Prince Anthony Olatujoye is a Public Affairs analyst and an indigene of Ondo State. In this interview with journalists, he counsels the Ondo State Governor, Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu on how he can move the state forward. Mohammed Abubakar brings excerpts.
What is your advice to the Ondo state governor, Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as he assumed office?
To succeed, the cardinal thing which the Governor must put in place is a structure for good governance. He should work diligently to ensure that his administration is not only dynamic and robust but also transparent and people – oriented. He should also try to keep faith with his campaign promises. He should stick to his manifesto, this is because the promises he made during his campaign remain the social contract between him and the people of Ondo state. His first shot should be to pay off the backlog of salary and pension arrears his predecessor left behind. Ondo state workers and senior citizens are yearning for Aketi’s understanding of their impecunious situation and the need to remedy this on time.
As for the restive unemployed youth, the government should create jobs through massive investments in agriculture; reactivation of moribund industries such as the Cocoa, Oil palm and Cassava industries as well as the Oluwa Glass Company in Igbokoda. He should also partner with private sector players in bringing some other industrial initiatives to the State as well as improve Primary Healthcare and sanitise the educational system with a view to restoring the age-long tradition of educational excellence for which Ondo State is reputed.
Which areas do you think he should accord priority?
The Governor has to accord priority to areas of job creation and infrastructural development especially roads and waterways as quickly as he can find the resources to do so in order to strengthen and increase wealth creation opportunities in Ondo State. The electric power situation in various areas of the State is near comatose; especially in Ondo South Senatorial District and this situation has a disabling effect on economic development; therefore, improved power supply should be given prompt attention. Prioritising collaboration with the Federal Government in providing social security for the vulnerable in the State and the School Feeding Programme as is being done in some states should also be given accelerated consideration.
What are some of the pitfalls of his predecessor, which he must avoid?
I would say probably the failure of the last administration can be linked to its inability to effectively and efficiently manage the State’s resources for the purpose of revamping and reviving industries and factories within the State.
The roads are generally in a sorry pass, the waterways are not properly managed hence their deplorable condition and the attendant non-economic value unnecessarily placed on the farmers and other users. If this entire infrastructure had been effectively managed or fixed, the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Ondo State would have significantly improved and the issue of irregular payments of staff salaries, among others, would have been minimal.
Some people have expressed concern that Akeredolu may find it difficult to administer Ondo state in view of the fact that he lacked political experience.What is your take on this?
Notwithstanding this opinion, the Governor is a perspicacious Legal Practitioner; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who has been actively involved in national politics from the inception of the Fourth Republic.He actively participated in a vast array of election cases over the years that have shaped the landscape of Nigeria’s political firmament. Furthermore, he served as Attorney-General of Ondo State between 1997 and 1999 and was also Chairman of the Legal Aid Council between 2005 and 2006. As a former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in 2008,his term was one of the most successful and productive. He has a strong grassroots presence in the political architecture of the State having worked assiduously for his gubernatorial election in 2012 and his recent emergence as Governor; he, without a doubt, has a strong political structure. I do not believe that a person needs to have previously been elected to a political office to be a good politician. What is important is that a leader must have the ability and sagacity to achieve the tasks and goals of governance he has set for the state. I have no doubt that the ‘’Aketi’’ I know is robustly equipped to bring good leadership and succour to our people.
It has been noted that successive governments in Ondo state have failed to exploit several mineral resources in the state for the purpose of generating extra revenue for the state, especially bitumen, what is your advice to Akeredolu in this area?
Of course, you may be correct that the previous governments have been unable to exploit the mineral resources of the state to its fullest potentials. This may be because the authority to do that falls within the purview of the Federal Government. What the new Governor has to do, however, is to quickly create platforms conducive for partnership with the Ministry of Mines and Steel so that all mineral resources, particularly the State’s rich bitumen deposits, can be better exploited to the benefit of the State. Also, foreign investors should be invited and encouraged to participate in the mining of available solid Minerals for the economic enrichment of the state.
What is your advice to Akeredolu on issues relating to Labour and worker’s welfare in order to ensure industrial harmony between government and civil servants?
He is expected to maintain a cordial relationship with the organised Labour in Ondo State by ensuring that salaries are paid on time and an effective/efficient workforce is put in place. This can also be achieved through proper training and re-training of civil servants in the values that would ensure a better discharge of their duties and responsibilities to the State. Furthermore, he should find dynamic ways to block leakages in the Civil Service with a view to enthroning probity and accountability..
What kind of cabinet do you want Akeredolu to form, an inclusive one or a moderate cabinet. What informed your choice?
He can have a cabinet that is not only inclusive but moderate: one which is made up of people with proven capacity; who are honest and willing to serve the people not withstanding party affiliation. Ondo state has 18 Local Government Areas; he necessarily must not produce 18 commissioners that will work with him, rather, he may pick his officers by zoning equal positions to the three Senatorial Districts. Indeed, he needs tested hands to assist him in bringing the state to an enviable position.
Akeredolu is coming at a time the Ondo state House of Assembly is dominated by PDP, while he belong to APC, how can he enjoy a rosy relationship with the house?
A politician must be willing to cooperate with other stakeholders in his Government. I believe that his experience as a Learned SAN and a former Attorney General would be instrumental in balancing the various interests for the overall benefit of the people of Ondo State.
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