‘Why I want to succeed Aregbesola’
After 15 years of legal practice, Kunle Adegoke, a native of Osogbo, capital of Osun State, is planning to take a temporarily leave from the bar. He has his eyes on the Osun State Government House, which will be vacated by Governor Rauf Aregbesola in November.
“Governance is a serious business. In post-Aregbesola era, a competent person should be in the saddle to continue the work of development,” he told reporters in Lagos where he unfolded his ‘Roadmap to Osun Prosperity.’
Although Adegoke may not have effectively participated in politics in the last two decades, he has not been off the radar. He has played a major role in the enthronement of progressive governments in the Southwest as a lawyer. Many stolen mandates have been retrieved, following his legal intervention in titanic litigations. Thus, in the All Progressives Congress (APC) family, he is perceived as a loyal member, who has established himself in defending party interests. Having weathered the storm with the progressive forces, he has now fully enlisted in the camp as an office seeker.
His foray into politics is consistent with his radical posturing as an undergraduate student at the universities of Ilorin and Lagos, where he was rusticated for Maxist-Leninism. As the National Secretary of the Student Union of the University of Ilorin, he rejected the obnoxious policies of the military government and alleged complicity on the part of the university management. Thus, he stayed longer in the university than his mates. But, today, his associates say he is stronger for it.
Adegoke is throwing his hat in the ring at a very difficult time. His native state is in a difficult situation. In his view, this calls for an urgent intervention. Osun has become a victim of a prostrate economy. Despite Aregbesola’s infrastructure battles, the infrastructure deficit is still visible. Civil servants are complaining about delay in payment of salaries. The state has potentials. But, its financial poverty is its bane.
How will the lawyer-turned politician salvage the situation, if he becomes governor? What difference can he make? Adegoke’s solution consists in his four-point agenda of economic revatilisation, education, infrastructural development and tourism. “What we will use to develop Osun is available in Osun and we will harness the potentials,” he said.
The starting point, in his view, is creative financial engineering. Adegoke said Osun’s continued reliance on Abuja for funding is dangerous, adding that the state must critically look inward. The solution is not automatic. It requires painstaking effort, a great deal of commitment, cooperation of residents, patience and sacrifice. “N10 billion Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) monthly can be achieved,” he added.
Taking a cue from the Federal Government’s efforts, the aspirant said the route is agriculture. “We must revive the old farm settlements of the Awolowo era. We have the land. We should engage in food production and preservation. Lagos and parts of Ogun State closer to Lagos need our foods from Osun. Agriculture will fetch us money for development,” he added.
Also, Osun is naturally endowed as a vast tourist centre. In the Southwest, no other state can boast of the same tourist sites. “Look at Olumirin Water falls. What about Erin-Ijesa Water Falls? We need to develop these sites and make them more income-yielding,” he said.
Adegoke promised to take Osun through the path of industrialization by establishing the largest clay, ceramics and granite industry because the raw materials are available. “How do we want to create jobs? I0,000 jobs annually for graduates are possible through investment in agriculture,” he said.
The next government in Osun may inherit a civil servant with a low morale. While Aregbesola is making frantic efforts to defend their welfare, the economy constitutes a setback. Deliberately, labour leaders pretend as if they are not conversant with the limitations of a malevolent economy. Adegoke did not shed light on how to resolve the crisis. But, he promised a reform of the civil service without retrenchment.
The aspirant lamented that, despite the massive investment in education in Osun, the anticipated gains are slow in coming. He pointed out that the WAEC result is an eyesore. He promised to re-introduce and enforce discipline in the school system.
Adegoke thanked the governor for building fantastic schools. He promised improved welfare package for teachers. “Teachers need training and re-training. In the higher institution, we will introduce a loan scheme and students can pay back when they start working,” he said.
Noting that health is wealth, the aspirant said “a hungry health worker is a licensed killer.” He added: “We need to make our health workers happy. We will tackle medical emergency by providing helicopters that can take people to hospital during emergencies,” he added.
The primary may not be a walk over for any aspirant. In the race are Secretary to Government Alhaji Moshood Adeoti from Iwo, Attorney-general and Commissioner for Justice Dr. Bashiru Ajibola, House of Assembly Speaker Nagim Salam from Ejigbo, House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Lasun Yusuff from Ilobu, Chairman of Local Government Service Commission Elder Peter Babalola, and Finance Commissioner Bola Oyebamji. There are many chieftains also rooting for the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola.
Will zoning play a role in the selection of a flag bearer? The people of Osun West Senatorial District are clamouring for power shift. Before he passed last year, Senator Isiaka Adeleke was a top contender from the area. But, the people of Osogbo are also agitating for power shift, saying that the state capital has not produced any governor. How will this controversy be resolved?
Adegoke said zoning is not a factor, adding that it was not a factor when Chief Bisi Akande, Olagunsoye Oyinola and Aregbesola became the flag bearers.
“We will all go to the primary and the delegates will decide our fate,” he added.