On 24th February 2021, an action governor, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, during his inauguration address at the International Centre for Culture and Events (the Dome) Igbatoro road, Akure, Ondo State. “The ship of our administration set sail on Friday, 24th February 2017 with a firm and resolute pledge to steer the affairs of the Sunshine State on the Journey to Redemption. I stand here today to proclaim before the Almighty God and the good people of Ondo State that we have been steadfast and focused despite daunting challenges. We have taken the welfare of the people as central to all activities of governance. We believe that the happiness of the citizens should be the ultimate aim of all public engagements undertaken on their behalf,” he said.
He noted: “This Administration inherited a lot of challenges on the assumption of office. We took our time to take stock before embarking on the Journey of Redemption. We proceeded, with rigorous fiscal discipline and dedication, to identify and complete all projects within the available resources.
“The paucity of funds has been a major challenge militating against the quest to actualise the lofty objectives which our administration, under our leadership, conceived to ameliorate the deplorable conditions under which our people live. Our activities have been impactful and protective of the people regardless of the status. We stand before you with pride, good people of Ondo State, to present our scorecard. We acknowledge the huge infrastructural deficit still, among other challenges. There is a lot of areas yearning for attention. We may not have met all realistic expectations on improved living conditions.
“Despite this, we are confident that posterity will read about this era and feel proud of our achievements. Our victory at the last election confirmed the love and trust we enjoy from the people. We cannot afford to depart from the redemptive and restorative path. We shall proceed, with keener enthusiasm, to justify the renewal of our mandate to serve the people.
“We promised to insulate the civil service from politics as much as practicable. We made a solemn pledge that no worker would be victimized under our watch and that workers’ welfare would be treated as top priority. We inherited salary arrears of seven months from the immediate past administration. We have been able to offset six months. Politics no longer determines the progression of diligent public officials. We are up-to-date in the promotion of workers which has been based on merit. We paid salaries and allowances until COVID-19 disrupted all plans. We had ambitious projects conceived for the benefit of the people. The pandemic disrupted all projections, including revenue generation.
“Our administration has been able to complete the following road projects in the last four years:
In the North Senatorial District, we have embarked on the flattening of the hill and reconstruction of the Oke-Alabojuto Road in Ikare-Akoko as a dual carriageway. The Oke Iwaro Oka and Oke Oka roads were fixed to save lives. The reconstruction of Emure to Owo Road as a dual carriageway, the construction of roads in Owo/Ose axis, Owo G.R.A, Iyere, Ipele, Ifon and Emure-Ile, among others convinced the people of our seriousness. The people of Akoko have continued to express their gratitude for the spate of development despite paucity of funds. We pledge, solemnly, to complete all projects meant to ameliorate the living conditions of the people in that Senatorial District as the precarious financial situation improves.
“The Central Senatorial District accommodates the seat of government. It is almost certain that all attempts to abridge the huge infrastructural deficits will be skewed heavily in favour of the State Capital and adjoining towns and villages. Our administration, starting from Ifedore, embarked on massive rehabilitation and construction of an internal road network from Ibuji to Igbara-oke, Isarun and Ijare, a fact which commended us to those who came out, boldly, in our support during the last election. It is our belief that Akure, the State Capital, should bear appearances befitting her status. Consequently, we have been committed towards giving the ancient city more than a cosmetic facelift. Our interventions have been phenomenal in several respects. The ‘A’ Division – Oba Osupa Road, Hospital Road – Ijoka Road, testifies to the determination of our administration to bequeath abiding legacies to posterity. The Gaga, Abusoro, and Oke-Ogba projects are evidence of our resolve to take governance to the people.
“It was not surprising that the people of Idanre showed appreciation through the ballot in the last gubernatorial election for the renewal of our mandate. We recognise the importance of this great town, a former economic and commercial hub of the defunct Western Region. We promised to create an alternative route, the 15km road to link Idanre through Ijoka in Akure. This road is completed. The re-construction of the road from Shoprite to Oda town as a dual carriageway has commenced. The adjoining roads in Alagbaka and the Bishop’s Court to CBN Road have been completed.
“We allayed the fears of the good people of Ondo Kingdom on sustaining the obnoxious practice which usually saw a succeeding administration abandoning projects meant to bring succour to the downtrodden. We have not only continued to give the University of Medical Sciences the deserved attention though massive investment in infrastructure, but the government has also ensured that all hitherto unaccredited courses, which threatened the continued existence of the institution as a citadel of training for medical personnel, have been accredited by the appropriate bodies.
“We also remain committed to ensuring that the institution has a befitting Teaching Hospital with structures in Ondo and Akure. Our government is building a 500-bed complex in each of these two towns, with seven functional theatres: four in Akure and three in Ondo. We met the sector grasping for breath on the assumption of office. We have not only paid six out of seven months’ salary arrears; we have also recruited over 200 medical doctors and other health workers to replace those that left the system. It is our hope that, with improvement in the precarious financial situation, all outstanding salaries and allowances will be paid.
“The South Senatorial District has never had it this good. This Administration has changed the landscape of this region forever. We consider Ore as a confluence of a sort. Ore is essentially Nigeria in outlook and character. We romanced several ideas until we settled for the Interchange, christened Redemption Bridge. With this bold step, we have reduced considerably the carnage in that axis. Motorists can now ply that route assured of safe and timeous return to their destinations. That bridge is a major landmark in the signpost of achievements under our leadership.
“The Ondo-Linyil Industrial Hub, Ore is becoming established as a product of ingenuity, dedication and resilience. Industries are springing up with the attendant positive additives. Young men and women are getting engaged, full of hope for a better tomorrow. The afforestation project in partnership with Wewood from China is very much on course. We note, with palpable pride, that the last time any project of such futuristic potential to protect the State against the negative impact of climate change was conceived and executed was during the late Pa Adekunle Ajasin administration in the Second Republic.
“All the adjoining roads at Ore have either been reconstructed or repaired. The wonderful people of Odigbo have always expressed their belief in our aspiration to lead right from the time we ventured into partisan politics. We thank them and we will not let them down.
“The Okitipupa Bypass was a forest transformed into an important road which serves the whole region. From Irele, Ayeka, Sabomi, Igbekebo, Igbobini, Aboto to Atijere, among other areas in the South, this Administration kept its promise to reach every nook and cranny of the State. The Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, formerly Ondo State University of Science and Technology, has received considerable attention which makes the indigenes of the place proud that they have reclaimed their space as citizens of this State. This university was abandoned for eight years before we assumed the mantle of leadership in the State. The story is different now. The township roads suffered from acute neglect until we came in.
“Bitumen exploration is at an advanced stage at Irele. The Deep-Sea Port project is going on at an appreciable level. The Araromi-Lekki Road will become a reality soon. The projects commenced to ameliorate the parlous state of the economy will contribute, exponentially, to the development of the region. We hope to play a significant role in the success story.
“Sectors such as education, health and agriculture received appreciable boost from our administration. This administration has renovated, rebuilt or constructed almost 800 primary schools through the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). Our goal is to make all public schools as attractive as possible. We have given approval for the recruitment of teachers in primary schools in the State. As soon as the economy begins to look up the secondary schools will have their fair share.
“Our administration has impacted remarkably on the agricultural sector. Our decision is to steer the affairs in this sector towards agribusiness. We gave out top quality tractors at 30% subsidy. We cleared 1,500 hectares of land across the State for the benefit of farmers and the youths who are ready to utilise it. We have constructed 100,000 capacity poultry pens. We are currently in partnership with a German company, the Big Dutchman, constructing a 50,000 capacity pig village.
“The planting of Cocoa has resumed at a frenetic space. This cash crop has been our identity for a long time. It is deplorable that this money spinner was relegated for handouts. We have revitalized the industry. The Idanre Chocolate factory is now operating. We are also developing the largest single Cocoa Estate in Nigeria. Our Igba Otun broiler scheme has been a tremendous success. We have empowered our Beekeepers and the Sunshine Honey factory has received a boost.
“The primary responsibility of any government is the security of lives and property of its citizens. Our administration is determined to make our State safe for the residents and visitors alike. We have had our share of security challenges since assumption of office. We have been able to confront these problems headlong. This problem has been one of the main issues militating against development in the country. Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, the other debilitating issue is security.
“We are of the firm belief that it is high time the Police central command became devolved to the federating units for effective monitoring. We have been relentless in advocating for the establishment of State Police. There can be no other way if we are indeed serious about securing lives and property. It is this incongruity which propelled the South West Governors to form a Regional Security Network code-named Amotekun. The ultimate is to convince others to understand that devolution of authority is inexorable. Every State must be allowed to secure its space.
“Amotekun has done very well in their short time of existence. It has been able to work within the law establishing it. Its operations and successes recorded justify its establishment. We have instructed the Commander to recruit more capable hands.
“We want to reassure visitors, residents and citizens of the readiness of our government to protect lives and property in the State. We are not paying mere lip service to this avowal. It is a priority. There cannot be prosperity in an insecure environment.
“KEEPING EYES ON THE GOAL
“Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we were convinced, from the outset, that the task of social re-engineering would not be easy. We came on the stage with the resolve to confront all challenges without let. We knew that some governmental policies might be misconstrued and intentions twisted. We remained focused all through the first four years. Though we are yet to reach the set goal, we are confident that this administration is on the right path.
“We will not depart from the trodden path which has earned us affection and deep reverence from the citizenry. We shall continue, with more vigour, to justify the trust earned by our administration. The second term, for us, is not a time for relaxation. We are not under any illusion that it will be easy. We are, however, ready to proceed on the journey with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a deleterious effect on global economy. Things may get worse. 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.
“Our administration intends to focus on agriculture and youth empowerment through entrepreneurship. This has led us to establishment of the Ondo State Entrepreneurship Agency (ONDEA). We intend to revolutionise agriculture taking it beyond theory and anchoring all expectations on practicals. I must also reiterate that the economic fortunes of this State are in the belly of the South Senatorial District. We have tried in the last four years to identify, harness and reorganise the potential of the region.”