The gravitas of former Governor of Osun State, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, has helped in defining his governance of the State of Osun (the nomenclature that has now been changed to the original name — Osun State — by Governor Ademola Adeleke). Although he did not win his re-election bid, that is not to suggest that he did not perform as governor. Beyond the political hullabaloo and the claptrap of opposition elements’ shenanigans, Oyetola largely steered clear of the constraining and retarding frays except that he harboured and nurtured a deep-seated anti-Aregbesola sentiment. That was understandable.
Although he was the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola from 2010 to 2018 until he was “anointed” by Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Aregbesola’s successor, his emergence did not discount his proclivity towards independence. In fact, were it not for Tinubu’s final say on the issue, Oyetola would not have been governor. If the knowledge of how he emerged as governor continued to serve him as a constant reminder of Aregbesola’s opposition to his governorship, it should be understandable why he (Oyetola), upon stepping into the saddle, was not bound defer to his ex-boss or beholden to Aregbesola.
Oyetola was, therefore, his own man from the outset. He cut a niche for himself as a sharp-focused and sharp-witted administrator, who quietly addressed the issues of workers’ welfare to which his predecessor in office paid a scant interest. Under his administration, the pensioners had a better deal than in his predecessor’s era. Whereas, it was easy to implicate the meagre monthly allocation from the Federation Account and the grim financial realities occasioned by the low-level Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) that could not bolster infrastructure development, Oyetola largely succeeded in moderating the governance tension in Osun.
He had brought his wealth of experience in the insurance sector and his eight-year closeness to state governance as Chief of Staff to Aregbesola to bear on the administration of the state. He fostered robust collaborations with various local, national, and international development partners even as he deployed those partnerships in driving advancements across key sectors of the state’s economy. Patently urbane in his disposition, he was also forthright, disciplined, and unwavering in his commitment to encourage and nurture these invaluable partnerships and alliances.
And to be sure, Oyetola’s leadership in Osun State epitomized steadfast effort, diligence and visionary approach to governance which has marked him out as a public administrator par excellence.
Just as he has hit the ground running as the new Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Oyetola had, consequent upon assuming office on November 27, 2018, as Osun governor, hit the ground running, spearheading a remarkable revolution across diverse sectors of the Osun economy. Operating under an inclusive and participatory model of governance, Oyetola embarked on an ambitious revitalization agenda in the health sector.
Notably, he achieved a historic milestone by simultaneously revitalizing 332 Primary Healthcare Centres, one per ward, setting a precedent in Nigeria’s history. Furthermore, Oyetola audaciously implemented ground-breaking transformations in the education sector, passionately responding to the aspirations and expectations of the people as well as national and international development partners and stakeholders programmes.
Today, Oyetola brings into the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry the magnitude of his administrative savoir faire and intense patriotic passion to drive the new ministry on the trajectory of success in its mission to help bolster the economy of Nigeria to usher in national prosperity.
Having taken up the gauntlet, he must be at home with the reasons President Bola Tinubu redeployed him to the new ministry and, therefore, he must keep fidelity with those reasons so that his performance is not underwhelming or outright uninspiring. It is, therefore, not in doubt that he enjoys the trust and confidence of the President. He must not disappoint his appointor or Nigerians who look up to him to dazzle.
Early feelers from the Ministry have indicated that Oyetola has placed his hands on the plough and is not ready to look back. Realizing that he is going to exercise authority and supervisory role in the running of revenue-generating agencies under his ministry, including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others, Oyetola as soon as he assumed office, undertook a familiarization tour of the agencies. His speeches were inspiring and uplifting. He spoke encouragingly to the management of the agencies; he did not talk down on them. Rather, he gave commendations appositely about the performance of CEOs and the management. This, of course, is the mark of positive leadership; a leadership that is ready to lead the way and work in synergy for achieving results.
Oyetola left no one in doubt by giving an insight into the kind of pragmatic leadership he would provide as the political head of the ministry. The resentment he expressed during the meeting was targeted at illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which he said he would tackle headlong. He promised to invest energies and resources in harnessing marine tourism, safety and security as top priorities on the agenda of his administration as Minister of the newly-created Ministry of Marine and Blue economy. According to him, the time has come for Nigeria to fully harness its vast potentialities in the maritime sector, noting that the working visit to NPA and NIMASA and others was to ascertain and properly appraise the situation of things with a view to taking practical steps and measures towards addressing them.
At NIMASA, for instance, he said: “Today, we have come to see some of the things you told us in Abuja and to properly appraise the situation of things with a view to taking practical steps towards addressing them. I am particularly interested in the NIMASA Modular Floating Dock because of its potential to generate employment and stem capital flight.
“But we must find a way of ensuring stakeholders’ buy-in, in whatever we do so that we are seen to be working together for the growth and development of Nigeria.”
Noting that it was time for Nigeria to float a National Carrier, Oyetola stressed that through a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement and the support of stakeholders, such a plan would be achieved in the interest of the maritime industry and Nigeria.
No doubt, Oyetola certainly knows his onions. He is on top of his game in the marine and blue economy sector. He said management of the resources of Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy entails proactive, smart and strategic thinking, even as he called for the rediscovery, harnessing, and packaging of the nation’s maritime resources, including seafoods in line with all associated international standards and specifications. A further peep into his development agenda in the ministry presents a plethora of some impressive to-do things, to wit: changing the narrative of Nigeria as a net importer of fishery products to make Nigeria a major player in the sector; ensuring safety and security of the maritime corridors of Nigeria; development of marine tourism as a revenue spinner at a time when revenue from non-oil sector has become sacrosanct.
This is one of the ways Oyetola’s mind works: “Nigeria makes up about 853 kilometres of the estimated 47,000 kilometres of coastline in Africa. Nigeria has one of the largest wetlands in the world, with its coastal and marine ecosystems covering a total of 70,000 square kilometres.
“There are countries around the world that rely solely on earnings from the tourism sector. Here in Nigeria, we also have what it takes to attract tourists to waters. Therefore, we shall be developing the infrastructure in cities and towns that are lake or coastal for this purpose.”
Oyetola has all it takes to perform as he is poised to deliver. He cannot afford not to. He has an opportunity to correct certain misconceptions in some quarters whose members are not at home with the political realities of Osun State and who probably think that he lost his bid for governorship re-election to Ademola Adeleke because he did not deliver as governor. That was far from what happened. To prove that he is a performer any day, any time, Oyetola, according to feelers from sources close to him, is committed to give this present assignment his all and the required fillip. To fellow Nigerians watching from the sidelines, they should keep their fingers crossed and expect a noiseless stellar performance.
Soneye, is the publisher of Per Second News.