FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: Innovative Governance for State Building

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: Innovative Governance for State Building

By Olawale Rasheed

Public governance demands broad mind and readiness to experiment by the leadership. The urge to be innovative to fast track state building is essentially a rare attribute. You only find it here and there within the political space and the public sector. A state with such leadership is sure to experience unusual churning out of equally surprising policies and programmes.

From January till date, readers should attempt a survey and review of subnational administrations and point out where new state decisions are taken that are out of the ordinary. From across the six geo-political zones, you may be confronted with mediocrity and docility covered with garb of civility. The likely result will be a preponderance of a unanimous show of uninspiring state actions. Mostly, critical state issues are approached with shockingly pedestrian solutions.

Let me confess that Osun leadership is really doing something different. Amidst opponents’ criticism, great things are happening in the state which leave even the worst pessimist to develop a measure of hope. I have been asked severally what is the secret of sustained governance success under Governor Ademola Adeleke. In my last piece, I itemized good governance as a principal fulcrum. Within January alone, the administration took critical decisions which addressed the crux of state building.

To get it clear, two main challenges confront Osun state among so many, namely weak economic base and huge revenue shortfall. As much as previous governments have attempted solutions, what Governor Adeleke deployed within the first month of 2024 manifested an uncommon grasp of workable solutions to those core problems facing the state.

The first was the unification of tax payable by private organizations and individuals.The idea of an integrated payable tax is not novel, some critics have argued. Yet what is not new was never fully implemented by even the most brilliant of administrators. In Osun, the state government issued a single point collated tax payment system, nullifying multiple taxation.

Prior to now, multiple taxation is the bane of the system with the paralysis of the small business sector. Many in the past boasted of increasing internally generated revenue and they achieved such a feat on the grave of dead businesses. Contrarily, the Adeleke administration calculated that IGR can increase while at the same time propelling the business sector to growth and prosperity. The key adopted is an harmonized lower tax rate but with an increase in the tax base which will cumulatively yield more funds into the state treasury by enrolling more taxpayers and applying technology to block leakages in tax collections.

As the difficult tax reforms were effected with such ease, the state government then reached out to the engine room of the economy which is cooperative movement. As the oldest grassroot financial system, the Governor ruminated and concluded that a reformed cooperative movement is the best path to empower artisans and small businesses. One billion naira is to be invested under single digit interest rate with the state micro credit agency as the implementing body. The goal is to solve funding challenges facing traders at the grassroots, thereby ensuring financial inclusion and sustainability of small businesses.

A revolving loan scheme accompanied with requisite reform is sure to guarantee a new lease of life for the majority of the population without financing access within the mainstream. Small business is the foundation of most flourishing economies. That a leader without political consideration embraced the cooperative societies as a channel for financial inclusion is a testimony to the far reaching insight and foresight of the state Governor. Curiously, nobody saw it coming. Cooperators shouted aloud that this has never happened in the life of the state. This is innovative governance at its best.

Analyzing further, one can argue that tax reforms and loan programmes for small businesses are not the heavy lifting needed to jumpstart the state economy. In the case of Osun ,that argument may not be applicable. The state has an holistic approach to state building, hence the Governor is implementing five other policies which directly seek to build, deepen and expand the economic base of the state namely (1) creation of a State Creative Sector Prosperity Plan,(2) reform of the Mining sector ,(3) the unveiling of the Cocoa Sector Revitalisation agenda ; (4) implementation of the State Digital Economy Agenda; (5) and Implementation of a multi-billion naira infrastructure plan.

The creative industry comprising tourism and entertainment industries are top on the agenda of the administration. The state has become proactive in the mining sector, revalidating its mining assets, confirming its hiding mining shareholding in Segilola firm, targeting mining processing, hoping to expand revenue earnings, prioritizing solid mineral area community development and ramping up environmental protection. The Governor further took the nation by storm when he unfolded a cocoa sector revival plan which targeted Osun becoming a leading cocoa processing and value adding state. The state’s digital economy agenda is progressing unabated with 2024 dedicated to the implementation of the State ICT policy, State Tech Innovation Policy and the Domestication of the Nigerian Startup Act.

State building rests on sound infrastructure. Osun suffers a high infrastructure deficit. Again ,Governor Adeleke dared all odds to launch the implementation of a multi billion naira infrastructure plan that involves simultaneous construction of five flyovers, construction four dualized roads, complete renovation of over 40 schools, rehabilitation of hundreds of community health centers and the construction of 332 new boreholes. A friend called the Osun infra plan audacity of hope in the midst of overwhelming hopelessness.

Let me take you back to the beginning- innovative governance for state building is uncommon within the challenged Nigerian society. However, Osun and a few other states are exceptions to the rule. The Osun leadership has a dominant focus- uncompromising service to the citizenry.

Even if hard core opponents can’t admit it, the Osun state government under Senator Ademola Adeleke is today a worthy example and model of innovative leadership for good governance. An elected government that delivers on pro-people policies and programmes is undoubtedly deserving of accolades.

Let give it to the dancing-performing Governor, Senator (Dr) Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke.

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