Events of “perceived” ecstasy that occurred in the political realm of Osun state this week, when the governor decided to announce his “newly discovered” political goldmine of “humongous debts” incurred by the last administration, led by former governor Gboyega Oyetola, to traditional rulers and the state at large, has once again brought to question the level of preparedness of the governor to manage the affairs of the state he waited several years to govern.
Governor Adeleke, on Thursday, while reeling out those figures to the traditional rulers, must have thought he was unravelling a pandora box to a team of ignorant set of citizens who were just getting inundated for the first time.
Obviously unknown to him, those were a set of people who knew what was on ground and had consistently appreciated former governor Oyetola for his ability to manage the state despite the humongous debt inherited by his administration.
In an excited manner, his handlers rushed to social media and the traditional press to celebrate the new “discovery” which is about to “destroy the opposition forever” and went to town with a victory dance just like a new born that discovered he could suck the breast of his mother.
One must wonder the disgust and disappointment that would be written on the face of the traditional rulers at a time they expect the new governor to lay bare his plans to manage the state above the unbelievable standards set by his predecessor.
Afterall, he has contested for the second time and as such should not be a stranger to the debt profile of the state which he so dearly wanted to govern.
The Oluwo of Iwo had to make an instant remark that “the Oyetola he knew could not have incurred such humongous debt” while the Olowu of Owu Oba Adekunle Oyelude asked him to “focus on the task ahead” instead of “getting distracted”; a subtle reminder to him that they know the state of the debt profile under the last administration but they also witnessed the financial intelligence of Oyetola, who managed it in an unprecedented way by ensuring salaries and pensions get paid as and when due without altering infrastructural developments and other social programs.
THE TASK AHEAD.
One of the most surprising blueprints of the last administration in the state was the fact that within 4 years, the Internally Generated Revenue rose by over 100% from a mere 9bn yearly in 2018 to 21bn as at the time they left the office on November 27th, 2022.
It was not only unprecedented, it was quite an enormous task worthy of appraisal from all stakeholders in the state and for the first time in the history of the state, it could pay the salaries and wages of the civil servants without having to wait for Federal Allocations. Time will tell if Governor Adeleke and his team has what it takes to sustain this growth and who knows, they could even outdo their predecessor but it has to be sounded out to them that it was not an easy task and therefore, the earlier they get to work to outdo this achievement, the better it is for the state.
Governor Oyetola when sworn in, in 2018, inherited an external debt of $ 101 million. The external debt portfolio of the state had reduced to $84million as confirmed, even by the new administration’s “investigative” team that made the “new discovery”.
A whooping $17 million had been repaid by the past administration in a bid to ensure a fiscal responsibility that will foster the economic growth of the state by making it financially viable.
If Governor Adeleke was to maintain this same standard, the state’s external debt in 2026 would have been brought down to a minimal level of about $67million. A progressive trajectory that would have only seen him match the efforts of his predecessor.
Add that to the fact that the state’s internal debt which was at N148billion in 2018 (according to official DMO’s website) was left at N150billion after 4 years by Oyetola’s administration meant that he incurred an additional debt of only N2billion in 4 years.
Should this not send shivers down the spine of Governor Adeleke and his crew as to how they plan to run the affairs of the state without incurring the same debt which they are crucifying others for?
Observers of the state’s economic trajectory will be keen to see how this administration plan to govern with an average debt of just N2bn in four years while ensuring that salaries are paid, infrastructures are done, social welfare programs continue and the debt profile continues its downward trajectory.
Despite having a whooping 11% of it’s citizens unemployed, Osun tops the least unemployment rate statistics in Nigeria. Governor Adeleke promised to get the youths involved and drive the rate of youth unemployment down to the barest minimum when elected. Time is ticking and one would have expected him to roll out his plans and start working towards it instead of the political grandstanding and populism agenda he seems to be focused on selling to an impatient electorates who keeps watching everyone of his moves with keen attention.
At a national top three percentage of 8.52%, Osun is the 3rd least impoverished state in the country bested only by Lagos’s 4.50% and Delta’s 6.02%.
Governor Adeleke has in his hands, a daunting challenge to either maintain this level or better the performance after the expiration of his first time, when the diligent people of the state will start asking questions based on facts laid bare.
Need i remind them also that with a literacy rate of over 80%, Osun remains the second highest literacy ranked state in Nigeria; a statistics that affirms the intellectual capacity of the state’s electorates to judge performances based on available facts and figures.
HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME
Osun’s Health Insurance Scheme(popularly called OHIS) could arguably be referred to as the biggest brainchild of the immediate past administration. Perhaps only bettered by the rise in IGR that has brought the state to a level of fiscal stability.
The scheme became so popular that it was adjudged as one of the best in th country. Electorates are interested and having got used to it, a failure in the sector will lit a fire in the belly of hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries in the scheme which has made medical services available and affordable to them.
Worthy of mention also is the level of peace and security in the state that has made it one of the most habitable in the country.
By and large, Governor Adeleke is under enough pressure to outperform his predecessor who was glaringly a performer that lost his seat to internal politics and who left his mark as a prudent yet creative governor among the citizens of the state.
Time is ticking and excuses will not cut it for these Osun indigenes that I know. The best time to get started was 27th November and the second best time is now!
Wale Adedayo is a public affairs commentator and a communication strategist.