Opinion:Osun: Where is Adeleke's Imole Youth Corps ?


By Waheed Adekunle

It is now 15 months of the administration of Governor Ademola Adeleke with little or no impact in the lives of the prospective and energetic youth population of the state. I am making this deduction, judging from the inability of the government to fulfill many of its electoral promises to the youths thus far.

In the build up to the 2022 Osun guber poll, the then gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ademola Adeleke now Governor, outrightly condemned many of the policies of the then government and campaigned rigorously to effect change in the art of governance of the state, just as he intimated the unsuspecting citizens of his avowed determination to engage youths meaningfully and productively in different sectors of the economy if elected.

He has been elected. But from all indications, it is apparent that the present administration in the state is not prepared before coming into government, as there are lot of metrics, suggesting loopholes in governance since its inception. Easier said than done, the administration had promised to impact the lives of the prospective youths in the state by getting thousand of them engaged through the implementation of different youth-oriented policies, programmes and initiatives to combat the scourge of unemployment, youth restiveness, poverty and hunger. The reverse, however, seems to be the case as no meaningful impact has been made in the lives of the youth population let alone the entire Osun populace since the inception of the present administration.

Precisely on 16th February, 2023, the Adeleke's government announced the scrap of Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme popularly known as OYES with a replacement of Imole Youth Corps, an ill-advised and ill-thought decision that laid off 20,000 youths approximately engaged by the Scheme.

Adeleke's spokesperson, Rasheed Olawale had in a statement noted that the decision to scrap OYES was to fulfill his principal's electioneering campaign promises to productively engage youths across the state.

"In fulfilling one of the electoral promises of His Excellency, the Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke in ensuring meaningful and proper youth engagement in the state, a new Scheme codenamed Imole Youth Corps is hereby put in place to engage our teeming youths in the state. Application forms will be available for prospective youths in all the 30 local government areas including Ife East Area Office of the state FREE of charge begining from Friday, 17th February, 2023", the statement noted.

Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme is a revolving 2-year volunteers scheme introduced on the 17th day of December, 2010 by the former Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to empower 20,000 in each of the sections and sustained by his predecessor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, now Minister for Marine and Blue Economy. The OYES volunteers are divided into different specialized cadres such as Public Sanitation, Public Works Brigade, Green Gang, Osun Sheriff Corps, Traffic Marshalls, Osun Paramedics, Sanitation Czars and Teachers Corps. The scheme apart from being a deliberate programme designed to energize the state's comatose economy, is also a radical and innovative approach to tackling unemployment, youth restiveness and potential criminal tendencies.

The Scheme which was the biggest grassroots youth empowerment initiative before it was politically scrapped by the Adeleke's government, without a replacement yet, was equally commended by World Bank as an admirable model for incorporating the Work Component into Western Social Security System.

While it is not surprising to many, the incessant failure of the current administration to "walk its talks", the obvious in the failed Imole Youth Corps has been attributed to the acrimonious politics being played by the Adeleke's government. It is apparent that the Adeleke's government is yet to face the reality in governance as such that the palpable ineptness in government has created wide vacuum in all sectors of the economy and took the state to the centre-point of ridicule in the comity of Nigerian states judging from the current realities.

One of the raging questions agitating the mind is that, where is Governor Adeleke's government keeping the humongous funds being saved from the proscribed Scheme, knowing full well that the past governments injected about 200 to 300 million naira into the state's economy to service the monthly allowance of the Scheme Volunteers? 

It is quite unfortunate that our very dear state found itself in this sorry state, going by the present socioeconomic challenges confronting the nation.  A scheme, like OYES, if not scrapped would have impacted greatly in the lives of many households based in line with its goals and objectives. It is appalling that Osun that used to be the pacesetter particularly in youth engagement and social intervention initiatives is now crawling while its counterparts are comfortably walking, running and indeed flying. 

It is disheartening that a government that vowed to engage youths productively is yet to come up with a workable scheme let alone taking the plights of the youths to the frontier of its heart. Instead of consolidating on the gains recorded by the past governments, by coming up with different masses -oriented policies and programmes to address the societal vices most significantly the monstrous-scourge of poverty, hunger and unemployment, the attention has been conspicuously focused on frivolities and misplaced priorities. What a pity!

Ordinarily, in a saner clime, the government would have been seriously reprimanded not only for scraping the widely accepted and highly commended Scheme, but also for depriving the youths the very best direct benefits being derived from the Scheme since it was introduced. Unequivocally, if the Scheme has been tenaciously and pragmatically managed by the government as expected, Osun would have made an impressive track record in managing the affairs of the state at this critical moments as thousand of youths would have been genuinely engaged and contributed productively to the economy of the state.

While we continue to watch, deploy the eagle eye to where necessary, and pass commentaries wherever the occasion arises, it is imperative to put it on record that a sharp failure has been recorded in this sector, and even if it is reactivated tomorrow, it will definitely amount to political jamboree and mere deceptive exercise. It is now obvious that a society would be judged by the type of people therein and the kind of leadership. 

Conscience, they say, is an open wound, only truth can heal it.

May God heal our land!

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