By Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
I read your piece of the above title with interest – and concern. I feel I owe not just myself but also you and historians and generations unborn the duty of reacting to your attempts at reconstructing the truth on our state, especially the bit about my years in power there. Public commentary with its biases should never be served readers as history. I ordinarily would not have felt concerned if you had declared your status and interest at the onset. I know politicians play politics with history (and facts) – and that precisely was what I saw in that your piece on Osun State. But, my brother, you have not told your readers that you are in politics or that you work for persons in politics.
You started by condemning what you called “the old Osun bile-driven electioneering” the goal of which you said was “to whip up base instincts.” You also wrote about my predecessor being “heckled out of office” in 2003. Then you wrote about me “his replacement.” You wrote about my years as governor of Osun State as the “almost eight years of near-total paralysis under Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.” You then, exposed what I see as your partisan disposition with a pretense at condemning “excitable partisans” who “claim Oyinlola did nothing.” Then you joined the “excitable partisans” in the following two paragraphs. You spewed partisan bile in what you described as “the Oyinlola-era ruins.”
A journalist is supposed to be a personification of fairness. His trade is glorious when it functions as “the sun beam of truth.” My brother, you were neither truthful nor fair to me in that your piece of Tuesday August 7. Not at all. And I hope you will allow me to tell your readers, through you, that I did not leave Osun State in ruins. Rather, I met a comatose Osun State, wracked by months of strike, of unpaid salaries and pensions, of hopelessness; of communal wars; a state of anomie. But in less than eight years, I not only stabilized the state but I also placed it on the sure road of sustainable, peaceful growth.
More importantly, I hope you agree that security and welfare of the citizenry are the primary essence and duty of every government. That understanding framed every policy and programme of our government. You remember the century old Ife-Modakeke war? My government settled the deadly rift forever. We built roads; we built schools; we equipped hospitals- and while doing these, we did not forget to build human beings. We created opportunities for thousands of our youths to be gainfully employed. We did not sack anyone in our almost eight years in charge of Osun State. We enhanced the self-worth of every Osun State person whatever his/ her status.
Abimbola, I said you were not fair to me. You wrote about my predecessor building the Osun State Government Secretariat and Governor’s Office but you refused to write that I built the Osun State Government House with a presidential lodge and five guest chalets. You have probably slept in one or more of the chalets after my exit from government. If you have, you should have sought knowledge on how those structures got there. At least you know that in 2003 when my predecessor left office, those structures were not there and my successor did not build them. I also built the Osun House in Abuja and a seven-storey Osun State Liaison building, Abuja, initiated by my government, was at the roofing stage when I left office in November, 2010.
I maintain that I left Osun State better than I met it. He who feels it knows it. I never allowed the sweat of our workers to dry before paying them their wages. I assisted traders and artisans to grow their trades and businesses with soft loans. The workers dismissed by my predecessor were recalled by me. These ones are my witnesses. One of them is the current Head of Service, Dr Olowogboyega Oyebade. Another is his immediate predecessor. I met them dismissed but I recalled them with thousands others similarly unfairly treated, and I gave them the opportunity to rise to the top of their careers. You can call them for confirmation- you should have their numbers. They will tell you their stories of restoration by God, through me, after the years of the locusts.
The Osun State University has six campuses equitably sited across the state’s six zones. I hope you know that I established the school. The structures you see today in the six campuses were built by my government on virgin lands. All of them. And my government fully paid the contractors – to the glory of God. I also hope you know that working in that institution today are no fewer than 825 academic and non-academic staff. They earn their living and grow their career there and I know that they pray for me every day. They must have laughed at you if they read your ruinous assessment of me and my government. It is also my joy every time I see the university admitting and graduating thousands of students. These products of the school, their parents and relations are my joy. Their success and progress in life tell me that through our efforts, lives are being continuously developed and potentials realized on yearly basis.
Go round the state, Abimbola. Ask pensioners, ask market men and women, ask farmers, ask traditional rulers, ask any sane person you see anywhere in Osun State. They will tell you that the Oyinlola years remain the benchmark on how to govern well with human face. It is Osun State’s golden era.
So, my brother, I hope you could see that you were not truthful in your judgement on how I met and how I left Osun State. I pray that God Almighty will help you grow your career and make you see that truth has no colour and should be no captive of partisanship.
Oyinlola was governor of Osun State from May 29, 2003 to November 26, 2010.