Skip to content

1 Comment

  1. Yohaig NG
    24 July 2017 @ 8:53 AM

    COMING into office on the crest of populist clamour it was natural
    for Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun State, to respond to
    public adulation via a populist gesture.

    And this he did with his Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme or
    OYES for short. Aside the populist strain in Mr. Aregbesola’s
    establishment of OYES, one is persuaded that OYES was also
    a deliberate act on his part.

    This is owing to observable attempt in current
    governance in Osun to return politics to how it was practised in a
    bygone but much loved era in Western Nigeria. Aregbesola was not
    one of those Nigerians directly nurtured and weaned by Chief Obafemi Awolowo but he seems very fascinated by the ideology of the father of Nigeria’s welfare politics.

    Aregbesola appears to be a conscious follower of Awolowo,
    at least in his utterances which are weighted in a welfarist direction, to
    say nothing of the daily playback of the UPN anthem on the Osun State radio since the present government came into
    office. The Unity Party of Nigeria, founded and led by Chief Awolowo, was easily
    Nigeria’s most ideologically rooted party from between 1978 when it
    was founded on the eve of the lifting of
    the ban on politics and 1983 when Chief Awolowo last contested for the presidency on the platform of the party.

    Despite claims by members of such parties as the Social Democratic Party, the Alliance for Democracy and
    even the Action Congress of Nigeria to being reincarnations
    of the UPN, it is obvious to many that the idea of ideologically-guided politics has
    been on a long retreat in Nigeria.

    The closest we can come to that era is to assess politicians on the basis of their individual actions.
    It’s in that sense that Ogbeni (as he prefers to be called) Rauf Aregbesola can be called
    an Awoist, meaning a follower of Awolowo’s politics.

    But since he came into office last year, much of what Aregbesola has in terms of his practice of Awolowo’s politics resides yet in the realm of intention than actual execution. In other words, there is as
    yet not much to point to on the ground with regards to the welfarist claims or posture of his
    government. Perhaps this should not be too surprising given the fact that the ACN government in Osun crossed the 100 days mark not long

    The OYES programme is, however, one of the more
    obvious gestures of the Aregbesola administration in the direction of welfare government.
    Noble as the intention behind the scheme might seem,
    its execution is flawed in certain respects.

    We may need to remind ourselves of the idea behind the scheme
    before I go on to highlight what could be fine-tuned
    about the scheme. As the name suggests, the OYES idea
    was conceived as a youth empowerment project. Recognising
    the high rate of youth unemployment in Osun State, the present government on assumption of
    duty, promised to provide jobs for no less than 20,000 employable youths on its
    one hundredth day in office. Well over 200,
    000 youths applied when call went out for application early
    this year.

    The definition of ‘employable’ youth is not too
    clear. But it is generally understood that among the present beneficiaries of the programme many are said to be possessors of higher degrees they wisely refuse to declare in order to qualify for employment.
    Such is the desperation among the youths that anything that could be remotely defined as salaried job is jumped at and
    is considered better than nothing. As we like to put it in popular parlance here,
    ‘at all, at all na im bad’.

    So people learn to make do with little crumbs in the face of nothing.
    And the OSun State government should be commended for this gesture.
    But what is the nature of the employment
    that these youths are offered? Essentially what are they employed to do?

    Most times they move around in groups in their mostly
    oversized new, brown overalls. The uniform looks too clean for
    the nature of work they do which is mostly related to sanitation.

    The OYES workers are mostly to be seen on road sides, moving languidly in groups as they pick refuse (papers, cans, cellophane, etc) and other types of wastes.
    Even when it’s yet morning they look exhausted,
    it seems, by the very nature of the work they are required to perform.
    Other times, you see them on isolated parts of the highway cutting the overgrown grasses
    on the sides like chain gangs. Some who constitute
    the straggling groups, obviously nursing mothers or married women, strap their children to their backs or hold
    them in their arms while wielding some crude stick or rod with which they probe
    the undergrowth for wastes.

    The entire lot look too many for the work they do.

    While the idea behind this scheme might be noble, the picture evoked by the youths engaged in the programme is that
    of an unhappy lot. I don’t want to believe that the best way to empower university and polytechnic graduates, many
    of them parents in their own right, is by reducing them to the level of stick or cutlass-wielding children who go around
    picking papers or cutting grass on road sides.
    Labour shouldn’t be so devoid of its dignity.

    Given their level of education and the variety of it,
    the OYES youths can be better employed in other sectors of Osun State.
    One obvious area is teaching. In a meeting with World Bank officials earlier
    in the year, Ogbeni Aregbesola made the point that Osun State needs no less than N6 billion to revamp
    her education.

    It’s reasonable to think that one area where such funds would be expended would be on the
    employment and training of teachers. Here the OYES youth
    can assist primary and secondary school teachers presently in the employ of the State.
    Those not able to or are uninterested in teaching can serve in some other administrative capacities, say
    revenue collection or related municipal responsibilities that are presently the province of half-baked hangers-on whose only qualification is their connections to local politicians.

    Yes, people are needed to pick refuse from the roads and cut grasses in order to keep the environment clean but those
    should be jobs for less qualified people, and such people should be better trained
    and equipped with modern equipment not sticks and cutlasses.
    A lot of the tasks on which we expend raw human labour can be better handled by machines controlled by man.

    This is not the era when people should have to spend the
    little money they earn working on pain relievers. Nigerian youths deserve
    better than this and with his avowed commitment to welfare politics and the genuineness of his action so far, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola can be in the vanguard
    of the creation of a truly empowering society for our youths.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.