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Perfectionism: Why Oyetola would have adversaries in politics

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Oyetola. Photo: GOBOYEGAOYETOLA

As a young boy, more than four decades ago, I grew up to know Mr. Isiaka ‘Gboyega Oyetola, who is now (getting to two years) the Governor of Osun State.

From my ‘subjective’ perception of his personality traits, I discovered he’s a perfectionist. A perfectionist is a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high-performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. 

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With his idiosyncratic perfectionism, whose doctrine holds that the perfection of moral character constitutes a person’s highest good, Oyetola tends to make more adversaries than friends in politics for the reason of his disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable. So, his major sin is his expectation of moral ‘perfection’ in a society where moral decadence permeates. Celestine Chua, an author who has written a number of books on perfectionism, once said: “On the surface, being a perfectionist seems perfect. Not only do you have keen eyes for details, but you are also always ready to push yourself to achieve that next big thing, that goal that nobody has achieved before.

You are always exceeding expectations with the work you do, and the quality of your output is second to none.” You would agree with me that these descriptions were true of Oyetola if you considered his performances which have translated too many monumental achievements in less than two years of his administration in spite of the paucity of funds and low economic profile of the state, especially when compared with other states of the federation. If you know his perfectionist attributes, you would understand why he has been marvelous in his governance of the state. As espoused by scholars like Stephen Guise, Pavel Somov, Ann Smith, Allan Malinger, and Richard Winter, among others, a perfectionist like Oyetola would always display certain attributive personality traits. For instance, Oyetola would rather give up on a task than not do it perfectly. So, if he could not govern perfectly, he would have given up being a governor ab initio. 

He would sacrifice his own well-being to make something perfect. This is another attribute of a perfectionist like Governor Oyetola. A good study of his governance reveals that he has been making a lot of sacrifices in the last twenty-one months with a view to making the ‘situation’ not only better but ‘perfect’. But for his sacrifices, Osun might probably have stagnated, as he wouldn’t have been able to pay the full salary of the state workforce, which has gulped over 40 billion naira in less than two years. But for his sacrifices, he wouldn’t have been able to offset two biggest loan portfolios out of the seven met on assumption of office, the total amount of which was over one hundred and fifty-one billion (more than #151, 400,000.000.00). This is without prejudice to the former governor, who met the state aground and turned it around for socio-economic and infrastructural aesthetics which it currently wears.

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A perfectionist doesn’t accept in-betweens; everything is either perfect or it is a failure. There are no grey areas in his life, only black and white. A perfectionist like Oyetola is a “people pleaser”, who wants everyone to think highly of him and be happy with what he has accomplished or done. As I was writing this piece, I heard Mr. Governor had released another sum of #708,000,000 million naira to offset pension arrears of retirees in the state. Sometimes ago, I was privy to his release of #1.13 billion naira for a similar purpose, pension, and gratuity. In less than two years, his government has spent over twelve billion (#12,000,000,000.00) naira on payment of pension and gratuity alone. This is pleasing to hear, right? It is because he’s a people pleaser, who would go the extra mile to make people happy. There is no gainsaying the fact that Oyetola’s government is pleasing to the people, as he has never defaulted in his statutory obligations as Governor of the state. 

It’s amazingly ironic that a state with a high volume of debts and low economic profile could still record strides noticeable in other spheres like road infrastructure on which constructions are currently ongoing in about thirty-eight different sites across the state. What the Governor has done in his wisdom instead of borrowing that would further compound the existing financial snag by deepening the state’s indebtedness, was a memorandum of understanding with contractors on “Contractor-Finance-Model” agreement, which means that contractors would source for money to finance the execution of road projects while the state, for the reason of paucity of funds, would reimburse them in installments on a monthly basis at a later date.

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Also, the fact that he has been able to rejuvenate, revamp, and revitalize 270 Primary Healthcare Centres out of 332 proposed in all the political wards across the state continues to beat the imagination of people. As a perfectionist, Oyetola is judgmental and critical of others. He wants perfection not only in what he does but in everything around him and quickly criticizes any errors made by those around him. And because he takes it hard, very hard when he doesn’t achieve perfection, that’s why he scrutinizes any work or authority he so delegates. But politicians whose sole business is politics are not always comfortable with this kind of perfectionist disposition. Some, if not all, of these people, are in the business of politics to make money either by hook or crook. So, they consider themselves as unfortunate having a perfectionist like Oyetola as the helmsman. 

Some stakeholders would not be happy with him for public exposure to reality, which they had hitherto distorted with a view to perpetuating their fake popularity. Others would be displeased for his unprecedented record-breaking in some jinxed areas where reforms were almost unimaginable. Perfecting mistakes and errors of governance made by a few others, who should appreciate his goodwill, but would not, was his offence for which they would crucify him if they had their ways. For the avoidance of misconceptions, I’m not saying Oyetola is impeccable, infallible, or hundred percent perfect in his ‘perfection’. Only God is.

Olorede, wrote from Osun State.

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