So, the thing is, I’m one of the luckiest travel bloggers in Nigeria for two reasons *winks*
- I have a full-time job where my boss is a huge fan of my blog, and this is largely so because I have never for once allowed my passion for travel blogging affect my career as a Digital Marketer.
- I have an amazing relationship with tons of other travel bloggers in the industry which makes it easy for me to collaborate and seek advice.
Why am I even talking about this?
So, on the morning after the gubernatorial elections in Osun state was conducted, I was the first to resume office and our CEO was the second. since we share the same table, he decided to engage me. he started by asking if I followed the Election saga which I answered a reluctant “Ye-ee-ah” because I really wasn’t following, but I followed enough to know the gubernatorial election was keenly contested. I knew Aregbeshola (the outgoing Governor ) did his bit, but like the proverbial Abiku doing all she can in thwarting the efforts of the medicine man, the debt profile of Osun state (an estimated N143.6bn) is engulfing all the measures taken to make things work.
Irrespective of who wins the election, the Government of Osun State will be faced with two problems which are:
- Paying the backlogs of salaries owed (as long as 17 months)
- Fulfilling all basic government obligations such as infrastructure, Education, food, security etc.
I knew he was in the mood to have an intelligent conversation, but since I wasn’t, I decided to split my attention between composing an article for the company’s blog and faking an immersion into the conversation. The best way I felt this will work is by me allowing him do the talking, and it worked.
Given the depth of mess in Osun State, I Knew fully well that mere voting to change political parties or governors will do little in rescuing this south-western state from the strong grip of death, so I asked him a question: “Sir, How do you think Osun Can fight her way out of this debt ‘wahala’, especially now that it appears only a steady rise in IGR can bail them out?”
1. Lay Off Workers!
“Oh, it’s simple”, he continued, “they’d survive if they can swallow the bitter pill and be as realistic as much as they can! they should first lay off as many redundant members of the workforce as they can.”
“You see,” he continued, “it’s no news that a large fraction of the state’s recurring expenditure goes into payment of salaries, so why can’t we just downsize the staff strength and pay them a handsome amount in gratuity. Following this, business incorporation should be made as easy as possible, this way, it’d be easy for the laid-off staff to establish businesses of their choice and in turn remit taxes to the government. A win-win situation.”
2. Get Serious With Tourism In Osun
“We have Olumirin waterfall, Osun Sacred Groove (which is one of the only two UNESCO Cultural Sites in the country), Ile Ife, OAU, Nike Art Gallery etc. What’s wrong with having a serious #ComeToOsun Campaign? Osun state for crying out loud is one of the states with the highest number of world-class tourist attractions.
- How this will work?
The tourism board can have seriously subsidized buses in strategic motor parks around the country dedicated strictly to tourists interested in visiting Osun. This will reduce drastically one of the major discouraging factors for intending adventurers (which is the burden of high travel cost).
Special waivers/discounts should be given to groups like Youth corpers and undergraduates to enable a strengthened influx of the youths who constitute the largest fraction of our country’s population.
The ripple effect of the influx of tourists will be that business will spring up around the neighbourhoods where these destinations are stationed. These businesses which include but aren’t limited to hotels, local food vendors, artists, pubs etc. will contribute much largely to the IGR on a regular basis.
How about calling together major tour operators within the country and giving them incentives and special waivers to lure them into promoting Osun State and it’s Tourism options?
I heaved a sigh of relief when he finally stopped talking and his points rang in my head all through the day.
What else do you think can be done to salvage our dear Osun?
Like every other state in Nigeria with the notable exception of Lagos and to some extent Ogun (which is only successful because of its proximity to Lagos), Osun depends on the Federal Government for money. The FG itself depends on oil for money.
Another way they all make money is by excessively taxing businesses especially banks and communications service providers.
And just like every other state, Osun spends most of its money on salaries as you rightly stated, and building unnecessary bridges.
The same Osun that is neck deep in debt and unable to pay salaries built FIVE overhead bridges. http://thenationonlineng.net/aregbesola-no-govt-built-five-bridges-like-us/
For who exactly?
The bridges are just an avenue to steal government funds and nothing else.
This proves two things about Osun state and by extension, every other state in Nigeria including the Federal Government.
1. All are corrupt.
2. All are led by clueless people.
And if these two problems are not solved, Osun state’s debt can never be reduced. It will continue to soar and the government will keep on borrowing — tourism or not.
This is a really insightful point of view Moshood. Like you rightly said, the stench caused by corruption and voting the wrong people into office seems to be the most dominant of our problems. I’m just still very optimistic about the potentials of Tourism. Countries like France, Thailand and China are doing it, Crossriver took a shot and it here in Nigeria during Donald Duke’s era and it was a hit. I sincerely hope somebody or something fuels this mission before things go awfully bad for us as a Nation.