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NIGERIA: A Controversial Boost for Aregbesola

The recent endorsement of the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, by some of the major institutions in the state may have become a subject of controversy

Campaign activities for the governorship election coming up in Osun State in 2014, is subtly gaining momentum. Trending now is a rising wave of endorsement for Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the state.

At many fora, traditional rulers, market women, artisans and other groups have openly declared support for the governor’s bid to return next year. Recently, in Ibokun, the headquarters of the council area, the birthday celebration of the Assistant Director (Community Forum), Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, became an open ground for public endorsement of the governor.

Traditional rulers were for instance favourably disposed to the continuation of the Aregbesola administration. The Olufon of Ifon, Oba Al-Maroof Magbagbeola and the Alademore of Ibokun, Oba Festus Awogboro, who spoke on behalf of other obas, said the developmental programmes and policies of the Aregbesola administration would influence on his re-election in 2014.
Magbagbeola noted that Aregbesola's administration has impacted positively on the lives of the people within the two and a half years of assuming office as a governor.

On his part, Awogboro said "being a governor that has demonstrated commitment to the transformation of the state and its people, there is need for the people to give him a second term."
Former Chief of Staff to Oyinlola's administration, Elder Peter Babalola, also confirmed that Osun has witnessed rapid development under Aregbesola.

"Giving him another chance to govern the state would further enrich the state and make it a model of development all over the world."
The guest speaker at the event, Sheik Mustapha Mubarak, stressed that the performance of a government can only be said to be good if it affects the lives of the people positively, a move he said the Aregbesola administration has achieved.

There were also a gale of endorsements for the government from the Osun State Council of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) in Osogbo. They jointly approved Aregbesola for a second term.
But the development has not gone down well with the state’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which alleged that the pledge of approval and solidarity must be cohesively attained.

PDP publicity secretary, Mr. Bola Ajao, pointed out that the workers were only rail-roading Aregbesola to meet their demands for improved welfare and minimum wage across board, adding that he was just buying time as he was on his way out because the people are itching for a change.

Also, Mr. Ayo Aluko-Olokun, Director Media and Publicity for the Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi Rasheed (SOAR) Campaign Organisation, queried the basis for Aregbesola’s endorsement for a second term.
"If you are contesting election for the first time, people may vote for you based on the promises you make but when you want a second term promises would not suffice again, only concrete achievements which the people can see or have benefitted from in your first term could earn you another term."

Aluko-Olokun contended that the wave of endorsements was staged-managed. "It is all propaganda. When you say labour endorses you for instance, who in labour endorsed you? Where did they hold a congress to endorse him? More than 90 percent of the workforce in the state cannot wait to see Aregbesola’s back."

That, however, was a deflation of the view of the trade unions that reportedly registered their interest in the continuity of the administration. This was visible in the banners they displayed at strategic positions in the State capital.

The workers, happily dressed in vests even had match-past at a ceremony held at the Technical College playing ground, Osogbo, sporting vests that bore the inscription: “Argbesola for Second Term-Osun Labour.”

Perhaps, in appreciation of the endorsement, Aregbesola also donated a bus each to the three endorsing unions to boost the image of the government.

But some critics had described such a gesture as inducing, somewhat for the second term campaign.
While the grumbling subsisted, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Osun Central Senatorial District at a meeting held at the house of the party’s senatorial leader in Ikirun, Alhaji Gbadamosi Lawal, and attended by elders from all the council areas, moved the motion for the endorsement of Aregbesola.

They observed that the "jet-speed with which Osun is witnessing developmental projects during Aregbesola's era would fast-track its placing among developed states in the federation." They therefore expressed pleasure in the resolve of organised labour unions to support the administration.

Following this, Aregbesola has vowed that his administration would continue to support for all categories of workers. He called for their continuous support and noted that their support would enable the government achieve its six-point integration action plan.

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