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Wednesday, 1 May 2019

RETROSPECT: Aregbesola's 8 years: Verdict from UNDP, UNICEF, AFDB and WORLD Bank




These verdicts are not from social media but from reputable international organizations. The World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF and Africa Development Bank gave their verdicts of the 8 years of Aregbesola’s administration in Osun State. The African Development Bank (AfDB) hailed the Rauf Aregbesola administration in Osun State for economically developing the state through the implementation of its people-oriented policies and programmes. The AfDB scored the state high on its social investment programmes.It described the programmes as most laudable, impactful and commendable in the democratic history of Nigeria.

The leadership of the AfDB, led by its Country Director, Mr Ebrima Faal, gave the commendation during a visit to Governor Aregbesola at Government House in Osogbo, the state capital. Faal lauded the state’s Six-ýPoint Integral Action Plan, which he said was in line with the organisation’s objectives. AFDB rated the social investment was done through initiatives such as Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES), Osun School Feeding and Health Programme (O’MEAL), Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (O’REAP) and Osun Ambulance services. According to Aregbesola, his government has performed creditably well in delivery on its electioneering campaign promises to the people of the state.

Governor Aregbesola of Osun State has shown creativity, flexibility in human-centric vision of the future of work that recognizes people’s knowledge, talents, creativity and skills as key drivers of a prosperous and inclusive economy. The Governor has set aside not less than 26% of Osun budget for education and 16% for health according to United Nations mandate. The budget to GDP has not be less than 5%. Aregbesola has operated an investment budget in the past 8 years in Osun.

Aregbesola believes in investing in human capital which is necessary but not sufficient for sustainable development. Aregbesola has strengthened the two pillars of human capital — education and health — which turn populations into the skilled workforces needed to make them the greatest assets for their countries, these efforts mean little without a conducive policy framework for people to reach their full potential. Aregbesola has at different fora highlighted the importance of investing in education and health with special focus on power structures.

The State of Osun in south-western Nigeria raised fund for educational development which is the foundation of human capital and used to finance infrastructure projects in human capital. The funds were used to finance human capital projects in the construction of education projects, among other development initiatives with which Aregbesola hopes to lay a solid foundation for the future of the state.
UNICEF had led top government officials drawn from 17 states in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to Osun for a four-day learning tour of its various social investment programmes and building human capital. Consequently, Osun developmental programmes have also impacted on the socio-economic profile of the state as reported by reputable institutions. In 2015, The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) rated Osun 2nd Highest in Human Development Index among the 36 states in the Country.

IPolicies by the government of the State of Osun to revamp the economy and banish poverty in line with its six point integral action plan is yielding fruits with the latest report of the United Nations Development Programme UNDP with verifiable facts from the National Bureau of Statistics NBS placing Osun as the state with lowest poverty rate. Poverty levels fell considerably more slowly in Osun State and other parts of the world. Extreme poverty is now mainly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa. In absolute terms, the highest number of people living in poverty is found in Nigeria and India.

The World Bank has commended the Osun State Government over the execution of projects of Osun Rural Access & Mobility Project which are World Bank and French Development Agency assisted Projects. It became effective on 22nd November 2013 after several years of preparation. The beneficiaries are the rural poor who derive livelihood from farming.
The World Bank Task Team Leader explained that the officials were on due diligence mission to inspect the ongoing projects of Osun Rural Access & Mobility Project which are World Bank and French Development Agency. He expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done in the state as there was value for money and commitment to transparency and accountability, adding that the World Bank was pleased to partner with Osun State Government.

The Computation of Human Development Indices for the UNDP Nigeria Human Development Report (2016) which was released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently rated Osun the lowest state in the ‘Incidence of Poverty showed that a better government like Governor Aregbesola of Osun State can eradicate poverty’. Stressing that policies and strategies to eradicate poverty were required as an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of humankind, the observer for the Holy See told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon that the eradication of poverty must now become an essential chapter of all economic theory. A representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that despite the considerable social progress in the world’s poor countries, more people were living in absolute poverty today than in any other time in history. Eradicating extreme poverty in Osun was a realistic goal that could be achieved in the early twenty-first century, but it would require determined efforts at the national level and by the international community. Economic growth alone was not enough to eliminate poverty; changes in income and asset distribution were needed to allow poor people to contribute to and benefit from economic progress.
History will remember Rauf Aregbesola for indeed four major developments in Nigeria, school feeding programme, sukuk bond for national development, first governor to embrace 4th industrial revolution and Nigerian chocolate. Aregbesola has encouraged the issuance of sukuk in Nigeria because we needed to diversify the instrument in the bond market. Aregbesola worked hard to introduce sukuk fund for education in Nigeria. Osun took the initiative and helped in introducing it to Nigeria. The greatest lesson is that when Governor Aregbesola adopted Sukuk, an Islamic bond to help the state execute educational projects, his critics were calling for his head. Many said it was part of his ploy to islamize Osun.

The Federal Government took an example from Aregbesola by taken N100bn sukuk bond for the financing of 25 road projects being handled by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing across the country. The sukuk proceed would unlock the potential of Nigeria. The minister said, “This is the first sukuk bond issuance for Nigeria. It is about financial inclusion and deepening of our financial markets. The proceeds are used to support government capital spending for 2017 – the construction and rehabilitation of 25 key economic roads across the six geo-political zones of the country. Each of the geopolitical zones of the country is expected to receive the sum of N16.67bn for road projects in the respective zones. The North Central and South-South Zones accounted for five each of the 25 key economic road projects, while the North East, North West and South East have four road projects each
Aregbesola single headedly took school feeding programme and sukuk from Osogbo to the Federal Government in Abuja. To enhance security of lives and properties, the State Government provided about 125 patrol vehicles to security agencies such as the Army, Police, FRSC, NDLEA and the Civil Defence. 25 armoured personnel carrier, the first in the history of the state have been provided to fight incessant robbery attacks. It is also noteworthy that the state has acquired one helicopter for area surveillance and ‘’quick emergency response’’ in the state. Since this noble initiative, crime, especially bank robberies has reduced significantly to the barest minimum in Osun.

Governor Aregbesola has brought innovation and localized the processing of cocoa products in the 14 cocoa producing states in Nigeria. With over twenty million cocoa farmers in Nigeria, Osun-China’s cooperation over Ede cocoa processing plant and production of chocolate which has given lifeline to Nigerian cocoa farmers who could not export their products before now.

Aregbesola has embark on global initiative aims to support capacity building in Osun and the rest of Nigeria to advance future leadership focusing on sustainable global development by investing in human capital. As a symbol of national development, Aregbesola introduced sukuk Islamic bonds issuance programme to help fund big infrastructure needs in Africa’s biggest economy, aiming to tie the transaction to one of several projects
The interventions in education include: the provision of international award winning digital text books known as Opon Imo – Tablet of Knowledge to students in the high schools that deals with 4th industrial revolution, free school feeding programme called O MEAL, payment of external examination fees, construction of modern schools and introduction of discipline into the schools. Opon Imo was launched in 2013 by Aregbesola. It contains e-textbooks, past questions (WAEC and JAMB) and virtual classroom for all approved subjects from SS1 to SS3.

The Osun State Government in 2017 signed an agreement worth N216bn with a Chinese firm, Jiangsu Wuxi Taihu Cocoa Food Company Limited, on the establishment of an industrial park in the state. Aregbesola stated that the partnership with the Chinese firms would support the state on six different investments which include cocoa bean processing; chocolate and food processing; salt processing; cassava starch processing, gold mining and power plants and it represent a model of economic which has transited into diversification in Nigeria. While there is a decline in Nigeria’s annual production of cocoa, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, has encouraged cocoa farmers in Osun, Ondo, Edo, Delta and other southern states to boost production and this has led to the expansion of Ede cocoa processing plant, which is the only functioning plant in the country today.

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