amongst public officers in Nigeria and has pitched his tent with the people, demonstrating in the process a principled stance that separates him and marks him as a man of integrity and honour. He has not only shown the desire to change lives, the ability to dream big dreams but has also shown the bent to take action that would lead to the desired changes in the lives of the people and the uncanny ability to make his dreams a reality.
The Governor has once again given further credence to the fact that there is also a relationship between the Talk and the Walk. He has carried his ideals as an avowed comrade; a committed patriot and a man driven by an unflinching desire for the welfare of the citizenry from the struggles and preachments on the streets to the corridors of power. He has shown that it is possible to acquire power for the common good and that it is very practical to translate sloganeering on the streets into action.
His achievements are worthy of celebration as it gives people like us the courage to continue making a difference wherever we find ourselves, knowing that there is truly hope for the salvation of our nation if we can all play our diverse roles effectively and patriotically. It is a big boost to the ideological camp that bred him from where he cut his teeth as an avowed defender of the people and drank from the fountains of its various historic, vibrant and deep cisterns. It gives us the flip that our struggle will eventually impact positively the lives of Nigerians. He has clearly shown us these possibilities.
It is therefore exigent that we urge the amiable Governor to remain focused on breaking further grounds never resting on his oars. This project I am completely persuaded is just one of the many laudable and trail – blazing projects that he has in the pipelines for the great people of the State of Osun. He should not allow anything to stop this good work as indeed the opposition has truly gone into hiding this time.
As a parting word, we want to urge Governors in other states of the federation to go to State of Osun instead of trooping abroad to have a first-hand experience on how best to impact the lives of their people. OPON IMO is a good platform and whatever names other Governors may choose to call it, we recommend that they should immediately emulate it. Aregbe has shown that he knows something about governance that others need to learn and thus remains at the cutting edge of governance and service delivery in Nigeria. This is what governance is all about and this is what it should be – constant and continuous investment in the people!
When a man does well, he is told to keep doing what he is doing but when a man is in error, he is told to change his ways. We tell His Excellency Rauf Aregbesola to keep doing this great work. This is a landmark achievement. Let the dream continue so that more seeds like OPON IMO will be planted in the State of Osun.
•Jimoh is a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly representing Apapa II Constituency.