UNDER AREGBESOLA’S WATCH, OSUN RAMP HAS OPENED MANY RURAL AREAS TO BUOYANT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS
Engineer Adelere Oriolowo is a revered Professional and a seasoned Technocrat who has transversed the engineering World.
He is the Project Coordinator, Osun Rural & Access Mobility Project; RAMP.
He spoke with our correspondent on sundry issues on his person, his works, governance in the State of Osun and the achievements of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola among others.
RNews: Sir, let me get to meet you, who is Engr. Oriolowo?
Adeyemi Adelere Oriolowo is a retired permanent secretary in the State of Osun and the Project Coordinator in the water resources and rural development sector of the State.
I am a certificated project manager with International Development Project Manager Certificate from QUEBEC, Canada.
I have been on International and Development Partners’ projects for the past 31 years precisely, since May 12th, 1986 when I joined and I have been on the project till date since that time.
RNews: Sir, lead us a little bit into you background, where are you from, how did you start your early life and your journey in the Civil Service till your current appointment?
I am from Iwo in Iwo local government area of the State of Osun.
Specifically, I am from Oriolowo’s family, Molete quarters in Iwo.
I had my primary & secondary education in Iwo, after which I went to study Mechanical Engineering at The Polytechnic, Ibadan.
After my Ordinary Diploma in Mechanical Engineering in Ibadan, I worked with Nigerian Bottling Company, maker of Coca-Cola brands in Ibadan for One & half year as a mechanical supervisor after which I left for University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, where I studied Agricultural Engineering.
I am a registered Engineer with COREN and Nigeria Society of Engineers. I am a member of Nigeria Institution of Agricultural Engineers, I am a member of Nigeria Institution of Strategic Planners, I am member of Nigerria Personel Managers, I am a member of Institute of Road Engineers and so on.
As a project manager, i have initiated and implemented a number of projects ranging from FADAMA I, i was the Project Coordinator for FADAMA I project from 1990 to 1996, I was the Focal Point Officer for Food & Nutrition project which was funded by UNICEF, I was Project Coordinator for IFAD programme, that is Internantional Fund for Food & Agriculture Development, I was Focal Point Officer for Mechanisation in the UNDP funded project, I was Focal Point Officer for water management with FAO, that is Food & Agriculture Organization before I became Project Coordinator for Rural Access & Mobility Project; RAMP phase two in year 2004.
I started initiating RAMP II and i have been on it since year 2004 and today by the grace of God, Road Access & Mobility Project is being driven by the efforts of the government of the state of Osun.
RNews: From your statements above sir, you mentioned many International Organizations, would you say that those organizations have done a lot to uplift the standard of living of the people of the State?
Definitely yes, we see that I have touched the areas of food, today, you will see that in many rural areas, you will find Garri processing facilities, Oil Palm processing facilities, Rice processing facilities, this was part of the initiative that we propagated in late 80s & early 90s during our numerous food programs and it touched all parts of the state.
I can specifically tell you that we had such functioning projects in Agberire in Iwo local government, Egbeda in Boripe local government, Oyan in Odo-Otin local government, we have it in lmo in Ilesa and so on we had the projects all across the state and that is on food.
On water, i was part of the initiative for all farms water projects which saw that most places that had no water were provided with water.
The UNICEF, European Union projects that is given both bore holes and surface water to the State, i am part of it, right now, we have signed contract for the rehabilitation of Inisa water works, we have signed that of Igbaye and works have started there and it is ongoing, it is not only signing, we have mobilised the contractors to the field and the works are ongoing in Inisa, Igbaye, Ago-Owu Gbongan water works & Ode-omu.
All these places we have covered with water scheme. On rural roads too, a lot of places that were hidden before the advent of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration are now the real routes for all these commercial vehicles linking big towns & markets within & outside the State.
For example, we have done Iwo to Pataara to Akinleye farm settlement to Idi-Iroko roads, this is the route that all the vehicles from Oyo State are plying now because there is a collapsed bridge on the federal road and for that reason, it is the RAMP road that all vehicles from Oyo State are using to link the State of Osun and other places.
We have done Iwo to Isero to Ikonifin, Ajagunlase to Ibode-Osi to Ogbagba. We have also done Itaonii to onikoko. We have done from Morroko in Ilesa, it has come out at Oke-bode linking Kajola along Oshogbo here.
We have also completed well over 112 km of rural roads in Ife zone, in Ife South, all these cocoa hubs & Timber hubs, we have opened the roads for the movement of all these commodities.
At the moment, we have done more than 215km of roads with the help of World Bank & well over 200km of roads with the efforts of the State itself and we are in the preparation of another about 380km of roads that will commence immediately after the rainy season by December to be precise.
The contractors will be on site to work on various roads in Osun Central, West and East, all the roads we have earmarked & penciled down will be worked on.
Also, right now, we are working on about 24 culverts and bridges, we have completed 18 out of these culverts and bridges, big bridges that will be completed in due course, specifically, we have done one big bridge on Ooye river, the one that links Osun State University to an area in Obokun local government, Ilase along that area.
We have also completed a very big bridge in Ifedayo local government, Oyeadunni bridge, this one is linking Ifedayo to Ila local government and also many others roads and bridges around linking Ekiti State, we have done a lot of roads and bridges and works are still on.
You have indeed worked on so many rural roads sir, how will you say all these roads you have constructed or rehabilitated have affected the people of the State?
Ah!! Yes, definitely you will see that what we are saying that roads are very very important to the development of our people in any area is very true.
The first thing, apart from the farming activities that are booming in those areas we have constructed, the standard of living along those places have improved tremendously today.
Specifically, I can tell you along the road constructed in Iwo to Isero to Ikonifin, you will see residential buildings, commercial buildings & religious buildings erupting and in those places where they were selling lands for about 40,000 naira per acre, it is no more like that again, hardly will you get a land for 250,000 naira per plot there again, not acre but plot because everything has gone up in value due to the access roads we have constructed in the areas and all these can be verified.
It has indeed impacted positively on our people. And also, if you go along Ikeji, Arakeji areas where people used to carry their commodities on bicycle, motorcycles or by women efforts on their heads, all these are now a thing of the past due to our efforts as people can easily drive on the motorable roads to bring their goods to town.
The economy of all these areas have tremendously improved and even the school enrollment around the places have been visibly enhanced, all of these can be verified across the State.
You have been in the civil service before the coming of Aregbesola as governor, as a senior civil servant, you also run through Aregbesola’s administration, how will you rate Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in terms of public governance?
Yeah!! Definitely, Ogbeni has redefined what public governance is, he has given a new & real definition to what governance is, he has really shown that leadership & governance is not about politics alone.
He is a good manager of men and infrastructure, he is a project manager par excellence because what is involved in public governance is more than politics and Ogbeni Aregbesola has brought everything it requires into governance, he has brought sound knowledge, he has put in required energy and Integrity.
For any project or program to succeed in life, you need those three things and Aregbesola has brought those three things into governance in the State of Osun.
Sir, a lot of people have complained about the leadership style of Ogbeni Aregbesola, it seemed to me that a lot of people are not well informed about Educational policy of the State, I know you are neither the Government spokezperson nor the Education Commissioner but as an educated person going by your profile, how will you describe the Educational policy of Ogbeni Aregbesola?
Thank you very much, I want to say that you have said it all because the Educational policy that has been introduced by Ogbeni is peerless, it is my dream, it is my vision in life because what we need is for those who are implementing it, the implementation agencies of the policy to make sure that all stakeholders are well tutoured.
Let me give you a very brief but practical example that just happened recently, I am a guardian to two of my brother’s children, I enrolled them in a private school, one is primary two and the other one is in primary four.
All of a sudden, I just learnt that the one in Primary four has been taken to JSS 1, incidentally, this my brother is a Vice Principal in one of the Government’s Government’s schools and I asked him how can you move somebody in Primary 4 to JSS 1 and he said he passed exams and then I asked which type of exams did he pass? And he said that is how they are doing it. And I went to the Proprietor of the school and I told him, if this how you are operating, I am not going to be part of it.
Hnnmmmm!!!! What then did you do next sir?
Yes, I came down to the education authority to complain and there, they gave me a copy of the education policy of the government of the State of Osun and after going through I discovered that it is a superb policy that one can get anywhere in the World.
The education policy of the state as approved by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is saying that a child will enter elementary 1 class at age 6, by age 10, the child will be at elementary 4 after spending 4 years at the elementary school after which such child will move to Middle School to start Primary 5 at age 11 where the child will spend 5 years from Primary to Primary 5 to JSS 1,2,3 and by that time, the child will be at age 15 after which such child will move to High School to spend another 3 years in SSS 1, 2 and 3 and so by the time the child is going to the tertiary institutions, he or she is already an adult, because by that time, she will be 18; the adult age and that will be entirely different from what we are having now where you see father & mother carrying Mattresses and other materials for their children who are going to tertiary institutions, ah! that is superb if you ask me and if you sincerely run through that policy, you agree with that nothing is better than that and you can never have it better and I was really surprised and I shared the policy with the school Proprietor and one thing that I think is that people should be more enlightened on the government’s activities and there should be awareness creation on the intention of the government on every policies and the benefits therein for the people.
And again, apart from that unique policy of education, there are other things that the Governor has done that are unique and one of them that he has done that is fundamental to general development in life is introduction of standard measurements tagged “Osunwon Omoluabi” in the State.
One of the problems of life that I have identified very long ago is that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, if you don’t have standard, you can never get any steady progress, you will just be battling with all odds because there’s nothing to measure performances, there is nothing to measure you outputs or inputs.
As far back as in 1958, when I was in Ivory coast, I was there to serve as a shopkeeper, everything is measured, there is no single problem whether you send your six years old child or an adult to go and and buy something, it is the same thing everybody will buy both in quality & quantity, there is no question of cheating or distrust.
If I open 100 cartons of milk for example in the night, I must put price tag on all of them, you don’t come and be bothering yourself about pricing items, the price is there already and liquid items are measured with cylinder while all solid items are measured with scales in kilograms.
So when this was introduced by Ogbeni, I went to greet him three times because for me, it was a dream come true and I believe by the grace of God, the concept will sink into our people if not now, our immediate future generation will understand & appreciate what governor has done and his name will be written in gold.
Let me ask you sir about the perceived enemity between the goverment & civil servants in the sttate.
As a retired senior civil servant, what do you think is responsible for it and how can it be corrected?
OK, thank you. What you have said, the perceived misunderstanding between the successive governments, not only this one and the civil servants are things that have started long ago and it is purely based on lack of understanding & knowledge of which each side stand for. As I said the other time, in those days when we entered the civil service, all the regulations and guidelines that govern civil service were taught, for some months, you be reading files to know how to prepare files and all that but nowadays, it’s no more like that, the orientation of what civil service is all about are not being thoroughly taught to our people anymore and they don’t really know.
Also on the other hand, some of our political leaders, atimes when they are coming in, they come with a mind that civil servants are not cooperative set of people, they are out to blackmail and twist the hands of government to get all they could get.
But my believe is that if each side is well tutored and they are doing what they should do, all of these will be over.
Fifty percent of what we are facing that you can think of like salaries, allowances or anything is borne by misunderstanding between the civil servants and the policymakers and I think this can be easily resolved by giving everyone the right orientation. They (the civil servants) are strong stakeholders in governance and they should be carried along from planning to execusion.
I read a book in United states and it said behind any tyranny or dictator in government in the society, there is at least one civil servant because they are the ones to show the way.
And in some cases, the political class coming in with their mandate and promises to the populace, it is for the civil servants to look for ways of realising the promises and dreams of their political leaders.
Not that civil servant will be saying this is what the rule says and you don’t give alternative ways, I think if there is something that is blocking what dreams a political leader has for the people he’s governing, there must be a way.
So, the civil servants must be on the side side of getting things done for the political leaders every time and without breaking the rules, I usually tell my people that you don’t need to break the rules, you can bend the rules within its elastic limit, so that by the time you leave it, it will go back to its original position, you don’t even bend to the elastic limit, you bend within the elastic limit to accommodate whatever you want to do but nowadays, most of them due to overstressing of rules will not get anything done, even a lot of people do not know the rules, just the hearsays, civil servants should not say this, they should not do that and in the process, the initiatives in them had been killed. Anybody that will work harmoniously with the civil servants must be ready to reform and rekindle the dead initiatives. Civil servants are human beings like all of us, in fact some of them are very knowledgeable but unless you give them right atmosphere to work, the issues are not always salaries or allowances but right environment to work with.
Let me give you an example in Osun RAMP here, by December, 2014, my staff strength was about 39 before we started our road projects and my overhead was about 80 million naira per annum.
By the end of January, 2015, when the issue of economic recession became imminent, my staff strength had risen to about 50 and my overhead has reduced to about 40 million naira per annum, and when I measured the performances of my workers and their enthusiasm towards their duties, it doubled since the environment became more conducive and the capacity building program I introduced at the time worked and they were all tutored.
When we were to start River crossings, culverts and bridges, I employed an expert in one of the construction companies in the State, a high way engineer to come and be training my engineers and other relevant staffs twice a week and all of them were so happy about it.
Even some of my senior colleagues in engineering who have not been lucky to witness construction of bridges from design to implementation stages expressed their happiness to be part of the training program but in order for them to be able to work well, I brought a practical expert to train them.
Everyone was enthusiastic, even many came in under IT program that they want to get paid and they were trained without any extra cost.
The issue of civil service is not only about money but please give them the room to use their brains, initiatives and allow them even to discipline themselves, there are enough provisions in the civil service laws with which they can monitor & sanction themselves without interference from the political class, these are the things and if some of these can be applied commitedly, there will always be harmonious relationship between the successive governments and the civil servants.
Rnews: Sir I must confess you have exhibited high level of practical experience and professionalism here this morning….
Rnews: Before I throw the final question, let me ask you this, Aregbesola’s government is winding down and by this time next year, election would have held, all things being equal, what kind of a person do you think should succeed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola???
Well, you know that there is an adage which says that one of the most difficult things in life is to successfully succeed a successful person.
On that note, you will discover that anybody that is going to succeed Aregbesola must be a person that has already bought into the vision & dreams of this government.
Somebody that will build on this foundation that has been laid. Because in all areas be it infrastructure, economic development and in man management, a strong foundation has been laid by Aregbesola in this State.
Incidentally, the two tenures cannot be described as not enough, but it is not something that can manifest itself within the period because my believe is that my oga has really struggled to lay a very strong foundation for the growth and development of the state and anyone coming after him must be someone that really understand principle of governance as being executed by the incumbent, if not more.
Somebody who realises that governance and leadership are not about politics alone. Governance is about politics, management of human beings and it is about projects management, somebody who has leadership traits, management traits because there is a difference between leadership and management traits, you have to possess the two to move this kind works on.
Also and above all, the person must be passionate about the people because one thing that I know Aregbesola for is that he loves and cares for people more than what anyone could imagine.
We need a person that is selfless and committed to the upliftment of the people.
Rnews: Thank you Sir & lastly if you are called to serve at any other capacity beyond here either now or in the nearest future, will you be ready to serve?
Yes, thank you.
First and foremost, Let me tell you this that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has totally changed my perception about politics, he has shown me that politics is largely about serving humanity and not to amass undue wealth for yourself or your cronies.
He has shown to me that indeed politics is about good governance to the people and not about self aggrandizement so if I am called anytime; sooner or later to come and serve the people in any capacity, I will be very glad to do.