Aregbesola: Saint or Sinner?
By Erasmus Ikhide
State of Osun has come off the perennial phase of delayed salary
payment at the tail of last year. It was a cheering news for the
people of the state and the government. That the Governor of the
state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola cleared all the outstanding salaries and
arrears owed to the state workforce in the face of economic downtown
and recession after a protracted union faceoff with the government is
worthy of note.
It is more so because Osun is not the only state in Nigeria plagued by
delayed salary occasioned by low price of crude oil, but it has become
the most violently attacked government and governor. At the last count
a few hours ago, 15 states out of 32 have trouble sorting out their
wage obligation. That Osun has been singled out for vitriolic media
attacks and constant labour unrest gives the impression that there
could be other motives behind the unnecessary focus on Ogbeni or pure
politics of bitterness.
The reason might not be unconnected with the personality of the
governor in question whose political ideas and ideologies stance on
tripod: the people, development and institution building. The trouble
began for Ogbeni in 2010, when he inherited virtually a dead state
with an empty treasury. Osun was one of the most indebted state in
Nigeria at the time he assumed office.
The arithmetic is simple. Since allocation does not come to the state
in sacks, all the borrower banks easily deduct their money at source.
Sometimes they clear off the entire allocation due the state because
the loan is hinged on the allocations from the federal government as
collateral! This is how Ogbeni was caught in the bind. Having
subscribed to socialist democracy and welfarism and a buffer for
progressive governance in the current administration across the
country, there was no doubt that Nigerians wanted in Ogbeni a miracle
worker in the real sense of the word.
Political ideologies shape the way individuals understand the world
and how thought and action are connected directly to actual governance
process in the life of any nation or state. If borrowing money from
financial institutions to service the wage bill of a few civil
servants in the face of economic crunch is viewed as failure of
government, then the unschooled thrift collector knows a thing we do
not know about financial management. If the wage bill of a few civil
servants have to erase the monthly federal allocation and the
internally generated revenue of the state, then the government has
failed in its other contractual obligations to people, like roads and
hospitals and schools and agriculture and human capital developments.
Straddling between wage commitment and other compulsory demands on his
government, Ogbeni struck the bull’s eye when he said: “just last
month, we spent N6.5billion out of N10 billion on salary. The human
management science says that the cost of mobilizing workers to work
which is called running or operation cost is one and half the cost of
labour but because that is the ideal cost for mobilizing workers, if
you understand what that means. Mobilization of workers means if you
are engaged to take care of this place. Let’s not go very far, your
salary is your salary, it is your income.
“The tools we need to work here must be provided by your employer and
everything pertaining to your work here. The only aspect of your wage
that is related to your work that will not be reimbursed or that is
assumed to be included in your wage is the cost of movement from your
house to your place of work, when you get to your place of work, every
other things that the job requires of you is at the cost of the
“It is this that the human management science says that one and a half
the cost of labour is the ideal and our own material condition could
not permit us to operate at the ideal level. Let’s now say you want to
operate at the sub-ideal level, half the cost of ideal of labour is
one and a half times the cost of labour in the ideal form.
“You know in the normal natural form it is not half the cost of labour
that you need to spend to get labour to do the work for which labour
is employed. It is a science, I’m not giving you anything
extraordinary but lets now say its half, half the cost of labour of
N6.5billion would be N3.25billion, add N3.25billion to N6.5billion is
N9.75billion, you can say it’s N10billion. It is that the people for
which the workers are actually employed have. So, we must review
therefore our wage structure – the number of people that must be
employed to work for the state.
“If you take out the critical mass, this state must not and cannot
afford the number of staff that is costing N3.6billion, N3.7billion at
the same time, I am saying all of these because I know you are a
thinker and don’t let anybody bamboozle you whether they can pay or
not. The question you must ask is can that state even support this
wage bill and then sustained it?
“It’s crazy because at the end of the day, the civil servants have to
serve the people when the resources of the people cannot even sustain
the civil servants, where do we have the money to serve the people and
by the way, I have just picked the financial aspect, lets now go to
the human aspect and proportion of the human resource. How many people
take this huge money, 40,000? Lets now for the purpose of extended
consideration say that each of the 40,000 have ten dependants and you
must factor it in because those dependants are citizens of Osun, 10 x
40,000 is 400,000, 400,000 divided by 4,000,000 × 100 is 10%.
“What logic as human consideration will accept a situation where 10%
of the population takes everything. So am not in anyway embarrassed or
perplexed by the uninformed condemnation or accusation or denigration
on the basis of not been able to pay. Look we are simply an unserious,
unproductive, clearly backward nation and people. Otherwise there is
no justification on the basis of reasonable human assessment of
performance and development to reduce a government evaluation of an
administration to payment or non-payment of salary.
“What will happen to the 90% of unserviced people who do not have
relationship with the workers? Finally, will even the workers not use
the roads we are constructing with the money. Will they not use the
schools. Will they not use all the other facilities like the ambulance
that was provided to the extent the workers are still part of those
that will benefit from the programmes of government, fiscal capital or
service. What we must do is find a balance between the reasonable cost
of labour and provision for development”?
One thing Ogbeni traducers can’t confiscate away from him or have
accepted as the Gospel Truth is his landmark achievements which Osun
citizens and many farsighted Nigerians described as thirty-years of
development in a period of eight-years. Comrade Amitolu Shittu known
for his bluntness and forthrightness and citizen of Osun says Ogbeni
is a generational leader who is mandated to fill the void of absence
of governance in the state and nation.
Comrade Shittu listed some of the achievements of the governor to
include: 40,000 Youths Employed under the Osun Youth Empowerment
Scheme; 5,000 Youths trained and empowered in information
communication technology under the Osun Youth Empowerment Technology
(OYESTECH), over N2.4 billion injected to the economy as allowances
for the OYES Volunteers, 123 kilometres of waterways (streams,
arteries, canals) dredged to keep the state flood-free, 750,000 school
students provided with school uniform coupled with empowerment of
3,000 tailors, 150,000 students provided with computer tablets (opon
imo), an electronic learning tool preloaded with 17 subjects, 54
textbooks, and past questions of JAMB, WAEC AND NECO of the past 10
years, introduction of bi-monthly environmental sanitation exercise
under the O’CLEAN Initiative to keep the state clean.
There is the beautification of the 185 km Oyo Boundary (Asejire) to
Osun-Ondo Boundary (Owena), trucks provided for a Public-Private
Partnership waste management model in the state, Primary School
Funding Grants increased from N7.4 million to N424 million a year,
240,000 children feed daily with nutritious meals under the Osun
Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme coupled with
empowerment of over 3,000 caterers.
Also, Secondary School basic funding grants from N171 million to N427
million per year, Tuition Fees in State-owned Tertiary Institutions
reduced by 30%, security of lives and properties being guaranteed with
provision of 25 Armoured Personnel Carrier, over 100 security patrol
vehicles and one helicopter for surveillance, 2 state of the art
police stations built, Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) increased
from N300 million to N700 million without increasing tax payable by
citizens, setting up of Omoluabi Conservation Fund with a N4.2 Billion
reserve, Osun Debt Management Office established.
Others are building of the largest commercial apiary in Sub-Saharan
Africa for refined honey production, over 1,765 hectares of land
cleared and prepared to support farmers, Rehabilitation of farm
settlements in the state Over N1 billion committed to support farmers,
Building of super highways to connect Osun to Lagos and Osun to Kwara
States, 81 township roads covering 128km have been
upgraded all over the state.
Again, there is the Ede Water Works capacity increased from 13% to
100% capacity, over 3,000 permanent teachers employed into the state
education sector, 300 km roads have been built across the 30 Local
Government Areas and Ife East Area Office, Modakeke, Osun Ambulance
Service Authority Established with 400 youths trained as paramedics, 9
State Hospitals and 12 comprehensive health centers have been
rehabilitated in the state; 74 Primary
Health Centers built, Osogbo Railway Station undergoing massive rehabilitation.
That is the quintessential unusual governor of Osun. He is of the view
that balance of governance and spread of its dividend supersedes
parochial mindset of a few who judge/evaluate governance performance
on the basis of delayed wages or otherwise.
Ikhide, a social activist writes from Lagos. Follow on twitter @IkhideErasmus1