“We listened to the voices of our people in the course of our campaigns to all the nooks and crannies of the State. We heard them loud and clear though their votes. We witnessed, first hand, the deplorable conditions under which they exist. To those who cast their ballots in favour of our programmes, your trust is not misplaced.
“We are determined to make the difference with the specific mandate of redemption liberally handed over to us. Those who expressed other preferences are no less patriotic. Before long, their anxieties will be addressed drastically. All of us will be involved in the reconstruction project”.
Above are pungent excerpts from the inaugural speech which represented the mindset of the then incoming administration (in February, 2017) led by no less an individual than Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN.
The 2016 electoral victory of Governor Akeredolu had come with it, basic expectations amid undoubted apprehensions. These ranged from the inexorable desire for personal accomplishments on the part of the political class and indeed, the permissible yearnings of the people for good governance. These two divides, though necessary bends for success, jointly present enduring challenges for systems. They are unpretentious traps, nonetheless.
Clearly, unpreparedness may not have been part of Governor Akeredolu. He had tested the waters, albeit without success, in 2012. The experience of that adventure was a desirable tool needed for the big come back.
He had set his eyes on the main objective of service delivery even before the contest in 2016. It was the case of a prepared mind; an unwavering comportment for targets, not just achievable ones but those strange targets that are historically, symbolic too.
To those who were part of the pre-election campaigns, Arakunrin’s determination to leave the State better than he met it was palpable. It was therefore, no surprise that shortly after his declaration as Governor-elect, the former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) did what was novel. He set up the STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT & POLICY IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE(SDPIC)
With eminent and knowledgeable Nigerians as members, the SDPIC developed a Blueprint which encapsulates the 5-Point Agenda into a document to serve as beacon, for the then infant administration.
These Five Points christened JMPPR, are as follows: Job Creation through Agriculture, Entrepreneurship and Industrialization; Massive Infrastructural Development and Maintenance; Provision of Functional Education and Technological Growth; Provision of Accessible and Qualitative Health Care and Social Service Delivery as well as Rural Development and Community Extension Services.
To deviate from these pointed issues is to abandon Governor Akeredolu’s covenant with the people of Ondo State. At best, fresh ideas and innovations were considerably, desirable to deliver on the promises made to the people of Ondo State.
The first sighted challenge was the huge gap in the State’s Internally Generated Revenue. What became compelling was the need to find credible means of spiking our revenue base. This was not just expedient. It was a necessary pressure that required bold thoughts outside the ordinary in the face of dwindling funds from the Federation Accounts.
Today, from an appalling inherited less than N800 million monthly chart, Ondo State has recorded a sustained growth in its IGR since 2017. As at January, 2020, the total IGR of the State was not less than N2 billion. The opportunities for increase in this regard are clear.
From the Linyi Industrial Hub, Ore are success stories of uncommon ilk. With an investment inflow of over N20 billion, massive employment opportunities of both direct and indirect jobs abound through the instrumentality of five main foreign companies.
Perhaps, the catchment strength of Governor Akeredolu is in the area of infrastructural development. It is just apt. Creative imaginations have a way of brooding results. Aketi had made promises. He was boisterous on assumption of office. But he met challenges beyond his control even as excuses were glaringly unpardonable.
To wriggle out of this, the governor staked his personal integrity by encouraging competent contractors to mobilize themselves to road sites without any financial commitment from Government. This not only encouraged cordiality and promptness in the handling of construction works within the state but it engendered quality as measures were put in place for proper supervision and quality assurance before payment at each point
Education, Health as well as the Water sectors have all blossomed within these three years. The Public Service, hitherto despondent, and needlessly politicized, has become a signpost of excellence due to the commitment of the governor for service delivery. It is a success story to savour that six of the seven months inherited salaries and allowances of the Public Servants have been cleared. Promotions and appointments into the Permanent Secretary position has followed laid down rules and norms. Courage was brought to bear.
These capture, in unambiguous terms, the success story that has characterised the administration of Governor Akeredolu in the last three years. As a leader, he has not lost connecting touch with the aspirations of the governed. Good governance and that alone.
It was, therefore, a moment to savour when Governor Akeredolu decided to roll out the drums to show case the modest spikes his administration has recorded in some critical sectors. To underscore the seriousness attached, the governor had set up a high powered Third Anniversary Celebrations Committee to midwife a hitch free chain of of programmes.
Perhaps, not wanting to take chances, not much structural changes were effected in the membership of the Committee. Aptly, Finance Commissioner, Wale Akinterinwa who chaired the First Anniversary Committee, was saddled with the responsibility to deliver on the third; the last before the 2020 governorship election. Similarly, all those who served in the 2018 committee were retained. The few changes were understandably, officially routine.
Although there are several projects on ground which the governor could have personally commissioned, he had sought the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari as special guest, to witness the little he had done in the State within three years.
Expectations were rife. Doubts were expressed and anxieties palpable. There were mixed feelings of hope and disbelief. To players in the administration, the visit of the president was a major statement. His presence was the principal witness to repudiate the lies of non-performance against Aketi.
All the same, the paradox was seemingly discernable. Those whose minds have been made up against Governor Akeredolu did not believe President Buhari would come. It was made pointedly real and inexorably expressed. He came, notwithstanding.
Mr. President’s perception has become an established conclusion; a veritable signpost of performance was effectively erected with the historic February 25 presidential visit. He has commissioned the Ore flyover as well as the Ondo Linyil Industrial Hub located in same locality as the flyover.
The presidential commendations were alluring and laced with a weighty encouragement to do more. In effect, President Buhari, not known for frivolities, saw what has been brought to bear in Odigbo local government area of the State. He had equally spoken his mind. “Your achievements are remarkable”, he exuded accomplishmeent.
Even though the two legacy projects at Ore were the reason for the presidential visit and indeed, major flashes of the 3rd anniversary, Governor Akeredolu’s achievements, especially in the infrastructure sector are more in the Central and Northern senatorial districts.
As at today, about 93.5km of roads have been constructed with over 100 km ongoing altogether across the State. The internal road networks of Idanre as well as the road linking Ijoka and Idanre are adorable testimonies. Akure, the state capital is now the enviable pointer to road construction incursion. Emure, Owo, Ipele and major Akoko towns have become construction sites to behold. No controversies about non-performance.
The most significant of all roads is undoubtedly, the Oke alabojuto road in Ikare, headquartees of Akoko Northeast local Government area of Ondo State. A hitherto unbearable death trap, the hilly path has been brought down and converted to a two lane road. The last one week, replete with commissioning, inspection or flag off of roads has been quite memorable just as it marked a turning point. Bars have been raised and consciously so.
Presumably, it is not unexpected that these achievements recorded by the governor shall be the anchors of the 2020 governorship and indeed future campaigns for the APC. This is in the face of the juveline postulation of the opposition that the projects, particularly the Ore flyover, must not be used as a campaign point.
The source of that insidious inspiration is yet to be unravelled by any right thinking mind. The projects are the pivot around which our campaigns shall resolve. Potent as they are too, the achievements have created a path to self rediscovery. An unassailable trajectory has commenced and a fresh narrative, a culture of performance has berthed in Ondo.
But as the events of the last 12 days culminated in the Praise Night on Friday and capped with a Special Thanksgiving Service yesterday, Governor Akeredolu’s unshaken trust in God has reverberated at all times. “All these achievements we celebrate are all mysteries to me. I wonder how we conceived and delivered them when I have an introspective reflection of where we are coming from. They are not by our powers and wisdom but all are made possible by God”, the governor said at the service.
As an administration, it will be an immodest, if not uncharitable expression to feign ignorance of the past. Truly, successive systems in the affairs of men cannot escape peculiar actions and inactions largely dictated by exigencies amidst multi-dimensional attention-seeking issues.
Expectedly, such situations are not without effects; they clearly, seek to expose yawning gaps and unwittingly, hunt for moments of desirable decisions from an incumbent. The Governor Akeredolu-led government has however, made it a deliberate policy to be forward-looking and never to rue the past. Ours, unknown, are also steering at us by the corner. The people are the ultimate judge tomorrow.
Therefore, the guiding principle in this regard, remains the fact that seeking perfection in any system run by men is a thrive at idealism. Therefore, the current administration rather, sees boundless opportunities around every situation to exploit for the benefit of the good people of Ondo State. That appears to have been achieved to a very large extent. It is the ladder of broken grounds for higher heights.
Donald Ojogo, Hon Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Ondo State, wrote from Akure.