SPECIAL REPORT: How Osun Government Can Approach COVID-19 Adversity in the Midst of Hidden Opportunities

SPECIAL REPORT: How Osun Government Can Approach COVID-19 Adversity in the Midst of Hidden Opportunities

Most African governments depend on budget estimates to finance projects. The bulk of this revenue is coming from mono source. For instance, the federal government and state governments rely on crude oil revenue for the provision of social amenities. In 2018, State Government of Osun presented a budget of N173.9 billion. In 2019 and 2020, N152 billion  and N119.5 billion were presented respectively. As of 2018 when the global price of crude oil per barrel was projected at $59.34, the state’s revenue performance ratio was 56.19% while its expenditure stood at 51.42 by the fourth quarter of the year. In 2019, when the global oil price dwindled from $61.05 per barrel in August to $59.10/barrel in October, the state’s budget performance in terms of revenue generation and expenditure were 58.97% and 57.84% respectively.

Now that Coronavirus has shut the global economy, oil price has equally been greatly affected. As of 28 April, 2020, oil price stood at $19.95/barrel. This portends a great economic woe to Nigeria and many states of which Osun is one of. Most of these states depend heavily on the Federal Government monthly allocation to run their states. This is the time State of Osun really needs to tighten up as her Q1 2020 budget performance has automatically been rendered passive. Logically, the state will not record good budget performance in the first three quarters of 2020, considering the porous state of economy of the state in the pandemic lockdown alongside the drastic drop in global oil price. In fact, the oil drop has reflected in the monthly allocations coming to the state from the Federal Government. In December, 2019, Osun received the total allocation of N3.5billion out of the N650.8billion shared among the three tiers of government in Nigeria for the month. Although it increased to N4.1 billion in January when the shared allocation increased to N716.3 billion, the decline returned in February to #3.8 billion when the federal allocation reduced to N647.3 billion.

As the reality of economic recession/downturn becomes clearer to us by the day, and considering the fragile economy of Osun State, this is the time the government needs to device creative and indigenous economic recovery plans to quickly implement after Coronavirus might have bid us farewell. Absolutely, there are hidden economic opportunities throughout the nooks and crannies of the state. All the government needs do is to evaluate this proposal that captures hidden opportunities in Covid-19 adversity in Osun, strategies for implementation as well as feasible sustainable results.

Like other states, Osun state has three senatorial districts; Osun West, Osun East and Osun Central. These districts equally have a number of federal and state constituencies making governance possible from the state to the grassroots. Its people are in millions, according to a number of sources, especially the National Population Census. Osogbo, Iwo, Ile-Ife, Ile, Ikirun and Ede are some of the cities with the highest number of people most importantly the citizens. For Osun Central, the four local governments in Ile-Ife have the highest population of 643,582 people (2006 NPC) and 886,300 (2016 projection).

A study shows that citizens of Ede reside mostly within their district, Osun West.  Osun West District comprises, Ayedaade, Ayedire, Ede-North, Ede South, Egbedore, Ejigbo, Irewole, Isokan, Iwo and Ola-Oluwa local governments.  Citizens in the state are bound to migrate to other places within the state, the country and outside. According to the International Organisation for Migration (2016) “people born in Ogun, Kwara, Osun and Imo are the most migratory, with more than 20 per cent living in other states. Only the states of Gombe, Katsina and Osun had more female return migrants than males. As heads of families, men are more likely to return to their places of origin in view of the cultural roles they perform in their homestead” than females.

Looking outward, a number of Osun indigenes are residing in other countries such as Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin Republic, Ghana and other countries in Africa, including those living in other continents of the world. Migration within the country has largely been driven by farming activities which were common features of the economy in the state (Ogunleye, Adeyemo, Bamire and Binuomote, 2013). Information has it that citizens migrate to other states and countries due to poor economic situations, most importantly lack of jobs.  Despite perceiving other places as better than the state, majority of the migrants do see reason for returning to the state and make significant contributions to its development.

However, the emergence of coronavirus outbreak has changed most intent of coming homes after several years of residing because the virus has impacted the socio-economy of their host countries or homes than expected. This has been one of the reasons for the sudden movement of the citizens to the state recently, which resulted into additional cases of the virus. Though, the movement brought negative consequence, we can also say there are opportunities in the areas of the present skill gaps, future of works and business creation in the state.

A recent estimate indicates that Osun state has over 2 million youths (59.3% of the population). Analysis further shows that each local council has 65,394 youths. Majority of these youths reside in urban and semi-urban areas in the main cities stated earlier, with little or without the skills the present and future works require. As pointed out earlier, coronavirus pandemic is a blessing for the state, considering the fact that some citizens returned home for better healthcare and possible stay.

This is pointing to the fact that the state government and private individuals need to prepare and execute socioeconomic initiatives capable of retaining them for the good of the youths and their respective towns and cities.  This is imperative because the state needs to increase the number of youths being trained through government’s agencies, local non-governmental organisations and individuals. People who have been forced to return home are most likely not to return as soon as possible because of the possible continuous impacts of the virus in their respective host states or countries.

Exhibit 1: Number of Youths Trained

Source: Newspapers, 2018-2019; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Like their counterparts in the diaspora, Osun citizens have contributed, and are still making efforts towards economic development of their host states and countries through small, medium and large-scale businesses in sectors such as agriculture, services and manufacturing (Adesote, 2019). Between 1930s and 1960, information has it that Oyo-Osun migrant farmers played significant roles in the development of cocoa plantation in Ondo Division (Adesote, 2019). We have equally learnt that Osun citizens in countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom are contributing to the development of various sectors (Sanni and Makinde, 2016; Abejide, 2016; Osun Indigenes Organisation, 2018).

Since some of them have returned, the state government needs to tap their resources -knowledge and relational for more business creation in the state. Osun indigenes associations in diaspora should be identified by the relevant government’s ministry or agency and develop appropriate Diaspora Return Economic Contribution Plan (DREC), which must include creation of businesses and transferring of business skills and knowledge on the youths and adults in need of improved socioeconomic status.

Possible Sustainable Outcomes

The knowledge contribution from the citizens in the diaspora and business establishment using their skills and experiences are expected to help the state rejig the economy. Also, after the government might have identified factors pushing Osun youths out of the state and set aside practicable policies that address those push-factors, the skilled Osun youths outside the state will definitely see the reasons for coming home or investing heavily in their state. In the long-run, the effectiveness of the approaches suggested would help the state in having improved internal revenue and economic growth beyond her sole reliance on federal allocations for running the government.

Additional reports by Umar Olansile

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