Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, a two-time governor of Osun State, has been a political activist right from his school days. He was active in progressive students’ movements of his time and became speaker of the Students’ Parliament at The Polytechnic, Ibadan as well as president of the Black Nationalist Movement.
He became an elected delegate to the SDP Inaugural Local Government Area Congress in 1990 and also a delegate to the party’s first national convention. He was actively involved in the pro-democracy struggles of the 1990s.
Added to his visibility in the political arena is his wealth of experience garnered through a wide exposure in the private sector. He practiced his engineering profession and built his own engineering services company that had the capacity to handle major projects for government and private organizations.
By the beginning of the 4th republic in the late 1990s, Aregbesola had joined forces with Tinubu’s political camp and was director of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organization. An engineer in politics, he was part of the design of Tinubu electoral victory as governor of Lagos State in 1999. At re-election time in 2003, he was again in the independent campaign group that ensured the Tinubu’s return for a second term in office.
In the eight-year reign of Tinubu as governor of Lagos State, Aregbesola held the position of commissioner for works and infrastructure – a vast ministry in Nigeria’s financial capital. Tinubu saw in him an able hand and he did prove himself as the brain behind the infrastructural re-engineering that soon resulted in the transformation of social amenities in Lagos State.
He excelled as commissioner in Lagos State and was acknowledged as a major instrument for the outstanding success the Tinubu administration recorded in road development and rehabilitation of road infrastructures. Reconstruction of broken-down infrastructures provided the foundation for the actualization of the mega city project of Lagos.
Aregbesola is credited with redefinition and application of new aesthetic standards that transformed government offices, introduction of facility management practices and pioneering of public-private sector partnership ventures.
Having accomplished a great mission in Lagos State, the opportunity downed for him in 2007 to go back to his home state and help out. He contested for the governorship of Osun State in the April 2007 elections on the platform of the then Action Congress.
His victory however did not come until 2010 after titanic legal battles that ranged from tribunal of first instance, an appeal and a retrial tribunal and then a second appeal court. The second appeal court declared him the winner of the governorship election with an order to swear him into office the next day.
Aregbesola sought re-election for a second term on the platform of APC in August 2014 and won the election for the second term. Speaking of his eight-year governance of Osun State, he said “my greatest achievement is in human capital development or what I would describe as social investment programme”.
The programmes include feeding of school children aimed at improving their mental capacity, youth employment schemes that have reduced the level of unemployment. A great improvement happened to the state of public infrastructures.
Describing the quality of roads built, he said his government went for the best –standard roads and bridges, beautiful streets with flower built to last for nothing less than 50 years. “Our roads compare with the best in the world,” he said.
He took to Osun State the development ideals he helped to put in place in Lagos State. He attributed his success in his home state to the grooming lessons at Bourdillon. “I served under one of the best public finance experts in the person of the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The tutelage paid off so handsomely and the result is what you are witnessing in Osun” he said as he was preparing for his re-election bid in 2014.
Appointing the right people to positions in government, he said, provided the foundation for a positive impact his government made in the economy of Osun State. That was the same principle that provided him a launching pad into political office in Lagos State.
At Lagos, Aregbesola learned; at Osun State, he implemented the tenets of the Lagos political school of thought. Having returned to base after ending his second term mandate in Osun State in 2018, he has now been launched into the federal stage with his nomination and confirmation as minister of interior in President Muhammad Buhari’s second term in office.