By Kennedy Ikantu Peretei.
Not many people in Ondo State believe that Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN the incumbent Governor of Ondo State deserves a second term in office.
This fact was underscored by the more than twenty Governorship Aspirants from his party APC, who told everyone that cared to listen that Akeredolu has destroyed their party and the possibility of returning to Alagbaka Government House come next year.
The allegations were multifarious. Ranging from maladministration to capital flight. From clannishness to corruption. From arrogance to selfishness. These allegations were drummed to roof top by APC leaders who called themselves Unity Forum, under the leadership of former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi. There were others who did not align with the Unity Forum but still believed that, Akeredolu was a bad bargain for their party.
It took some arm twisting, blackmail and horse trading to hand over the APC Governorship ticket at the Primaries to Akeredolu so as to enable him try his luck with the electorates come October, 2020.
Perhaps the APC leadership in Abuja and Lagos are planning to ride Ondo State roughshod to make Akeredolu Governor again. But it will shock them that in the People’s Court, he has been tried, found guilty on all counts and have been sentenced accordingly to return to Ibadan from where he came to become Governor.
Count One: Education is the most prized endeavour in Ondo State. There are families that have three to four generations of University Graduates. There is no nuclear family that cannot boast of more than seventy percent of their children with University education. A people who are very passionate about education.
Before the coming of Akeredolu as Governor of Ondo State, State owned tertiary institutions charged tuition fees that were the least in the South West. But in less than six months in the saddle, the fees witnessed more than 400% increment. In spite of the students unrest occasioned by the development, the Akeredolu administration turned a deaf ear. To further insult the sensibilities of parents whose children had to drop out of school, the Governor said the #150,000.00 being complained about is not more than the cost of a pair of shoes. He has taken education beyond the reach of the common man in Ondo State. As the Gubernatorial Election approached, he suddenly discovered that, the decision to increase tuition fees is not one he can survive at the polls. He then quickly made a u-turn by pledging to reduce fees before the election. But this is simply medicine after death. The damage had been done and sentence already pronounced. Even if he declares free education in tertiary institutions it will be taken as election promises. This sin against the leaders of tomorrow is one he cannot survive at the polls.
Count two: Traditional rulers are revered in Africa. Even in some advanced democracies, such institutions are respected. The Queen of England, Head of the British Government enjoys all attached honour and privileges. In Akeredolu’s Government, Traditional rulers are not more than mere school children who can be rudely addressed and insulted because, he owes them nothing. And whether they vote for him or not he will return to where he came from. The decision has already been taken that he should return to Ibadan, again, he has been found guilty, on account of defiling Traditional institutions in the land.
Count three: The urban renewal Programme of the previous PDP administration transformed many of the towns and cities in the State. Since the beginning of Akeredolu’s Government, nothing has happened in the direction of urban renewal. The Neighborhood Markets that sprang up in Akure, Ondo, Idanre, Ikare, Okitipupa and everywhere else are begging for attention. Again, guilty as charged.
Count four: The Mother and Child Hospital, Akure was established by the previous government to put paid to pregnancy serving as death sentence. Pregnant women received antenatal treatment free of charge till delivery. Even those who needed ceasarian section were operated free. Patients from neighbouring Ekiti and Osun States patronised Ondo State on account of the first class medical services rendered in Mother and Child. Today, patients are abandoned in these hospitals because they have no money to pay. Women, who are a critical section of the voting population have vowed to show Akeredolu a red card because of his handling of Mother and Child Hospital.
Count five: Infrastructural Decay. Akure the Ondo State capital was a wonder to behold at night before Akeredolu assumed office as Governor. The well lit street from Fiwasaye through Oba Adesida to Ilesha Garage is now in perpetual darkness. Everywhere you look is heaps and heaps of refuse. Waiting for an epidemic to break out. It is as though there is no Governor or Government in place.
Count six: The Akeredolu Government is the most corrupt and clannish Government that has entered the saddle since 1999. Apart from appointing only Owo indigens into all sensitive positions in the State or openings in South West and Abuja, his immediate family of wife, children and in-laws treat Ondo State tax payers money as theirs. It is so bad that Akeredolu’s son Babajide, told the Ondo State House of Assembly Members that, it was he who discovered the #4.3billion lodged in a Zenith Bank for ten years, and they were busy bodies. Ondo State electorates have had enough of bad mouth from son, father and wife who referred to Akoko areas of Ondo State as “back wood”.
Count seven: Ondo State is a Civil Servants State. The welfare of the workforce is always an issue during elections. His disdain and lack of interest about the welfare of the Civil Servants will surely nail his political coffin come October.
Count eight: Akeredolu has forgotten in a hurry that the collapse of the Second Republic can be located within the 1983 Election crisis that engulfed Ondo State. The defunct NPN led federal government wanted to subvert the wishes of the people at all costs. In a comic twist of fate, Rotimi Akeredolu is from Owo, the same place Chief Adekunle Ajasin came from. The people backed Ajasin against Akin Omoboriowo then in 1983. But today, the people are rejecting Akeredolu in favour of Eyitayo Jegede, the PDP Candidate. Akeredolu is relying on APC thugs, Federal might induced violence to win the election. Not knowing that, the violence perpetrated by the APC during the Local Government election has become the final red card for him. In places like, Oba-Ile, Akure North Local Government Area, Ogbagi, Akoko North West and Ilara, Ifedore Local Government, the people resisted rigging and installed thier choice as elected Councilors. Opposition party leaders were brutalised, Campaign vehicles vandalised in an election that PDP, the major opposition party did not even participate.
The choice before the people is between prosperity and poverty. Education for our children and school drop outs. Between darkness and light. For those who witnessed the giant strides of the previous PDP Government, Akeredolu’s score card has given victory to Eyitayo Jegede, SAN in the October Gubernatorial Election.
Kennedy Ikantu Peretei is State Publicity Secretary of PDP.