Mailafia got it all wrong on Osun


Dr Obadiah Mailafia needs little or no introduction. He has been the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was also adviser to former president Goodluck Jonathan. Recently, he made a bid for the presidency on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). On October 15, 2018, he wrote in his weekly column for the Nigerian Tribune a piece titled “The monetisation of politics and the end of civic culture” which is indeed timeous, considering contemporary events. He started with Athens in ancient Greece, how citizenship imposed certain obligations on the citizens, as opposed to slaves.

He began with the 2018 Ekiti state governorship election won by Dr Kayode Fayemi. He mocked Fayemi for falling victim of former Governor Ayo Fayose’s ‘stomach infrastructure’ in 2014 and contradicted this position with how Fayemi matched Fayose naira for naira in 2018 and then defeating him comprehensively. He then moved to Osun’s September 22 governorship election and the supplementary election of September 27. Though he failed to explain how the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gboyega Oyetola, monetised the election to fit his thesis, he launched into the canard of the opposition on Osun by attacking the incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola. He insinuated though that the N18 billion Paris Club refund given to Osun coincided with the election. His argument in the piece is that APC ought not to win because, in his opinion, Aregbesola performed woefully, describing Osun as ‘one of the most badly run states in the country’. He talked about a ‘staggering N143 billion debt’ and public sector workers not earning salaries for years.

Mailafia may be entitled to his opinion, but not his facts. As Charles P. Scott, the long-serving editor of the Manchester Guardian (He served as editor for 571/2 years) famously wrote, ‘Comment is free, but facts are sacred’. Mailafia not just got his facts wrong, his logic is muddled as well. Mailafia was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before joining former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ADC, which has now become a farcical haven for disgruntled former members of the PDP. It is expected that his sentiments may still be with the PDP or at least his dislike for the APC is still intact. However, assuming but not conceding that Osun was badly run, it may not necessarily translate into a win for the PDP. This is because every election is local. The people of Osun had to make a choice between four major candidates. These are APC’s Gboyega Oyetola, PDP’s Ademola Adeleke, SDP’s Iyiola Omisore and in the distance, ADP’s Moshood Adeoti. In the end, it was a straight fight between Oyetola and Adeleke.

Oyetola brought into the election a profile of a suave, urbane, scandal-free, well-educated and an accomplished Broad Street entrepreneur who has spent the last eight years in the public sector as the Chief of Staff to Governor Aregbesola. On the other hand, Adeleke came with an alleged questionable educational qualification and police warrant for his arrest on charges of examination malpractices and impersonation. It was cleared by WAEC just a few days to election that he indeed sat for just one subject in 1981 school certificate examination in which he got an F9. It took the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari for the police not to arrest him before the election, when the facts of his examination malpractices blew into the open.

Given this circumstance, between the two candidates, how could anyone think that Adeleke could have beaten Oyetola in a free and fair election? Secondly, the notion that Osun is the most badly run state in Nigeria amounts to turning logic on its head. By all indices of development, Osun under Aregbesola improved tremendously.

Thirdly, at no time under the Aregbesola administration was ‘public sector workers not earning salaries for years’. When there was a challenge with the state’s finances, the government entered into an agreement with workers on modulated salary structure in which workers on level 1-7 would be earning full salaries, workers on level 8-12 would be paid 75 per cent of their salaries while the fat cats on level 13 and above would be earning 50 per cent of their salaries.

Government had faithfully implemented this scheme, without defaulting any month and has in the last three months paid all categories of workers their full salaries. This means that no worker on level 1-7 is owed a kobo as we speak. From the N18 billion Paris Club refund received last month, government has even paid the arrears of some months owed level 8 and above. Fourthly, Osun’s debts were incurred for infrastructure development and payment of salaries. There is however, good news here. By 2019, the N30 billion vanilla bond obtained in 2012 would have been fully repaid. Also, the N11.4 billion Sukuk bond would be fully repaid in 2020.What will be left is the concessionary loan called bailout, used to pay workers’ salaries. The election was close, and APC was only able to scrape through after the supplementary election. APC was able to win because the party is strong in Osun.

Fasure is the Media Adviser to Governor Rauf Aregbesola

Leave a Reply