We all agree that he displays fancy footwork but can Ademola Adeleke dance Osun out of its economic woes?
Osun State has elected a dancing governor. Ademola Adeleke, the onboarding governor, knows how to dance and will break out whenever he is in the mood. Can his dexterity on the dance floor translate into nifty management moves in governance? He is faced with three choices. He could dance around the problems, as did his more recent predecessors. Again, he could quickly learn the ropes and put up a fancy footwork that leaves everyone astonished. Or he could dance away from it all. This is possible when he is fully briefed on the extent of the rot that he is going to inherit.
Public commentators are not giving the onboarding Governor a chance at succeeding on the job. And what is their evidence? They allege that his education is suspect while his predilection to dancing marks him out as unserious. But do these “failings” justify the charge that he won’t do well as governor?
The education evidence appears weak because it appears based only on non-possession of certificates. But the outcry is understandable, given the fact that he is from a state with enormous citizen brainpower. They find it difficult to reconcile that wants to govern but struggles to convince people that he finished school. A certificate scandal dodged his first stab at the governorship. But didn’t he thereafter return to school and successfully complete a proper degree program? Does this not show focus, a single-minded commitment to achieve a goal that one set one’s sights on?
Beyond this, however, earning excellent grades and passing exams do not guarantee that anyone will excel as a manager. It guarantees that the person can return to teach if everything else fails, quoting George Bernard Shaw in Superman. Therefore, what should count for the onboarding governor is that he passed through a broader education in the university of life, his international exposure and contacts, experience of sitting on the board of local and multinational corporations, and his personal business forays. Added to these are a legislative experience and his university training in criminal justice and political science. He should leverage his social skills and contacts to assemble and manage a team of first-class technocrats. They can turn around the fortunes of his beleaguered state.
The second charge against him is his proclivity toward entertainment, specifically a hobby of dancing. Grumpy people complain that the man hits the dance floor too often. But he does this when he is happy, or on achieving a milestone.
The family brands
The Adeleke Family has developed and extended unique brands in three areas of endeavor – politics, business, and entertainment. His late eldest brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, was also the first elected governor of Osun State. He built the political brand. The governor-elect has now successfully leveraged and rebranded the family as a political dynasty with Sunday’s announcement of his win. His immediate elder brother, Adedeji Adeleke, developed the business brand. Again, the new governor served tutelage under him as director at Pacific Holdings. And also held a seat on the Board of Guinness, a multinational company. The entertainment brand is owned by the next generation Adelekes. Among them is Adedeji’s son (the world-famous Davido) and the governor’s own son, B-Red.
The new governor is probably the one family member that is most at home in extending the brands, a bridgebuilder of sorts. The love that he enjoys, which the election allowed us to see through videoclips, proves this. Therefore, should he fail to deploy his proven social skills to unite and develop Osun, the fault will not be in his stars.
What exactly is wrong with dancing as a hobby anyway? Who among us is not guilty of one quirk that we display when happy or when luck smiles on us? Minus social media, how many outside Ademola Adeleke’s social circle would have known that he is a first-rate dancer? And, speaking of first rate dancing, shouldn’t this count as a plus for the man in other respects? Most people can shuffle on the dance floor when the moods hits. But how many dance well? And how easy is it to master the craft? Consider the physical advantage that dancing conferred on the new Governor.
At 62 years, he is a senior citizen. And yet he moves with the sleekness of a python and the grace of a gazelle on the dance floor. Despite his age and bulk, his moves are fast, fluid, and graceful. They are precise and expressive, and they make him look, feel and act younger than he is. Does he look 62 when he is on the dance floor? Dancing has given him the physical balance he needs to shoulder the burden of governance. I vote for him to continue dancing because this will leverage engagement with both Generation Z and Millennials alike. Osun’s troubles are many and require a manager who is self-contented, 1quick thinking and nimble on his feet.
The State is yet to emerge from lingering economic stagnation. Most economic reports that I saw on Osun State highlight its inability to exploit Agric potentials. There is also a serial neglect of infrastructure, and subsisting poor maintenance culture. Interestingly, the reports also indicate that what is needed is good leadership. Such leadership can jumpstarts Osun as a business and investor-driven economy. They however warn that the state must intentionally jettison its lethargic “civil service” approach to governance.
Osun has all it takes to transform into one of the wealthiest states in Nigeria. Assets available for the state to catalyze her economic transformation include mineral resources. Osun has arable land, eco- and culture tourism potentials, and high-scale human resources. These reports highlight two areas that look like hanging fruits – agriculture and tourism. What most of the reports ignore and which I would like to add, is education. This is probably taken for granted because the state has a surfeit of schools, including at the tertiary level.
There are eight universities alone in this state, six of them privately-owned. However, consider that these educational institutions are catalyzing development of two cities outside of Oshogbo and Ile Ife. The new cities are Iwo and Ede (the governors hometown), each of which hosts two universities. These institutions are also assets for production of high-level manpower. Developed and run properly, the new cities should be able to attract investments from local and foreign sources. Needless to say that the tax benefits to government are enormous. But Government must help this process along by putting the required infrastructure to support their transformation. Developed into proper cities, these towns can easily attract investments that promote organic growth. The state should also be able to harness the brainpower from these universities to banish outdated practices in agriculture . and poor support for small scale businesses.
Agriculture and tourism
Osun has impressive acreage of eco and culture tourism real estate. It can leverage the historical sites, the Ile-Ife culture layout, war museums, waterfalls, and hills. The governor will inherit a tourism plan that he can fine-tune or execute as is. As an example, there is no reason why he cannot deploy both to harness his state’s human, cultural and natural resources to make Osun the number one tourism destination State in Nigeria. Because, come to think of it, who better to do this than someone with a natural flair for entertainment?
On agriculture, Osun is the fourth largest State by land mass in the Southwest. It is only bigger in size than Ekiti and Lagos states. Fortunately, it shares boundaries with the first three – Oyo, Ogun, and Ondo. The opportunity to expand agricultural beyond its own 9,200 square kilometer land space.
There is no reason why he cannot pluck the hanging fruits of education, tourism and agriculture. The people of Osun State gave Adeleke the mandate to rule. Will they become like a rainmaker who gifted his visitor with salt but sent a heavy downpour to accompany him? The incoming governor will need support and goodwill that encourages him to execute a few nifty moves in governance.
From all indications, the onboarding Governor does not appear to be a typical run-of-the-mill politician. Let us pray that he brings the freshness on display during electioneering to the arduous task of governance.
Can Adeleke dance Osun out of its troubles?