Essay submitted by Tomisin Omitogun from Osun State, Nigeria
Osun state is well known for its cultural heritage, viable economy based on agriculture, textile industry and natural resources (forest, solid minerals, water, arable lands). Osun is also home to several tertiary educational institutions which has contributed largely to the economic development of the state. Some of the challenges identified by our administration include untapped resources, poor infrastructure and inadequate policies to ensure economic development. The purpose of this manifesto is to highlight plans to provide strategic solutions to these challenges, achieve sustainable developments and ensure good governance of the state during our tenure.
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, in 2018, Osun state recorded 11.97% decrease in IGR and 72.64% increase in 2019 (NBS, 2019). This can be better by leveraging on the untapped resources in the state to generate revenue for the accelerated development of the state. One of the untapped resources we will invest in is gold. Gold is largely undermined in Nigeria and large deposits have been discovered in Osun state. Iperindo near Ilesha local government area is one of the gold deposit areas with a reserve of about one million ounces of gold and if its full resource potential is tapped, revenue of about two billion dollars can be generated. This gold deposit and the other six of its kind in the state will be invested in to generate more revenue for the state/country. A collaboration between the state and Federal government to establish public/private partnerships with gold mining companies will be formed to start large scale gold mining operations in Osun state. We will also support the ongoing Segilola gold project that was just commissioned. There will be a control policy to ensure proper regulation of mining activities and stop illegal gold mining as the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has confirmed its occurrence in Itagun and Iperindo regions of the state.
Another initiative from my administration will be to sustain the empowerment for farmers in rural areas under the Osun state Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP). For instance, we will bring agricultural development to Iyinta, a small village in Ife-Iwara, which is strategically positioned for inter-state transport of agricultural products as it is located along Ilesha-Akure road. Empowerment for the start-ups of such farms would include provision of training in mechanized farming and provision of grants/low-interest loans to acquire equipment needed for mechanized farming. There will also be availability of shared infrastructural facilities for processing, storage and irrigation during the dry season. For improved and easy trading, a market centre will be built in a centralized location in the community. Also, the roads in Iyinta village, linking roads to the Ilesha-Akure road as well as the Ilesha-Akure road will be constructed and rehabilitated.
Compared to other South West states, Osun state has not really maximized its tourism potential. Osun state has the capacity in terms of land and heritage sites to be an enviable tourist hub in Nigeria. My administration will collaborate with private and public organizations to build world-class shopping centres and hotels to improve on the already-existing tourist centres and to attract more tourists from all over the world.
According to Nigeria’s National Statistical Agency, Osun state had the lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria at 10.1% in 2019. This is quite commendable however more jobs can still be created to foster economic development. All the plans mentioned above will help create at least 50,000 new jobs and are viable sources of revenue for the state.
Our administration will embark on a series of road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance. The state ministry of works will be tasked with surveying roads that require construction and rehabilitation. One of such identified roads is the Ibadan-Iwo-Oshogbo road which is in deplorable condition and is necessary for rehabilitation for ease of transportation of goods as the Ibadan inland dry port has been approved for operation. We will also prioritize construction of roads in rural agricultural-density areas to facilitate easy movement of farm produce across the state and inter-state. We will ensure transparent contractual agreements with road construction companies to deliver durable and well-constructed roads. For operational maintenance of roads across the state, we will engage partnership and provide equipment to enable efficient running of the Osun state Road Maintenance Agency (ORMA).
Adequate power supply is needed to improve economic and industrial development of the state. Osun state is blessed with abundant water resources such as the Erinle dam. Our administration will partner with Independent power generating companies to generate at least additional 1000 MW of electricity yearly. We will also harness other sources of electricity generation such as solar and work with the already established Oshogbo solar power plant to generate electricity for both rural and urban areas of the state.
Our administration recognizes that education is the bedrock of all-round development and it is our responsibility to see that the state’s learning system is at its best. We will embark on a journey of building, renovation, training, and digitalization -our BRTD plan. We will build new and well equipped infrastructures in the schools, renovate existing structures, organize trainings for the teaching staff to ensure that they are well equipped with adequate teaching skills and also introduce digital tools and partner with edutech companies so that the students will be well-equipped for the digital world. We will also improve on existing scholarship programme under the Osun state Government Scholarship scheme and ensure that the students in rural areas equally benefit from this scheme.
For sustenance of the accelerated development, laudable programmes and schemes that will be put in place, security will be very essential. Our proposed strategy to keep up security is to provide operational vehicles and modern equipment to security agencies in the state to sustain
peace in Ife-Modakeke area, to eradicate cross cultural clashes and to strengthen security so as to curb criminal activities like kidnappings at the border. There will be an establishment of emergency response centres which will monitor CCTVs that will be installed in strategic locations across the state. The emergency response centres will also be in charge of toll-free lines that will be available to citizens in case of emergencies.
One of the 2030 sustainable Development goals is good health and well-being. Our administration will continue to invest in the improved functioning and performance of the health care sector as this ultimately affects the health status of the citizens. Our strategies include improving service deliveries in the health centres across the state and developing initiatives to enhance enrollments in the state’s Health Insurance Scheme (OHIS). With the right policies and programmes in place such as education, skill acquisition, etc., youths can be empowered to develop their potential and in turn foster socio-economic development in the state. In this light, the existing programmes under the Osun State Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) will be strengthened and improved. There will be establishment of skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development centres with mentorship programmes in collaboration with notable entrepreneurs within the state. Also due to poor sporting facilities in the state, an ultra-modern sport centre will be built in the state to engage interested individuals in sports who can go ahead to represent the state/country in international competitions and bring recognition to the state.
In line with the sixth goal of the SDGs which is aimed at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, our administration is committed to sustaining clean environment, the Osun Waste Management Agency (OWMA) will be tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that they enforce environmental sanitation policies, maintain and beautify the state.
In conclusion, good governance and transparency is the hallmark of our government. This administration will work in honesty and transparency to ensure that all the above-mentioned plans and policies are achieved and implemented. Our development and good governance goals will be hinged on improving revenue generation, all-inclusive agricultural and infrastructural development, innovating fresh ideas and sustaining the existing structures in the education system and maximizing the tourism potential of the state currently underutilized.
We believe that the effective policy implementation and collaboration with state ministries, agencies, investors, private enterprises and citizens will bring desired development and progress to Osun state.