By Kunle Oyatomi
It appears there are some easier-said-than-done governors in Nigeria. This category of governors are more than those who walk the talk. The former issue container-load of promises when seeking votes to wing them into office. Once in power, they do not honour their word. They wield their new found authorities to give weak excuses why they are unable to fulfil what they had solemnly pledged to do for the electorate. Others will not give reasons for their failure to meet the expectations of the people. They become absentee leaders, disallowing the masses of workers from reaching them. They are not to be seen again until the next campaign season.
But, thankfully, there is another breed of politicians who are true friends of workers and others who form the body of eligible electorate. This is the group of politicians who are bound by the promises they make when asking the people to prefer them for the exalted office of leadership. These are men and women of integrity who are in mortal fear of reneging on their words. They can not disavow their promises, even if walking the talk hurts their so-called godfathers.
These were the lessons we learnt the other day from retirees of Osun when they held a rally and addressed a news conference in Osogbo, the state capital. The pensioners, under the banner of the Triangular Group of Pensioners in Osun State, commended Governor Gboyega Oyetola for the regular payment of salaries and pensions to the retirees despite the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Chairman of the group, Prince Rotimi Adelugba, told newsmen at a recent gathering that the governor had proved himself a politician of integrity by fulfilling his campaign vows. Adelugba said: ‘’We seriously appreciate Mr. Governor, (Dr.) Gboyega Oyetola, for making good his campaign promises towards full payment of salaries in the state since his inauguration as governor…As members of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, (NUP), an affiliate of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), we find it difficult that the governor can sustain the payment of full salaries, bearing in mind the meagre resources of the state.’’
Adelugba went on to reveal what many of us did not know: “the over N44 billion debt repayment hanging over the Osun wasn’t an excuse to move Oyetola not to meet his promises as it would others without principles. He surprised the senior citizens by approving 142 percent and 30 percent increases for those entitled.
It must be new dawn in government retirees relationship when these elderly persons would acknowledge a sitting governor as their friend. The norm is to view them as sworn enemies. Protests have always been the tradition of famished pensioners challenging governors going back on their constitutional duty which states unequivocally that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
What we are witnessing in the State of Osun is a cordial interaction between state and the people, between government and workers, notably the weak and vulnerable sections, which may be a path far cut off from the beaten track. But that is what we need in Nigeria; a paradigm shift in perspectives and perceptions in the way leaders manage the legitimate needs of the led.
Oyatomi, is the Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC, State of Osun.