‘Aregbe’ as Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is admiringly referred to did not earn his sterling credentials as a tireless, courageous and stalwart defender of the common man overnight or when he was elected into high office as Executive Governor of Osun State; in fact right from his storied days as a staunch hero of the struggle for democracy and the revalidation of the June 12 election that was annulled by the military, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has always stood on the side of the down trodden, marginalized and oppressed segments of society to the extent that he braved arrest, detention, torture and even worse in order to better the lot of the people.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was not just advocating for a return to democratic governance for its sake as many political activists were wont to do, rather he fought fervently for civilian rule as he felt it was the best avenue to ensure the delivery of crucial dividends of democracy to the people in the socio-economic, infrastructural and developmental spheres. As democracy properly defined is government for the people and of the people, he saw it as the best representation of the wishes and aspirations of the people rather than untrammelled military rule that was often autocratic and even despotic in its most extreme manifestations.
Therefore an unfazed and unbowed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola dared the military authorities in his relentless struggle for the restoration of democracy and rose to the level of an icon in the movement to the extent that with the inception of civilian rule in 1999, he was appointed as Commissioner of Works by the Asiwaju of Nigerian Politics, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then Executive Governor of Lagos State as the state of infrastructure of the Centre of Excellence was deplorable, decrepit and broken down, needing fast track rehabilitation and resuscitation. Aregbe wasted precious little time in unveiling his strategic master plan that involved the construction of new roads, bridges, housing units and educational and health facilities across the length and breadth of Lagos State as a matched words with action.
Almost overnight, the state was turned into one vast construction site with countless caterpillars, earthmovers, bulldozers etc. trundling across the landscape involved in one project or the other. In fact, the rapid transformation of Lagos State into a mega city of gigantic proportions was a direct result of the responsiveness and efficiency of the Lagos State Ministry of Works which brought the vision of the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to fruition as Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola believes in action and not aimless talk or pointless grandstanding as is common with some in the political class. However, in executing these awesome projects, the Peoples Tribune took great care to site beneficial projects in low income areas like Mushin, Oshodi, Ajegunle, Okokomaiko, Ijegun etc. so that the common, indigent people would be at advantage to reap from them rather than catering exclusively to the high brow districts like Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki etc.
Apart from his executive functions, Aregbe has also cultivated an enviable penchant for listening and attending to the multifarious needs of the people cutting across all ethnic, religious, sectional, linguistic or partisan affiliations, in line with his One Nigeria, One Destiny philosophy. Rather than pander to tribal or religious sentiments, a patriotic Ogbeni Rauf treats all and sundry as one, he relates to people, both high and low on the basis of mutual respect, merit, hard work and competence.
If you are ready to work, you will find a willing ally in the person of Ogbeni Rauf, however if you are given to idleness, sloth, gossip or malingering, you will definitely receive the short end of the stick from him. Compassion, benevolence and philanthropy have always been the hall mark of Ogbeni Rauf’s social and political desiderata as he is deeply committed to raising the welfare and wellbeing of the people to greater heights in any position he finds himself. As Executive Governor of Osun State, he fought tooth and nail against the entrenched cabal that was left behind by outgoing Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola who was ousted by the courts after sitting tight on Rauf Aregbesola gubernatorial mandate for years.
Even the struggle to retrieve his rightful mandate was no tea party as Ogbeni endured harrowing days of police harassment and even detention at Force Headquarters, Abuja on trumped up charges of forging a fake police report.
Indeed, entire parts of Osun State was turned into a war zone as the enraged populace rose up as one to defend their acclaimed tribune, engaging the police and even army in endless days of rage. At the end of the day, the people’s will prevail and Ogbeni Aregbesola was sworn in as the Executive Governor of Osun State and the rest as they say is history.
Despite stiff opposition from self-appointed elites of society including the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, the indomitable peoples tribune continued on his mission of taking governance to the grassroots and as a devoutly religious man, sought to instill a moral and ethical revolution of sorts in his beloved state ensuring that Islamic and Christian religious studies was entrenched and inculcated in the primary, secondary and even tertiary education curricular so as to impact sound moral and behavioral values to the impressionable youth population. However, his hardened critics used this commendable policy slant to paint him falsely as a religious fanatic keen to impose his religious persuasion on the unwary public. However, as time has shown, Osun State is one of the most peaceable and tranquil states in the country, relatively free from the rampart cases of armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and banditry that has ravaged other parts of the country all thanks to Aregbe’s socio-ethnical revolution.
Aso Villa also approved of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s trial blazing legacy in Osun as he was appointed Honourable Minister of the Interior in order to re-order and recalibrate the nation’s internal security apparatus composed of the Civil Defence, Immigration, Prisons and Fire Service and he has moved adroitly to restructure, recalibrate and re-organize the numerous agencies under his watch, earning him deserved plaudits for bringing a new sense of urgency, purpose and dynamism in their operations. True to his populist disposition, Comrade Rauf Aregbesola has ensured that employment opportunities are open in his ministry’s agencies for the teeming youth population as hardly a month passes without employment adverts appearing in the newspaper/online platforms for prospective applicants.
As a relentless peoples advocate, Comrade Rauf Aregbesola takes time to receive throngs of visitors, guests or supplicants seeking advice, assistance or support either material, morale or spiritual and he does not tire in ensuring that he alleviates their plight. In order to boost staff morale and productivity, Ogbeni Aregbesola has mandated the prompt payment of workers’ salary, allowances and emoluments while transfers, deployments and promotions are strictly based on merit without any form of cronyism, nepotism or godfatherism whosoever. Indeed Ogbeni Aregbesola is not resting on his oars as he continues to advance the interest, wellbeing and welfare of the denizens of society to the next level in the crucial scheme of things. To God be the Glory.
BATURE, a public affairs analyst sent in this piece from Lugbe, Abuja.