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Monday, April 22, 2024

Open Letter To The New Governor of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu [MUST READ]

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Mr. Governor Sir,

Please accept my belated congratulations on your assumption of office as the 6th democratically elected governor of our Sunshine state. The unexpected way the election went and events leading to it were of so much concern to me that I forgot to do so earlier than now.

My major reason of writing this letter, which I pray you’ll have time to read, is to contribute in a little way to your pathway to success which I’m fervently praying for regardless of my status of an opposition politician.

In my social media interaction with one of the  staunch members of your party who is also likely to be one of your appointees, he was of the opinion that your immediate predecessor “has nothing on ground for you to step into”.

My spontaneous reply to him on that, sir, is that he has allowed bitter politics to becloud his sense of reasoning, objectivity, and sincerity, for contrary to such egregious and utterly fallacious position, Your Excellency has almost everything to step into, consolidate on and or make amends to in erstwhile governor Mimiko’s administration.

Those who will not want to agree with the above position are those who have one personal or political ax or the other to grind with the former governor as empirical facts on ground clearly indicate that Mimiko’s eight-year-rule has charted a smooth, direct, and formidable path to progress for the state in almost every area of development.

I must commend you Mr. Governor, sir, for showing exemplary courage and humility in admitting this much when you said it would take hard work for you to surpass Mimiko’s achievements.  I sincerely pray that you will surpass his achievements sir as that will be in the overall best interest of our beloved state. But to start charting a distinct path from his routes to development in most areas will not only be putting the state on the reverse gear but will ultimately send your administration on the wrong footing.

If you take a look at neighbouring states, most of which are being ruled by your party, you’ll easily realize that everyone of them have had to learn from us in clear cut fashion in many sectors.

Upon assumption of power last year, the Kogi State governor sent delegates to understudy Mimiko’s schemes in education, health, and urban renewal. Nothing less than 9 states including Lagos, Kwara, Kano and Osun have commenced the residency card scheme after Mimiko started it here.

Osun started it’s own Education Quality Assurance Agency in 2014 modelled after Ondo’s which commenced in 2009. Oyo tried to replicate ‘Abiye’ with ‘Abiyamo’ but didn’t get it right. Lagos fashioned it’s now under construction Medipark after Ondo’s Medical village. Many started the Free School Bus Shuttle after Ondo’s but none has been as successful.

Today, Ondo is ahead of many other states as far as support from international bodies (including the Disbursement Linked Indicators, DLI) are concerned but such support in such areas as health, agric, environment, training and so on were earned by reason of good performance and sincerity of purpose. That is why such supports are referred to as PBF (Performance Based Funding).

Arakunrin Akeredolu, my governor, it is not my intention to bore you with rhetorics though laced with incontrovertible facts. So, I’ll like to be specific as to how you can key into and consolidate on Mimiko’s achievements in the most critical areas of development in such a way as would engender rapid, non stop and far reaching progress for our dear Sunshine state.

Roads
In this regard, I’ll love to congratulate your Excellency for hitting the ground running. And this you did by stepping perfectly into the ex governor’s shoes. You couldn’t have gotten it more right.

Mimiko really got it perfectly right by turning around OSARMCO. He carried out the re-engineering of OSAC (Now OSARMCO, a ltd liability company ) to a cost effective, less bureaucratic, direct labour-driven, formidable going concern which within two years of high grade productivity has added over 700 kilometers in construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and maintenance to both state and federal roads in the state.

Arakunrin, you can only capitalize on that giant stride to achieve success in roads construction and maintenance.

If Osarmco can complete the parliament road dualization within two months, if it can complete the Oboro-Inikhorogha-Igbotu road in three months, if it can fix the federal road, (Owo-Ikare) within 4 to 5 weeks, then that company can achieve the impossible for you too. It can easily give you another Obaile-Airport or another Arakale Road elsewhere in Akure.  It can give you more dualized roads in other major towns without stress.

If Mimiko in eight years has increased the kilometres of dualized roads in the state from a meagre 13 to 58, then you have your work cut out for you, sir. Reason why I’m glad you’ve  quickly keyed into the Osarmco vision to get it right.

Sir, you needn’t even allow politics to redirect you by changing the present leadership of the organisation as changing a winning team might quickly sound a death knell on the vision.

Industralisation
Sir, if you rush into industrialization out of political expediency, you’ll easily rush out empty handed with the purse of the state emerging the biggest casualty.

Opposition tried so much to cast blames of states’ inability or failure to sustain, revamp or establish industries on the government ignoring the insurmountable obstacles militating against it. Unless two key factors are put in check, no state or the FG can solely get major industries running as formidable going concerns:

1.Power. Unless we get our electricity problem solved, it will always be difficult getting industries moving especially as government owned industries are concerned. The power problem has had untold adverse effect on the prosperity of the nation as a whole. it has made  unprofitable, reduced employment, fostered an over-reliance on foreign goods, and subverted one of the key normative requirements of a thriving economy by turning the nation into a giant seller’s market.

It was because of the need to solve the power issue first that Mimiko embarked on the IPP Gas turbine at Ore which licence was recently granted by the FG. It amazes me when people talk about Olokola as if it’s a piece of cake. Can you go into something that gargantuan as a free trade zone without having substantial alternative power source?

Sir, if you will get it right as far as industrialization is concerned, you have to start from the Southern zone by leveraging on the power projects Ore IPP /Gas turbine (state owned) and the Omotoso Power plant (FG owned) both of which are almost ready for use, to, in collaboration with reputable private concerns, galvanise the state back to industrial fortitude.

2) The Nigerian attitude of seeing every government concern as part of the national cake, badly run and eaten dry. It’s the biggest reason why no major state owned industry is actually flourishing anywhere in the country.

Not even hotels can be run well by our government. This is the reason why all state or FG owned hotels across the country have either gone moribund or concessioned to private firms to run.

Urban Renewal and Infrastructure.

My learned Senior sir, the former governor, Dr. Mimiko has done so much to transform the outlook of the capital city in particular and the state in general with far reaching, unprecedented drive in urban renewal and massive infrastructural development such as can’t be ignored even by the blind.

Modern markets, roundabouts, dualized roads, Bus stops, parks, functioning streetlights, traffic lights, green beautification, potholes free roads, international standard-event centre, modern shopping mall, Automart, modern abattoir, Mechanic village, modern motor park and so on which the Mimiko government has put in place in a sustainable manner have changed Akure to a capital city we can all be proud of.

Your Excellency has no option than to keep the flag flying as this is crucial in attracting more investors to the state.

If you take a look around the state today, you’ll realize that some of Mimiko’s structures rank among the most massive free standing public buildings we have in the state. Structures like the AAUA Senate building, PSTI Ilaramokin, The Dome Akure, Neuro surgical ward, UNIMED, Civil Engineering building Akure, New Governor’s lodge are some of the new structures turning the state into a veritable tourist attraction and which can fast track  development.

May God grant you the grace to achieve more in this regard.

Health
Your Excellency sir, this is an area in which you really need to be very careful with appointments. A wrong appointment as commissioner for health will put the sector into confusion and affect adversely the great gains of the past 8 years which have seen the state as the leading light in healthcare delivery and sustainable medical infrastructural development.

It’s undeniable that the Mimiko administration with well over 100 new health establishments has added more structures and facilities to the sector than any other governor before him and with avalanche of local and international endorsements,accolades, recognition and benchmarking following its schemes and initiatives, there’s no gainsaying the fact that there’s a clear-cut, worthy, formidable and auspicious pathway to follow.

Sports
I’m afraid, your Excellency might be starting wrongly here with the setting up of a committee to look into the management of ODSFA (Ondo State Football Agency).

Mimiko established the ODSFA in 2009 and it started yielding immediate results such that the entire nation and even the Continent knew a big turnaround has happened to football in Ondo state. In 2010, Sunshine Stars picked its first ever continental ticket and reached the semi-final of the CAF Confederations Cup in 2011 while narrowly missing the league title but grabbed for the state its first ever Champions league ticket. The following year in 2012, it reached the semi-final of Africa’s  most prestigious club tournament and was rated No.4 on the Continent.

Under the same ODSFA, women football gained ascendancy in the state as Sunshine Queens became one of the strongest female teams in the country which eventually won the 2015 Federations Cup, the first by any S’western state.

Sir, these were no happenstances. The successes were due to the diligent and focused management of the Football Agency.

If anything is wrong with the Agency now as the team’s performances have dwindled, it is easily traceable to paucity of funds which has affected every other state-owned clubs in the state. For instance, oil rich Delta state had its flagship clubside, almighty Warri Wolves crumble into relegation under the jackboots of funding deficit.

Adams Oshiomole in 8 years couldn’t even raise the Almighty Bendel Insurance FC from the dead.
It’s the same reason why, in over ten years no other Nigerian Club has been able match Sunshine Stars continental semi-final appearances of 2011 and 2012.

If I were your Excellency, I’ll disband that committee and simply appoint competent people with credibility and good track records to take charge of ODSFA. Mark my words, sir, that committee will only be on a wild goose chase. Nothing productive will come out of it.

To match and surpass Mimiko’s achievements in football and sports in general will require an instantaneous, pragmatic and result oriented step supported with good funding. It’s the only way to hit the ground running as it is the case with roads.

Education
Mimiko’s mega schools have always been a subject for condemnation by the opposition but I hasten to say that this was often done out of malice and political expediency. The concept of the mega schools is in line with the MDG on education, it’s futuristic and it’s the bottom-up approach.

The actual benefits of Awolowo’s free education wasn’t realized until decades after.

Mimiko’s intention was to start from the elementary schools, it won’t be out of place if your Excellency continue with mega secondary schools to join the already reconstructed unity secondary schools.

The Free School Bus Shuttle is one of former Governor Mimiko’s greatest gifts to students of this generation. It must be maintained.

Your Excellency will, however, need someone with the stuff Nicholas Tofowomo is made of in order to sustain the excellent execution of this worthy scheme. The Education Quality Assurance Agency is another worthy initiative that must be maintained or even restructured for improvement.

Tertiary Education 
So far, Mimiko did a great job at AAUA and RUGIPO by improving tremendously their infrastructure and expanding their land such that both institutions are now highly rated among their counterparts in the country. He kick-started Osustech and completed all the structures that presently make up the university but much still need to be done.

He also established Nigeria’s first Medical University which already has the capacity to sustain itself  without being of additional financial burden to the state contrary to what the critics say.

Your Excellency should also ensure you contribute your quota to the further development of these institutions.

Agriculture
Your Excellency sir, I’m of the honest belief that your predecessor has laid a very solid foundation in agriculture which can usher in prosperity for the state.

The Cocoa revolution embarked upon with the revamped Oda cocoa plantation, the Idanre Chocolate factory, the agric villages at Epe, Isuada, Auga and Ore will enhance revenue drive and employment opportunities if consolidated upon.

Rural Community Development
The ministry established by Mimiko which was Nigeria’s first has been a huge success with over a thousand projects completed in hitherto neglected communities across the state. If such a ministry is maintained, rural community dwellers will continue to feel the impact of government but an abandonment of it will take us back to yesteryears when such rural areas were subjected to acute neglect.

Tourism
Sir, unknown to many, with sustainable and veritable infrastructural development which has given birth to such sights as the beautiful roundabouts, Bus stops, Arakale road and Parks, the function streetlights, The Dome, PSTI Ilaramokin, AAUA Senate building,Golf course,  the Medical Village, the mega schools, Democracy Park, Akure mall, the neighbourhood markets, Mechanic village, Modern motor park, Automart, Idanre Hills Resorts and so on, coupled with the institution of the Mare festival in Idanre, former Governor Mimiko’s has succeeded in turning the state into an emerging force in Nigerian Tourism industry. It can only get better under you sir.

Judicial Infrastructure
Ex-governor Mimiko carried out comprehensive renovation of the state High courts, established new ones including Nigeria’s first prison High court and completed a fourteen – courtroom Magistrate Courts complex. Like the state secretariat which was renovated few years ago,  you might not need to do anything in this regard even if you’re to spend 8 years.

News Media
Perhaps ex- governor Mimiko’s really obvious regrettable mistake was the appointment of that former Channels TV newscaster as the DG of OSRC. It amazed me how he could remain for that long in that position having turned the station into an object of derision and a theatre of the absurd.

However, what your Excellency needs to do is as easy as ABC. Appoint a credible, honest, hardworking person with a good track record in the field as DG and with adequate funding he will give us the station of our dreams. That ‘probe’ panel set up by your excellency, to me, like the one you set up for ODSFA is a waste of precious time. Nothing impactful will come out of it. We already have several panel reports on ground from which you can easily identify what was amiss if at all that is necessary.

Orange FM was set up because of reception and location issues and I think that radio station alone is okay for now since the state now has up to six private radio stations (4 in Akure, 3 in Ondo city and 1 in Ilaramokin).

The Hope Newspaper was given a turnaround by Ex governor Mimiko and became a daily tabloid with wider reach. There’s room for improvement sir.

Salaries
Sir, I find it funny that your supporters are excited that you’ve paid February and March salaries. These are the two months you ought to pay if your predecessor (who owed 6 months) had paid. I pray you’re able to pay the backlog and continue without owing but nothing calls for celebration so far.

Mimiko did not owe a single month in his first six years as governor. He was known to be paying 13th month even as he became the first governor to hit the N22k minimum wage mark, until allocation dropped sharply in mid 2015.

Sir, if you’re to match Mimiko in infrastructural development, it’ll certainly be impossible for you not to encounter this salary palaver. So, I’ll advise that you tread softly as the cost of building now is about thrice what it used to be when Mimiko took over. And with the continued fall of the naira, low allocation and intense demand for wage increment, your government can easily fall into harsher times than Mimiko’s.

Kaadi Igbeayo
This is a much derided but very important innovation of the Mimiko government which can help organise your government and galvanise it into high rate productivity, ensuring only residents get maximum benefit of your welfare packages while also adding in a little way to the IGR.

The Residency Card Scheme has been found to be so important that many States including Lagos (LASSRA) Kwara (KIRIN) Osun (Kaadi Omoluabi) have followed the Ondo example. Though the government encountered initial hitches, it eventually got it right and perfect such that it will be grossly counterproductive for any succeeding government to do away with it.

Council Dissolution
Truth is, every governor and indeed all politicians in power make use of the judiciary to get what they want. That is why we have ‘political judgements’ flying everywhere. No governor is exempted. And it is a sad commentary on the polity.

But what happened on Friday 31st day of March 2017 before Justice Sidiq was a judicial heist and carnage of a most unwholesome specie. If you look deeply, you’ll realize nothing was actually before the judge yet he made a far reaching unconscionable decision putting something on nothing.

Every discernible rule of natural justice seemed to baffle recognition. It’s your inroad into impunity but by which you’ve taken executive collusion and judicial rascality to a new pathetic level.

On Politics
Sir, I’m not a politician in the true sense of the word, but all I can tell you here is ‘EGBON, TAKE CONTROL’.. No matter how much he’s vilified by political opponents, one thing no one can take away from Mimiko is that he was firmly in control. He called the shots and exhibited the directness of genuine leadership.  Thus, he’s able to take responsibility for both his worthwhile and otherwise political actions and omissions. Nothing will be as agonizing as, if at the end of the day you’ll have to take responsibility for actions or omissions which were to you, ‘non ex-factum’.

It’s early days yet, but four years will soon be upon us.

Sir, like Artemidorus warned Caesar, ‘Security gives way to conspiracy’.

Yours sincerely, 

Remigius  Akinbinu, Esq.

Remigius Akinbinu is a barrister who served as a senior special assistant to Ondo Governor Olusegun Mimiko [2009 to 2017]. Connect with him on Facebook

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

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