Aregbesola’s public spirit in governance
Sir: Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior had explained in the past that he was not drawing any post-office benefits from Osun State’s coffers and donated his eight years salary to Osun State. The salary former governor Rauf Aregbesola donated to Osun State in his eight years as governor was to support everything from health, disaster recovery efforts and environmental causes to higher education institutions. Aregbesola donated his eight years’ salary to the state’s public schools and hospitals, making good on his campaign promise to donate his salary until public education and health improve. He has revealed how he voluntarily forfeited his official salaries totaling N114, 743,197.4 million for the eight years he was governor. In fact, the only governor so far to sacrifice his entire salary a noticeable contribution to his state, but former Governor Aregbesola refused to collect a dime until Osun gets good education and healthcare.
For 21 states with pension laws stipulating post-office benefits running into billions of naira for their former governors and deputies, it was a sigh of relief recently as the Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to recover all funds paid as pension to erstwhile state chief executives, who are also serving in the National Assembly or as ministers.
Aregbesola spoke recently during a lecture he delivered at the 65th Anniversary and Old Students’ Re-union of Manuwa Memorial Grammar School (MMGS), Iju-Odo, Ondo State, where he emphasised the importance of productivity in the life of a nation and at the level of individuals’ economy. The former governor warned on the dangers of living a life-style not commensurate with one’s income, noting that the way to bankruptcy and inability to meet essentials needs stepped from when an individual either lived above his or her income or consumed all incomes as they came.
Aregbesola urged Nigerians, particularly youths, to always distinguish between needs and desires. He made reference to himself when as governor, he said all his needs; including food, housing, cars and all others, were borne by the state, just as he had no school children he had to sponsor.
Unlike some of his former colleagues, Aregbesola said he built no house in Osogbo, Ilesa, Lagos or in any other place throughout his two terms tenure as Osun governor.
He said sticking to only essential needs either at the level of individuals or a country would enhance investment and productivity. To promote the culture of investment and productivity and inculcate them in the minds of youths, the former governor recommended that Investment and Productivity be taught as a subject in Nigerian schools from the elementary to the tertiary level, just as he admonished workers generally to emphasize on productivity more than on salary as a right.
President Buhari should encourage more Nigerians to emulate Rauf Aregbesola. Nigeria needs more people like Aregbesola who can donate their salary for the benefit of mankind and poor Nigerians.
• Inwalomhe Donald writes from Abuja
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