From Retirement town to Renaissance town by Shalom Ibironke

The ancient city of Osogbo is located at the center of Osun State which was in 1991 carved out of Oyo State. Since her formation, Osun State has been regarded as the center of Yourbaland due to its inland location at the heart of South-Western states. The state is well-bordered by Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Kwara, and Ekiti states. With Osogbo being at the center of the State, this means Osogbo is the center-town in the South-Western region, and even in Yorubaland. It is therefore disappointing that despite the developments and upgrading taking place in neighbouring towns and states, Osogbo is still yet to meet up with the pace of peers around.

Osogbo, often known as ‘Ile Aro’, home of dye, is widely reputed for her trading prowess in Textile, Grains, Cassava, Yams, and Tobacco. However, these glories are seeing their dying days so untimely as the once great city of Osogbo is now being regarded as a ‘Retirement Town’,  a town that’s more like a country home where the old ones relocate to after their greener days have withered, when they no longer can work, their pension-reaping days.

In spite of the peace, tranquillity, and gentleness of the town, the younger generation, who are gradually outnumbering the older ones, have to constantly relocate to neighbouring towns in search of greener pastures, fresher opportunities. This is not only wrong but quite harmful. Both to the young generation, and the state itself as it could result in brand-rain of the state in favour of neighbouring states. The consequence of being a retirement town is seen in the state’s overreliance on the informal sector, and the Civil Service. Thus ensuring a constant disparity between the budget, and the internally generated revenue, with the budget, always being higher. As a result of this disparity, the state government must wait on the result of the FAAC (Federal Accounts Allocation Committee) meeting at Abuja, and hope for a favourable sharing formula so as to pay workers salaries, and stay away from bad debt even as they even received only N10.4 billion which was one of the lowest shares given to any state in the federation. This has made the state into one suitable only for retirement. Unfortunately, investment firms would rather look into states with vibrant youths, and economic prospects. Such a state that gives one a chance to relaunch into the hustling world.

Osun State can be such a state, with vibrant economic prospects, that would be capable of increasing the IGR to a level so high that it almost equals the budget – a level where fiscal consolidation is properly practised. The state must ask herself why despite the advantage in terms of power supply, and close proximity to all South-Western states, investors still remain shy of coming in. If only every other infrastructure is in a good place, perhaps they’ll be one step closer to coming in. For example, the road network connecting Osun State with Kwara State would be a good distribution channel especially as it stretches the state’s trading prospects to the North. The one linking Ife to Ibadan also has a lot of potentials if given the required attention, the same goes with Isara–Ago Iwoye-Ijebu and Igbo–Ogedengbe–Ife–Sekona roads . However, Ilesa to Ore road is still quite sound and in good shape. The border road between Ekiti and Osun would be fixed in the shortest time possible, as assured by Mrs Mary Adeniran, the Zonal Director of FERMA. When the roads are fixed transportation and mobility becomes more fluid and every prospective investor is rest assured of free movement of workers and goods.

Security is also another angle which must be grossly improved upon before our town can be called a greener pasture. Though crime rate in the state is not as high as some others, however, the rate of ritual killings in the state is quite alarming and calls for a stern reaction from the arm of government being challenged. The various security outfits must, therefore, return to the drawing board and seek for sustainable solutions as spiritual insecurity could be even said to be a worse type of insecurity because self-defense is not assured, neither is the current security arrangement well-suited for such crime scenarios. As ritual killing cannot be proved by law, many ritualistic get away with it so long as they are not found in possession of the human body as provided by the law. However,  stiffer laws by the Osun State Government would further discourage perpetrators of this murderous crime and consequently attract investors.

The MKO Abiola Airport is also one new blessing that is about to be added to the state if given sufficient attention and empowerment, as this would attract A-list investors, and even foreign investors as the state would become more accessible to the people from far and near. Specialists who want to try out new species would also get attracted due to the fertile nature of the soil in the state. These research could even be sponsored by Government to encourage and attract them and most importantly boost the agricultural strength of the State. Even as researchers come into the state, Tourists would also troop in both for the Osun Osogbo Festival, and for every tourist attraction that the state has to offer.

Though Osun State is being regarded as a place for retirement, and retirees, I hold the firm belief that this town can be transformed to one which offers a sense of renaissance, rebirth to both her citizens and all.

 

 


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