During the heat of the recently concluded 2019 general elections in Nigeria, the administration of Rotimi Akeredolu, the bearded landlord of Ondo State’s government house passed the two years mark in office.
In my usual manner of making excuses for people, I assumed that the government decided to focus on the duty of winning the election for the president and eventually winning the majority at the state house of assembly rather than celebrating the halftime of this tenure.
Usually, in many other cases, the governor and the state apparatus would celebrate the two years with fanfare and couple of launching, commissioning, and ground breaking ceremonies to mark the day and showcase the scorecard of the administration.
Deductively, it could mean that the government of Aketi has nothing to show the people for the past two years. This is not to also say there is nothing to celebrate. The people who hold brief for this administration would argue that the governor pays the salary of the workers promptly. They would also talk about the backlog of salary he had cleared.
One might wonder if this is truly the quality service and worthy governance that Rotimi Akeredolu promised the good people of Ondo State while seeking their mandate. Truth be told, one can’t tell it off. The man who left the office made salary payment as herculean as it could be before he left office and there are still federating units in Nigeria that are owing their civil servants. So, for Aketi, it could truly be a plus.
In the build up to the guber polls in 2016, Aketi travelled the length and breadth of Ondo State as he claimed that it was important to reach everyone rather than a few. His campaign closed with a special session tagged “An Evening with Aketi” and this writer would be asking how governor has performed based on the ‘JMPPR’ manifesto he unboxed that night.
Before we go on to interrogate the promises of governor Akeredolu and measure it against what has been delivered in the past two years, one must commend the office of the first lady for her BeMore camp that gave young girls IT and life building skills. In the light of #BalanceForBetter, the governor’s wife keeps pushing the frontiers in ensuring that underserved girls BeMore. This is commendable and must be encouraged and supported for sustainability.
Roads and Infrastructural Development:
We must also commend the administration for opening up the Idanre-Ijoka road as it will speed up development of the people through increased mobility of goods and services. In the same vein, the people who ply the Ikare route and dwellers can now heave a sigh of relief as Oke Alabojuto now gets the needed attention. The roads and linking goes further to confirm that truly the best way to help the people is to take development to them. But is that all that needs to be done? I leave you all to answer that.
During his #LiveWithAketi chat, the then governorship hopeful maintained that there would be a massive investment in infrastructure and maintenance of the existing ones. As written early, the investment on road has been tangible but maintenance of existing infrastructure continues to look like lip service. This can be seen in the inability of the state government to fix traffic lights in the state capital when they are out of order. So is the continuous deterioration of the Mother and Child hospital in Akure. Which again raises the question of what the government is doing about the state’s health sector especially primary health care centres in the 18 local government areas of the state.
Whatever Aketi is doing with the private partnership on waste management must be reviewed and improved upon. The state capital is too dirty for a state that is still grappling with how to combat LASSA fever.
Job Creation and Entrepreneurial Development:
As the government continues the drive to provide job through various means with the Ondo-Linyi PPP leading the way, one would be tempted to ask Akeredolu about the school of entrepreneurship he promised during an #EveningWithAketi. It is on record the governor maintained that to encourage entrepreneurship in Ondo State, there would be a school of entrepreneurship to aid the development of SMEs. While it was argued that the school will do little or next to nothing to help the dire situation of the state, more pressing questions need answers. How many people have benefitted from the Ondo-Linyi partnership in terms of direct and indirect employment? It is pertinent to find out as we celebrate the increase in IGR to confirm whether it is due to overbearing of the base or inclusion of new taxpayers.
As noted by #TheManAketi during that chat, Ondo State is still the worst state to do business in Nigeria, two years after Akeredolu mentioned it. This ranking suggests that the conditions in the state stifles existing businesses and discourages those who intend to start a business in the state. An entrepreneurship school would not solve this but proactive steps by the government in the area of all round infrastructural development and maintenance with incentives can.
On the JMPPR, Promotion of Functional Education and Technological Growth is the first P. Education remains the key to development but sadly, like many other places in Nigeria, education is not accorded the needed attention. The increment of fees in the state owned tertiary institutions is still fresh in our memories. So is the attendant reaction of all stakeholders. It is widely known that many students have dropped out of these institutions, especially AAUA.
With this increment, one would expect that there would be an attendant investment in these schools but it is not the case. The students of the state owned polytechnic in the governor’s hometown take turn to share their harrowing experience everyday on social media as they wake up every time to different fee with no improvement in the quality of education they receive.
So is basic education in the state. Some times last year, agents of the government claimed that 500 public primary schools were renovated across the state. Some of these renovated schools with their facilities were not accessed by the pupils until the Governor’s Thank You Tour like St James’ Primary School, Oda. However, secondary schools in Ondo State cannot say the same. A visit to Omoluorogbo Grammar School in the heart of Akure paints a distasteful image of how learning environments should be. Beyond the buildings, we wonder what the government through its ministry of education is doing in the area of retraining teachers, and syllabus/curriculum development. Two years on, we ask, where’s the functional education promised by the government or the technological growth?
An average Nigerian agrees that the country is in this state because of the level of leadership we have. The lack of political will to push reforms that will help the people rather than mere populism to curry the fake love on which politicians thrive.
The government of Rotimi Akeredolu has been mirred in one leadership mishap or the other from the first few weeks in office. The floor opened with the assault of an aide by the SSG and it has never been better since then. The governor’s party intra conflict is one that many has said could have been resolved easily had the governor acted magnanimously in many situations. This was evident in the Presidential and NASS polls has the APC lost woefully save the slight victory Buhari recorded in the state. Officials of the state government were seen campaigning for people who contested on the platform of Action Alliance.
This friction has divided the house against itself and continues to drag centre stage with developmental issues. As the leadership continues to be headache, it rubs on every other sector. Many of the commissioners are ‘non-existent’ and have nothing to justify the pay they get.
This writer believes truly that Ondo can Think Anew and Act Anew and that this can cause the state to move up the ladder. This can only happen if Rotimi Akeredolu shakes up and focus on the promises he made to the people of the state. He should conduct elections into the local government council rather than create LCDAs that will bear no fruit has it is obvious there’s no fund for them. he must also, as a matter of urgency, resolve his issues with members of his party and stop the intimidation of those who have second opinions with his friends in the National Union of Road Transport Workers under the leadership of Idajo.
Akeredolu must also remember that populism will only get him temporary accolades like the one he is currently receiving for his plan to rename OSUSTECH after Late Olusegun Agagu, only the real work will seal his place in the heart of his people and in the annals of history.