By Sarafa Ibrahim
Oftentimes, we relish the progress in advanced societies and hope that similar experience be replicable here. As good as those thoughts usually are, we do miss one critical factor, and that is the existence of a proper feedback mechanism that is applicable in those environments that primarily account for the growth and developments we see and cherished.
Accountability and transparency is at the heart of good governance. If government is about the people, it is incumbent that they are carried along in the administration of their affairs. This plain logic is what drives the incredible progress we see and cherish in society that embraced accountability and transparency in governance.
And fortune enough for Osun state, this same philosophy defines the administration of Governor Ademola Adeleke. From the outset of his administration, Governor Adeleke was pointedly clear that he will be different. Unlike his predecessor who spent most of his time in office evading giving account of stewardship to the people, Governor Adeleke embraced it as the needed catalyst to achieve the needed progress for the state.
Early into his administration, Governor Adeleke did the usual by opening up the financial books of the state to the people through traditional rulers in the state. It was a move that provided a clear understanding of the financial situation of the state to the people, demonstrating a major shift away from the opaqueness and secrecy that defined the past in the administration of the state.
It was in furtherance of his commitment to transparency and accountability that Governor Adeleke hosted Ipade Imole on Thursday. Just as the name implies, Ipade Imole was a gathering of stakeholders that cut across every segment of the Osun society. It was a platform for the Governor to render account of his stewardship to the people and also receive feedback from the public.
“Ipade Imole will be a quarterly event. We have to let Osun people know how we are expending their money,” Governor Adeleke disclosed at the event which held at the Aurora event centre in Osogbo, before going on to add that “At this meeting, you can ask any question and we will answer you. You put us in this position.”
And true to his assurance, the Governor provided a detailed overview of the activities of his administration since he assumed office on November 27, 2022. This began with a 45-minute documentary of programmes, interventions and policies executed by the Adeleke administration under 10 months, providing pictures and videos evidence of the monumental achievements that Governor Adeleke recorded in the various sectors during the period under review.
What followed was even more encompassing, as the Governor speech outlined not just what has been done or currently ongoing, but also future plans of the administration in delivering for the people. Remarkably, the Governor made it abundantly clear that “this administration has not and will not borrow to fund ongoing infrastructure upgrades. From bridges to dualisation of existing roads among other infrastructures, we are pursuing value for money and public private partnership. Our financial plan is sustainable.”
Also, Governor Adeleke elaborately answered questions on the costing of projects executed by his administration, particularly providing clarity that against the erroneous cost of N14 million per borehole quote by the opposition, each of the borehole in the 332 wards across Osun state cost the government N1.5 million. The disclosure on the cost per borehole, not only deflate the circle of lies of the All Progressives Congress (APC), but also underscored the financial prudence in the Adeleke administration. Because, similar project under the Oyetola administration was done at a cost of N1.925 million per borehole, even though, none of it came with a generator set as it is the case with the one executed by the Adeleke administration.
Away from this is the recurring questions on the whereabouts of the N2 billion palliative fund received by the State Government from the Federal Government. For weeks now, the APC had mischievously created an impression of abuse and misapplication. But Governor Adeleke defused the main opposition ignoble narrative, pointedly noting that the N2bn is safe and will be applied for the benefit of the people of the state.
Governor Adeleke explained to the people that his government is careful not to repeat the mistake of the previous government that dragged the state into financial mess that it is struggling with at the moment, hence, not rushing the application of the palliative fund. “The N2 billion palliative fund by the Federal Government will be spent on three projects. One of them is the purchase of additional buses to complement the buses in the pool of the state, which has been repaired and soon to be unveiled for use,” he disclosed.
The two other projects to be funded from the palliative fund, as disclosed by the Governor, is the rehabilitation of health centres in the state and the purchase of food items for distribution to the people of the state. Not only did this erase the erroneous conclusion of the APC on the fund, Governor Adeleke was able to stress the commitment of his administration to allocate resources for meaningful interventions.
This is further evident in the disclosure of the Governor that the state is in receipt of N7 billion refund from the federal government for projects executed by State Government on its behalf and that it will be used solely to fund infrastructural projects across the state. In the past, refund to the state from the central government is usually shrouded in controversy going by the lack of openness and transparency by the previous government. Governor Adeleke did not only disclosed the received fund, but also provided clear direction on how and on what it will be utilized.
Projects ranging from the dualisation of at least two roads in each senatorial district, construction of flyovers in Osogbo and some other towns, installation of streetlights on newly constructed roads, fresh installation of boreholes in the 332 wards, Imole Housing Estate at 500 units in each federal constituency and Imole Transport service outlined by the Governor are likely to benefit from the fund.
However, the highlight of the Ipade Imole was the moment when Governor Adeleke disclosed that he has not accessed security votes as it is the practice with his predecessors. Governor Adeleke said his decision not to access monthly security votes is on principle and a personal sacrifice for the state, noting that “I do not take security votes which my predecessors do take. I said the money should be used for the good of the people.” This disclosure was a further affirmation of Governor Adeleke to the service of the people, and not about self benefit. For a Governor to sacrifice at least N500 million every month, which utilization is hardly questioned, showed how passionate he’s about progressing the state.
- Sarafa Ibrahim is the Special Assistant to the Osun State Governor on Print Media.