A huge crowd of residents of Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on Tuesday gathered to condemn what they described as unfair stigmatisation of the Governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, over issues of unpaid salaries.
At different rallies held in different parts of Osogbo, the residents, who trooped out under different groups, demanded explanation for what they called desperate moves by the opposition to capitalize on the nationwide problems of salary challenge to create mayhem in the state.
Among those who trooped out were women, artisans, traders and civil rights organizations such as the Ola Oni Centre for Good Governance, Osun State Civil Society Coalition, Committee for Democracy and Human Rights, Centre for Voters Awareness, Coalition Groups for Good Governance, Sharing Heart International, Climate and Environmental Awareness Initiative.
The groups insisted they must let those championing the campaigns of calumny against Aregbesola realize they are on a failed mission.
From Aiyetoro area of the state capital to Old Garage Area, Olaiya and Okefia Roundabout, the pro-Aregbesola campaigners carried different placards with different inscriptions such as: Don’t stigmatise Aregbesola over unpaid salaries; Osun is not the only state owing workers; Omisore, PDP funding violence against Aregbesola’s government; and Salary issue is a national challenge.
One of those who led the rally at Olaiya and a civil right advocate, Comrade Amitolu Shitu, while addressing the crowd, said the people of Osun State must be wary of selfish politicians using the salary issue to create tension and make Aregbesola appear like an enemy of the people.
Shitu said: “To the best of our knowledge, the Nigeria Labour Congress has identified at least 23 states of the federation where salaries are not paid up to date.
“In fact, if you look at the local government workers, Osun is one of the states owing the least number of months with the payment local government workers up till February and we are aware that even that of March is ready.
“There are states with up to eight months of unpaid salaries in councils.
“The same thing goes for state civil servants.
“Why then is this crazy stigmatization of Osun and its governor?
“We are here to say enough is enough.”
A group, the Civil Societies Coalition for Emancipation of Osun State, had threatened to shut down the state capital as they insisted that Governor Aregbesola must be impeached over the salary issue.
The Governor during the day moved from the Government House Oke Fia to his office at Abere, along the Osogbo-Gbongan Road, amidst cheers and hailing by residents.
At the Okefia Roundabout, Olaiya Junction and the entire stretch of Osogbo-Gbongan Road, residents waved at Aregbesola as his convoy moved towards his office.
A resident who took part in the rally in favour of Aregbesola, Comrade Adewale Adebisi, said it is beyond explanation how the anti-Aregbesola groups have carried their campaigns against the governor over the salary issue to a ridiculous extreme.