He was the former speaker of the individual state house of assembly and he is a very strong and dynamic player in the politics of Ondo State. He was the director general of the Aketi campaign committee in 2016 and also retained that position in 2020 and he delivered victoriously.
Pls tell us the magic wand used to elect and reelect Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu
There is no magic wand outside God. It’s God that manifested Himself in 2016 and the same God never changes. In managing an election, one thing that is paramount is that you must believe in the project that you are marketing. If you don’t believe in it, it might not be that easy. In 2016, I was convinced within me that it is the turn of the north to produce a governor and I was ready to put in everything I have to make sure that we deliver. I had to look back and discovered that elections have always been through hiring of crowd and I told my principal then that if you listen, we are going to win this election. We are not going to hire any crowd anywhere. When we are going to a rally, let’s just meet the people we want to talk to. Then, let the people we want to talk to stay there for us. If we are going to Akoko South East, nobody must be there from Akoko South East or anywhere. Just your team and the people of Akoko Southeast and let’s measure how are we on ground.
When you are in a rally along the line when you are going, monitor those who are on the side line. How are they behaving? Are they enthusiastic? If they are enthusiastic, we don’t have to come down before you know. If they are passive you’ll know. If they are not interested, you will know. Then, you come back to the drawing board after the campaign, then you do the necessary thing and you don’t have to go back to the place what necessary things you have to do and what not to do.
In funding election, I discovered that the way elections have always been funded has always been by giving money to the leadership of the party. And when you give money to the leadership of the party, you discover that the money will not get to the grassroots.
The leadership are in layers. If you give it to the top, they take something out of it, echelon give it to the next level, the next level takes out of it. You give it to the next level, they take so that by the time it gets to the people, and the money which is one hundred percent might have become twenty percent. And if you don’t perform, you don’t have to blame anybody, you’ll blame yourself. Some will even say that the money got missing and what do you do?
Then, in 2016, we devised unit release of money for campaign. Don’t release money to anybody but to the units and we have three thousand and nine units. If you want to release your money, release it to the three thousand and nine units. Even if they are going to take out of it, it is the leadership at that unit only that will take out if it. Therefore, you will still discover that majority of our people will still get the money.
After each campaign, you come back to the drawing board. Some people must have done the video clip, you watch the video clip, look at the people how they were behaving. That behaviour is the body language. When you’ve watched this, you now discover if there is the need to go back there or not and if you need to go back there, who do you go to see there? And if it is a place where you are doing very well, how do you make sure that your popularity in the place does not go down.
In 2016, we had a principal who has a name but not tested politically. We used his name and integrity to market him. The thing changed in 2020. In 2020, he had been tested. People already knew him. There are more enemies now than in 2016 because he has not stepped on anybody’s toes unless he has stepped on them privately but as a governor now, he has stepped on so many toes and done certain things that people don’t think he would do to them. Even with the APC there are so many enemies so we had to devise means to placate some people and the most important, harped on his integrity and performance in office.
He did not disappoint us, he performed well in service delivery. We also have to justify that this estate has to be turn by turn Nigeria limited. The center has done two terms. If the north comes there, let the North do their two terms. When they finish, let it go to the south and let the south do their two terms and let it come back to the central.
The North and South bought into it heavily and you see the result during the election. We went to some people in the South that this is our turn, support us so that when it is you turn, we support you and they agreed. And when you see the result of the election, you will see that it was clear. The people spoke in clear terms. They didn’t mince words and to God be the glory. That is why today, he is back for second term. Forget about any litigation, it’s a useless litigation.
Going to court to do what? Will you say people in Owo didn’t vote for their son or you will say those of us in Supare didn’t know where we are going?
So, that was the magic we used in 2016 and 2020 and to God be the glory, we thank God for the two successes.
Looking at the economic trend and the paucity of fund, what do you envisage in the second term? do you think he will be able to meet up or even surpass his achievements?
When Akeredolu came on board, there was economic downturn. He met salary arrears of about seven months. Things were not moving fine but to the glory of God, he was able to achieve what he has achieved and that God is still there. Akeredolu will do better now. There are no hiccups on his way than in the first term.
You have to remember that COVID or no COVID, our internally generated revenue is going up. It is unlike before he came on board and for me, I am not a pessimist, I am an optimist. Therefore I believe the economy of Nigeria will be better. Therefore he will be able to do more. This time around, he already know how to move. Just follow the sake trend. We finish what we are doing now and new projects will come on board and a lot of things will be done this term and I can assure you, being a prudent manager that he had always been and he will always be. His target is Ondo state. The thing I can assure you is that the development after Akeredolu can be multiple. Multiple in the sense that before the end of this month, the Ondo Port might be declared by the federal government and if that is done, within the next four years, something will start happening which means governors that are coming after Akeredolu are going to inherit more buoyant economy than Akeredolu.
If that happens, you can be rest assured that there will more money for development after this but he will make sure that that solid foundation is laid and money would be accruing little by little to the economy from the Ondo Port even before he leaves office. With the stage at which our bitumen is now. If it continues like that within the next two to three years, we will be getting Royalty from bitumen. And if we are now getting, that means more money for the state.
What matters most to Ondo state now is not what goes to your pocket; it is the tomorrow of this state. Whoever will come and kill that tomorrow, we will never allow such to happen again. If it was like the way Dr Agagu was performing, if that trend had continued, Ondo state would not have been going to look for money anywhere. So, people must be able to understand and look at the future of this state. In the whole of the south west; we have the greatest potential for growth. And unfortunately for us here, some states don’t want this port developed because they know it will affect their economy. I can assure you that within ten years of Ondo Port, something great will happen. And that is why there are people working against the actualization of Ondo Port and we should not be part of those that will be working against ourselves. So, we should join hands together. That is going to be the mainstay of our economy.
Ten years after that port is declared and work starts there, you will marvel at the development that will take place. It is going to be a miracle to so many people. Therefore, Akeredolu will do better in second term because the mandate on his shoulder now is more encompassing than in 2016. We want to use him as a benchmark to measure other leaders that will emerge in this state in the future as regards the development of the state when it comes to loving and wanting Ondo state to progress, Akeredolu is number one and for that, if you can make this state great and make job available, you have relieved me of a lot of burden and such a person I will follow whether anybody likes it or not.
The APC at the state level was battling with crises, how was this solved?
A party is a family and you are bound to have some disagreements. We had disagreement but some of us sat down and looked at the disagreement and tried to weigh it what it has done to us in terms of disadvantages and we discovered that there was no advantage that we had gained from it. We met with the governor and we discussed with him that this time, we must bring everybody on board that immediately you win the primary, our people must not be allowed to drift and we also have our own calculations and our calculations worked perfectly. We don’t want any candidate to come from the north, no formidable candidate from the south. We succeeded even though the deputy governor was from the south. He contested but we were sure he is a workover. Immediately after the primaries, the governor visited other aspirants in their houses and they had robust discussions. They discussed and we let them realised that yes, in politics at the end of the election, if we all come together, whatever is on the table, we share but if after election, you did not come with me, you are on your own and I am on my own and it will be practically difficult for me to share with you and they agreed and that is the result today, the APC Ondo state found out that in unity there is nothing they cannot do. Akeredolu won the election even with a divided house but he would not have been as resounding as we have now. What we got in the south, we wouldn’t have got it the way we got it now.
We need to thank Mr Governor too for climbing down, going to them one after the other and discussing with them and he has not gone back from the agreement they had together because Akeredolu is a man of integrity. If he promises you, consider it done and vise versa. Therefore that is the unity we have forged and we will continue in that unity and I can assure you, we will consolidate on the existing good relationship and unity of the party and carry it to the next election 2023.
What about the crises at the national level?
I would not agree with you that there are crises at the national level of the party. What we have at the national level is leadership that does not carry the followership along seriously. When we have leadership, the rule of law is there. The party has a constitution. Let me give you an example. In 2019. Most of the crises that were created started from the national level. It was not from here. You want to pick a candidate, the party agreed on a mode of primary. There are three modes of primaries; consensus, election (primary). Where there is no consensus. But the one they did was not part of the system. They just sat down in Abuja and said this is the candidate.
You said it will not bring crisis? It will. That was exactly what happened in Edo, where a sitting governor was disqualified, and you think it will go down well? We created the crisis. There are bound to be differences of opinion in a political party. We can’t sleep and face the same direction. It’s not possible. I have my view, you have your view but at the end of the day when I canvass my view and you canvass your view, the greater majority of our people who are looking at you will decide between you and I whose view they are following. Once that is done, if it is your view they are following it is my duty to align with you and help you to win the election. That is the way it is done.
In a democracy, you cannot be autocratic. Once autocracy comes in, there is bound to be a problem. Consult and follow the aggregate opinion of the people. That is the way to run party. Don’t run party as if it is your personal estate. I have my view, you have your view. That is what makes people to leave the party. We thank God we won 2019 presidential election. What happened was the same thing that happened to PDP. That was why we were able to defeat PDP. When some people dussebcgabted, they allowed them to go and at the end of the day, the party lost but this one we should thank God that we managed to win the 2019 presidential election. If that repeats itself again, it is going to be a calamity, not even disastrous. We must try to keep everybody within the party because all of us have our different opinions. Let majority speak and let’s follow the majority. Once we follow the majority, you may not like my face, if majority are behind me you have no choice but to follow me and I that have been so chosen must accommodate you as well, because not all your views are bad. That mine predominates now does not mean yours is bad. All the ones that are good in yours, bring it. The ones that are not good in my own, throw them away.
By way of passing I would want to deduce from what you have said that perhaps the party at the center must have something to learn from your observance and respect for the Constitution. Your respect for the Constitution must have helped you in getting things done. But beyond that, I used to know you as a man who has passion for sustainable development and I wasn’t surprised you started talking about development of Ondo State, the commitment and focus of His Excellency towards achieving development. I want you to help us to see how your passion for sustainable development has endeared you to the present administration in Ondo State and how it has encouraged you for a development focused Ondo State that we anticipate.
Thank you very much sir. Like I have told people, I have been in this state before it was created and I have remained here after its creation. From Ita David Ikpeme, down the line. I have known Ondo State to be a state where the citizens are loving and kind, people who are development oriented. I know that the people of Ondo State have a passion for development, maybe because of their level of education. And I know that from within the federation, we have not been fairly treated. When I say fairly treated, I mean occupying our strategic position in the federation. I know past leaders, people of note from the south west have come from a particular axis and where you come from dictates what you do to that place and that has not brought a lot of development. In the old Western region, the bulk of the money for building Bodija Estate, Ikeja industrial estate, Cocoa House in Ibadan, Liberty Stadium came from the present Ondo State. Whether anybody likes it or not, that is the truth.
We benefitted but not to the tune that we ought to have benefitted. That is why when this state was created, my argument has always been let us do things that will make us develop more than any other part of the west and therefore when any leader comes and that leader is working towards that agenda, he is endeared to me. When I praise him in my heart, there is nothing I will not do to make him succeed because I know that his agenda is not his personal agenda but Ondo State agenda. Ondo State agenda is the most important thing to me, I tell my children. If Ondo State is okay, you have no problem. If Ondo State is not okay, even if your father owns the whole world, it is empty, because you will be subject of attack every now and then. They will ask you, “How did your father acquire all this wealth and we are in this pecuniary penury?” Therefore, when Dr. Agagu was there, that was what endeared me to him. Dr. Agagu was focused on developing Ondo State. He told me Ondo State had the greatest potential for development and when he started enumerating, I was dumbfounded. I said yes. This is the man we want. But I am always disturbed that at every turn, this type of people, on our volition we throw them away. Some people will just come and tell lies, lies upon lies and some of us, because of our selfish purpose will join them. That is why I have always said it and will continue to say it without mincing words that the eight years of Mimiko was a disaster to Ondo State, biggest disaster we have ever witnessed. If we witness that again, we may not survive.
You were coming in as governor, you inherited that big chunk of money no adminstration had ever inherited, you had on your table Dangote Refinery that was placed there by God, you had Olokola Deep Seaport, almost completed, you had the OKLNG that was jointly financed by the federal government, NNPC, British Oil all of them jointly financing it and you allowed all these things to go. It is the worst disaster that has ever happened. It is an economic disaster. People of Ondo State should know it. Agagu did not beg Dangote to bring the refinery here. All Agagu did was to write a position paper that produced that refinery, that made a private entrepreneur think of bringing the refinery here. Dr. Agagu wrote the position paper even before he became deputy governor. It was part of his research work.
The only way to make government refinery function well is to have a private refinery so that they will be looking at it. Dangote now said “Because of producing that paper, I am sitting that refinery in your state,” was that not a gift? And somebody started asking questions he was not supposed to ask. Lagos got hold of it. I won’t say Lagos is our enemy, but anything that will make them subordinated to you, they will stop it. In our own proposal that Dangote agreed to, we said we would give him land that would form equity participation. They allotted percentage to it. Dangote agreed that he would tar all the roads leading to that refinery. When crisis erupted between Ondo State government and Dangote, Lagos approached him, offered him free land and also promised to tar all the roads leading to the refinery.
As a business man, which one will you go for? If there had been no crisis between them, the thing would not have gone. Lagos State would not have taken over. Look at the Deep Seaport, there was a plan by the federal government to have a Deep Seaport in Badagry. It was going to be artificial and expensive to maintain, but that of Olokola is natural. And you came in, and abandoned it for eight years. Lagos now started the Deep Seaport they wanted to do in Badagry. They started and they are doing it. Because of the closeness of Agagu to Obasanjo, he was able to have the OKLNG sited within the same axis there. It was to be the largest gas plant in the whole of Africa. Work was already going on.
The British, Americans and all the companies that were going to support it were interested because the restiveness in Ondo State was small compared to other Niger Delta areas. Jonathan relocated it to Warri. Immediately, the foreign partners withdrew. Even in Warri, nothing is happening now. I can’t imagine you treat your State like that, where if everything works, the result will be for you and everyone in the state. If you are opportune go and see Dangote refinery in Epe, if you will not weep for this state.
At full capacity it will employ more than 15000 staff. The tax alone will be times 10 of the IGR we are receiving currently that we call two billions. Where does Lagos money come from? Taxation. No more, no less. Come and see associated industries that will be built around it. And you think we have not lost? We have lost so much. Now, there is nothing the current administration can do about dangote refinery again. Even the OKLNG there is little he can do again. We have only two options left, the bitumen and the deep sea port. Once that deep sea port is declared the one the federal government is dredging in badagry will stop because you don’t just waste your fund. With that, sustainable development will continue and our graph will be going up. Then salary and other benefits will be regularly paid and whoever is coming in will be determined by ability to sustain the development.
Bitumen and deep sea.
Do you believe anything can come out of bitumen? Agagu, a geologist went into it, floated a firm to prospect it and didn’t succeed because the technology for prospecting oil is cheaper.
Yes. Truly oil is cheaper. Even when Dr. Agagu was there, we didn’t know that the technology for prospecting our bitumen in Ondo State is different from that of Canada. The bitumen in Canada is on surface water. That tech can’t work here. A company took our bitumen to Germany and discovered that the tech for processing ours is different from and better than that of Canada. During Agagu time, no companies were applying but now several of them have applied. Also we have discovered more commercial quantities in more places. It also sets the stage for boundary disputes.
Already Ogun State is laying claim to a particular area. Ogun State has bitumen too but not as much as we do. They too have obtained license to prospect theirs because of our discovery. I can assure you that, for bitumen, we will roll out the tank before the end of this administration, so that people can prospect it. We can’t have bitumen here and we will be importing it to tar our roads. It doesn’t pay and the federal government has seen it. Oil is going. Also, how many people are buying it now? Alternative means are being developed through technology. We now have electric cars and so on. We may not have that Soon here because of our technology but the fact remains that crude oil is no longer as lucrative as it used to be. Moreso, when we look at our oil in relation to our population, we are a very poor country. Our reserve today is about 34 billions our population is 206 million, Saudi Arabia has a reserve of over 2 billion. Looking at our population, Nigeria must diversify.
If we rely on crude oil, we will become poorer and poorer. Look at our per capita income; it’s one of the smallest in Africa and even in the world. We are not rich. We have this erroneous impression that Nigeria is rich. Bitumen, agriculture, these are some of the areas we can go into, rather than relying on oil that the price is not determined. You have a product, you don’t determine the price. Other people who don’t have the product determine the price. Can’t you see we are in trouble? That is why we need to develop our agricultural sector. What are we doing about agriculture after Awolowo? If the north refuses to bring food I bet it there will be famine in Yoruba land. Because nobody wants to go into agriculture again. We started youths on the ridge, but the young people we put there declined. And for an average farmer, you only need one farming season for you to be self sustaining. The issue of EndSARS has become a benchmark for measuring the government.
How do you think the demands of the youth can be addressed by the government?
I have written a lot about EndSARS and about our youths. Let me tell you. The problem of EndSARS is the problem of Nigeria. You can’t remove these young ones from Nigeria. Nigeria is in problem. We must rethink in this country. There is nothing we can do about it. I give you one classic example. We worship money in this country. Any country that worships money will never make it. Why do we worship money? I remember when I was in the Civil Service Commission, there were some people I gave jobs. Their parents would come and beg me. But when I gave them jobs, the same parents would come and beg me that the child said he didn’t want it because the salary was small, youth don’t want to go through any hardship anymore, if you look at the history of Nigeria it has been the youth running the affairs of each state and in a society where it is only youth there are no -elders that society will crash.
If the coup of 1966, if they have two elderly persons among them, it would not have failed. The problem of Nigeria started from 1966. All the coup plotters non of them was 32years when they made that coup. Are they not youths. Where they landed us is where we are today. All the military Presidents, Obasanjo was 30years when he became Head of state, Muritala, Gowon was 29, even Ironsi, when you look at them they were all youths. Yes Obasanjo, Buhari all of them came back to rule because of the failure in the system, the youth need to examine themselves very well and some of us leaders we have not done well to these youths.
We have treated the youth badly; things that we ought to have provided for them were not provided and in the process the youth went astray.
If you see the type of cars they brought to the road they were cars that ordinary person can not afford to buy, is the money from the moon? And you discover that most of them are yahoo boys. The police have done badly but the society made the police do what they have done.
The atrocities they commit, almost all of them are ritualists. What we need now is total reorientation, looking in-ward, you see they brought out their grievances, not all their grievances can be attended to in a flash. The ones that can be attended to is one that they set up judicial committee in various states now to look into the police brutality, those in detention and all other. All other issues will take some time. Some of the issues we have, short, medium and long term but above all we need a total re-orientation. Parents have a lot to do. Parents have abdicated their responsibilities. When we were in school, if you come with two erasers, parents would ask where you got it from and the second day, your parent will take you back to the school to the Principal or Headmistress and tell them this is what my child brought home and I am not the one that bought it for her.
Now a 17-year, 18-year old boy will be riding a big car, he will bring a very big car home and his parent will welcome him and they will shield him. They will say my child is prosperous and they will not know their child is a ritualist. That is what we should address, we need to address the fundamentals.
Why is the government interested in the sponsors of ENDSARS protesters and not Boko haram and bandits?
This one is the immediate one. If this escalates to this level, it could be done or if this kind of lie will be told. Let me give you an example, we have this “Ali must go”, the objective was reduction – that what people were enjoying should continue it was not to overthrone government. The students actually succeeded. Some were killed but they achieved a purpose, Going back into history, you look at the Anglo-African military pact we would have signed with the British and our independence would have been in vain. The Nigeria students fought against it and it was not signed; they achieved and there was no destruction.
A little protest in Nigeria, the next thing is destruction. Most of the things that were destroyed belong to the state. We said we dont have enough, the little we have, you are destroying it. The youth need to re-examine themselves. With the level of destruction, I think what they should do now is to have leaders. We are giving so so number of this thing to actuzalize what we want from you, not that some are broke they will say they want another ENDSARS protest. America will not allow that. If we destroy this country, what are they inheriting, empty nation. They must be constructive and not allow anything they do to have bad effect. So far all their grieviances are geniue which is a failure on those of at the leadership level.
Military cannot take over in Nigeria, If it does, I assure you, within 24hours, they will remove the military immediately. Then the next thing is wait for the next election and actualize whatever you want to actualize. Our youth have good grieviances and they should go about it in a good way. It is high time for those of us in government to set things aright. If we don’t do it in the future their will be revolution in this country.
Talking about herdsmen in Ondo state, they are the reason for Amotekun and I want to tell with the introduction of Amotekun, the clash or destruction of herdsmen have drastically reduced. This thing will be gradual, it cant be solved with immediate effect because the problem started from somewhere.
In my own community in Supare, they have their own unit where they vote, other problem started like Bokoharam, it was not here before. Although the nation has been peaceful, things started changing and it will take some time before we can stop this problem and little by little we will progress in that area. Hunger is the deceiver of the highest order. Let me assure you next year January, February, March, June, July and May, if God does not intervene, take it or leave, it there will be famine we have to be very careful. Rain has not been our friend it has done a damage to our eco-system, agricultural system what we are employing the government to do now is to continue to stock pile.
Dry day is coming! If you go to the market, in the South West the governors, leaders and Obas, they have agreed on certain things that they think the government can do. One is the immediate opening of borders. The closure of borders affect South West more than any other part of Nigeria or else, there will be problem that we might not be able to solve. If you go to the North, they will dig well to where there is water to irrigate their lands. We must practice irrigation. South West used to be the food basket of the whole Nigeria but now it is the dumping ground of food from the North. Our people are no longer into agriculture, the farm settlement are gone and our people now prefer to go to areas where quick money will get to them through cutting of trees.
I was in the market yesterday. I personally went to do a survey. I did a research for Mr Governor about the purchase of rice and when I was doing it, a bag of rice in the market sold between 19,000 and 21,000 naira and my thinking then was that by December it might sell to up to 23,000 thousand naira. But when I got to the market three days ago, the rice I bought for 29,000 naira just about one month ago now sell between 27,000 and 38,000 naira.
This is life and if you think I’m lying, go to the market and check. Foreign rice sell for thirty eight thousand naira. When we were young, we eat it with stones in it. This life has changed. Our children don’t want to hear anything stone. They will be saying Daddy N. That’s the life we find ourselves and if rice is being sold for that price, I wonder what it will be by December and December is here and come January when there will be no money and February when we will be at the tip of dry season. Therefore, on the part of government, government will do its best to make sure that we do our best.
We have asked Ministry of Commerce to go for survey, go and see and make recommendations to the government to know what we can do. The only problem we have is that we have no money, the money we have, after payment of salary, this money is difficult to pay because government have to go and borrow. It’s when we have excess liquidity, you can now use that excess to buy rice and when you want to sell it eventually, by the time you sell, the money will come back. Which means you have invested but your money is still intact and the profit is that your people will not suffer and that money is significant to money you want to make anywhere that my people are happy is the greatest profit that should be. But we have no fund now.
There’s nowhere you will go now and you want to buy tons of rice and you don’t come with money, they won’t give it to you. That’s one of the greatest problems we have. This money and the fact that salary was delayed for almost a week plus, what I have heard, I have never heard it in my life. You said you will pay salary and you see now they’re not paying the salary o, they’re not doing this o… I received text messages and I kept assuring them, take it easy salary will be paid. But eventually we thank God, we have paid now and we have been relieved and we’re hoping that the money that comes this month will be enough to pay their salary, we don’t have to borrow again.
That’s why I say I weep for this state because what (Dangote refinery) would have made us okay now, we threw it away. If you get to Epe now, over five thousand people are already working in that refinery before it is officially commissioned. Over five thousand already working there, paying their taxes. If we have that in this state, we are okay. We are home and dry. We don’t need anything. Because it’s oil industry, they pay higher salary than the civil service. Ondo state is a civil service economy.
The least paid in some oil industry is higher than what a permanent secretary earns and you pay tax based on your income and it is measured in quantum. You pay based in percentage and the higher you go, the higher you pay. Because of that, what could have been accrued to us would be more than what we are getting now. Then the issue of salary would not have been a problem.
We would have been paying salary with ease. In Ondo state, we should realise that we are buying more than we can chew. Ondo state is the only state with three universities and one polytechnic. Lagos the richest state does not have that and the salary of professors in Lagos is the same with that of the professors in Ondo state. Two of these universities are technical universities; not ordinary universities. University of Medical Sciences, University of Science and Technology. They are very expensive to maintain than normal conventional University.
And people still come that they want this and that. The people of Idanre also came that they want College of Education. The Governor was very blunt; saying he would not establish any other higher institution in the state. He said the one I have in my hands, I am still looking for how to solve it. We are in a frying pan. That is why before subvention and statutory allocations to these four higher institutions, there is no money again and that is why we need to grow our own economy internally. Once we do that, if Abuja comes, fine, if it does not, we are fine. Lagos didn’t receive allocation for two years but the state was paying salary and development was going on. There is a local government in Lagos State, Ibeju Leki and it’s budget is higher than the budget of Ondo state. It is the economy that is responsible. That is why I continue to hammer that Ondo port is a necessity.
APC in Ondo state is a reminant of AD and large chunk of Agagu group. How strong is the Agagu political group of today?
What sustains the Agagu dynasty is the legacy he left behind; no more, no less. We have Agagu people all over. There are still many of them in PDP but what joins them is the legacy. A legacy of good governance, a legacy of developmental oriented government, a legacy of the people. When you look at Awolowo legacy; his people are everywhere now. Even when you have this AD, ADC, PDP in 1979, you have the Awolowos in all the three. There is no way they can remain in one place anymore because our policy in Nigeria is not ideologically oriented like that of the US and others. In the US, the Democrats are always Democrats. They won’t vote for Republicans during elections. As bad as they say Trump is, Republicans still voted for him, even though they know him well. But in Nigeria, we do not do that. People just move from here to there.
When Akeredolu came on board, and we asked him to draw his own agenda. He called some of us and gave us this path to progress that Agagu produced then. He said this is good and would not set up any other thing. He said any Governor that followed what is there would never derail. But some argued that he must set up his own. And when we did, that’s why what we came up with and pursuing is not different from the Agagu agenda. Agagu has done it so well. He didn’t do it for himself, he did it for Ondo state – How Ondo state will continue to develop. You don’t just come into governance and somebody will come and advertise something to you and you adopt it, without agenda. Akeredolu has five-cardinal point agenda and he follows it to the letter. He is not changing it and whatever he does is tailored towards it. Government must be done that way, not that people bring something to you and start doing it. That’s not governance, you don’t know what you are doing because you have no agenda.
It was somebody that came and sold the idea of Mega school to Mimiko and he bought it. Do you see the schools working now? They can never work. When the UN says a child must not walk more than 2 kilometres to school, and you are doing Mega schools, that was not built in the ’30s and ’40s. How many Mega Schools do we have in Akure? We have just four. And in Akure alone, we have over 400 schools but you built four Mega schools, expecting all of them to go there? All you needed to do was to rebuild and renovate those schools to be conducive for learning. That was what Agagu was doing but he (Mimiko) jettisoned it. If he had continued from where Agagu stopped, by now, we would have finished putting those primary schools in good shape for our children to attend.
Agagu started by providing fan, toilet and other facilities to the schools. Now what we are doing, we are not only rebuilding, we are building fence and facilities for children to play. These are the things that attract children to school. That’s why private schools are flourishing at the expense of public schools. So, the development would have been steady and all our schools would be modern, well-equipped schools. Agagu started by providing computer in all those schools so that they have computers and other things… That is the way to development. They also went into this Abiye programme. When they started, it was very successful but they did not put a clause for those that visit that place. Everything was free. Someone in Abakaliki would come to Ondo state to deliver baby free. So the place became flooded and before Mimiko left, the Abiye programme had collapsed, it was no longer working. People started paying and the money provided for health was very little and you cannot go outside the budget. Budget is not 100% compliance, it is just a road map; you meet what you can meet out of it. Finance will determine whether you will meet the budget and there has been no time Ondo state achieved 100% budget.
These are some of the hiccups that we have and this is why the current government introduced the health insurance policy so that the gap created can be filled. So, if you are not paying into it, you cannot enjoy from it. You go to America now and visit the hospitals, you pay. Nothing is free. You pay through your nose. Those who are there do not pay because they are paying for health. Now that we have done it here now, it will be difficult for someone in Osogbo to bring his wife here to deliver baby here free. These are some of the issues but people do not understand. What they understand is what you give freely to them. Steady development will continue in Ondo state. In four years, we will be marvel at what Akeredolu will do again.