Sunday 27 August 2023

Adegboyega Oyetola: Man whom tomorrow beckons____By Cosmas Omegoh

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”   —Isaac Newton

Could Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, the immediate past governor of Osun State be a man of destiny? This is a puzzle that might dominate the minds of Nigerians in the days ahead.  

On August 21, Oyetola assumed office as Nigeria’s minister of the nascent Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

The ministry is one of the newest created by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sustain the drive to fully harness the country’s aquatic resources – a sector no real attention has been paid to until lately.

As it stands, following the birthing of the new ministry, Asiwaju Tinubu may have opened the door for an outfit said to be long overdue as a tool to shore up the Nigeria’s economy that is clearly sagging on all sides.

Nigerians hailing the new ministry believe that Oyetola is the best to drive it.

But not everyone thinks so. Some other persons hold that Oyelota’s nomination and subsequent appointment as minister was borne out of political patronage, considering his alleged close-knit relationship with Tinubu often touted to be from Iragbiji in Osun State.

People will not cease pointing at Tinubu’s alleged role in making Oyetola, Osun State governor after the exit of his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Arefgeshola.

Perhaps, when voices are being raised that Oyetola’s appointment is part of President Tinubu’s regime protection agenda that thought might not be discountenanced completely. Many believe that the moment Tinubu became president, Oyetola’s chances of landing a top job became as bright as daylight.

Now, the afterthought that trailed the eventual posting of Oyetola to his present office, leaves curious observers pondering over the vision of the appointer and the capacity of the appointee for the office.

Recall that at first, Oyetola was assigned to the Ministry of Transportation. Then in a sudden twist, Tinubu reassigned him to the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

Now, given the newness of that ministry, both Oyetola and his team must more than triple their efforts to drive the novelty.

For the uninitiated, the questions being asked now are what is the blue economy and the ministry all about?

The World Bank says the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources

for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs, while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.”

The European Commission on its part notes that the blue economy is “all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts.

“It covers a wide range of interlinked, established and emerging sectors.”

Holistically, the ministry will concern itself with the management of all water bodies within the Nigerian space, and the exploitation of all the resources and opportunities they hold.

Experts reckon that the blue economy earns billions of dollars for countries that have mastered this wealth act, generating trillions of dollars worldwide.

On account of that, stakeholders in Nigeria, long before now, had been advocating for a ministry of marine life.

No doubt, when the ministry was eventually created, its birth elicited jubilation in the camps and ranks of those who know.

When, therefore, Oyetola reported for duty last Monday, he was in high spirits, buoyed by a desire to succeed.

He also sounded like one prepared for the task ahead. Or was he trying to put up the usual show? After all, Nigerian politicians are never lacking in what to say – just to please.

Oyetola being  upbeat declared his intention to give the sector his all. Of course, doing that he must, given that it is his first ever assignment at the national level; and given that the ministry is new, and he has to set the right tone with which both of them will be judged.

In his declaration, he said: “We must seize this opportunity to create positive change, leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.

“This appointment comes with an immense duty to our people, our environment and our future generations. Together with a dedicated staff of the Ministry and in partnership with critical stakeholders from various sectors, I am eager to drive positive change, create jobs, protect our marine environment and ensure sustainable prosperity for all.

“Now is the time to work hand in hand to usher in an era of growth, innovation, and sustainable progress for Nigeria’s marine and blue economy.

“I feel challenged to be made a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because it comes with a lot of responsibilities.”

But, of course, not everyone who listened to Oyetola was pleased. Reason: Nigerians have heard even more of such sweet sermons in both recent and distant past. Yet, in the end, the sermon givers left Nigerians more devastated than ever. Would he, therefore, blame anyone who will prefer to follow him with cautious optimism?

It is against this backdrop that Nigerians who had earlier been bitten by the bug called Nigerian politicians’ penchant for highfalutin speeches want him to walk his talk.

As non-expert in marine matters, what Oyetola needs most now, is the will to excel. Of course, he has shown that. But he also needs the staying power to distil truth from the deluge of professional advice sure to stream his way – most of them destined to deceive.

Now, as Mr Tinubu trudges on with his administration, how will Oyetola and his performance be measured? They will be measured by the number of opportunities and jobs he and his ministry will create. He will be measured by the quantum of money he will pool into the treasury to justify the confidence stakeholders repose in the blue economy as money-spinner.  He will be engraving his name in gold by constructing a simple and ready-to-use template that will propel a new ministry such as his. Posterity will be happy he did. And there is no forgetting that his proficiency as an accountant – his integrity and honour – all will more than ever before come under the radar.

Mr Oyetola who hails from Iragbiji in Boripe Local Government Area of Osun State, was born on September 29, 1954.

Between when he graduated from the University of Lagos and when he joined politics, he was active in the corporate world, insurance especially.

He eventually entered into the public sector with his appointment as Chief of Staff to former Governor Aregbesola.

Oyetola later contested for governorship of Osun State on September 22, 2018, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and won, becoming the 9th governor of the state. He assumed office as governor on November 27, 2019.

In July 2022, he lost his bid for a second term in office to the incumbent Governor Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In the legal contests that went up to the Supreme Court, Adeleke was declared the rightful winner of the contest on May 9, this year.


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