AMILOADED MEDIA HUB NEWS UPDATE
The Osun Masterminds (TOM), a civil society group, has described the ongoing closure of Osun courts as a result of strike action by Juducial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) as being mindless and inimical to the upholding of peace and order and the proper administration of justice in the State
The group vowed to take Speaker Adewale Egbedun of the Osun State House of Assembly to anti-graft agencies for allegedly failing to disclose to the public the specifics of a N886,459,882.49 expenditure for the months of July, August, and September of 2023.
These were made known on Tuesday, January 30 by the executive director of the group, Prof. Wasiu Oyedokun-Alli during a press conference in Osogbo.
In response to the tragic death of PDP chieftain Dr. Richard Adelani Idowu from an accidental discharge, the group declared that major towns like Ejigbo ought to have a state-owned hospital that is highly responsive and capable of handling emergency cases like the gunshots.
The group bemoaned the growing insecurity and proliferation of light weapons in the State, but they also warned Sunday Bisi, the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Osun Chapter, over his reckless outbursts, threatening to violently disperse any meeting of Atunto Osun members wherever he saw them.
The full statement:
We welcome you to the very first edition of our Monthly State of the State Address. It is noteworthy that we have stayed consistent with our resolution to be the conscience of our democratic governance, through engagements and timely criticism that is normally expected to help government at all levels take the right decisions. It has been two years since we started delivering this monthly address and we will not relent.
The year 2024 has come with a plethora of challenges for Nigerians, making survival for the common man quite difficult. These challenges range from a worsening economy, occasioned by unbridled vicious inflation, and serious security challenges. In the midst of all of the challenges, it has remained unclear whether public servants have the solutions to the problems we face today, as a people.
Osun State has not been without activity either. From several questionable actions of government to so many other social issues, the month of January has been eventful in Osun, requiring the input of well-meaning stakeholders.
This address will briefly address the issues we have identified for the month of January 2024 and proffer solutions where necessary.
Inflation and the Economy
What the average person sees, is a persistent rise in the cost of goods in a manner that makes life hard for the masses. What is happening however, is that the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, does not seem to have a proper grip on fiscal policies as of today.
The value of the Naira has continued to tumble while the CBN has not come up with innovative ways to stem the tide and strengthen the currency. The free fall that the Naira is currently seeing, is the direct cause of skyrocketing prices in the markets and the Federal Government must quicken its thoughts to ease the pressure on our dear people.
We call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to immediately give marching orders to the fiscal policy stakeholders in the country to map out ways we can stop the slide of the Naira in the immediate, while we then work assiduously to boost its value through stimulation of Local production and promotion of exportation.
It is also important to state at this time that an increase in the country’s minimum wage is non-negotiable. This must be followed up with pressure on the private sector to also implement minimum wage, to achieve an all-encompassing uplift to the living conditions in the country.
We must also return to the drawing board to re-tune our poverty alleviation policies, as well as our humanitarian service structures. Aside from the reign of corruption in the management of resources allocated for those programmes and policies, we must also tune them to current realities so that we do not continue to pay lip service to poverty eradication.
It is also important that we increase productivity across board, through human capital development programmes that will be implemented across the nooks and crannies of the country. If we do not boost our productivity as a country, we run the risk of never truly succeeding with policies that target poverty eradication and economic growth.
The Federal Government also needs to make it clear to all Nigerians that it is committed to the welfare of citizens by ordering an immediate release of the witheld 8-months salary due to Members of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU). Maintenance of the welfare of workers is an integral part of economic growth and must be treated with utmost urgency.
In recent times, the country has been awash with news of corrupt practices in strategic offices of government. Worthy of mention are the revelations coming from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, saddled with the responsibility of extending support to households across the country, but has become a conduit pipe for corruption in recent years.
The revelations are disturbing to say the least and the government of the day must ensure that everyone connected to the frauds that have been perpetrated in that Ministry, and other MDAs, are made to face true justice. It is callous and inhuman for public servants to divert monies meant to maintain the welfare of poor Nigerians to their personal pockets. It is unacceptable and we hope the President utilizes the opportunity to make bold anti-corruption statements.
Worthy of mention is also the yet-to-be-exposed avarice going on in several states of the country. We are aware that since the removal of fuel subsidy, monthly allocations to states have significantly increased. Citizens are however not feeling the difference in their State’s earnings, as public servants are instead diverting these monies for private use.
The Federal Government must give immediate charge to anti-graft agencies to take a look at the books of the States as a matter of urgency, in a bid to end the looting and diversion of public funds that has become widespread.
Particularly, States must now be held accountable for the diversion of Local Government funds which has become a Nationwide practice. The Local Government being a distinct arm of government must not be held down by the greed and corruption of politicians. The Federal Government must make a bold statement on clear separation of powers to ensure that our democratic governance is able to truly serve the masses.
*Rising Insecurity in Nigeria*
Recent happenings in the country call for urgent government action in ensuring the security of lives and properties. Just yesterday, two traditional rulers in Ekiti State were murdered in cold blood by suspected bandits. Such killings and kidnappings are becoming too popular across the country, especially in the Federal Capital Territory, where citizens now live in mortal fear.
We also recall the recent explosion in Ibadan that led to the loss of lives and destruction of many properties. The narrative that the explosion was caused by the storage of dynamite by illegal miners, is one that should unsettle any right-thinking Nigerian. It is first worrisome that an explosive device can be so easily moved around the country. What if it is moved for other criminal purposes?
The Federal Government and the entire security architecture need to urgently restrategize to arrest the worsening security situation in the country. It is not enough to sympathize with citizens, we must ensure that perpetrators of evil are made to face the full wrath of the law, to serve as deterrent to others.
Closure of Courts in Osun State
Since drama broke out in the State’s Judiciary in November 2023, orchestrated by the State Government’s attempt to illegally remove the State’s Chief Judge, the judiciary in Osun has been lifeless, especially due to the strike action declared by the now-ousted leadership of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in the State.
While the internal politics of JUSUN is not our immediate concern, the continued closure of the courts due to a strike action declared by the union is mindless and antithetical to the maintenance of law and order, as well as true dispensal of justice in the State.
It is further instructive that the Osun State Government has been acting nonchalant about the continued closure of the Courts. Where a Government is not tactically encouraging an industrial action, it will be seen making efforts to resolve all issues that may have led to the industrial action in the first place. The Osun State Government has however remained silent, continued to pay judicial workers’ salaries and looking away from the current total paralysis of the courts in the State.
We should remind the Osun Government that while the justice system is already a very important arm of a government, the courts serve more purpose than that. There are people whose livelihoods rely on the courts. There are small businesses that survive on the activities of the courts. More importantly, there are innocent people awaiting trial, who have been left to languish in prison because some people are using their lives to settle scores.
The State Government must, not minding that it got its ego bruised in its attempt to remove the Chief Judge, immediately make efforts to get the strike in the State’s Judiciary called off. We cannot paralyse a whole arm of government because we need to prove a point.
As a group, we will not hesitate to drag the gladiators in the judicial battle before competent courts in the land if the strike persists any further. We advise that all concerned act now with utmost responsibility and respect for the oath they all swore.
The Osun State House of Assembly
You will recall that in our December 2023 State of the State address, we made a Freedom of Information request to the Osun State House of Assembly, under Rt. Hon. Adewale Egbedun, asking him to make public the details of an expenditure of Eight hundred and eighty-six million, four hundred and fifty-nine thousand, eight hundred and eighty-two Naira, forty-nine kobo (886,459,882.49) for the months of July, August, and September 2023 (Quarter 3).
It is unfortunate that till date, the leadership of the House of Assembly has carried itself with such arrogance that one will be left wondering if the House considers itself bigger than citizens of the State.
For emphasis, one of our constituent organizations, Centre for Sustained Dialogue, had written a direct letter to the Office of Adewale Egbedun, the Speaker of the Assembly, demanding details of same expenditure. We made a public request for same in our December address but until today, he has neither responded to the direct letter to his office nor reacted to our public request.
This leaves us with no choice but to approach anti-graft agencies to come and take a look at the books of the Osun State House of Assembly under Adewale Egbedun. If he is bigger than us, he cannot be bigger than Agencies of government saddled with the responsibilities of fighting corruption.
We must state however that it is an act of irresponsibility and ignorance of correct democratic behaviour, for a young Speaker of the State Assembly to ignore calls for accountability and probity. We are deeply saddened that a young, new entrant into the public service is acting in such manner.
Ongoing Construction in Osun
We commend the State Government’s efforts to develop the State’s infrastructure, especially the State Capital, Osogbo. We have in the past expressed our reservations about some of the planned projects and we hope the State Government does not pursue any white elephant projects at this time when resources are scarce.
We however commend the government for its ongoing efforts and we appeal that timely completion of the ongoing projects are achieved. Construction projects are potential health hazards to community dwellers and thus, they must be completed fast and on schedule.
We appeal to the State Government to ensure strict monitoring of the Contractors to ensure that projects are completed on schedule and to design specifications.
The White Paper on Oba stools
We have studied the Obaship issues in Igbajo, Iree and Ikirun and the white paper that the Osun State Government recently released on the selection process adopted by the past administration. We have also followed the conversations that followed the release of the white paper on different media platforms.
We advise that the Osun State government exercises extreme caution in managing this potentially dangerous situation. Osun State does not need any more communal clash at this time when we are still unable to permanently settle the issues between Ilobu and Ifon communities.
Issues of Kingship are sensitive and potentially explosive and government must ensure that it acts with utmost responsibility in handling the matter. Government must also eschew vendetta in its decision making process so that it does not set a bad precedence.
The Health Sector in the State
We got news of the unfortunate, yet avoidable death of a key political figure in Osun State, Dr. Richard Idowu, an indigene of Ejigbo Local Government.
The details of the unfortunate event that led to his death makes it pertinent for government to return to the drawing board and change its approach to healthcare delivery in the State. A major town like Ejigbo should have a highly functional and responsive State-owned Hospital with capacity to manage emergency cases such as the gunshot that killed Dr. Idowu. The State General Hospital in Ejigbo, as in other major towns of the State, sadly does not have any such capacity.
We recall, that since the State Government disengaged the 1500 health workers that the immediate past administration employed, no effort has been made to restart the recruitment process, yet, our hospitals continue to suffer acute shortage of manpower.
This State cannot continue to run such risks. State-owned Hospitals in even the State capital are suffering acute shortage of manpower. Government must rise to the occasion immediately, ensuring that the right things are done to deliver better healthcare to the State’s people and stop unfortunate deaths like that of Dr. Richard Idowu.
Threats of Violence by the Osun State PDP Chairman
We recently saw a video recorded at a meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, in which the State Chairman, Hon. Sunday Bisi, was recorded threatening to violently scatter any meeting of Atunto Osun members anywhere he sees them.
While we are not concerned about the internal workings of the PDP, we consider it a very reckless action by the State Chairman of the Ruling Party, to so speak at a public function. While we are still complaining about the rising insecurity and proliferation of light arms in the State, such highly placed persons should not be making inflammatory statements that are capable of causing a breakdown of law and order.
The Rights of Association is a guaranteed right for every Nigerian citizen, as long as no crime is committed. Thus, anybody can gather lawfully, under whatever name they choose to bear, in any location in the State. Any attempt to deny lawful citizens of the State their guaranteed right, or cause their rights to be denied them, is an attempt to cause a breakdown of law and order in our dear State.
Hon. Sunday Bisi is advised to please desist from making such statements. He is expected to conduct himself in such manners as are befitting of a person who holds such an important office.
We also advise that the Osun State Government, and its allies, concern themselves more with issues of governance and jettison the constant exchange of tantrums with the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and other identified political opponents in the State. Governance overrides political emotions and the Osun State Government must treat it so.
The Osun Masterminds remains committed to the development of Osun State and Nigeria, and we shall continue to put government and its actors to task in this regard. We are partners in progress and we will not at any point in time, malign the person or character of anybody in government. We desire to see progress in our communities, as we are partakers of whatever becomes of our State and country.
We thank you for coming, ladies and gentlemen, and wish you a blissful year.
Prof. Wasiu Oyedokun-Alli
The Osun Masterminds