By Boye Oyewumi
I will be canvassing the electorate of Ondo State and the generality of the people on the need to return Governor Akeredolu for another four years come October 10 so that he can consolidate on the appreciable gains recorded so far, first as one of his advisers and second, as someone who is a firm believer in acknowledge-based economy as being currently practised in the state.
For the purpose of the journey so far and why it is extremely germane to reelect Governor Akeredolu on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it is fit to situate in a proper context what the state of development was before the administration came on board and what it’s now, three and half years after, even with less federal allocations to work with when contrasted with what the preceding administration got and the debts inherited.
Truth is, the state of liquidity of the state was terribly bad and almost on the verge of insolvency by the time Akeredolu took over. There was a backlog of salaries of workers for seven months left unpaid while the state barely made N600m in a month as its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). And this was despite the fact that the preceding administration was taking in 9 to 12b in a month as revenue allocation from the federation account. It was a state of despair, hopelessness and despondency when the APC came on board but Governor Akeredolu ever fretted nor slumbered.
Through months of complete dedication and unalloyed commitment to the oath he swore to defend, Ondo State is the better for it at the moment. But how did Governor Akeredolu come about the unusual turn around in the modest financial fortunes of the state? He simply put on his thinking cap, went to work and thought outside the box. The results are not only visible to the blind, they are also audible to the deaf.
With his team, the Governor was able to emplace a pragmatic fiscal restructuring blended with prudent and rational allocation of resources such that the state is now financially healthy, even though there is a long way to go; salaries of workers are being paid at when due while the IGR of the state has now moved from the paltry N600m to above N2bn monthly. If you know the level of frugality of the Governor, you’d almost think he is a miser. Little wonder the murmuring in some quarters that the Governor is not given to stomach infrastructure!
Practicable plans are still under way to expand the revenue net of the state. The plans will begin to yield results in the next few months, if only there is no disruption to the current administration. Only the votes of the people come Saturday will retain and maintain the status quo. And I plead with you all to return the Governor re-elected through the instrumentality of your valid votes.
Time was when the state was tagged only a civil service state, an appellation which means that the state only exists to pay salaries of about its 60, 000 workforce and nothing more. The appellation is now anachronistic and outdated. The state has moved forward and it continues to sail, unhindered, under the guidance of Governor Akeredolu. *Alone, in the last three and half years, the state has produced direct 19,000 jobs and 180, 000 indirect jobs, with many more on the way.*
For those who don’t know, Ondo State is gradually becoming an industrial hub and the next investment haven in the southwest sub-region; thanks to the telepathic collaboration between the state government and the private sector.
Today, one of the commercial nerve centres of the state, Ore, now has an industrial hub with companies taking advantage of the facilities there to engage in manufacturing and production; there is the cassava to ethanol factory, the Ore Linyl Hub; there is the Chocolate Factory in Idanre. The location of the factory in Idanre is strategic in the sense that there is a lot of quality Cocoa production going on in the axis of Idanre; talk of proximity to raw material as a determinant in the location of industry. There is another another company currently springing up in Emure-Ile, Owo, the Egg Powder Factory. When it is fully operational, it has the capacity to generate 700 direct jobs. What about the indirect jobs?
*It needs be emphasized that Okitipupa Oil Palm PLC is alive and kicking today courtesy of the interventionist efforts of Governor Akeredolu. I can tell you for free that later in the month, for the first time in about 13months, the company will be having its Annual General Meeting(AGM). OOPLC alone has 5, 000 people working in the plantation. You all heard the Governor loud and clear recently when he said an investor had paid the first instalment to buy Oluwa Glass Company which was left moribund for years.*
Again, you all know the position of Governor Akeredolu on commercial Bitumen exploration. As someone who closely works with him in this regard, I can tell you that a lot has gone into it! Three licences have issued to Ondo State Government and the ONDIPA is currently in the process of selecting investors to partner with them in exploring the blocks. The governemnt is also collaborating with Southwest Bitumen, a private company.
And the big one: *Port Ondo. It was conceived by Governor Akeredolu.* You all don’t need to be regaled again with the obvious fact that ours is the longest coastline in the West African sub-region. Once the port comes alive as Mr Governor has promised, rest assured that Ondo State will practically become the leading economy in the region as it will serve as the first port of entry for industrial giants and countries who are willing to move their goods through the port.
One cannot even begin to quantify the positive multiplier effects Port Ondo will have on the people of Ilaje, Ese Odo, their environs and even the generality of the people of Ondo State. What about the teeming youths of the state who will now have the opportunity to get employed by many private companies rather than wait endlessly for governemnt jobs? All these benefits will only come into play, if Governor Akeredolu is re-elected. And I appeal that you reelect him for our sake and for the sake of our tomorrow.
Of course it is a given that no industrialization will take place in addition to quality investment inflow if the state is lacking quality infrastructures and stability. This, without a doubt, is what is driving the Governor to turn the state to one giant field of infrastructure; from the quality roads , about 400kms done in the last three and half years, across the state to ensure cross city movement, rural-urban migration and mobility of goods and farm produce; to the schools courtesy of SUBEB and hospitals(four more additional mother and child) built and upgraded to the rural electrification project going on at a frenetic pace. As he promised, some parts of Ondo South without power supply will soon become electrified.
No development will ever take place in the absence of peace. Have you seen any investor who will tie an investment down in a place where chaos, insecurity and instability are the order of the day? No investor worth his name will do that. Governor Akeredolu knows this and this is why, in addition to empowering the statutory security architecture in the state, he was the leading advocate for the southwest regional security network codenamed Amotekun. You all could hear him loud and clear on Wednesday during a debate organized by Channels TV that Amotekun will never fail. That’s a man of convictions who means will for the people he leads.
I have got many 1000 and one reasons Governor Akeredolu genuinely deserves to be re-elected but for time constraint and space, I will be limiting myself to the aforementioned with the hope that our people will do the needful come this Saturday. And like the true patriots that the people of Ondo State are, I have no doubts that they will return my principal re-elected since one good turn deserves another.
Boye Oyewumi is Special Adviser to Ondo State Governor on Development and Investment and CEO of ONDIPA.