On November 26, 2010, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola succeeded Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the fourth Executive Governor of Osun State after more than three years of contesting the results of the election in various courts. In his Green Book, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola included a six-point agenda. The book outlined programs and potential steps for making them a reality. Reorientation of the state’s residents and citizens was one of the book’s main themes. This was essentially captured by his government’s rebranding initiative. Several initiatives for the development of the state brand portfolio were carried out between 2012 and 2013, costing several billion naira. All sectors underwent significant facelifts during this time, including name, color, and symbol changes.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola noted during one of his media appearances with the public that when he assumed office, governance was paralyzed and the populace was demoralized, nearly hopeless, sceptical, and even cynical. He concluded that a comprehensive reorientation program was therefore required. The process of rebranding was sparked by the need for reorientation, which involved creating an identity for Osun that the people could identify with, be proud of, and that would inspire them.
He added that he came with the State of Osun official crest, a slight modification of the crest of the old Western Region, a glorious era under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, which feat his government intended to repeat.
“Osun was in an ethical mess. We badly needed rebranding to re-develop the human consciousness of our people, so that they could appreciate the infrastructure transformation to come. We needed to re-orient them, so that they would ‘own’ the roads and other public infrastructure to come, and take full charge of them, so that they don’t decay. It was an ethical revolution, after so many years of serious doubt that government was still there. I am happy to inform you that we are getting results.”
In addition to giving the state government a facelift through rebranding, Ogbeni Aregbesola reorganized its ministries, departments, and agencies. However, less than two years after succeeding him as governor, former governor Gboyega Oyetola asserted that he had held extensive consultations with associations, communities, citizens, and professionals in the state and discovered that some of his predecessor’s restructuring initiatives weren’t beneficial for the growth of the state. As a result, the state must go back to the previous classification, particularly in the area of education. His position was made known to principals and heads of public elementary schools in 2020, asking them to revert to the names that were in use prior to the 2013 reclassification.
The new governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, issued an executive order to restore all previous elements associated with state identity during the administrations of Chief Bisi Akande and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, despite the former governor Gboyega Oyetola not restoring “Living Spring,” the state’s previous appellation, and canceling the new coat of arms. With the actions of the two governors, our analyst observes that the state’s post-Aregbesola sensibility has developed, highlighting the need to make up for his administration’s mistakes in the areas of identity and physical restructuring.
The new governor must, however, respond to a number of queries at a time when he is facing serious financial difficulties. Recently, he disclosed that his predecessors left over N400 billion in debt. Given these and other difficulties, it is appropriate to inform the public of the funding sources for the upcoming “revert rebranding” effort.
If we rely on public perceptions of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s rebranding, as our 2013 study revealed, the new governor’s move appears unnecessary. In the study, which was conducted in three senatorial districts of the state, 73% of 243 residents preferred the change of Osun state’s appellation from ‘living spring’ to ‘state of virtue,’ which represents the good character typically displayed by citizens and residents in their daily activities (a position shared by more than 82% of 241 sampled residents). Over 75% of the 241 residents also stated that the change in the state’s name positions the state as a new political entity within Nigeria’s federation.
The Olokun head, cowries, coca tree, log, and elephant on the new coat of arms represent the state’s culture and heritage (78.50% of 241). The use of the Head of Olokun, cowries, cocoa tree, log, and elephant as objects for the new coat of arms establishes the state as a distinct political entity within the South-west (67.60% of 240). The new name, anthem, flag, and coat of arms present the state as a product in a political environment (78.70% of 230). Prospective investors (77% of 235) are made aware of the state’s socio-cultural resources by the new name, anthem, flag, and coat of arms.
In addition, we asked residents how the rebranding led to benefits from projects initiated between 2010 and 2013. We discovered that 53.50% of people see rebranding as a factor in initiating and carrying out projects that benefit people in the state. Then, our analyst concluded that the outcome was above average and that Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration should focus more on inclusive and beneficial projects for the people. This also applies to the new governor. To avoid unnecessary waste of human and scarce capital resources, statewide research into retaining the existing state identity and physical restructuring would be beneficial.