By Dapo Akinrefon, Deputy South-West Editor
IN November 2011, Mr. Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu was among a crowd of aspirants jostling to be Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, candidate for the 2013 governorship election in Ondo State.
When asked of his priorities if given the opportunity to govern Ondo State, Akeredolu, who prides himself as a progressive, said his priorities would include agricultural deveqlopment, fish farming for export, improvements of education, jobs for youths and improved roads. He would provide free education and primary health care. He was in favour of increased subsidies and greater local control over public spending.
Almost four years in the saddle, though critics fault him, but pundits posit that Akeredolu is doing his best to provide dividends of democracy to the people of Ondo State.
Governor Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigera, SAN, was born on July 21, 1956 in Owo to Reverend J. Ola Akeredolu of the Akeredolu family and Lady Evangelist Grace B. Akeredolu of Aderoyiju family of Igbotu, Ese Odo, in Ondo State.
Akeredolu, popularly referred to as Aketi, started his primary education at Government School, Owo. He proceeded to Aquinas College, Akure, Loyola College, Ibadan and Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, for his secondary school education and Higher School Certificate, respectively.
After his secondary school education, he went to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to study Law, graduating in 1977. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978.
Akeredolu was appointed Attorney General of Ondo State from 1997 to 1999 and in 1998, he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Legal Aid Council , 2005–2006. For contributing immensely to the development of the association, the Nigerian Bar Association named its new secretariat in Abuja after him in 2012.
On July 28, 2012, Akeredolu was selected as the candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, for Governor of Ondo State during the ACN congress in Akure. His selection pitched him in a head to head battle with his predecessor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and Mr Olusola Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In his first 100 days in office, Akeredolu promised to create 30,000 jobs. But as a way of reducing the unemployment rate in the state, the Akeredolu administration recently rolled out employment letters to newly-employed graduates, including nurses and several health workers as part of the efforts to boost the state’s health sector.
Even higher number of youths have also been employed by the state internal revenue board. Also, the Akeredolu administration has put in efforts to employ new teachers to boost the quality of education in the state.
On assumption of office in February 2017, Akeredolu met a disturbing state of affairs. The workers were being owed a backlog of seven months salaries. During his inauguration, he promised never to deny the workers their pay. And, as a result of the bad economic state of the nation, many people doubted if the governor would make true his vow.
Four years on, Akeredolu has kept to his vow. The state workers have earned their salaries unbroken. He has also gone ahead to clear six of the seven month salary arrears his administration inherited from the immediate-past administration. The government has also paid the workers their leave allowances. In less than three years, no fewer than 40 permanent secretaries have been appointed, righting the wrongs that have been done to many top civil servants by past administrations.
More than 700 workers in the public service have been promoted, with a further promise to reward deserving workers with more promotion. Also not left out is the health sector. For the purpose of taking healthcare delivery to the door steps of all residents, Akeredolu liaised with the World Bank to facilitate $500,000 fund to enhance primary healthcare across all the 18 local government areas of the state.
This move attracted the benevolence of the People’s Republic of China which donated 40 imaging medical items to the state medical village in Ondo town to boost healthcare delivery.
Similarly, the governor used his good office to secure a $6 million (about N2.1 billion) worth of new medical equipment from MedShare, an Atlanta, U.S.-based non-profit organisation.
Governor Akeredolu followed up the success with the distribution of another set of multi-million naira medical equipment to 300 primary healthcare facilities across the 18 local government areas of the state.
The governor described the equipment as necessary in order to improve the diagnostic and therapeutic capacity of the primary health care facilities and respond to the health needs of the people across the state.
The equipment include 300 units of Children Ambu-bag, 60 units of Adult Ambu-bag, 300 units of Baby weighing scale, 300 units of Blood pressure apparatus, 300 units of Stethoscope, 301 units of Angle poise Examination light, 18 units of Anti-Shock garment and 300 units of Penguin suction device among several others.
It is noteworthy to state that the administration has embarked on the construction of roads across the state. For instance, the governor awarded the construction of some selected roads in Ifon about 2.063km and the Oke Afa Road in Supare also 1.448km.
Also, the 2.358km Lennon Jubile-Solaco Road, Ugbe Road, Iwaro-Oka-Isua Road (900m) and 21.8km were not left out. The aforementioned and other laudable projects littered across the state earned Akeredolu nomination for Vanguard Governor of the Year Award.