Ripples as Adeleke sacks 10,000 O-Yes cadets

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By Deborah Oladejo, Osogbo

The disengagement of about 10,000 youths employed under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O-YES), by the Governor Ademola Adeleke-led administration in generating ripples in Osun State.

The O-YES scheme, initiated by the former governor of the state, Rauf Aregbesola in February 2011, received loads of commendations within and outside the state as the scheme absorbed about 20,000 youths thereby containing youth restiveness and crimes.

Since its inception, over 60,000 persons have in one way or the other utilised the platform for skill acquisition, career and personal development, as well as an avenue to get absorbed into full time government employment among others.

It was one of the legacies of the Aregbesola’s administration which was copied by the Federal Government and some other states.

When he came to power in 2019, the immediate past governor of the state, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, emphasised the need to sustain the scheme despite paucity of funds because, according to him, it has helped in drastically reducing restiveness, poverty and the possibility of vices among youths in the state.

He noted that an unengaged youth is a tool for devil’s vices and increased the stipend of the cadets from N10,000 monthly to N12,500 while the O-YES teachers’ corps allowance was increased to N15,000 from N10,000.

Last week, the Peoples Democratic Party-led government of Governor Adeleke sacked the entire O-YES scheme, thereby throwing the 10,000 members into the labour market.

Many people in the state have read political meanings into the government action, despite the claim to the contrary that it was meant to reposition the scheme.

The first indication of possible politicization was the governor’s action in renaming the scheme from O-YES to

‘Imole Youth Corps’. The new name has been described as the campaign slogan of the new governor. As such, there are insinuations in the state that the scheme is being heavily politicized.

The new Imole Youth Corps, according to sources, is being primed to be dominated by sympathisers of the PDP.

Speaking with Westernpost, the spokesperson to Governor Adeleke, Mallam Olawale Rasheed was silent on whether the move was political.

He hinted, however, that all Osun indigenes, including former O-YES members are eligible to apply for the new programme.

He explained that Imole Youth Corps has been packaged with new contents.

Rasheed said: “All Osun indigenes are eligible to apply, including former O-YES members. The new programme is expectedly different from the O-YES because of the new content. 

“The government is introducing Imole Youth Corps with elevated volunteering jobs beyond grass cutting and road sweeping. We are targeting a 21st century youth empowerment programme which will enable volunteers to gain applicable job experience to transit to a more permanent jobs. We are looking at new opportunities in the tech world, climate change and others.”

One of the disengaged O-YES cadet who spoke with our correspondent, but did not want her name mentioned, said she had suspected that the new government would sack them.

She said she was always telling her colleagues not to put their mind on the job any more with the change in government as they could be sacked at any time.

She, however, begged the governor to pay the three months’ salary owed the cadets, adding that she worked with the scheme for two years before the sack.

The former cadet, who said she does not belong to any political party, noted that she has gone to her local government to re-apply for the new scheme, hoping that luck will favour her.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state described the governor as being wicked, insensitive and vindictive.

The party cautioned Adeleke not attempt to convert O-YES to family enterprise.

Acting Chairman of the party in the state, Sooko Tajudeen Lawal, in a statement by the Director of Media and Information, Chief Kola Olabisi, in Osogbo, said the change of the scheme to Adeleke’s campaign slogan was vindictive, primitive, unpopular and self-serving.

“The sack of the 9,847 O-YES cadets and personification of the scheme by Adeleke is an indication that the sacked governor is wicked, vindictive, inconsiderate and non-sympathetic towards the feelings of fellow human beings,” he said.

He noted that the affected cadets are still being owed three months’ salaries (December 2022 to February 2023) by the Adeleke administration.

Lawal alleged that the intention of Adeleke was to turn the Imole Youths Corps into an arm of his political support group and family enterprise where names of the PDP’s hangers-on and members of staff of his family’s companies would find their way into the salary payment vouchers of the state.

The APC chairman warned Adeleke to be circumspect in spending money belonging to the state as he would cough out whatever he might have spent without due process on the day of reckoning.

He added: “Why must a political leader worth his salt dissipate his energy on converting into a family affair a scheme as important as O-YES?  Why changing the name of the scheme which has benefitted several thousands of the youths of the state since its inception?

“Must Adeleke and his co-travellers play politics with the lives and welfare of the people of the state?  

“The noblest thing for Adeleke is to rescind the decision of his government to sack the innocent 9,847 O-YES cadets and the unjustifiable renaming of the scheme as it doesn’t belong to the Adeleke family but the entire people of the state.

“Adeleke, again, should put machinery in place for the payment of the accumulated three months’ salaries of the victimised cadets.”

Oyetola, the immediate past governor of the state, has, however, assured the disengaged O-YES cadet that they would all be reinstated immediately after reclaiming his mandate.

Oyetola, who described the action of Govenor Adeleke as uncalled for, said sending those youths who have been surviving on the monthly payment to feed themselves back on the streets is an indication that the present administration is insensitive to the plight of the people of the state.

Oyetola, who reacted through the immediate past Special Adviser on Youth and Sports in the state, Mr. Lateef Adegboyega Adelabu Aremo, assured the disengaged youths of a new era of joy, encouraging the affected youths to keep their head up.

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