THE AUDACITY TO TAKE ONDO STATE BEYOND THE PRIDE OF PLACE
By Wale Adegoroye
The creation of the Ondo state in 1976 by the late General Murtala Ramat Mohammed has thrown the leadership of the state at both military and civilian governors. Amongst the lots that had ruled the state, the administration of Dr Olusegun Mimiko stood out as the one that has given unparalleled priority to urban renewal. A whole lot has practically been done to give infrastructural facelift to the state and move her from a mere dusty province to a place of pride. In all fairness, an unprecedented high standard has been emplaced by the Mimiko led government and it will take an equally vision driven successor to sustain the standard.
People of the Sunshine state are billed to to elect a successor of Dr Olusegun Mimiko come November 26th later in the year. The question agitating the mind of everyone in the state is who is best equipped not only to sustain the standard already bequeathed to the state by Dr Mimiko; but someone capable of taking the state beyond the pride of place. Not less than fifty gubernatorial aspirants on the platform of APC and PDP have already made their intention known to succeed the incumbent. There is a particular gentleman amongst the lots whose ambition to succeed Dr Mimiko deserves the import of this discourse.
It is a common saying that some get royalty and nobility thrown at them through the dint of hard work while some are born into royalty and clothed by the garb of nobility by circumstance of their birth. Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi
was fortunate to have been born into royalty and had worked assiduously to court nobility. This unassuming gentleman is a prince of the famed late Sir Olateru Olagbegi(KBE) whose older sibling is now the reining Olowo of Owo. Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi is a United States of America trained accountant who is also a renowned Financial Consultant. He had a stint at the Price Waterhouse Cooper where had an excellent career before opting for a private practice. His dominant motivating reason for setting up Conet Consulting Ink in Atlanta Georgia was to provide employment opportunities for Nigerians over there and to give them an avenue to get trained on how to handle financial consulting. This consulting outfit rapidly turned out the biggest minority firm not only in Atlanta Georgia but in the entire United States of America. Management wizardry of Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi got proven when his firm attracted patronage from federal agencies of the United States of America. This is by every standard not a mean feat that was achieved by this Ondo State born financial expert. The success stories of Conte Consulting Ink became tantalizingly irresistible to the biggest financial companies in the United States like Oracle Incorporation, IBM and DeKalb Canton when they elected to patronize the firm. Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi seized the opportunity of his long time business engagements with the world leading financial companies and agencies to build a virile and most robust relationship that has now crystalized into a network of global investors that can positively turn around the economic fortune of any nation or state within a short time. Ondo state is surely blessed to have Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi because of the economic asset he constitutes to the Sunshine state.
The bustling nature of giving back to the society coupled with the burden of service inherent in Price Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi informed his delve into the murky water of politics. He contested the Ondo North Senatorial district election in 2007 under the platform of the Labour Party. The election was disputably won by the Owo Prince only for the powers that be at the time to deny him of victory. The electoral malfeasance unleashed on Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi was enough for an average Nigerian politician to fight dirty; instead this gentleman took the robbery with equanimity. Notwithstanding the poor treatment meted out to Prince Nekan by the Professor Maurice Iwu led INEC and the offered juicy federal appointment which he declined; he has since stayed true in his unflinching loyalty to Dr Mimiko and has remain undaunted in his push to better the lots of his people.
The onerous responsibility of Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi as the pioneer Coordinator of Ondo State Directorate of Public Private Partnership has afforded the state a breath of fresh economic air. This gentleman has so far worked assiduously to give the state the much needed economic liberation.The least of his achievements in this capacity is the delivery of Akure Shopping Mall which has to large extent added pep to the economic activities within and around the state capital. The littoral status of Ondo State and the fact of her longest shore line in the country is an advantage that Prince Nakan has chosen to leverage on to the monumental economic benefits of the state. Ondo State is now poised to have the deepest seaport that will turn out a beehive of busiest marine activities in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. The deep seaport is bound to be complemented with a Free Trade Zone that will completely liberate the state from total dependence on monthly handouts from Abuja. Efforts are now in top gear by Prince Olateru-Olagbegi to ensure that a couple modular refineries spring up within the Free Trade Zone in a bid to proffer a permanent solution to the excruciating fuel crisis being experienced in Ondo state and her environs. The beauty of the whole arrangements is the salient fact that the whole quantum of fund needed for these projects will come from private investors. It can only take a man of vision and vast global networks to have landed these deals for his state within a short while. Meanwhile, Dr Olusegun Mimiko must be applauded for his relentless support towards the successes so far recorded by Prince Nekan Olateju-Olagbegi in his ambitious determination to give economic leeway to his state.
It is worthy of mentioning here that licence has been secured from the federal government to commence exploitation activities of Ondo State bitumen deposits which is the second largest in the whole world. Four different investors have been enlisted for this project by Prince Nekan. This is in addition to the waste to wealth initiative of Prince Olagbegi under the Integrated Waste Management System of the state. The moribund Ifon Ceramic industry has equally enjoyed the reactivation intervention of Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi under the PPP arrangement and the company is now positioned to dish out all sorts of ceramics to the Nigerian market. The snag of Ondo State being a predominant civil service state is expected to be reversed by the time these novel business activities come on stream. The economic complexion of Ondo state should experience a drastic leap to being one of the best in the country in view of the projects already placed in the pipelines by Prince Nekan. The army of unemployed youth in the state and the underemployed will soon have genuine cause to be immensely thankful to Dr Olusegun Mimiko through the numerous private sector interventions of Prince Olagbegi.
An assemblage of clairvoyant minded will not be necessary to establish that majority of the gladiators jostling to succeed Dr Mimiko do not posses the managerial acumen to free the state from the financial apron string of Abuja. The biting effects of prevailing economic hemorrhage being experienced in the nation has pointed at the direction of diversified income sources as the only way to economic survival. If Ondo State is to get ushered into economic prosperity, then it can only take the highly skilled and vastly experienced in the private sector intervention to vigorously nurture the above mentioned plans into fruition. One of the time proven political tactics to deliver good governance is for conceiver of dreams and visions to take front seat in actualizing same. This was evidenced in Lagos State in year 2007 when a perfectly squared peg was emplaced into a square hole. This was the more reason a seamless transition from Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to Babatunde Raji Fashola was achieved .This singular factor nonetheless accounted for the attained successes of BRF which eventually culminated into taking governance in Lagos state to an enviable vista. In the light of the aforesaid, Ondo State should not be an exception in the post Mimiko era.
The minimum standard expected from the would be successor of Dr Mimiko is a man of uncompromising loyalty and fidelity to the cause he believes in. The would be successor must equally be a seasoned technocratic and a highly refined politician that despises the regular do or die penchant of an average Nigerian politician.The man that deserves to take over from Dr Mimiko must completely be scandal free and a man of impeccable records of public office and private practice. The Sunshine state needs a man with indepth international exposure and vast global connections to take charge of the state’s affairs from February 2017. In the spirit of fairness and sense of belonging, successor of Dr Mimiko should come from the Owo/Ose axis of the state. This is painfully an area that has not produced governor of the state since the beginning of this democratic experiment in 1999. The conventional zoning arrangement in the state had seen Chief Adebayo Adefarati, an Akoko person from the Northern Senatorial District as the governor from 1999 to 2003. Chief Olusegun Agagu from the Southern Senatorial District held sway from year 2003 to 2009. It has been the turn of Dr Olusegun Mimiko from Ondo Central Senatorial District from year 2009 till date. Any effort to short circuit or circumvent the continuation of this cycle will only undermine the prevalent unity amongst the three senatorial districts of the State. The only fair and just political balancing that can further foster love and oneness in the state is to allow the natural flow of the conventional zoning arrangement already in place since 1999 by allowing an Owo/Ose person from the Northern Senatorial District to emerge as the next helmsman of the Sunshine state.
It is no gainsaying that all the above listed attributes are imbued in Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi. Here is also a man that is eminently qualified and well equipped to take the Sunshine state beyond the pride of place to the much desired economic eldorado. Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi is a bundle of economic blessings waiting to be doled out for the financial liberalization of his state. I can only hope that good people of the sunshine state will spot out the innate qualities of this man and look beyond mere ephemeral gratification to collectively put their salvation in the hands of a character that encapsulates competence, integrity and dependability all rolled into one.