By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Anyone who’s familiar with the politics of Ondo State, at least since the return of democracy to the country in 1999, will readily agree that once it’s election time, the pastime of those in the opposition and their allies is to cast aspersion on the image of the sitting governor with the sole aim of de-marketing him before the voting public. To the oppositionists, all is fair in war since politics is war by another means.
Going down the memory lane, the late governors Adebayo Adefarati and Dr Olusegun Agagu suffered from this peculiar fate. Dr Olusegun Mimiko survived the landmines in his attempt to seek a reelection in 2012. Will Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, survive his, come October, other things being equal? Of course, if the morning tells the day, Akeredolu will be reelected by the good people of the state based on his track records of sterling performance in the office.
Predictably, as the gubernatorial election in the state draws nigh, the familiar swords are out to butcher an elephant that is growing bigger in size, shape and virility everyday before the very eyes of his enemies who can no longer accommodate his intimidating presence. Salute to the political elephant whose robustness sends shivers down the spines of those who want him out of the way for no just cause!
Except for the tiny tribe of his detractors – within and without – whose number keeps shrinking by the second coupled with their paid hirelings within the social media circuit in the state, Akeredolu, warts and all, is the man to beat in the October governorship election. The possibility of him winning the election by a wide margin based on some informed polls and objective analysis of the political arithmetic in the state is the more reason his paperweight opponents have resorted to throwing any dirt in the sewage at the immaculate linen of the straight-talking and honest lawyer from Owo Kingdom.
But what exactly are the imaginary sins of Akeredolu? That he is his own man who is not beholden to any caucus except being a loyal and dutiful servant of the people who overwhelmingly elected him in 2016? How will the masses trade away a man who increased the internally generated revenue(IGR) of the state from its parlous state which was bequeathed to him by the preceding administration without overburdening the people of the state with multiple taxations as being experienced in some states of the federation? How did he do it? He simply blocked financial leakages, deployed sound financial reengineering of the revenue base of the Sunshine State and emplaced progressive fiscal policies through sound legislations. Before now, the state could not boast of an organized and centralized Internal Revenue Agency. The story has changed today.
With all humility, it won’t be out of place to say that no Governor in the state in the last fifteen years or so has surpassed Akeredolu in terms of attracting foreign direct investment to the state. A typical example of this is the Liyin Industrial Hub that has begun operations in the state. The multiplier effects of the hub on the local economy of the state cannot be overemphasized. Aside generating massive job opportunities for qualified citizens of the state , the hub will also be contributing to the state’s coffers in terms of tax payment and other legal remmittances.
By all accounts, the business climate in the state is clement because of the enabling environment provided by the state government. The enabling environment is a derivative of the relative stability experienced in the state, which, itself,is a product of the governor’s passionate commitment to the security of lives and property of the people. No investor worth his money will invest in a state where there is instability and uncertainty.
It needs be stressed that the harmonious relationship between the government and the civil servants in the state is the quick and prompt payment of the salaries of the latter, even when it is occasionally inconvenient for the former due to fluctuations in revenue. To Governor Akeredolu, a labourer deserves his wages as at and when due and this he has consistently adhered to since the inception of his administration. In not too distant past, it was hell on earth for workers to get paid their salaries thus leading to frequent industrial actions which usually paralyzed socio-economic activities in the state. Governor Akeredolu knows and appreciates the essentiality of having a well-motivated and productive civil service for the actualization of his governance agenda. That exactly explains why he does not joke with their welfare and anything that will further enhance their productive capacities for the benefit of the state.
It’s on record that the administration of Governor Akeredolu has invested heavily in infrastructural development of the state across board. This is anchored on the premise that critical infrastructures are vital to driving an inclusive organic economic growth and development. How exactly will businesses- short, medium, and long term- thrive in a state where there are no quality road networks or stable power supply? In spite of the fact that electricity generation and distribution are now concentrated in the private sector, the incumbent administration has been trying all it can do to ensure that every nook and cranny of the state is powered by harnessing the abundant solar resources the state is endowed with in conjunction with its rural electrification projects which fall within its powers. One more term for the administration will see everywhere lit up.
Ordinarily, were it not for the Governor’s preference to creating more access to tertiary education in the state for the benefit of all, taking into cognizance lean financial resources, he would have streamlined the three state-owned universities into possibly two, at best. But he refused, notwithstanding the accompanying financial stress, because the more the number of educated citizens of the state, the better its labour force and human resources. Nothing compares to education. The administration has witnessed the renovation of over 850 primary schools in the state through the instrumentality of the State Universal Education Board(SuBEB). More schools will be renovated soon. A second term for Governor Akeredolu will take the state to a higher pedestal in the education sector.
Lest I forget, the argument in some uninformed quarters that the Governor is sectional and nepotistic in his distribution of appointments is a tissue of lies. An objective evaluation of the spread of statutory appointments in the state under the leadership of Governor Akeredolu shows without contradictions that he has been fair to all the three senatorial districts in the state. This is an administration where you need not have any godfather to be considered for an appointment. So long you are competent and believe in the philosophy of the Governor, chances are high that you will be given an appointment if there is a statutory need for it.
One significant strength of Governor Akeredolu is that he is forthright, blunt and brutally honest to a fault. He says it the way it is for he has no skeleton in his cupboard. Without a shadow of doubt, this has helped him to run an administration that is transparent and accountable in the last three years. Unfortunately, these same fine attributes of honesty, bluntness and forthrightness are what his petty critics and spineless traducers have misconstrued to be arrogance. Will anyone blame them? Well, they are used to be in bed with political dealers masquerading as leaders who revel in dishonesty and opacity.
Without much ado about nothing, the surest bet for the ruling All Progressives Congress to retain its political dominance in the state is to allow Governor Akeredolu run on its platform for a second term in office. All credible data point to the fact that he will defeat whoever the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, presents in the election. No rational coach changes a winning team especially when the captain of the team is the best one can have anywhere. You and I know who the captain is: that’s the man whose admirers call Aketi. Whom God has blessed, no man can curse.