Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, Governor of the State of Osun, Nigeria is an engineer and political activist who between 1999 and 2007 superintended the bold beginnings of the infrastructural transformation of Lagos, one of the world’s largest megacities. Ogbeni Aregbesola is widely acknowledged as an exceptional grassroots campaigner and mobilizer. A man of deep religious faith, today he stands at a critical intersection in Nigeria’s continued search for the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians of different faiths, and where his counsel is invaluable in this quest.
After serving for eight years as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Lagos, Aregbesola offered himself for election as Governor of his home state in 2007. His emergence in November 2010 marked a significant watershed in the twists and turns of the Nigerian transition. Following a hard-fought battle in the highly flawed 2007 elections, his struggle shifted to the courts where he eventually triumphed, three-and-a-half years into a four-year tenure. His steadfastness in pursuing his political struggles through the courts easily marks him out as a true believer in the rule of law, one of the strong pillars of democracy.
Aregbesola’s interest in politics dates back to his undergraduate days, when he served as the Speaker of the Students’ Union Parliament at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, his alma mater. This interest, which is anchored in values, again came to the fore during Nigeria’s bloody struggles against military rule in the 1990s when he emerged as a leading light of the pro-democracy movement. It continues to manifest today in his advocacy for fiscal federalism and regional integration as a means of attaining sustainable economic development and peaceful coexistence in the fractious Nigerian federation.
As Governor of Osun, he has focused on strengthening the State in the areas of agriculture, economic development, youth employment, education and security. His bold vision for the State is encapsulated in his Six Point Integral Action Plan (1. Banish poverty; 2. Banish hunger; 3. Banish unemployment; 4. Restore healthy living; 5. Promote functional education; 6. Enhance communal peace and progress) which seeks to ensure that the fruits of economic development positively impact as many lives as possible.
On assumption of office, he made it known quickly that his own administration would be government ‘unusual’. This ‘unusualness’ and innovation in governance and economic development in the State of Osun had seen to the creation of 20, 000 jobs within 100 days and the revolution in education and the agriculture sub-sector of the economy as well as other popular socio-economic and people friendly programmes.
Governor Aregbesola is a rising star in the Nigerian political firmament whose views have become increasingly relevant in the search for a peaceful resolution of the Nigerian crisis of statehood and nationhood. A man of Spartan disposition to material possessions, he continues to stand in the vanguard of Nigeria’s quest for leadership that delivers “life more abundant” to the common people.