SEPTEMBER13 marked the tenth anniversary of the demise of Dr. Olusegun Agagu, the fourth civilian governor of Ondo State. On that day, the late Agagu should have celebrated seventy-six years and five months on earth, having been born on February 16, 1948. On that day too, Agagu should have seen fourteen years and seven months out of office as governor, having left office on February 23, 2009.
APART from being the governor of Ondo State, former president Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Agagu as the Minister of Aviation in May, 1999, only to be succeeded by Kema Chikwe, a year later. The same Obasanjo decorated Agagu as the Minister of Power and Steel in 2000, before Agagu contested with Chief Adebayo Adefarati for the governorship position. Former Governor Bamidele Olumilua installed Agagu as his deputy on January 3, 1992, before a military putsch disrupted their tenure in 1993.
AS a former Minister of Aviation and Power and Steel, and then installed as the state deputy governor, Agagu deserves to be remembered on the tenth anniversary of his death, especially because of his stint as the fourth civilian governor of the state, the predecessor of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who succeeded him on February 23, 2009.
ON his assumption of office in 2003, Agagu unveiled a master plan for the state, enshrined as the Road Map to Progress, a document to plan the trajectory of his administration from 2003 to 2009. Impressed with Agagu’s idea of having a plan, Governor Olusegun Mimiko uncovered his plan, taking some ideas from Agagu’s programmes. The present governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, also followed the example of the late Agagu, by unveiling his development plan named the REDEEMED agenda, an eight-point programme for the growth of the Sunshine State.
APART from his development plan for Ondo State, Agagu made a name for himself through the construction of primary and secondary schools all over the state, as well as providing a running grant for them from 2004. He solidified his achievements in the annals of the state through the setting up of the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, now appropriately named Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa. He enhanced the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, by building on the enviable legacy of his predecessors.Agagu warmed his way into the hearts of many during his administration, through the reconstruction of roads, for instance the reconstruction of the N1.3 billion, 26-kilometer Akungba-Oka-Epinmi-Isua Road. He eased the challenges of thousands of people through the reconstruction of the Igbokoda-Ayetoro Road, opening up the coastal areas of the state. He wooed people through the construction of the Odo-Aye- Igbotako Road, which made him in 2008 to commit the sum of N698 million for its rehabilitation and reconstruction.
THE Hope therefore commends a visionary leader who opened up the coastal area of Ondo State through the Igbokoda-Ayetoro Road, as well as solidified educational policies that led to the establishment of the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, and developed the foresight that found expression in the unveiling of the Road Map to Progress. Agagu used several methods to bring down the poverty rate in the state, such as the setting up of the Ondo State Microcredit Agency. He not only established it, but he also endowed it with over N3.2 billion for credit to farmers, entrepreneurs and workers. He not only gave credit to workers, but he also set up 200 basic health centres for each of the 203 wards in the state through a prudent management of the state’s resources, which ended up in his leaving as much as N38 billion in the coffers of the state while leaving office.
FURTHERMORE, he allowed the local government councils to operate, thereby bringing development to the grassroots. The Hope salutes his prudence, because it leaves behind a blueprint for leadership. Apart from this, his efforts towards making the Owena Multipurpose Dam in Igbara-Oke more efficient showed commitment, since it came from building on the legacies of the second civilian governor of the state, Chief Adekunle Ajasin. Agagu’s insistence in allowing local governments to operate showed an understanding of democratic practice, because it gave the grassroots an opportunity to breathe, just as the present administration does.
IN sum, Agagu should be emulated, because he brought planning to bear in state matters, while ensuring that competent people took charge of government contracts.
He should also be commended for building on the legacy of his predecessors as governor, which meant governance became a continuum, with projects not abandoned.
THOUGH 10 years have passed since the former governor died, we are delighted that his laudable achievements still speak for him and this is the reason which others must learn to work for the people.