Oyetola and the ao m’erin j’oba choristers, By Amidu Tadese Raheem

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Iwo people are appreciative of the Oyetola government’s stride in drawing enduring legacy to our land. They appreciate Governor Oyetola. They acknowledge his commitment towards the development and growth of Iwo. And by that strand, they shall reciprocate his effort with unalloyed support at the poll next year.

On June 16, 2016, one of Nigeria’s leading news outlets, Vanguard newspaper published a report titled “Osun School Uniform Crisis: Religious battle enters physical, spiritual realm.” The report captured the face-off that ensued between Christian and Muslim leaders as a result of the crisis over school uniform in the State. According to the newspaper, “… the timely intervention of Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Adewale Akanbi, saved what could have snowballed into (a) major religious crisis as some Christian students of Baptist High School, Adeeke, Iwo for the second day appeared in church robes to attend classes for the day.”

Inane news as the above was what characterised the tenure of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, because people were daily regalled with stories of how students would appear in schools in church robes and masquerade regalia in an attempt to register their religious identities. Such scenes were prevalent in our dear Iwoland that time because of the religious peculiarity of the town. Civil disobedience was the direct reaction to that government’s unfriendly policy in the education sector. Graciously, such absurdities have since become history with the assumption into office of Governor Gboyega Oyetola. The policy rejig of this administration has sufficiently addressed some of the hitherto anomalies in the education sector.

So one would wonder why affiliates of the defunct government would make a disingenuous endeavour to recast events of our immediate past to awe activities of the present, just to earn cheap political leverage. Many of the active participants in the rested regime, who have refused to move on, continue to curate lies and make excuses for the failings of their government. One of them is an Iwo-born political spin writer, Semiu Okanlawon who was a Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to former Governor Aregbesola.

Okanlawon’s latest allegorical piece aimed at demarketing the electoral value of Governor Oyetola and his men in Iwoland, caught my attention. My current intervention is to address some of the unsavoury remarks contained in his opinion, particularly where he talked about his December 2019 meeting with Governor Oyetola, his storied 45-minute conversation with a cabinet member from Iwo, and events of this year’s Iwo Day, where he alleged the Governor was shooed off.

First: Whereas the writer had revelled his readers with tales of how, during his encounter in December 2019, he advised the governor against policy somersaults and importance of continuing with projects of his predecessor; expectedly, he failed to mention that his meeting with Governor Oyetola was actually self-serving, planned to warm himself to the heart of the governor for a media job he desperately needed and payment of his unpaid emoluments while working for Aregbesola. No need to go into further details of his pitch on that day. Okanlawon’s conscience houses the detail and he should be left to live with it.

On his claimed conversation with a cabinet member from Iwo who, he said, expressed fear about the capacity of the governor to guarantee electoral fortune for the party in next year’s election, the writer, no doubt, is living up to the billing of a master maligner and an irritating fabulist and blackmailer. On the strength of plaucibility and reasonableness, can any supporter, much more a cabinet member, of Oyetola, tell a trusted ally of Aregbesola, that Okanlawon is, that ” Governor yi o le win election bayi?’ Can any naive politician, let alone politicans of standing of those that make up Oyetola’s cabinet, say that to a known adversary of their government?

I have an idea that the cabinet member mentioned by the author is me. The description seated well on me. Of the cabinet members from Iwo, only I address Okanlawon as “Semiu.” The other cabinet member, out of respect for him on the account of age difference, does not call him by his first name. So it is imperative I address the issue the way I understand it.

Around September this year, there was a quick tete-a-tete between myself and Semiu Okanlawon. The meeting point was Mogaji’s farm in Asamu on Osogbo/Iwo Road. After the exchange of greetings, the first question I asked him was the reason for his continued absence from our local stakeholders’ meetings and his non-participation at the then ongoing Party Congress. His simple reply that day was that: “Your people didn’t want me in your midst.” I asked, “how?” He then complained of being owed by the State Government and I promised him that I would speak to my principal on his behalf and he asked me to invite him to any stakeholders meeting, which I did. I am surprised about his erroneous claims that I demanded ways and manners by which the crisis within the party could be managed and by extension how to broker a truce between the two principals; Oyetola and Aregbesola.

Contrary to the claim of Okanlawon, there was no time I told him the governor, appointee of whom I am, would not win his re-election sans the former governor and his lieutenants. Nothing in my remarks or discussion with him was expressive or suggestive of his claim. It is a blatant and shameful blackmail to wedge my relationship with the governor and cause disaffection in the cabinet. The statement, absolutely, is a figment of the imagination of the author. It is like one of those lies often told by him to defend the inadaquacies of their government. I reiterate: there was never a point during our conversation where I said that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola could not win re-election. It would be absurd and highly disgusting that I would disparage the personality of the governor and government that I am genuinely serving and which I am sworn to preserve its integrity.

Every responsible person should take Okanlawon’s statement with a pinch of salt, for that is what it is worth. Every team member of the Oyetola government is working assiduously and confidently to ensure our hardworking principal wins re-election, so as for him to consolidate on the developmental projects and programmes he has initiated in the State.

The government of Oyetola is etching his name in Iwo through various laudable projects he is imprinting in the ancient land. As big and important as Iwo is, we only have a Federal College of Education that was facilitated by Oyetola’s administration; not only that, it takes forty-five minutes to drive from Iwo to Osogbo and vice versa, whereas till the late end of 2018, it was highly suicidal to attempt driving to Osogbo from Iwo through this road; rather we either choose to drive first to Gbongan, in Ayedaade Local Government, or through Ibadan to Ikire, Gbongan. The government has started the Lawyer Atanda road project. The construction of Odoori to Adeeke road and two other major roads in the city is also in the pipeline.

The contract for rehabilitation of the Dam at Iwo Water works, which was established in 1952, has since been awarded by Oyetola’s administration.

No matter how hard Okanlawon tries to burnish the image of his benefactor, it will not change the fact that Aregbesola has no imprint in Iwo beyond strife and religious animosity. It is on record that the road project he struggles to attach to his name was done by Kamorudeen Alao’s local government administration. Where was Okanlawon when his principal, for eight years in office, shunned all entreaties to fix the deplorable Osogbo-Iwo road? Where was he when the government he served refused to finish the mega school in Iwo, even when ten others were completed in other towns? Was Reality Radio-Vision Service in Iwo not in shambles before Oyetola set up a Revitalisation Committee in February 2019, just three months into the life of his administration, to re-engineer and reposition the station to achieve its objectives in the 21st century broadcasting world, in which quality service is the hallmark? Even as a media practitioner, was Okanlawon not part of a band of rabble rousers and hallelujah boys of the government that rationalised the inability of the government to embark on the project? What was the condition of the General Hospital in Iwo during Aregbesola’s administration? Terrible !

Oyetola has become a household name in Iwo. The warm reception accorded him at this year’s Iwo Odidere Day validates this claim. The governor was the cynosure of all eyes who, deservedly though, stole the show from political almajiris and scavengers lined up by his detractors to impugn his honour. What more honour can be conferred on a guest than an endorsement of a paramount ruler of the town? Oluwo of Iwo, Oba AbdulRasheed Adewale Akanbi Telu 1 did not withhold his admiration for the governor on the particular day. Oluwo showered encomiums on Oyetola and commended him for prudently managing the meagre resources of the State.

According to the traditional ruler, “Oyetola is doing excellently well. Oyetola is doing wonders and great things as in the prompt payment of full salaries and pensions among other socio-economic and infrastructural developments.”

The honour received by Oyetola in Iwo was grande. It was so grande that he left some of the leading critics of his government no other option than to pay the traditional obeisance to him. People have seen videos and pictures of how Alhaji Moshood Adeoti and Alhaji Rasaq Salinsile, arrowheads of warring group in Osun APC, embraced the governor on that day. So, nobody should be left in doubt about the respect and popularity IleriOluwa enjoys in the homestead of the progressives. Only embittered minds would want to foist on the people the narration of handful scoundrels mobilised and sponsored by rebellious and spent forces in the State. The video referenced by Semiu Okanlawon as evidence of nerdiness of the governor in Iwo was a hatchet job of the disgruntled minority aimed at embarrassing a raving governor. The governor’s achievements in the last 36 months will speak loudly for him at the poll in Iwo and in the entire state, come July 2022.

I know the writer has been a bit away from home, hence the reason for his jaundiced opinion about the chances of the governor in the coming election. For example in lwo East LCDA, from where both of us come from, Oyetola is a candidate to beat. Specifically, Isale Oba Ward 1, which is Semiu’s acclaimed political base, is a stronghold of IleriOluwa. And membership keeps increasing daily. The current Chairman of the ward also served as the chairman during Aregbesola’s administration. This is contrary to lies that Oyetola tweaked the structure of the party.

Aburo mi is well aware that ota eni ki pa odu oya (one’s enemy never appreciates one’s achievement), unless the entire World is convinced that the only RED PEN available during Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration was used by Mr Gboyega Oyetola can the failure of that period be tied to our administration’s neck. The performance of the present administration in view of the paucity of fund at its disposal is an opportunity for us all to heal the wounds of the past. The so called anti-Aregbesola sentiment is unnecessary and negative diversion, omo osan lo n ko ponporo ba iya re (a bad ward brings disgrace to his parents). Osun State is too enlightened and highly educated to be taken for a ride, please I strongly advise you stop the insults.

Finally, I will advise the writer to desist from such ignoble act and focus on his ethical profession, which harps on nothing but the reportage of the absolute truth not distorted account to misinform and mislead the public.

Iwo people are appreciative of the Oyetola government’s stride in drawing enduring legacy to our land. They appreciate Governor Oyetola. They acknowledge his commitment towards the development and growth of Iwo. And by that strand, they shall reciprocate his effort with unalloyed support at the poll next year.

Amidu Tadese Raheem, the first Chief Whip of Osun State House of Assembly in 1992, is Honourable Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy in the State of Osun.

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