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Lessons from Kigali: Transforming Osun state for a sustainable future, by Bamikole Omishore

By Bamikole Omishore

Effective governance has proven to be an essential phenomenon in today’s world. This is the reason the journey of transformation started by the government in Osun State draws a striking parallel with the remarkable progress witnessed in Kigali, Rwanda. I was privileged to accompany Governor Ademola Adeleke on a leadership retreat to Kigali, Rwanda, and he was no doubt impressed by the level of orderliness and organization right from the airport. As the airport gates opened in Kigali, it was impossible not to notice the seamless order and organization that guided the process. This experience sets the stage for lessons that will shape the basis of learning for Osun State.

The hallmark of Kigali’s transformation is not merely its infrastructural advancements but the leadership mindset that propelled it forward. Rwanda’s leaders dared to dream big, inspiring unity and a shared vision of growth. In a similar vein, Governor Adeleke has committed himself to leading by example in Osun State. From improved healthcare services to enhanced education initiatives, the Governor is already sowing the seeds of positive change. And this is only the beginning.

One cannot help but be impressed by the lush greenery that envelops Kigali. The city’s commitment to climate sustainability is a testament to responsible governance. It is heartening to note that just a few days ago, Governor Adeleke pledged to plant over 100,000 trees in Osun State. This will not only help to beautify the state, but also help to combat climate change. Besides, this isn’t just an environmental gesture; it’s a solid commitment to a healthier, greener future for the good people of our state.

To further catalyze growth, Adeleke recognizes the importance of fostering an environment that nurtures innovation. According to Governor Adeleke during the visit, “We are taking steps to improve the ease of doing business in Osun, ensuring that startups with groundbreaking ideas have the support they need to flourish. These startups hold the potential to address local challenges with fresh solutions, driving not just economic progress, but social betterment as well.

“To encourage start-ups that will address local problems in Osun State, I have identified five steps that we need to take to improve the ease of doing business. These steps include: Simplifying the process of registering a business in Osun State, providing access to funding for start-ups, creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, providing training and mentorship for budding entrepreneurs and encouraging collaboration between businesses and the government,” the Governor said.

Furthermore, the governor’s aspirations don’t only stop at the state’s borders. By initiating a culture of peer review and challenge, it is hoped, the visit will spark a nationwide revolution in leadership, starting with his counterparts that also undertook the trip. “Just as Rwanda’s success story inspired me, I believe that our commitment to change will inspire the other governors across Nigeria. Together, we can set the stage for a new era of cooperative governance that transcends political boundaries,” Governor Adeleke said.

But the journey doesn’t end there. Governor Adeleke intends to harness the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a blueprint for innovation and development in Osun. According to him, the SDGs provide a framework for driving development in Osun State.

He said: “Here are four ways that we can aggressively use the SDGs to drive development in Osun State in the next seven years: We will focus on providing access to quality education for all children in Osun State. This will help to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living in the state.

“We will work to provide access to clean water and sanitation for all residents of Osun State. This will help to improve health outcomes and reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases.

“We will focus on promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls in Osun State. This will help to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living for women and girls in our state.

“Above all, we will work to provide access to affordable and clean energy for all residents of Osun State. This will help to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living in the state. Besides, by aligning our efforts with these global objectives, we will not only foster growth but also contribute to a more sustainable world.”

As a leader of impact, Governor Adeleke understands the profound impact of setting a personal example. Just as Rwanda’s leaders led the way in creating a clean, green city, he has committed to leading Osun by example.

“By ensuring that our cities are clean and sustainable, we’re not just building a better environment; we’re instilling a sense of pride and responsibility in our citizens.

“From Rwanda’s orderly airport to Osun’s pledge for a greener future, the lessons are clear: visionary leadership, sustainability, and innovation are the cornerstones of progress.

“As we navigate this path of transformation, I am confident that Osun State will emerge as a shining example of positive change – a testament to what’s possible when leadership is driven by a passion for growth, a commitment to the people, adherence to due process and rule of law and an unwavering belief in a better tomorrow.”

Moreover, it is hoped that as Governor Adeleke focuses on creating enabling environments, businesses will find Osun state as the most suitable destination in Africa to do business.

He said: “From investing in the value chain of agriculture such as cassava to starch, to opportunities in energy and mineral sectors, to driving an agrotech-led agricultural transformation, to building on the tourism opportunities, to investing in sports as a business, Osun State is open and ready for investments and we welcome investors home and abroad to come to our dear state.”

Governor Adeleke at the leadership retreat organized by United Nations Developmental Partners and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, reiterated his administration’s readiness to drive sports development through public-private partnerships. The Governor made this known while responding to an address by Masai Michael Ujiri, a British born Nigerian-Canadian professional basketball executive and President of the Toronto Raptors in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Ujiri, during his brief interaction with the Nigerian delegation described sports as an important sector that needs proper attention by the government in order to drive the needed development in the sector. He said the government needed to bring in private investors and cited examples of how commercializing sports had helped many developed countries. Governor Adeleke, who assured the delegation of the readiness of his administration to develop sports in the state, extended an invitation to Ujiri to further consolidate his administration’s plans and efforts for the sector. “I will invite you to Osun state in Nigeria. Come with sports’ investors. Osun is open for sports as a tool for economic development,” Governor Adeleke said.

Instructively, during a workshop session at the retreat, Tolani Alli, ex-aide of former Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, referenced Governor Adeleke’s giant strides of completing multiple projects by his predecessor and embarking on groundbreaking projects without taking any loans.

In conclusion, Governor Adeleke’s visit to Kigali remains a lesson in leadership and development, and he is committed to implementing the lessons learnt in Osun State to make it a shining light among the league of states. It therefore behooves all residents of Osun State to join hands with the performing Governor on this journey towards a better Osun State.

Bamikole Omishore is the Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals and Multilateral Relations to Governor of Osun State

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