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Monday, 12 March 2012

'Gov. Aregbesola`s 17 Month Is Better Than PDP`s 14 years Rule-Akere, Osun`s Commissioner


Call him one of the victims of democratic revolution in Osun State and you`re sure hitting the nail on the head. He`s the interesting personality behind the humble name, Sunday Akere. Very determined, focused and resolute, the political juggernaut is the Commissioner for Information in Oyo State. Maybe for the first time, the dynamic man of style took us on a ride and opened up on the dark days of the last administration, his incarceration and the success story of the incumbent government of Osun State. He spoke to Enquirer`s SEYI Onifade in his office in Oshogbo.  

Can we get to know what qualifies you for this position?
I started my elementary education at Baptist day primary school in my hometown, Igbajo in Boluwaduro local government area of Osun State. I attended Kiriji Memorial College also in Igbajo for my secondary school, then the University of Ibadan. After my youth service corps in Bauchi, I worked in a private firm, Maydej Nigeria Ltd. located in Saki, Oyo state as Production Manager before venturing into private business and politics.
I have always been active in any organization I belong to, it's either I am the secretary or the PRO and at times the President. Even throughout my University days, I was involved seriously in so many activities and served in various capacities as PRO.
I started from a humble beginning. In 1998 I contested under the banner of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) for the chairmanship position in my local government and lost. Between 1999 to 2003, I was the Personal Assistant to the then honorable commissioner for education under the regime of Chief Bisi Akande, then governor of Osun State. When we were said to have lost the election in 2003, I ventured into partisan politics because some of us that were young then, believed that with the level of commitment and delivering on the dividends of democracy by Gov. Bisi Akande's government, we should not have lost any election. We believe that it was the handling of the party by some of our leaders that cost us the election, so we decided to get ourselves involved in party administration.
From January 2004 to August 12, 2011, I served as the Director of Research and Strategy for the party in Osun. We metamorphosed from AD to AC, then ACN and on the 12th of August 2011 I became the Commissioner for Information and Strategy under the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the current Governor of Osun State.

How has the experience been so far as a the State`s scribe?

I want to say that for the past 8 years since I`ve been in position as the Director of Research and Strategy for the party, I was virtually the spokesperson, so my coming on board now as Commissioner is not strange. I am used to it. And one of the things we had to do was the sacrifices of intimidation, harassment and even imprisonment on crooked false charges by the then party in power. I was put behind bars for over 40 days on false allegation of being the brain behind the explosion that rocked the secretariat on June 13th, 2011. I was the first person to make a statement on behalf of our party at the Correspondent Chapel about the explosion, only for the then government to come around and alleged that we were the perpetrators of the act. We believed it was a sacrifice all of us had to pay for democracy and we were sure that at the end truth will prevail. So it has been a very challenging experience and we thank His Excellency for recognizing our efforts and for counting us worthy to be part of his government. And people see us as the face of the struggle and everywhere we go they commend our bravery. And to the glory of God on the 26th of November, 2010, the truth prevailed and we were returned to power. And the will of the Osun people conquered.

Looking back at all those dark moments of the struggle and your days in prison, how do you feel today now that you are in power?

To say the truth, it's not an experience one would wish even for his enemy because in my own case I was forced to flee from my family for months. And every night uniform policemen would invade my residence with guns and stuffs and it got to a state we could not even differentiate between real policemen and political hooligans trying to carry out their evil act. It was really terrible. And when we were in prison, they instructed prison officials to make life hellish for us but they refused, an action which led to the termination of some prison officials. The SSS would come to the prison to scatter everywhere, then myself and my elderly brother, another top member of our party were in prison together and his release was effected while I was kept back in prison for another extra week, because one of the terms of my release was that a serving honorable must sign my bail bond. And unfortunately all the AC honourables were in the US, so I had to wait for their return to secure my release. And there was so much noise in town then that they want to assassinate me, that's why they delay my release. So I was conscious of my security in prison then, the foods I only eat were from trusted hands and I made sure my detention room was not infected with poisonous gas. Eventually we survived and it's not an experience that one will wish even his enemies.

Can you shed light on specific projects Gov. Aregbesola has accomplished since his assumption of office? Can you name the projects?

When Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola came on board as Governor, what we met on ground was terrible. The education system was in a sorry state with alarming statistics of only 3 percent of the Osun students that sat for WAEC passed the adequate subjects required for their tertiary education. It was that bad. What we did was to first organize an educational summit where we brought together all the stakeholders in the educational system to brainstorm and come up with ideas on how to revive the educational system. Also in the state owned tertiary institution, education was solely for the elites because the fees were beyond the reach of the people. The governor first slashed the fees in all state owned tertiary institutions, then we moved on to the reformation stage. During our assessment tour, we discovered that virtually all pupils in our primary schools either sit under the tree or on bare floor in the classrooms to receive lectures. And we urgently corrected all these and we're introducing what we call model schools. And it's going to be in three stages- the elementary, junior and secondary.
The elementary will contain 900 pupils and it's going to be pupils from primary 1 to 3, while the junior schools will be for pupils in primary four to JSS 3. We're building 170 of such schools at about 30 billion naira this year, 2012.
Also we have introduced what we call the 'TUTORS GENERAL' where school principals were elevated to the equivalent of Permanent Secretary, this is to boost the morale of our teachers and change the impression of teacher's reward been in heaven. Let them enjoy their rewards while here on earth.
And in the area of unemployment, one of our electoral promises is to provide 20,000 jobs within the first 100 days in office and we have fulfilled that through our OSUN YOUTHS EMPOWERMENT SCHEME(OYES). We advertised for this new vacancies and collection of forms free of charge and to our astonishment we got over 256,000 applicants, that is to tell you that there's so much unemployment in the land.
It is a great achievement that even our greatest enemy, the PDP at the federal level came to borrow our blueprint for their SURE subsidy programme. And even the World Bank came down to Osun to ask us on how we were able to achieve that great feat.
We are re-branding too, we have changed from the Living Spring State now to the State of Virtue, 'Ipinle Omoluabi". In Yoruba land, 'Omoluabi' connotes someone that's responsible and intelligent. We also have created a new state flag and logo.
Also there's keeping Osun clean' O'clean project. We are also tapping into abundance of top Christian leaders from Osun state, talk about the Adeboyes, the Kumuyis, Abiaras, Ashimolowos, they are all from Osun. So we are building OPEN HEAVEN CRUSADE ARENA. It`s a ground that would contain not less than 200, 000 people at a go. We will be giving it out to these Pentecostal leaders to come and organize crusades. And that's tourism on its own. Imagine 200,000 people trooping to Osun on monthly basis and if they only buy pure water that would impact positively on the economy of the state. There is a massive road construction going on as well throughout the state. And too numerous projects from water to rehabilitation of roads and so on

Finally what is the impression of the people about your government?

Excellent. Their impression is that this government is a God sent. And the supports have been tremendous anytime we are having an event they always show support.

Thanks for your time sir

You're most welcome.

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