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Monday, April 22, 2024

Akeredolu’s 100 Days: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (READ)

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first 100 days of the Rotimi Akeredolu administration has come and gone but the good the bad and the ugly experiences linger. This government came on board with huge responsibilities and high expectations because of the doldrums experienced in the last one year of the immediate past administration. The people were looking forward to a messiah sort-of in the duo of Akeredolu and Ajayi to jump-start the economic situation of the state and turn things around with magic-wands overnight, if possible.

The takeoff was smooth and hitch free. The sincerity of purpose of the Pilot (Akeredolu) and his copilot (Ajayi) is not in doubt as evidence by the establishment of the Strategic Development and Policy Implementation Committee (SDPIC) to fashion out developmental blueprint for Ondo State. The committee members were selected across all strata of professions and fields needed to kick start and lay a solid foundation for the much desired development of Ondo state. The formation of the various committees raised people’s hope and convinced the generality of Ondo state residents that at last we are having a Governor who actually prepared to govern and seemed to know how best to take the state out of the quagmire it found itself, due largely to the mismanagement and underutilization of its abundant resources.

Akeredolu inherited a government that was in huge debts to the stock market, banks, contractors and civil servants. Apart from the seven months’ unpaid salary’s backlog, it’s also on record that no retired civil servant received a dime as gratuity in the past eight years. The unpaid gratuity backlog of the retired civil servants alone was calculated to be above forty billion naira (#40b). By the time you add this to other aforementioned debts, the total debts profile would be around two hundred billion naira (#200b) and yet the government must prove to the citizenry that it’s indeed better than the previous. If not for anything but to justify the change of government and to compensate the people for having blind faith and trust in the Akeredolu / APC package.

The Good

Despite the inherited problems, Akeredolu has so far steered the ship of the state in the right direction with utmost good faith. The good of the first 100 days of the administration can be seen through the deliberate efforts and quest of the government to reduce the suffering of the civil servants and make life better for the citizenry. 100 days is too small (just about 0.07% of the expected 1460 days) to judge and assess a government with a four-year mandate. However, Akeredolu has subtly shown that he deserved the confidence reposed in him by the people. We are not out of the wood yet but paths are being created to lead us out and take us to the glorious destination befitting an endowed state with our types of flourishing and untapped human and natural resources.

It’s a common knowledge that the civil servants to a large extent determine the success or failure of any administration. In private business as well, the emotional stability of your workforce determine the success or failure of your venture. This is one of the reasons, successful business owners don’t joke with the welfare of their staff. Workers must be motivated to maximize productivity. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that informed the decision of Arakunrin Akeredolu to put the welfare of the civil servants of Ondo state as his number one priority. Despite the prevailing economic situation, he promised to ensure the payment of salary every month. He has not only kept this promise but has also paid one month out of the inherited seven months’ backlog; with the assurance to intermittently pay the backlog as we progress. Today, the psyching and tunes of the civil servants in Ondo state are nothing but positive and encouraging.

Akeredolu doesn’t engage in frivolity. This is one major reason why his first 100 days in office was not celebrated with fanfare. He simply doesn’t like to join the bandwagon of politicians that normally use two hundred million naira (#200m) to commission and publicize a project that was executed with one hundred million naira (#100m). The past 100 days has been so eventful and impactful with; the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NDDC to construct a multi-billion naira road to link Ondo state directly to Lagos through Ibeju-lekki; Rehabilitation of Ayetoro junction in Akure, Rehabilitation of Sabo road in, Akure; Rehabilitation of roads within the state specialist hospital, Akure; Construction of internal and access roads in OSUSTECH; Construction of Sabonme road in Ese-odo; Construction of Abusoro road; Construction of Opasorun road in Idanre; Construction of Oyinmo-Adogbon road in Ikare; Construction of Victory College junction in Ugbe; Construction of Ogbomo, Ifedara and Howlet Lane road in Ifon; Construction of Ilara-mokin / Ikota road and; Construction of road within GRA to Prison area in Owo. These were done within the first 100 days of the Akeredolu led administration and were evenly spread across the three senatorial districts of Ondo state. Despite all these, there was no celebration of sort or publicity hypes to showcase any of the projects because our man believe he is simply doing what he was voted to do.

The icing on the cake and the most interesting part of the Akeredolu’s administration so far is his style of governance through self-denial to cut or reduce the cost of governance. He started by putting a peg on the maximum cost of any of his interstate trip to about 30% of the usual or previous cost. Thereby leading by example. He has also successfully reduced the running cost of every political office; from the Governor’s office down to personal assistant. All these were done to reduce the cost of governance so that the reality of the current economic situation will also reflect in the life / office of political office holders.

The Bad

Politics they say is a dirty game and Ondo state politicians are not saints. While Akeredolu and his deputy are struggling on how to set the state on a fast lane to economic independence through commercial agriculture, rural development, industrialization and employment generation, their followers are scheming to outsmart one another through blackmail, backbiting and whatever means.

It all started when the governor set up various committees for the inauguration planning and Strategic Development Implementation Committees. The intrigues that followed the selection and inauguration of the various committees were amazing. Even though the Governor made it succinctly clear that membership of the committees doesn’t translate to appointment or any financial gains, people still fought or gatecrashed to be enlisted. Those whole couldn’t make the list wailed all through the lifespan of the committees.

Prior to the primaries, there were Team Abraham, Team Alash, Team Aketi, Team Boroffice, Team VOICE, Team Ayorinde, Team this and Team that. As it was in the parable of the sower, as narrated by our Lord Jesus Christ so it was with the Ondo State APC. All the aspirants sowed seeds. Some seeds fell on the rock and died immediately (withdrew before primaries), some fell on fertile land, germinated but got choked by thorn and died (fizzled out or left the party after primaries) while some also fell on fertile land, germinated and grow (worked for the overall interest of the party). Akeredolu of the Team Aketi won the primaries. Some seeds died with their sowers, some get choked because their sowers deserted them while some followed their sowers to join hands with Akeredolu to form a formidable team that fought and conquered with a resounding victory at the poll. Team Aketi won the primaries but it was Team APC that won the governorship election. That is the crux of the matter!

Akeredolu won the governorship election because of the support he enjoyed from generality of the people of Ondo state and in particular loyal APC members. All committed APC members (old or new) worked hard for the victory and God crown their efforts. They were one and united in the struggle. Naturally therefore, they were expected to be more united in victory. Unfortunately that is not the case now. The formation of the various committees before inaugurations created a visible crack on the wall. There were rumors in town then that the Agagu boys were the one controlling and running things. The Team Aketi saw this as their birthright, braced up for war with a stout and strong desire to claim back what was rightly theirs. That marked the beginning of the end of Team APC, if there was anything like that in Akeredolu’s administrative strategies.

As planned, Team Aketi regrouped and worked out modality to reactivate their influences on their principal. Despite Akeredolu’s personal or seeming desire to remain or be seen as father to all, Team Aketi took over, as evidence in the way and manner the local government caretaker, NURTW and ACCOMARAN’s cases were handled. It was alleged that Team Aketi got 70% of the entire local government caretaker appointments, across board. This is grossly unhealthy. Now we don’t hear of Agagu boys anymore. The outcry is now from the larger APC members crying of marginalization by the united, formidable, strong but very tinny Team Aketi. Team Aketi represent just about 25% of the entire APC (old or new) members that worked to ensure that Akeredolu won the election. Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu must do something to change the wrong and negative perception of the majority of APC members. He must extend his consultation to all leaders that worked and supported him, especially on all issues that concerned there local government areas, zones and state.

The Ugly

It’s better not to attain kingship than to become a king and be seen not to be in control of your subjects. Barrister D.I Kekemeke, a fine gentleman has outlived his usefulness as the Chairman of APC in Ondo State. I saw the press statement he issued after his suspension last week and I shook my head in total disdain. Agreed, he was elected but that does not imply that he is not answerable to the people he was supposed to be leading. Kekemeke has overstayed his welcome as the chairman on APC in Ondo state. That he can claimed to have led the APC to victory in 2016 is laughable.

He led the party to victory yet he was never seen or heard anywhere to have campaigned for or with the then candidate of the party. The Aketi/APC campaign train traversed the length and breadth of Ondo state but Kekemeke was too big to partake in such futile exercise. He only attended the flag off and grand finale in Akure after much persuasion and as a mark of respect for the Abuja team. According to our powerful and irremovable chairman, that is how to lead a party to victory.

Barrister Kekemeke withdrew from office and stopped playing his active and expected roles as party chairman after the ignoble role he played before the APC governorship primaries of 2016. He has been on self-imposed strike since last year. The likes of Kekemeke can only retain his chairmanship position this long under an Akeredolu led government. Like or hate Akeredolu, he is now the leader of the party in Ondo state. He surely can not survive a week under Fayose. Yes, we can not compare Fayose with Akeredolu. The likes of Kekemeke can also not survive a month under Tinubu. That’s the bitter truth.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was nominated in absentia in 1999 as the candidate of the AD by the Awo veterans. Immediate he became Governor, he consolidated his hold on the party, depleted the influence of the veterans and took total control of the party structure in Lagos. With Don BAT, loyalty have no percentage. You are either totally loyal or you are not loyal at all. His deputy Chief (Mrs) Kofo Bucknor Akerele pledged her loyalty to the veterans and was unceremoniously removed. It’s on record that Tinubu is the only Governor to have used three deputy Governors within a two term of eight years. If Don BAT can get rid of his deputies with ease, you can imagine the fate of a disloyal and disrespectful party chairman.

Kakemeke claimed to have led APC to victory in 2016, yet he wasn’t happy enough to call the candidate he can claim to have led to victory, if not for anything but to congratulate him and the APC at large. Barrister Kekemeke has neither called nor visited the Governor since the commencement of this administration. True to types, he attended the swearing-in ceremony because again, the Abuja team and National leaders were in attendance. I have nothing personal against the person of Barrister Kekemeke but somebody must put an end to this ugly drama. If Kekemeke want to remain in the APC (not even as chairman) he must swallow the humble pie. You are either for or against the Governor. For him to have snubbed the Governor of the party he claimed to be leading for three months unchallenged and unquestioned is very disheartening. The gentleman nature of Akeredolu and Ajayi should not be taken for cowardice and stupidity.

The past 100 days has opened the eyes of the citizenry to the future that awaits them. Luckily for the people of Ondo state, Akeredolu is not the type to give lame excuses or trade blames because most of our problems are self-inflicted and therefore surmountable. He however need the patience and support of all and sundry to lead us to the promised land.

All aggrieved and agitating APC members should also be patience. It is too early in the life of the administration for us to start drawing conclusion. Team Aketi members should also desist from intimidating or oppressing other APC members. We all love Akeredolu. For him to succeed we must be united behind him. The federal government of the PMB /APC led administration is not functioning at full capacity because of lack of unity of purpose on the part of various office holders. Of course, we don’t want the replica in Ondo state.

The PMB led federal government has not really perform above average because political office holders placed the interest of their previous group (party) far above APC and national interest. The CPC controls the presidency while the ACN is struggling for space and relevance. The PDP control the Senate while the ACN is also struggling for space. The ANPP controls House of Representatives while both the ACN and PDP struggle for space and relevance. Each bloc pursuing personal and selfish agenda. This is one major reason the PMB administration is moving at a snail speed.

Arakunrin Akeredolu must make deliberate efforts to erase and correct the wrong insinuation or perception that a team is more relevant in his government than the others. It’s really not how long I stay with you that matters but how well I support you. He is the leader of APC in Ondo state and should be seen so in words and deeds. The sense of belonging that made many people work for him with blind faith should be sustained. Things are looking up for Ondo state and it will surely get better sooner than we expect. Act anew, think anew.

Festus Aladesanmi writes from Oba-Ile, Akure. He can be reached by email HERE.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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