By Damilola Adeyemo
AKURE – Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has just been sworn in for the second time as the executive governor of Ondo State.
The Governor was sworn in on Wednesday at the International Event Centre, Dome in Akure, Ondo State.
In his address at the swearing-in ceremony for his second term in office, he reiterated his commitment to the People of Ondo State and rolled out his 8 points agenda.
In a statement, Akeredolu said “ON THE PATH TO REDEMPTION”
“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvellous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about His unforgettable deeds.” “Courage brother! Do not stumble.” “Though thy path be dark as night, there is a path to guide the humble. Trust in the Lord and do the right.”
Exactly four years ago, this journey began. It commenced on the strength of our unshakable and collective faith in God Almighty, as we committed our desires, aspirations and indeed, our vision for a New Ondo State. I recall with nostalgia, the bold walk into the cloud of uncertainty, with you, the good people of the Sunshine State, as my beacon. I recall with joy still, as I cast my mind back to those words of hope, the pronouncements of confidence and the incurable moments of zeal. With the spirit of patriotism at high steam, I did say, “we can
rise out of this dust and build a new Ondo State where honesty, prosperity and confidence can, once again, be our self-identity. We can pull ourselves by the bootstraps and shake off our current frustrations and disappointments. We must recognise the need for a cohesive platform, indispensable to an effective and efficient implementation of policies and programmes of both government and party respectively.
I thank God Almighty for the opportunity to see this day. I remain eternally grateful for being here in good health and very ready to continue the redemptive mission, for which the good people of Ondo State renewed our mandate, with a resounding victory. I am not unmindful of the axiom that the reward for hard work is another round of hard work. Our hands remain on the plough. We are committed, irrevocably, to setting the State on the path of real growth and development.
IN THE BEGINNING
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.
This Administration inherited a lot of challenges upon 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 their 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 are a lot of areas yearning for attention. We may not have met all realistic expectations of 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 a 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 to 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 reconstruction 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 through 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 gasping 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 a 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, and 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 boosts 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 secondary schools will have their fair share.
Our administration has impacted remarkably the agricultural sector. Our decision is to steer the affairs in this sector towards agribusiness. We gave out top-quality tractors at a 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 to 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 the lives and property of its citizens. Our administration is determined to make our State safe for residents and visitors alike. We have had our share of security challenges since the 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 the devolution of authority is inexorable. Every State must be allowed to secure its space.
Amotekun has done very well in its 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 letting. We knew that some government 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 the 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 the 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.
As a way of rejigging our administration, we have painstakingly reviewed the following programmes which guided us in our first term:
J – Job creation through Agriculture, Entrepreneurship
M – Massive Infrastructural Development and Maintenance
P – Promotion of Functional Education and Technological
P – Provision of Accessible and Qualitative Health Care
And Social Service Delivery
R – Rural Development and Community Extension Services
A lot of dynamics have come into play since we took over the reins of governance in 2017. You will all agree with me that the challenge of security has become more encompassing than it used to be.
The need to place more emphasis on the availability of energy for our industrial development has also become greater. This new focus has necessitated the need for us to review our JMPPR to cater for these areas necessary for our development.
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
D – Development through Massive Infrastructure
E – Efficient Service Delivery, Development and Policy
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
I thank the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for the unflinching support and the confidence reposed in us since the commencement of this administration. I thank our National Leaders, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Baba Bisi Akande, Chief Odigie Oyegun, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other eminent personalities for their sustained interest in our programmes of development. My brother’s Governors in APC have been no less supportive. The depth of their interest and support cannot be discounted. I thank members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, especially the South West Governors’ Forum for their continued understanding and cooperation throughout the first term. I shall be seeking the same level of engagement as we move into the second half of the mandate given to us by the good people of Ondo State. I thank the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, principal officers and members of the House of Assembly for being the true representatives of the people. Their support is not taken for granted.
I thank the members of the judiciary for being steadfast. Our administration will continue to support the third arm of government to the best of its ability.
I thank all leaders of the party, both past and present, at all levels, for building this political platform to the enviable state which has made it possible for functionaries to take the driver’s seat at the centre and in several states of the federation. I acknowledge their support towards the actualization of our dream to steer the ship of affairs in our dear State.
I thank our State Chairman and the current Interim Chairman of our great party, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, for his doggedness and loyalty. He deserves a special mention for praise. He stood solidly behind us in our quest to continue to render patriotic service to the people of the State. He spurned all treacherous attempts by the enemies of the State to create disaffection. He is a hero of the success achieved in the first four years. I express my profound gratitude to all other members of the State Working Committee of the party for their support in the past four years.
Let me seize this moment to thank all those who chose to serve the people with us in the last four years. We have been particularly fortunate to have the calibre of men and women in the State Executive Council and general administration. The modest achievements recorded would have been very difficult, if not impossible, without the cooperation of these dedicated appointees. I congratulate them for being part of history.
May I be permitted to congratulate all the contestants in the APC primaries conducted in Ondo State before the gubernatorial election last year for their gallantry and commitment to democratic principles? I thank them, profusely, for putting the interest of the State above personal considerations to which they are entitled. I thank them for taking the exercise as a contestation among brothers keenly desirous of availing their beloved State the best. All of us participated but the people are the real winners.
I salute their sense of patriotism for joining a common cause for the benefit of our people. It is our fervent hope that this engagement will continue for optimum service delivery to our people. The fierce contestations witnessed before the conduct of the primaries were meant to deepen our choice of deliberative governance. The system is better for it. All those who participated emerged victorious. Brothers contested to give our people the best. We must come together to ensure that their interests are best served.
I congratulate the Deputy Governor, Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, for being considered worthy to complete this journey with us.
I thank all party leaders, patriotic citizens, and elder statesmen present to witness this historic moment.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for your patience.
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