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Ondo 2020: Why Governor Rotimi Akeredolu should be re-elected

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As the campaign and other electioneering activities in the October 10 gubernatoroal election in Ondo State come to a close, I find it compelling and apt to write this final note to the good people of the Sunshine State on why the the incumbent Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, deserves to be re-elected.

One, I am making this passionate appeal as a committed party man who is completely loyal to the All Progressives Congress(APC) and as the Director-General of the Akeredolu Campaign Organisation.

By the grace of God, I was also the DG of the same campaign organization in 2016. I delivered and in 2020, four years after, now that our candidate has done excellently well, going by sundry assessments and commendations from both partisan and non-partisan quarters, I have no slimmest atom of doubt that he will win again. However, his winning depends on the people, who have been the epicentre of his interventionist programs for close to four years.

Two, my appeal is also born out of the fact that I consider myself a real stakeholder in the real ‘Ondo Agenda’, an agenda that encompasses a panoramic organic development of every nook and cranny of the state, without fear or favour, regardless of the tribe, tongue, political or tribal affiliations.

As I have told our people in the course of criss-crossing the entire length and breadth of the state, soliciting votes for our candidate ahead of the October 10 election, the need to consolidate on the superlative achievements of Akeredolu in his first term in office becomes more pertinent when weighed against the fact that if the people had allowed the late Dr Olusegun Agagu to consolidate on what he achieved in office between 2003 and 2007, Ondo State would probably be competing with Lagos State using all metrics of development one may adopt by now.

While every administration has its own challenges and peculiarities as no two administrations can be exhaustively compared and contrasted, the truth remains that when cognizance is taken of genuine infrastructural development of the state and innovative industrialization, the current APC-led governemnt ranks in comparison with that of Michael Adekunle Ajasin and Agagu, both of blessed memory. This, however, is without prejudice to other former governors who made their own contributions as well, given their own material and human limitations.

Why should Akeredolu be re-elected? The answers are not far-fetched and it is no Rocket Science or Nuclear Physics to know, for seeing is believing, as they often say.

Let’s start with infrastructure. Have you been to Ore, the commercial nerve centre of the state in recent times? Did you see the Ore Flyover Bridge constructed by the Akeredolu administration? Now, that is a wonderland. Ore is the link to Lagos, the link between the south south the South East and the North. Anybody going will have to pass through Ore. Every December the road was also in traffic gridlock as people spent days there. Successive governments promised that they’d do an overhead bridge which they never did. Akeredolu didn’t even promise them a bridge, yet he saw to the construction of a bridge. That’s about the only bridge in Nigeria that has an intersection, with a roundabout. No more traffic jam. Thanks to Mr Akeredolu.

Several quality roads, too numerous to mention, have been constructed both in the city centres and the hinterlands of the state. In fact, this is so pronounced that the Governor is now called Mr Road by the masses of the state. In Ilaje and Ese Odo local government areas , the oil producing zone in the state, there is massive road project going on in addition to renovation and construction of new schools. The last time the areas had a touch of development was when Agagu was governor. The immediate past administration, for 8 years, did not do any road in the zone.The NDDC is partnering with the state governments to do many roads in the region. It is the same way with other parts of the state. It’s the Road Revolution.

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On industrialization, Pa Ajasin, as governor between 1979 and 1980, established a lot of industries in the state. You had the Oluwaglass, the Owena bank and the Owena motel, Ifon Ceramics and many others. Successive governments which was military administration got these companies and ran them down. Agagu came, tried to revive some of these companies; when he left, the next administration in Ondo State failed to continue with the revitalization process. The last of these legacies, which was the Owena motel, was killed by the administration of Segun Mimiko. The facts are there.

What has Akeredolu done to industrialize the state in order to improve the socio-ecpnomic well-being of the people? Ondo Linyl industrial at Ore where we have five functioning companies; there is is the Chocolate Factory in Idanre. The people of Idanre produce a lot of cocoa, now they have a chocolate factory. And the product there is one of the best in the world. The chocolate that they are producing is 90% for export. You know what it means for the economy of the state in terms of foreign exchange earnings.

Ondo State is the second largest producer of Bitumen in the world. Previous governments failed to harness this gift. They only made promises. Akeredolu never promised that he will address the Bitumen issue in 2016, yet he has covered a lot of technical cum business grounds to begin the process for the commercial exploration of the mineral. Industrialization remains one of the top five cardinal programs of the administration of Akeredolu. How do you industrialize ? If you have raw materials,you must be able to develop these raw materials and this is what is happening to Bitumen. For the first time, companies got the license to process Bitumen. I can assure you that in the next 10 years, the federal government will ban the importation of Bitumen in Nigeria because Ondo State will produce enough to go round.

Governor Akeredolu is not stopping on Bitumen exploration alone. The Southern senatorial district of the state is the gateway to industrialize Ondo State because of the presence of the biggest oastline in West Africa and also the deepest in west Africa. Apapa is not a deep sea port, Tinker island is not a deep sea Port, Warri is not a deep sea Port. The only deep sea water in Nigeria is situated in Ondo State. The late Dr Agagu tried to develop this; this is why we have the establishment of the Olokola Free Trade Zone.

With the plan of Akeredolu, upon the completion of this port, Ondo State will rival Lagos State in the next 10 years and in 15 to 20 years to come, the state may become the largest economy in Nigeria. How? This is because most ships that sail the high sea but cannot come to the sea shore because of the shallow waters will now have the depth to come. Remember most ships stop in Togo, but once this is done, they will not have to go to Togo again and you know the revolution that this will bring to the economic of the state and Nigeria.

Port Ondo will be declared by God’s grace this year by the federal government of Nigeria. It will be done by private firms and it will be a free trade zone. It is high time we left this straight jacketed economy which is practically a civil service economy. This will not bring the much needed robust economic development the state urgently yearns for. If civil servants do not get money nobody gets money in the state; but with this industrialization things will change for better. This, precisely, is the thematic focus of the APC-led administration under the leadership of our indefatigable Governor, Akeredolu, SAN. Whenever the Port Ondo comes on stream, a lot of allied industries will naturally spring up in the state because access to the sea is one of the economic determinants of location of industries. It’s one of the reasons the Lagos economy is the most vibrant and robust among the 36 states of the federation.

What about the Egg Powder Factory that is being established in Emure Owo. I can assure you that in the next two years, when the company is fully functional, everyone that has a poultry in Ondo State will make a lot of money. Even people from adjoining states of Edo, Kogi, Ekiti, Osun Oyo will mine economic benefits from the factory which, thus, will help in boosting the regional economy of the zone. There is this strong conviction that when the industrialization drive of Akeredolu is completed, it will make way for job mobility. This is what we tell civil servants in the State. Some of them are engineers, ICT experts, surveyors etc but by the time a lot of industries come to Ondo State, there will be numerous options for people in the civil to pursue their careers.
With all these, a lot of the graduates will have jobs as the unemployment rate in the country will be drastically reduced.

Did you know that N600m was the Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) per month when the Akeredolu administration came on board. By December 2019, shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19, the state was taking in above 2 billion naira every month because of the financial revolutionary capacity of the Governor and his economic team. This is why it is easy for him to pay salary despite the shortfall in revenue accruing to the state from the Federation Account. In recent times, even the allocation from the FG has further dropped drastically making it hard for most states in the Southwest to pay workers salaries in their respective states. However, the story is different in Ondo State. Akeredolu is a man who’s passionate about Ondo State. He came systematically without making noise and when people ask him how he is able to fund these numerous projects in the State, he says that it’s the grace of God.

Without a doubt, one reason the Governor has been able to achieve the successes recorded so far as because of transparency and accountability which are the hallmarks of the administration. Ondo State is about the only state in Nigeria where contractors must work before they are paid. That way, there’s no chance for them to run away with the state’s money. Nothing like paying mobilization fee before you start work anymore, you have to do 30% of the project before the state government starts paying you.

With all these that Akeredolu has done within the space of 3 and a half years, I say with all sense of modesty that he richly deserves to be given another 4 years to consolidate on these achievements and sustain these money-spinning ventures because, once this is done, the people of Ondo State will not have a straight-jacketed economy any longer. Akeredolu simply means business; he wants to give the state a radical transformation. And, he, therefore, deserves to be re-elected for a second term by all patriots and committed sons and daughters of Ondo State come this Saturday.

Olabimtan, a former Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, is the Director-General of the Akeredolu/Aiyedatiwa Governorship Campaign Organisation.

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