Agagu: Two years after, public outcry for his honour
CALLS have gone to the Ondo State people to take steps to immortalize the former governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Agagu who died about two years ago.
Toward this, the state government led by Dr Olusegun Mimiko has been charged to take the lead by naming some landmark edifices after the late geologist-turned politician.
Some associates of the late governor, concerned indigenes of the state and some groups who spoke with The Guardian on the second anniversary of the death of Agagu were united in their view that the former governor deserved un-conditional immortalisation by his successor and name sake, Olusegun Mimiko.
This week, September 13 marks two years of the transition of the former Ondo State governor.
The late Agagu greatly loved by his people as a result of the good governance he ran which impacted well on the lives of the people in the state, could not however enjoyed state burial due to the tragic plane crash involving the aircraft conveying his remains in which some people died.
Expectedly this tragic incident may have also halted any move by the Olusegun Mimiko’s administration in the state to announce any plan to immortalize the governor.
Prominent among callers for Agagu’s immortalisation are the state’s former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, former Chairman National Sports Commission (NSC), Gbenga Elegbeleye, National Secretary General, Ikale Central Organisation and former Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, Chief Samuel Adetuyi, Ondo State Chairman of the All progressives Congress (APC), Isaac Kekemeke, the state’s Director of Publicity of APC, Prince Abayomi Adesanya and a former chairman of the state’s chapter of Association of Local Governments in Nigeria (ALGON), Pastor Olusegun Aiyerin; while the groups include Assembly for the Protection of Ikale Agenda (APIA) and Congress for Rights of Ondo Southern Nationalities (CROSN).
Among the deceased’s very close associates and confidants who eulogized the former governor was the National Vice Chairman of the APC (Southwest), Chief Pius Akinyelure.
The first anniversary of Agagu’s death was marked last year by members of his family, friends and associates with a public lecture organized at the University of Ibadan where he taught for many years before going into politics. The lecture was organized by members of the late governor’s family through the Olusegun Agagu Foundation (OAF) established by his family to immortalize the late scholar-politician.
Apart from the public lecture, which is annual, the Agagu family apparently for lack of faith in the preparedness of the governor to immortalize his late predecessor and their patriarch, has further gone ahead to institute under-graduate scholarship programme for students from his immediate council area, Okitipupa Local Government in the state.
The Foundation is not limiting its education and societal lifting programmes to his council as it has also provided for annual prize for the best M.Sc. student in Petroleum Geology/Sedimentolgy at the University of Ibadan.
The Foundation is also endowing chairs in some Nigerian universities with a view to providing grants to scholars to carry out researches in areas that would develop and benefit the society.
The mission statement of the Foundation throws more light on the focus of the Agagu development initiative: “The purpose of the OLUSEGUN AGAGU FOUNDATION is to immortalise the name and legacy of the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu, to live up to and seek to actualise his personal credo which was to leave things better than he met them and to further the ideals he lived by and worked passionately towards, particularly intellectual excellence, good governance and national development.”
“The Initiatives of the Olusegun Agagu Foundation includes, provision of scholarships: Education was one of Dr. Olusegun Agagu’s passions, evidenced by the establishment of several scholarship programmes at various universities by him (as well as in his honour) over the years.
“The Foundation will provide continued support for existing scholarships as well as establish new scholarships. Some of the scholarships include: One of the existing scholarships established by Dr. Agagu is the Annual Prize for the best student in Geology at 300 Level and for the best graduating student in Geology at 3 universities which is being retained.
The Annual prize for the best M.Sc. student in Petroleum Geology / Sedimentology at the Geology Department, University of Ibadan is newly instituted.”
“Five full-tuition secondary school scholarships to deserving students from Okitipupa Local Government Area, are also newly instituted.
Annual lecture-symposium series: Lectures and/or symposia will be held to engage members of the general public in intellectual pursuit and to serve as a meeting place of ideas that could promote and advance academic, political and other relevant issues that are relevant to the work of the Foundation.”
Chief Akinyelure who noted that the former governor is greatly missed in every consideration is however consoled by his belief that the life touching programmes and projects that formed the kernel of the good governance he bestowed on the state would continue to live after him, especially in the heart of the people.
He described him as exceptionally intelligent and as a very loyal friend and confidant.
Dr. Olafeso and Aiyerin as well as the leadership of APIA and CROSN called on the state government to name the Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH), Okitipupa after the former governor.
APIA national coordinator, Henry Olatunjoye in an interview with The Guardian while lamenting the current bad state of OSUSTECH, established by Agagu, declared that the first stage to immortalizing the former governor is for the state government to develop the university and restore it to its original design.
Olatunjoye deplored a situation where the governor deliberately abandoned OSUSTECH only to start the new medical university in his town, Ondo which he is massively developing at the detriment of OSUSTECH.
The National Secretary of CROSN, Tunde Aiyenumelo took a swipe at the Governor Mimiko for what he described as a “wicked abandonment of all the numerous life touching projects of his late predecessor scattered all over the state.”
Both Aiyenumelo and Olatunjoye are of the view that if Mimiko has been fair-minded enough to complete those projects Agagu started most of which they said were between 60 percent and 90 percent completion, that alone would have naturally immortalized him.
The duo berated the likes of Eddy Olafeso, Segun Aiyerin, Oba Festus Olumoyegun and some others who Agagu raised and effectively empowered, for allegedly betraying the former governor even while he was alive, adding that the emotional trauma they caused him could have contributed in no small measure to his sudden death.
Olafeso has however denied this allegation, averring that in life and death he remains an ardent follower of Agagu who he said was his mentor who laid the foundation of his political life.
Olafeso said he remained in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in memory of Agagu and to promote and sustain his legacies.
“Dr. Agagu is my leader in life and death and I will always first put him in consideration whenever I am taking any political decision. On the day he died I still spoke with him for about one and a half hours.”
On the various abandoned projects of the former governor Olafeso said, “At various fora we have reminded our governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko the strategic importance of completing all the projects, but unfortunately actions were not mobilized especially when the resources of the state could cope very well, but at the moment I am afraid about what could be done in the light of the increasingly dwindling income of the state.
I have made it very clear to those who are ready to listen that the future of politics in this area would largely dependent on whether or not these projects are completed.”
Aiyerin in his contribution said Agagu could never be forgotten and that his memory would linger on for ever in the mind of the people in the state who “he bequeathed good governance to, nothing short of naming a remarkable edifice after him by the state government would do adequate justice to his unique achievements in the state.”
Elegbeleye described Agagu as “An Epitome of good governance, an innovative administrator and I sincerely share in the call that he should be immortalized by the state government by naming a reputable edifice in the state after him.”
In his own comment Kekemeke said, “In recent time, a number of objective analysts have said that the administration of the late Dr. Segun Agagu was a golden era compared to the current one. The Agagu’s administration moved water supply from four per cent to 60 per cent. That administration built over 2,000 kilometres of roads and built primary schools in every hamlet across the state. It also increased agricultural productivity and paid salaries as at when due.”
“The Agagu’s government provided infrastructure for the people of the coastal areas. The places hitherto unreachable by roads are now reachable, using the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission. Agagu’s government did not borrow money; in fact he left a cash of N34 billion, which was unprecedented in the state and another cash instrument of N34 billion, which was unprecedented in the state and another cash instrument of N4 billion.”
Prince Adesanya in his contribution admonished Governor Mimiko to honour Agagu first with good governance, the legacy according to him “Agagu left in the state but is now a mirage.”
“Good governance and accountability was what late Dr. Olusegun Agagu, stood and left as a heritage as governor. Agagu steered the ship of the state for six years and he raised the state’s bar in economic development, employment, rural infrastructural provisions, educational standard in the State and industrialisation (Olokola Free-Trade-Zone among others).
“Above all, Agagu increased the credit and savings facilities of the State. He left behind over N34billion cash in the State’s coffers.”