OYETOLA’S SCORECARD AND THE OSUN 2022 GUBER POLLS:
Which Way Forward for the Working People, Youths and the Oppressed in Osun State
By Alfred Adegoke, Coordinator DSM Osun State
It is no more news that Oyetola lost to Demola Adeleke his PDP rival in the first round of the 2018 Elections, a first round which was declared inconclusive by INEC, leading to a controversial re-run that declared Oyetola as winner. The rerun election was also marred by unprecedented violence, rigging and vote-buying. Though overturned at the Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court snatched victory for Oyetola from the jaws of a defeat. As we noted then, behind the initial defeat of Oyetola/APC was the unpopularity of the Aregbesola/APC government and its anti-worker, anti-poor policies. Four years after, how has Osun State fared?
As time flies, the four-year term for Governor Gboyega Oyetola will come to an end after at the Osun State Gubernatorial Election scheduled for July 2022. However, Governor Oyetola is seeking re-election for another term.
Given the enormity of the challenges facing the mass of the working people in general, the necessity of examining the scorecard of the Governor Gboyega Oyetola led APC Government in the past four years cannot be over-emphasized. This is with a view of charting the way forward for workers, youths, the poor and activists, particularly when the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) will not be participating in the elections due to the collusion of the Nigerian State to de-register the SPN.
HOW FAR WITH CONTINUITY
Being the Chief of staff to the immediate past Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola it would be an understatement to say Mr. Gboyega Oyetola is in the know of all the policies of the then Aregesola-led APC regime. Therefore, Oyetola is equally responsible for the Aregbesola era. It is therefore not surprising that the cardinal slogan with which Oyetola campaigned in 2018 was on continuity, meaning to finish the uncompleted projects of Aregbesola with which Osun State was plunged into over 200 billion Naira debt!
Aregbesola left a legacy of anti-worker policy, one of which is the unpaid 30-month arrears of half-salaries and half pensions. Oyetola, despite his campaign promises, has refused to pay the arrears, neither has he remitted all the illegal and/or misappropriated money belonging to pension and gratuity scheme.
At that time, Aregbesola-led APC government was giving a false excuse that there was no money. Yet at that time, Aregbesola government collected about 35 billion naira of Paris Club debt money refund, among others, from Federal Government specifically to pay arrears of salaries and pensions. Aregbe paid only two months arrears at that time to cajole workers to win re-election.
The claim of lack of funds by the Oyetola government does not hold water. This is because aside the government committing billions to political appointees and jamborees, the funds given to the state by the federal government are being handed over to contractors. For instance, the Oyetola government received more than 11 billion naira from federal government as refund for federal road projects undertaken by Osun State. But most of these projects were abandoned by the contractors after receiving most of the funds during Aregbesola government. Yet the Oyetola government handed over the funds to the contractors, while workers who suffered for these projects are left in the lurch.
This shows that the so-called fight between Aregbesola and Oyetola political factions is only meant to hide their looting culture.
The same gory tale goes for pensions whereby government is owing each pensioner several millions of Naira as gratuities, aside the 30-month arrears of half-pension. But in a ridiculous and inhumane manner, the Oyetola/APC Government will only pay one hundred thousand naira apiece to some few selected pensioners at intervals, who may not get anything again for long until the ration gets back to them if it ever will.
The story of the retirees under Contributory Pension Scheme is even worse, as most of those who retired since 2016 have not received a kobo as pension, even their own contributions to the pension scheme. Many of them are now living like destitute, while many others have been medically incapacitated as a result of inability to pay for drugs. Many have also died due to government-induced poverty. In spite of advanced age the pensioners have been protesting for their legitimate rights all to no avail. The DSM has intervened on many occasions in these protests, giving open support to retirees.
We call on Governor Oyetola to stop the miserable ration and immediately pay the pensioners their full entitlements without any further delay.
There is primary health project. However, this project whereby existing facilities were renovated is a joint program of the State with WHO. In any case, the truth is that the facilities are poorly equipped and lack requisite staff like doctors and nurses. In the entire state there are less than 200 doctors employed by the state government, most of whom are overworked. With a population of over 3.4 million, this is a ratio of one doctor to over 11, 000 people.
Also, the state hospitals are in sorry and shambolic conditions, with most of them overtaken by lawn bush. The workers are also poorly remunerated. We call on the governor to properly remunerate the medical practitioners like doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians etc. Recruit more hands to meet the standard as well as equip the Hospital with necessary gadgets and facilities.
On education there has not been any meaningful development. The cosmetic measure like reversal of school uniform itself a failed project because the company used by APC at that time has gone aground having finished its project with the about one billion naira largesse given to it at that time to produce school uniforms. Most schools in the state lack adequate number of teachers, while many do not have basic facilities for learning like conducive classrooms, laboratories, libraries and workshops.
Recently, Governor Oyetola announced the elevation of the Ilesha College of Education to a University. While this may ordinarily be good news but the timing at a period close to election and without any structural development before berates the seriousness and intentions of the Government. This is an institution where the government since Aregbesola era has not added any new structure while the existing ones are in a state of disrepair. The staff unions have been embarking on strike actions for better working condition all to no avail.
Indeed, the only state-owned university, UNIOSUN has only been running more as private university because of poor funding, while no single project of the state government has been carried out in the university under Oyetola government. To show that the elevation to a university is a political statement, the governor only claimed that the upgrade will be considered after a private audit company has conducted feasibility study on the viability of the upgrade. This will come after the elections.
OLAIYA FLYOVER BRIDGE
Oyetola’s government has been celebrating construction of Olaiya flyover bridge as a major success. But this is just a conduit pipe for mismanagement. This bridge, which is less than half of a kilometer long, was constructed at close to 3 billion naira. Even the Aregbesola government, despite its notorious profligate nature, constructed a kilometer of road for 500 million naira.
Worse still, the road was financed with a bank loan, at an exorbitant interest rate. This means that the state government borrowed money at exorbitant rate to construct an inflated project, that is used to divert money to private hands. This is just a continuation of Aregbesola government corruption arrangement. To add insult to injury, the bridge is a single-lane narrow bridge. Ironically, while the government constructed a flyover bridge with a water spring beside it, there is no a single public tap in the vicinity of the Olaiya to provide water people to drink.
Indeed, tap water has stopped running in most areas now in Osogbo. While Oyetola is celebrating this ‘flyover feat’, most of the roads within Osogbo community and intra- and inter-township roads across the state are in deplorable and deadly state
QUIETNESS OF ORGANIZED LABOUR
In spite of all the challenges facing the working people of Osun State, the leadership of the central Labour unions NLC and TUC In the state have kept quiet. They often act like mouth piece of the government that at least the Governor is paying salaries but they will not add that Osun Revenue Allocation has improved substantially.
They do not demand the payment of 30 months arrears of half salaries and pension neither do they decry promotion without financial equivalence (A disingenuous method whereby workers are promoted while they still continue to earn their previous salaries!). Also, they do not demand that government remit all deductions of cooperative and pension money to the appropriate quarters so that the future of the present crop of workers when they retire would not have been mortgaged.
WHAT OPTIONS FOR THE WORKING PEOPLE
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has deregistered some political Parties including the Socialist Party of Nigeria on a fraudulent ground. While the SPN and 22 other parties won at the Appeal Court the Supreme Court upheld the undemocratic action of the INEC. This unfortunately means the SPN will not be able to stand candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the State.
No doubt, the role of money and usage of thugs will come to play in this election as has characterized earlier elections. The goons are also eager to serve. The question then is whether Demola Adeleke of the PDP, who is believed to have the backing of his brother Deji (a business mogul with deep pocket) will match Oyetola money for money, guns for guns? Are the people willing to massively vote out the APC and elect PDP or continue with Oyetola?
All these questions can only be answered at the polls but one thing is certain that neither Oyetola nor Demola has marshalled a pro-working people program capable of emancipating the working people.
None of them is coming to abolish the contract system whereby huge resources is being siphoned into private pockets. They have not shown any commitment to a mass public works program capable of completing all the roads, provide pipe borne water round the state, well equipped and well-staffed hospitals, jobs and education as a right etc.
In short if Oyetola wins the election you will expect the continuation of his anti-poor policies even in a more vicious manner given the fact that he will not need another re-election. On the other hand, if Demola Adeleke wins, it will not be an Eldorado as it will be a government of payback to financial backers and political company in PDP who have been denied access to state funds in the last 12 years of APC rule. Therefore, workers, the youth and other oppressed classes will need to be on their feet and fight if they have to get anything from the government.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) will continue to intervene in the day to day struggles and particularly continue to expose the ruling capitalist elites that they have nothing to offer the working people as their main interest is their pocket. The working people will have to struggle to get any concession from the ruling class and in this struggle the SPN will continue to struggle with workers, youth and the poor for the emergence of a mass party of the working people on a socialist programme capable of defeating the corrupt capitalist politicians and liberate the working masses.