By ISAAC OLUSESI
In Nigeria, Apero stands in need of the ethical sensitivity of the State of Osun government to facilitate public interest in its affairs. Sensitivity, responsiveness as ethical investment is pertinent to governance, having bearing on the determination of government policy issues. In other words, Apero, a civic engagement rendezvous, taking a cognizance of the disquieting notion that public interest is an essential prerequisite for responsibility and accountability in governance, is akin, germane to public engagement in the activities and policy decisions of Governor Gboyega Oyetola and how intensely public interest, expressive in the people’s yearnings and aspirations, is held.
The Oyetola Apero initiatve virtually reflects his belief in the dignity of the governed as the ultimate value of governance. Like the executive organ, the legislative and adjudicative branches of his government also operationalize public interest by their myths. The Rt. Hon. Timothy Owoeye state parliament’s concept of majority rule as fundamental condition for democracy and the judiciary stare decisis, the judicial precedent for obtaining justice; both myths in reality, serve the public psycho-emotional interest.
Regrettably, the Open Forum public engagement gadget of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) era (2003-2010) in the Osun Oke-fia Government House was an opportunity the party had but with zealous commitment to disruption, disorientation and undermining of Osun public interest while the behavior of the party ruling class was simply self serving, with Osun public interest empirically relegated to a subsidiary or minor concern.
The party top brass in government, the democracy dramaturgy, were preoccupied in the main, with regime maintenance. The PDP infectious attitude practically murdered public responsibility and accountability in public governance. And the state bureaucracy of the time, in close and direct collaboration with the party in power never worked to serve public interest either; the mandarins were thoroughly seduced by values, passions and sentiments, sharply defined by the PDP philosophy.
In Osun, the image the PDP Open Forum created, and associated with dedicated mediocrity, superfluous rigidity, undue fussiness and dismissive military, regimented bossiness in the approach to public interest, was substantially frothy and fluffy, made worst by the Open Forum well familiar hoary connotations long winded on the state radio station, unrestricted by their drilling irrelevance to serving public interest reality. And the party fell in the aftermath of deficit public interest, choked by broken promises, melted public expectations, all injustices and indiscriminate exploitation.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (2010-2018), now Hon. Minister of Interior of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, promptly reflected on the place of public interest in a democracy and invented his Ogbeni Till Daybreak, a government-public engagement that confronted headlong the quandary, dilemma over public interest bequeathed to him, pronto!
The legendary OTD offered the entire citizenry the unfettered chance to be heard, one-on-one. And the Apero myth of Oyetola, successor and heir-apparent to Aregbesola is systemic, sequential in the progressive thoughts of APC in government, with service to the public interest given serious thought and commitment; Apero is not an accidental consideration, not one from the sublime to the ridiculous. Oyetola is convinced that the ascendancy of Osun from minimalist to maximalist governance inherited by him, has fired the coast of Osun government and necessitated the well connected Apero for highly rewarding government-public communication.
There is absolutely nothing bad about Apero platform: it is democratic in values, resting democracy on the desirable equipoise between the APC-Oyetola government and citizenry for the determination, crystallization and declaration of the interest of the governed in the governance of Osun.
Apero is good for identification, analysis, examination and evaluation of the values, needs of the people of Osun to have useful bearing on public policy decisions of the government. The Apero interactive device is beneficial to public interest, people’s demands, re-inaugurating a new social and political order in Osun governance and incorporating the culture of public sensitization and mobilization towards public commitment to the accomplishment of the set objectives of the state government.
As a matter of fact, a politically conscious and effectively mobilized governed is the greatest deterrent to civic misconception, civic lies, civic rumour, civic propaganda and civic stigmatization.
The Oyetola Apero platform has highly spectacular propensity for cultivating moral rectitude in both the government of the state and the governed; the jaw-jaw has its energizer in Oyetola, a visibly calm, visibly cool and visibly reserved personality, but with the carriages of radical humanism, the ultimate capitulation of political strategies and operational mechanics for the collation and implementation of public interest as important asset of his governorship, unwilling at all times to compromise his government human values.
The ethics of Oyetola’s radical humanism offers much of a highly cherished guide, under his watch, to Osun government decisions for the promotion of public interest; he is a leader, people-centered who embodies the spirit of the governed. He owes the best governance possible to the governed. “As a government, our policies and programmes are driven by citizens’ needs,’’ Oyetola pointedly said. And at the inaugural edition of Apero, budged at the seems, filled with people to capacity, last Tuesday in Ikirun, Oyetola assured the people of Ifelodun-Boripe-Odo-otin federal constituency that workers’ salaries and other emoluments remain his government’s topmost priority despite paucity of funds, and announced his readiness to employ 2,500 additional teachers, engage Volunteer Inspectors of Education, deploy community policing in the management of teachers in rural areas and make teaching attractive in the less urban areas, while helping to pay WAEC fees of the indigent students. His government has continued to build and refurbish classrooms across the state schools and all Old Students’ Associations incorporated for support to government’s efforts in education.
In a phone chat, Mrs Funke Egbemode, Hon. Commissioner for Information & Civic Orientation had before the maiden edition, noted, ‘’the manifest of freedom and tolerance at Apero would require tolerance to be a mutual virtue and not a one-sided thing’’, stressing that, “the link between freedom and democracy is essential for the distribution of the dividends of the latter.’’ And she passionately cautioned people against insinuations, frivolity, vexation and unfounded charges or provocative remarks as the platform moves to other federal constituencies in the state.
An alert, well informed citizenry is desirous of participating meaningfully in public affairs and generating appreciable conducive basis for increased growth and development of the state. And for just that, the Apero podium of Osun government sufficiently provides heartier avenue.
–OLUSESI is the Assistant Director, Research & Strategy, All Progressives Congress (APC), State of Osun