...As Aketi kisses 65

By Richard Olatunde 

A research is said to have revealed that only a marginal eight percent of global population exceeds age 65 above. As scary as this statistics may read in Nigeria where index for long life shrinks by the day, our dear Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu,SAN, seems to have just started his life all over again by his acts and deed and his general disposition to service to humanity. 

This realization is more profound when he rose and became governor of our sunshine state after his first attempt in 2012 returned him to the drawing board where he restrategised and added more flesh to his body of political knowledge with a view to sustaining his position today. And we are all happy that from 2017 to 2020, the period he served his first term, he successfully weathered the storm, in spite of banana peel which the administration he inherited from his predecessor symbolized. 

Governor Akeredolu, on February 24, 2017, was welcomed into the Government House, Alagbaka with an embarrassing backlog of seven months’ salary arrears, which almost killed the morale of the state workforce and nearly reduced Ondo State to subject of ridicule, despite its status as one of Oil-producing states in the country. Pronto, he settled six months and returned smile to gloomy faces of the state civil servants.  

When he realised that dangerous escapades of criminal elements in seemingly irrepressible herdsmen and kidnappers would constitute a clog in the wheel of his administration, he joined forces with other South-west governor and birthed what is now known as the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun, a security outfit currently complementing the police and other security agencies. 

To him, the Amotekun Corps initiative is a baby of necessity and a home-grown approach to solving security challenges, which have become an albatross to a smooth running of government. In this regard, he declared recently that the corps has strengthened his long-held position on need for community policing since security matter is primarily local. 

Governor Akeredolu has also assured the people of the state of his administration’s commitment to rid the state of army of criminal elements who are desperate to make peaceful living a luxury. However, he encountered some layers of opposition in giving the state a sustainable security outfit to return confidence and hope in the people. 

Notwithstanding, his courage and positive mind have seen him through to the extent that over 2000 new recruits have been brought in to further fortify the Amotekun. That is a record!

It is also on record and, in fact, quite unprecedented that Governor Akeredolu broke the backward practice of a succeeding administration abandoning uncompleted projects of its predecessor at the expense of the people. This is a strongpoint credited to the name of Mr Governor as he warmed himself into the heart of the people of Ondo town with the active attention given to the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo and full accreditation of  over 15 of its courses as well as a befitting Teaching Hospital in Ondo and Akure. 

As Ondo people were relishing Governor Akeredolu redemption wand, people of Okitipupa, who had suffered government indifference to the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, are also excited and praying for Mr ‘Talk and Do’  today. In terms of physical infrastructural development, Governor Akeredolu has surprised and elevated the state despite its financial problem due to reduction in monthly allocation from the seat of power in Abuja. 

The construction of a flyover in Ore, completed with an interchange, is still a cheery topic on lips of hundreds of travellers who daily pass through that axis. The step has not only reduced road accident in Ore but also reduced traffic gridlock, which easily burn productive work hours. The bridge known as the ‘The Redemption Bridge’ was commissioned by President Muhammudu Buhari on February 25th, 2020.  

Essentially, Governor Akeredolu’s thirst for development in the state is both ambitious and courageous. Despite assuming office at a time when the country and the state are going through serious economy quagmire, he embarked on projects that only people with faiths of mustard seed would have boasted of their completion. His quest for development of the state was daring. His sincerity of purpose and tenacity, will be a reference point for politicians in the state and beyond, for a long time. 

Similarly, when you drive through Akure, from “A” division down to NEPA -Olukayode-Rainbow roundabout going to Ijoka road in Akure, one would wonder the manner of audacious takeover and a complete departure from the past in the area of huge investment in infrastructure development in the state regarded as civil servant state.

When he promised to open an alternative road from Idanre to Akure, many thought it was a mere dream. Over 15km length of road, sitting on a virgin land, has been constructed now giving a new lease of life to the people of Idanre. More courageous is the Governor’s resolve to break through mountain to have a dual carriage Oke-Alabojuto road in Ikare Akoko. He is now the first Governor to give Akoko land a dual carriage road

He achieved this feat simply because of his radical approach to administration, ensuring he does not play politics with governance and welfare of his people. It was such a bold decision especially in the award of government contracts which see him going strict and award contracts not on party patronage but purely on capacity to deliver. This is integrity. This is sincerity, which has become an asset to the state and people. 

Today, the infamous era of mobilization fees as seen in previous administrations where projects were indiscriminately abandoned and state resources squandered and lost for political interest, is gone, dead and interred. Contracts can only be awarded to firms which have required resources. Only certain percentage is paid when the contractors achieve impressive milestone. This has bred good governance and institutionalized quality work on our roads. 

The last Governor that ever added any industry to the state was the late Pa. Adekunle Ajasin (1979-1983). After several years of branding Ondo a mere civil servant state, Governor Akeredolu recorded a major breakthrough in facilitating the Ondo-Linyi industrial hub. He has opened the tap of industrialization in Ondo State. It is now paying off with over eight industries in the state. 

His courage in leading his brother governors in the Southwest and, recently the southern part of the country, has projected him as voice of the masses, one who cares less on whose ox is gored as long as the matter is about masses improved life. His courage and pro-masses inclination represent the quality of an average Ondo State indigene in accordance with what the legendary late premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo says to the Western leaders of thought, in Ibadan, on May 1, 1967 before the Biafra war, that “the aim of a leader should be the welfare of the people whom he leads. 

As Arakunrin climbs age 65 today, there is no doubt that he will live long to reap fruit of the seed he is currently sowing in the state. Traditionally, Ondo State people remain political conscious and a thorn in the flesh of an insensitive administration through different forms of reactions. But with Governor Akeredolu’s last four years and few months in the saddle, his future in history of the state is assured as a governor whose tenure witnessed a true transformation of the state. Happy birthday to you, Arakunrin wa. Thank you for inspiring us. You are indeed, a man of an uncommon Grace.

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