By Celestine Ajayi
…Describes 2020 as most challenging year in history
Governor of the State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, has appreciated the people of the State for the cooperation and support given to the administration throughout 2020, which he described as the most challenging year in human history.
He assured that the Administration’s Development Agenda was on course and that he would continue to work tirelessly to set Osun on the pathway of sustainable economic revolution.
Oyetola who said these on Thursday in his New Year Message to the people of Osun, noted that in spite of the challenges encountered in the outgone year, his government was “able to provide equitable and adequate services for our people across sectors and prove that even in the face of gross adversity and crass challenges, we have the capacity to secure our people and deliver services.”
He appealed to residents and citizens of Osun to always observe Covid-19 protocols so as to curb the spread of the virus in the State.
He also highlighted some of the achievements of the State government in the outgone year and what it intends to do in the New Year to better the lives of the citizenry.
The governor said infrastructure development received a boost in 2020, noting that the government constructed and rehabilitated several intra- and inter-city as well as rural roads across the State, to boost socio-economic development and enhance the movement of people and their produce.
“The State of Osun piloted the first Community Based Road Maintenance system in the country and we have engaged twenty-eight (28) Road Maintenance groups with about 300 persons to carry out routine maintenance of rehabilitated roads.
“Our commitment to the road projects also contributed to our ranking by the Federal Government as the best performing State among the participating States in the World Bank Rural Access and Mobility Project 2(RAMP 2) in the country, ” the Governor added.
Oyetola also disclosed that as part of efforts to engender economic recovery and transformation in the State, the government commissioned one project and flagged off two others during the year.
“They are the ultra-modern aluminum factory in Ede, the International Trade Centre/Industrial Hub and Inland Port, in Dagbolu, which is arguably the first of its kind in this part of the country, especially in the South-West and the Osun Ethanol Bio-Refinery Factory located in Ayekale respectively.
“These business concerns will promote trade and commerce, radically stimulate the economy and create jobs for our youths. The Ayekale project alone will for instance create jobs for an estimated 10, 000 youths and people of the State.”
He added: “In furtherance of our bid to provide quality, affordable and equitable healthcare for the people, our Administration has commissioned two out of the nine General Hospitals and over 300 of the 332 Primary Health Centres flagged off in our first year in office and the facilities are rendering qualitative service to the people. The remaining facilities which are at various levels of completion will be commissioned for use in the New Year.
“We scaled up the revitalisation of our schools at all levels this year. A total of over 100 schools were renovated and equipped with teaching materials while we trained and re-trained staff to boost the performance of students.
“We resumed our robust welfare package for our workers during the year. We commenced payment of Minimum Wage in November this year, thus making our State one of the six States to have done so throughout the country so far. We also lifted the ban on annual salary increment and the embargo placed on promotions and conversions. We have also prioritised payment of pensions, despite our dire economic condition. We shall not renege on this.
“Our administration has continued to sustain the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), which empowers not less than 20,000 youths across the State. Our most recent programme for the youths includes the Post-COVID Recovery Plan, which is currently empowering not less than 5,000 youths across the State with critical skills and requisite funding. We intend to do even more during the year.”
Speaking on some of his administration’s plans and programmes for 2021, Oyetola disclosed that the government had set aside N1.5 billion in the 2021 Budget for the engagement of youths in Agriculture, Mining, ICT, Culture and Tourism and Commerce among others.
He revealed that within the first quarter of the year, the State government would unveil the Osun ICT innovation hub, which he said would provide a world-class platform for aggregating the ideas of the State’s brightest minds in the technology and the innovation space.
“Our Youth Policy christened the 4 E’s: Youth Empowerment, Youth Engagement, Youth Entrepreneurship and Youth Education, which articulates our broad-based agenda for youth development, will unleash a better life for our youths and give them a sense of belonging, ” he added.
On the mining sector, the Governor said: “The past year witnessed a major reform in solid mineral, from commercialisation to regulations and result-based planning and the outcomes are beginning to materialise. We have started realising some returns on signature bonuses from investors entering into partnership agreements with the State on some of the State’s solid mineral titles.
“We are happy to note that one of such Partnerships has concluded its exploration work programme and commercial operations will be starting soon. Another has finished over 50 per cent of its exploration work, while five other partnerships which include a global leader in mining and an off-taker with substantial commercial mining entities are at advanced stages of transaction negotiations.
“We also expect, God willing, to be able to announce a Commercial discovery and a development programme for one of our mining Assets and a timetable to commence commercial operations by the second quarter of 2021,” he added.
Continuing, the governor said provision has been made in the 2021 Budget for the construction of a flyover bridge at Olaiya Junction in Osogbo, to ease the growing traffic around the axis, reduce cases of accidents and ensure security of lives of the people.
The governor further noted: “Our achievements last year in spite of the Coronavirus lockdown and the EndSARS protest are indicators of the massive development that awaits us this year. We shall sustain the provision of equitable and quality services in the critical and other sectors across the State.
“Our Administration is working tirelessly to set Osun on the pathway of sustainable economic revolution. This Development Agenda is what we have termed ATM – Agriculture, Tourism and Mining. These are the sectors where we have comparative advantage in view of the presence of resource deposits and potential.
“We shall continue to reap the dividends of the Osun Economic and Investment Summit through collaboration with our partners to establish business concerns to stimulate the economy and provide jobs for our youths and our people.”