“Good governance cannot remain merely a philosophy. Concrete steps have to be taken for realizing it.” Narenda Mordi
Adegboyega Oyetola and Olugbenga Babatunji are two leaders in their own right. While Oyetola is the Governor of Osun State, Babatunji is the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Osun. Through their talents and efforts, they are also two of a kind. While the former, representing the State, superintend the public administration of the State as well as political needs of the good people of Osun, the latter, a Religious Authority of the Christian Clergy, ministers to the spiritual needs of the adherents of the Anglican faith, in particular; and the Christian religion, in general. Recently, the paths of the Church and the State crossed, this time, at All Saints Cathedral, Osogbo, the State Capital. It was on the occasion of the State’s 30th Creation Anniversary Thanksgiving Service.
Hear Babatunji, in his sermon at the Church Service: “When I came into office as the Bishop of Osun, I discovered that priests were owed up to 14 months’ salaries. And I said: ‘Not on my watch! …” ‘The Diocesan, who confessed that he sacrificed what could be termed as personal comfort to make sure that his priests were paid promptly, commended the Oyetola-led administration for not only for prioritising workers welfare but also for sustaining the peace and religious tolerance in ‘the Land of Virtue.’ The prelate also pleaded with the governor not to waiver in his determination to deliver good governance.
Yes! A word in season from the Church to the State, one might say! Without a doubt, Babatunji’s revelations are a good template worthy of emulation, because, if leadership is about caring for the led, then, that template exemplifies caring leadership. If a Bishop got to an office and discovered that 14 months’ salaries were owed the priests entrusted to his care, and he endeavoured to offset all, that in itself, is telling us something about God.
As things stand, we can no longer pretend to not know why our country is fast becoming a cesspool of hunger and poverty. Aside from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the status and stature of the domestic economy are non-enabling. Before our very eyes, banditry, terrorism, killer-herders, and a combination of other unsavoury issues have become a veritable source of our collective national confusion. And it is as if the gods are angry!
It is apposite to note that the Church burdens itself with the responsibility of ameliorating the spiritual and the physical challenges of humanity. At a point in Jesus Christ’s earthly ministrations, He fed a hungry congregation (of over-5000 people) with physical food. Again, call it ‘politics of the stomach’ and you may not be too far from the truth. But then, what “the God of all flesh” demonstrated on that day was that the Church is not only about the enrichment and satisfaction of the spiritual needs of the people, it is also about the physical. Manna from heaven to the Israelites was yet another in the series of epochal demonstrations of God’s promise to meet the physical needs of those who worship Him.
The Christian Holy Book taught us that whatever we “did for one of the least of” God’s people, we “did it for” Him (Matthew 25: 40-45). Through Babatunji, the ‘Vineyard of God’ has again acted out one of its historically ascribed responsibilities. In like manner, Governor Oyetola has shown that he is for the mass of the people who voted him into office, not the permutations of elections. His achievements along this line have indeed shown him as a caring governor. A governor, who understood the impossibility of knowing the future when the past is still present, rose to the challenge of a zigzag payment of salaries and pensions hitherto experienced in the State; vowed that such unfortunate development would not reoccur on his watch; and has devotedly kept to his promise without adding a dime to the State’s debt burden, almost 3 years into his first tenure, deserves our pats.
The most vulnerable residents of the state, who are the recipients of the monthly Osun Food Support Scheme, one of Oyetola’s humanitarian gestures, will no doubt appreciate what it means when there is a quick intervention that banishes hunger pandemic. But for that timely intervention, Osun would most certainly have been saturated with the excruciating pain of hunger. The most interesting part of it is that this gesture is devoid of political flamboyance and exaggerated opportunism. Yet, its effect has been great. Impliedly, it’s not about rolling out the drums or making political gimmicks. Yet, the point is that certain people within the society, who, otherwise, would not have had food on their tables, are being fed!
In this sinful world that lacks the fear of God and has little interest in taking the word of God seriously, the tragic truth is that Nigerians are fond of taking certain things for granted. For instance, under Oyetola, the promotion of teachers is being handled, quietly. They are not being owed salaries, and academic sessions are running, uninterrupted. As a matter of fact, that teachers in Osun could do the job for which they were being paid, peacefully – in the last three years – without embarking on a single industrial action, and not causing trouble for anybody, especially, at a time children and wards have become the favourite bargaining chips in the bizarre business of kidnapping and banditry operations, is no mean feat.
Oyetola cares for the widows and the vulnerable people in Osun. The state’s Health Insurance Scheme, aka O’HIS, was created “to aid the aged and less-privileged to access healthcare.” His focussed attention on the growth of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as the ultimate driver of the local economy; and the fast-tracking of strategies to make money from taxation and tourist reforms are equally noteworthy. Let’s not forget the governor’s timely intervention in the flood situation currently ravaging the global space, from which Osun State is not immune; and his input to the Agriculture and Food Security sector.
Governance is not a Tea Party! There’s always a period for big planning and all that. It’s a fact that Oyetola did all these before coming into office as governor. Having been in a position as enviable as the Chief of Staff to former Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Oyetola is not just learning the rope. Of course, that has been to his advantage. Therefore, as July 16, 2022, draws nearer, will the good people of Osun forget this man of great affection, who has made success his watchword in every facet of his endeavours? Will the residents of, say, Ejigbo forget this fine gentleman with self-effacing humility in years to come? How could Olaiya Flyover Bridge have become a reality without the governor’s interventions on the Alekunwodo axis of Osogbo? Evidently, the stories are many and all the Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs), on Oyetola’s watch, have theirs!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun State!
*KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State