Another page was opened in the history of Ondo State on Wednesday, February 24, when Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN) took the oath for his second term of office. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria earned his right to another four years in Alagbaka Governor’s House with his overwhelming victory in the October 10 governorship election. In that election, Akeredolu garnered 292,830 votes with outright victory in 15 out of 18 LGAs of Ondo and a very respectable performance in the three other councils to emerge victorious. His closest challenger, Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP, was only able to garner 195,791 votes while the his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, who contested on the platform of ZLP, scored only 69,175 votes without winning any local council area.
The total victory of Akeredolu in that election which was contrary to prediction solidified the position of the top lawyer as one of the politicians to be reckoned with.
Yet, the win was a reward by the people of the state to Akeredolu for the gradual changes and improvements in their socio-economic fortunes in the ‘journey of redemption’ of Akeredolu in Ondo in his first four years of office. Recall that in acknowledgment of his strides in development of the state, traditional rulers across the three senatorial zones took the unprecedented step of staking their crowns to endorse Akeredolu for a second term without minding the likely consequences if the outcome of the election had gone contrary to their expectations.
The governor had started the journey of redemption soon after he was sworn in on February 24, 2017, with the unveiling of a blueprint he tagged: “Platforms for Change.” He had subsequently identified the various ‘platforms’ his administration would invest on to change the outlook of the sunshine state to include job creation through agriculture, entrepreneurship and industrialisation, massive infrastructural development and maintenance. Others included provision of functional education and technological growth, provision of accessible and qualitative health care and social service delivery, rural development and community extension services.
Akeredolu pursued this agenda within the limitations of available resources and in spite of the humongous debts he inherited from his predecessor, Olusegun Mimiko, in his first four years which ended on February 24. There are evidences of the successes he recorded in his first four years in every part of Ondo. Take for instance the N5bn interchange bridge at Ore town. Ore has been popular over the years as a strategic terminus for commuters going from one part of the country to the other.
While this has made the town popular as a commercial centre over the years, the downside was the perennial traffic gridlock with commuters spending hours in heavy traffic, especially during the Yuletide. This was in addition to frequent loss of lives at the different junctions as a result of reckless driving.
But the nightmarish experience of commuters has become a thing of the past with the completion of the “Freedom Bridge” at Ore by the Akeredolu government. The flyover bridge, which is first of its kind in the state, has not only helped to put an end to unnecessary carnages, but has also helped to enhance the aesthetic outlook of the city.
Also deserving of mention is the intervention in the construction of the hilly Oke Alabojuto road in the lkare-Akoko area. The dangerously steep road shortly before the popular Oja Oba market had claimed lives of commuters as drivers of articulated vehicles, lorries and even smaller usually would lose control of their vehicles when ascending or descending the hill. Their vehicles usually rolled back, crashing and crushing traders in the market. But Akeredolu ended the needless deaths when he levelled the hilly road and converted the road to a dual carriageway to the surprise of many.
Just like he did with construction of the township roads which has changed the face of Akure, the state’s capital, Akeredolu’s intervention in Akoko land has also led to most roads being tarred.
In Ore, the Industrial Park located at the Omotoso part of the town started alongside the interchange is now in full operation, employing thousands of youths in the area. The Industrial Park, a product of Public-Private Partnership between Ondo State Government and Hessmac Industry Limited, was established on a massive 1,000 hectares of eco-friendly, economic and industrially zoned land and is running on 30MW trio-fuel Independent Power Plant.
Located in the Industrial Park are the first ever Medium Density Fibre Factory in Nigeria as well as the biggest cassava to ethanol factory, thus helping the country reduce the amount it spent on importing the two products. There is also the benefit of technology transfer to Nigerians through the new companies. And as part of his efforts to industrialise the state, the Akeredolu administration is also creating jobs through revival of companies that had been left to rot away by previous governments through the Ondo State Development and Investment Promotion Agency.
Of course, the governor’s investment in development of infrastructure, especially roads, is also boosting social economic activities across the state.
The learning environment in state-owned primary schools has become more friendly and conducive with over 840 primary schools renovated and equipped with modern and functional toilets in the first four years of Akeredolu in office.
The Ondo State University of Science and Technology (now Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology) in Okitipipa is now running as a proper tertiary institution with rehabilitation of infrastructure and support to procure the necessities for getting its courses accredited.
The Akeredolu government also supported other institutions such as Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko; University of Medical Sciences, Ondo; and Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo to upgrade their teaching and research facilities as well as infrastructure through provision of necessary funding.
Of course, the role he played in ensuring successful establishment of the Amotekun security initiative in Ondo and the South-West in general is well-known. Even as his first term was winding up, he added 20 Hilux trucks to the fleet of Amotekun corps in response to the emerging security challenge in the state. To firm up security of the state, the governor in his first-four years in office donated over 50 Hilux trucks and 100 motorcycles to different security outfits, namely, the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police and the Civil Defence.
The governor has already pledged to consolidate on these achievements in his second term promising to continue his aggressive pursuit of job creation through industrialisation and provision of infrastructure throughout the state as part of his plans to ensure that Ondo reliance on oil revenue is reduced to barest minimum.
Top among his plans include ensuring that the all towns and villages in the Ondo South Senatorial District are reconnected to the national grid, building of a port in the Southern part of the state and ensuring the takeoff of the Sunhine Egg Powder Company currently being constructed at Emure-Ile, Owo designed to employ at least 5,000 people.
He has already completed 200 out of the 400 kilometres of road network being constructed across the state and promised to complete the remaining 200 kilometres.
Listed among his priorities for second term is the completion of ongoing dualisation of Ikare-Akoko township roads and actualisation of Araromi in Ilaje to Lekki in Lagos coastal road.
Akeredolu’s first term scorecard certainly was a very bright one and he has promised that he won’t be sleeping in the next four years either.
Oladimeji, a Senior Special Assistant on Publications to the Ondo State Governor, wrote in from Akure.
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