Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has promised to perform more than his first term. He also assured stakeholders that there will be no abandoned project under his administration. Editor IFEANYI AGUMBA reports.

For the second and final time, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has been sworn-in. Joy was bold on his face. He promised to perform more than his first term.

He urged the people to support his administration to serve them better and leave a lasting legacy.

The governor promised effective project implementation,  assuring that there will be no abandoned project in any district under his administration. He highlighted his plans for the second term during his inauguration.

He was sworn in for another term  last week, following his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the October 10, 2020 election.

Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) garnered 292,830 votes to defeat Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second with 195,791 votes. Agboola Ajayi, who had had an endless political brawl with Akeredolu and finally ended up in the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) came a distance third with 69,217 votes.

There was jubilation across the 18 local government areas. APC faithful relished the victorious moment. They were also full of expectations.

Akeredolu’s journey to February 24 was not without hiccups. He survived traps and political land mines.

First, the governor, who was suspended by the national leadership of the APC got reprieve when he was given a clean bill of health by the Mai Mala Buni – led National Working Committee.

Opposition elements within the APC had been buoyed by the suspension of Akeredolu to heighten their onslaught, especially within the Unity Forum led by former Deputy Governor Ali Olanusi. It was also reported that the embattled deputy governor, Ajayi, found solace in the alleged suspension to lubricate his ambition to supplant Akeredolu.

However, there is no permanent enemy, or friend in politics. The once vociferous and dreaded Unity Forum rallied round Akeredolu a few days after the primary, following an unusual diplomatic shuttle by the governor.  Akeredolu even enlisted the support of APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to rein all supposedly aggrieved party leaders to back Akeredolu ahead of the election.

Chieftains, including Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), Ambassador Sola Iji, Ife Oyedele and others, took the Aketi battle as their personal project and rid the South of anti-Akeredolu remnants.

Another fearful scenario Akeredolu survived was his ill-health in 2019 when he was away for almost three months. His return to base after about three weeks of rest in Abuja, rather than easing tension, exasperated it as the state was sharply divided into the Aketi/Ajayi camps.

The fear of Ajayi, touted as a grassroots politician dumping the APC was most palpable. But, it finally happened after denials, when the then deputy governor dumped Akeredolu and APC for the PDP.

Some people anticipated a repeat of the Ajasin/Omoboriowo scenario as the contest between Akeredolu and Ajayi brewed. The then deputy governor lost the governorship primary to Jegede.

Although the development was seen as a reprieve for the APC, the decision of Ajayi to align with the former governor, Olusegun Mimiko-led ZLP, opened a fresh chapter of tension and apprehensions Ajayi’s touted force in the southern senatorial district had remained untainted even as Mimiko’s legendary political maneuverings were frightening.

If the northern senatorial district was taken for granted as Aketi’s enclave, not only did Akeredolu win the entire southern district initially given to Ajayi. The governor defeated his erstwhile deputy in his local government, Ese-Odo, where Niger-Delta activist and businessman, Chief Bibopre Ajube, coordinated activities and held sway for Akeredolu alongside other APC leaders.

Mimiko was also embarrassed in his traditional areas of strength with the incursion of House of Representatives member, Abiola Makinde. The former two term governor lost Ondo West, East and Idanre local governments areas. Thus, Akeredolu became the first elected governor to win 15 local government areas out of 18 with over 50 percent.

Preparations toward the inauguration for the second term had commenced in November last year when Governor Akeredolu constituted a 26 member committee to midwife a seamless programme. The committee, headed by the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, had planned week long programme.

But, prior to the commencement of the events Akeredolu summoned an extraordinary meeting of the now dissolved State Executive Council. At the meeting which held on Thursday, the 18th of February, valedictory speeches were made, with cabinet members eulogizing the virtues of the governor and reliving the good moments they had together.

The exiting cabinet members took turns to pour encomiums on Akeredolu, commended the notable feats achieved in his first tenure and offered their views about his personality.

To all of them, Akeredolu is a leader who has uncommon passion for the development of the state. According to them, the governor ran the affairs of the state in the last four years with a  sense of responsibility and patriotism.

A view shared by all of them is that Akeredolu is a courageous, audacious, blunt, truthful, sincere and compassionate leader.

Responding to the accolades showered on him,  Akeredolu said it was a collective effort.

“We made a mark. Don’t say I made a mark. We made a mark. That’s why when they write news for me, I change it and put we. It is all of us. There is nothing we have achieved here without you. Nothing! Take it or leave it. So, You must take credit for it. Whatever is our achievement, the credit goes to all of you and all of us. Not one person. Everybody here has contributed his own quota in no small measure. Everybody and I mean it.

There was a public lecture by the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who lamented that the Nigerian system is not federalism, but “fatherism”.

Adesina said that Nigeria’s system is essentially a revenue-sharing system.

He spoke on the theme: “Towards a new Nigeria, From Federal Fatherism to a Commonwealth.”

According to him, states are “poor in the midst of plenty. They do not maximally explore or leverage what they already have in abundance.

“The federal system of monthly grants has paralyzed them.

“With stupendous resources, all concentrate at the centre, States are ever dependent on the centre. With the magnetic field of federal revenue allocations, states are constantly pulled, powerless into perennial dependency.

“This financial pilgrimage creates a sense of helplessness and overt dependency on the centre.

“Governors now spend more time in Abuja than they do in their own states, seeking the monthly ‘federal manna’.

“Like a pendulum, ever moving from side to side in constant motion, so too has this unfortunate dependency become seemingly unstoppable.

The inauguration ceremony held at the International Center For Culture and Event Centre (The DOME), was attended by dignitaries, including the National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Senator Iyiola Omisore.

Governors in attendance were Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola, Ogun State Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun and the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Akeredolu assured that his administration will not depart from the path which has earned him affection and deep reverence from the citizenry.

While noting that he came on board with the resolve confront all challenges without leaving any behind, he said although his administration is yet to reach the set goals, he was confident that he was on the right path.

The governor assured that he will continue, with more vigour, to justify the trust earned by his administration, adding that his second term is not for relaxation.

He stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a deleterious effect on the global economy, predicting that may get worse as loss of jobs has been on a frightening scale.

“Production of goods and services has plummeted. Our national economy is in recession. Ingenuity, resourcefulness, courage and hard work will be the needed virtues for survival in the days ahead.”

Akeredolu promised to focus on agriculture and youth empowerment through entrepreneurship.

Perhaps, the highpoint of policy twist was the disclosure by the governor that he was rejigging his administration’s programmes. He said he has painstakingly reviewed JMPPR which guided his activities in the first term.

JMPPR is an acronyms for;

J – Job creation through Agriculture, Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation

M – Massive Infrastructural Development and Maintenance

P – Promotion of Functional Education and Technological Growth

P – Provision of Accessible and Qualitative Health Care and Social Service Delivery

R – Rural Development and Community Extension Services.

He said a lot of dynamics have come into play since he took over the reins of governance in 2017, identifying security challenges and the need to place more emphasis on energy as part of the reasons for the review.

“I wish to state that we have been reviewing these programmes since our victory at the last election with a view to achieving more improvement in service delivery.

Thus in the next four years, we will be pursuing a totally repackaged programme christened REDEEMED.

R?-?Rural and Agricultural Development

E?-?Educational Advancement and Human Capital

Development

D?-?Development through Massive Infrastructure

E?-?Efficient Service Delivery, Development and Policy

Implementation

E?-?Effective Healthcare and social welfare Services

M?-?Maintenance of Law and Order for Adequate Security

E?-?Energy, Mining and Sustainable Industries

D?-?Digital Revolution and Entrepreneurship.”

The Governor reeled out the achievements recorded by his administration in the three senatorial districts of the state while assuring that the ongoing projects will be completed soon.

He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his support and the national leaders of the party among several others.

A day after the inauguration, the governor commissioned a state-of-the-art molecular laboratory and Public Health Laboratory in Akure as part of his efforts to improve the testing capacity on Covid-19 in the state.

Hr named the building after the late Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro.

He described the deceased as a dogged fighter, stressing that naming the building after him will keep him in the good memory of the state for life.

Akeredolu who identified a low capacity of testing due to the unavailability of functional and accredited laboratories to run highly technical tests described the newly commissioned building as a great asset to the state.

“At the outset of the outbreak, COVID-19 samples in Ondo State were taken to Ede in Osun State with an attendant delay of several days. Later, the Federal Medical Centre, Owo was accredited which only slightly improved the system. Consequently, our administration resolved to address this situation head-on by establishing additional laboratory.“

The governor reiterated that the COVID-19 pandemic remains an existential threat to all humanity, assuring that his administration will continue to advocate that members of the public exercise a high sense of responsibility by adhering strictly to all laid down protocols and guidelines.

He appreciated partners who had assisted the state in the fight against COVID-19 since its

outbreak, particularly; the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the Nigeria Cross and several other groups, corporate bodies and individuals.

Twenty-four hours after the bold step in the health sector, Akeredolu officially commissioned the 16.75Km Akure-Idanre Road with a spur to Oke-Iya and Igisogba roads. Governor Akeredolu who described the project as a novel one.

“To put the records straight, what has transformed into a world-class infrastructure before our very eyes today used to be a footpath between Akure and Idanre, accessible only during the dry seasons.

“This project that is being commissioned is providing a new lease of life for our people by increasing the value of the adjoining property, increasing their disposable income by way of reduction in the wear and tear of our vehicles, reducing the travel time and accessibility to the city centre of Akure because the Oba Osupa Road – Hospital Road- Ijoka Road, when completed would be connected to this road.

“This road project is laced with functional hydraulic structures like 600mm x 600mm lined drains, culverts, with a solid stone-based base course, 50mm thick layer wearing course. We are not unaware that traffic from the Akure – Idanre and vice versa would be diverted here and that is why we have designed and constructed a road that would be able to withstand the axle load pressures of worst conditions.“

The immediate past Special Adviser on Works, Land and Infrastructure, Raimi Aminu is explained that the road was constructed to specifications.

He said the road has 500 meters spur to Oke-Iya and 500 meters spur to Igisogba making the total length of the road 16.75 km.

In his remarks, the acting chairman of the APC, Ade Adetimehin, an indigene of Idanre, appreciated Governor Akeredolu for his love for the people of Idanre, adding that the governor had earlier commissioned a 7.5km township road within the first 100 days of his administration in 2017.

The Owa of the Idanre kingdom, Oba Fredrick Adegunle Aroloye, also thanked Akeredolu for fulfilling his promise to the people of the hilly town.

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