Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has been sworn in for a second term. Southwest Bureau Chief BISI OLADELE examines the challenges that will confront his administration.
The attention of All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders and the nation turned to Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Wednesday February 24, as Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) took the oath for a second term. In spite of COVID-19 prevalence, top party leaders across Southwest and the people of the state made it to the capital city to be part of the event while observing the pandemic’s protocols.
As they arrived the city from Tuesday evening, sirens blared on major roads. Security personnel mounted road block at possible dark spots while others were on patrol of roads to prevent any breakdown of law and order. The arrival of traditional rulers, members of the Bench and the Bar, politicians, the governor’s kith and kin and well-wishers made the city come alive.
For Akeredolu, it was a day of joy and a significant day in his political career, given the fact that he was the second progressive governor to govern the state twice after 13 years under the Labour Party (LP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His joy was also to be particularly understood, considering the very bumpy road leading to his victory at the poll. The situation leading to the APC primary was precarious. His erstwhile deputy, Agboola Ajayi, emerged as the lead internal opposition while other aspirants remained resolute in challenging him. The call for power shift to Ondo South Senatorial District in the 2020 election did not help matters. It buoyed aspirations of gladiators from the district, which emboldened them to challenge the governor the more. Victory Akeredolu’s joy palpable.
Decked in while agbada with a cap to match, the governor stepped into the hall of the International Culture and Event Centre at exactly 10:10am. Accompanied by his wife, Betty Anyawu, who donned a blue native attire with a gold head tie, their children and grandchildren, who were dressed in green attire, also joined them as the governor waved and acknowledged cheers from guests.
His deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, took his oath of office 10:30 am while Akeredolu took his at 10:41 am. They were both sworn in by the Chief Judge Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu.
The arrival of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki drew special applause from the guests. The hall erupted in ecstasy.
In attendance were Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti). Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello-Masari was represented.
Also at the event were the APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Interim National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande; former Ogun State Governor Sen. Ibikunle Amosun; former Senate President Ken Nnamani; new APC chieftain in Osun State Sen. Iyiola Omisore and former National Vice Chairman (Southwest), APC Chief Pius Akinyelure.
Others include Minister of Mines and Steel Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite; former deputy governor of the state Alh. Alli Olanusi; a former deputy governor of Imo State, Chief Eze Maduemere and Ondo APC chieftain Chief Olusola Oke (SAN)
Members of the National Assembly from Ondo State were led by Sen. Ajayi Borrofice while members of the Ondo State House of Assembly were led by Speaker David Oleyelogun.
Traditional rulers were led by the Chairman, Ondo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, Oba Frederick Akinruntan, who is the Olugbo of Ugbo. Other traditional rulers include the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye; Osemawe of Ondo Oba Adesimbo Kiladejo; Olukaka of Oka-Akoko, Oba Yusuf Adeleye and Adoji of Ikale, Oba Jimmy Faduyile. The Deji of Akure was represented by Chief Ogunlade Aladelusi. The Oyiboyi of Ebira land was also represented.
The event was also witnessed by religious leaders from both the Christians and Muslim communities.
Akeredolu thanked President Mohammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other party leaders including Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as well as fellow governors for their support during the election.
Yet, for the people of Ondo State who put their trust in Akeredolu on October 10, 2020 for the second time, the most significant was the new development strategy unveiled by the governor. The new strategy with the acronym REDEEMED, he explained, would guide his administration’s efforts in the next four years.
According to him, REDEEMED was necessitated by the dynamics that changed the landscape during his first term in office. The new strategy, he said, would cater for the key areas necessary to accelerate the development of the state.
He explained REDEEMED to mean Rural and agricultural development, Educational advancement and human capital development, Development through massive infrastructure and Efficient service delivery and policy implementation.
Others are Effective healthcare and social welfare services, Maintenance of law and order for adequate security, Energy, mining and sustainable industries as well as Digital revolution and entrepreneurship.
His first term was guided by a strategy with the acronym JMPPR. It was explained as Job creation through agriculture, entrepreneurship and industrialisation; Massive infrastructural development and maintenance; Promotion of functional education and technological growth; Provision of accessible and qualitative health care and social service delivery as well as Rural development and community extension services.
But, he said times have changed with dynamics of the last four years necessitating a redirection of his administration’s efforts. He identified COVID-19 and insecurity as two key current challenges that disrupted government projections, and which are being tackled with utmost commitment.
He added that paucity of funds also militated against the quest to actualise many lofty objectives which his administration conceived to ameliorate the deplorable conditions under which the people live.
In the speech entitled ‘Pathway to Redemption,’ Akeredolu promised not to depart from the redemptive and restorative promise, stressing that he would proceed with keener enthusiasm to justify the renewal of his mandate to serve the people.
Giving account of his first term, Akeredolu explained with facts and figures how various sectors such as education, health, agriculture and infrastructure received attention across the three senatorial districts.
In implementing his new strategy, Akeredolu will need to immediately begin to consolidate on the foundation he laid in the last four years by opening up more opportunities for the people of the state to maximise their potentials
One, the APC was fractured in the first three years of his first term largely due to improper ambition of some political leaders and inability of gladiators to come to terms with Akeredolu’s style of politics and leadership. The cracks in the party manifested during the build-up to the October 10, 2020 election. Akeredolu is not a typical Nigerian politician. He had to stoop and embrace divergent approaches to conquer in the election.
To heal wounds, Akeredolu faces the challenge of uniting the party, not principally to win future elections but to provide a conducive environment for implementation of his new developmental strategy which is sure to take Ondo State to greater heights. Now that leaders of thought and party leaders are at home with his vision and style of leadership, it is going to be much easier for the governor to become the rallying point for a united, stronger APC in Ondo State.
Two, the governor faces the challenge of running an inclusive government in an environment where government business is perhaps the only thriving venture. To Nigerian politicians, being in government or taking contracts is the only way they understand governance and dividends of democracy. Worse still, they overrate their ability and popularity, hence they have unrealistic expectations. Meeting these expectations may pose a challenge to a governor whose priority is the well-being and prosperity of Ondo State. REDEEMED reveals Akeredolu’s hidden aspiration to open up the state for more economic activities that will enhance residents’ ability to create wealth. If not well managed, politicians and other actors who think they are left out can frustrate the governor’s strategy.
Three, after winning a second term, Akeredolu faces the challenge of grooming a successor. For political leaders that govern for eight years, it is a difficult thing to just leave the office and ignore what becomes of their successes and ongoing projects, hence they are somehow forced to take interest in who succeeds them. Besides, the governor would desire that his party retains power in the state for continuity of programmes and projects.
It is thought that the party will favour power shift to Ondo South Senatorial District in 2024. There are currently tens of aspirants from the district who are already waiting. Some of them were prevailed upon to stand down for Akeredolu during the party’s primary last year. Agreeing on the most suitable candidate from the district and who is able to successfully square up with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate is a challenge the governor will contend with.
Four, insecurity is growing in Nigeria with Ondo State experiencing a fare share of the crisis. The governor has initiated some policies that will improve security in the state. He faces the task of building on it to make Ondo State residents feel safe wherever they are, even in a highly politically complex Nigeria.
On this, the governor insisted that the Nigeria Police Force must be devolved to the federating units to enable states secure their space effectively. He said he would continue to join others in calling for state police until other stakeholders also understand that devolution of authority is inexorable.
He explained that the need to better secure the states led to the establishment of Amotekun by states in Southwest region, pointing out that the security outfit has done well since its establishment.
He said: “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 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…”