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Ondo Guber:A search for Adekunle Ajasin model

Aribigbola Afolabi

The dominant activity in Ondo State at the moment revolves around the search for a credible competent person to be elected as the next Governor of the Sunshine State  come November 16, 2024. Consequently, many individuals have been traversing the length and breadth of the state soliciting for support to become the next Executive Governor of the State. Others have been busy organising groups to support one candidate or the other among those that have come forward offering to be elected as the Governor of the State.

Indeed, all these call for discerning and sincere citizens of the state to join forces in searching for and installing a good, credible and competent person imbued with right attitude and qualities as exhibited by late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin as the next Governor of the State. This has motivated one with hindsight of the good work and performance of Chief Ajasin, the first elected Governor of old Ondo State that include present Ekiti State to seek for a model after him. It is an incontrovertible fact that no other Governor have contributed to the physical, social and economic development of old Ondo State like Baba Ajasin.

Therefore, today, I will be outlining some of the unique attributes and qualities that make it incumbent an us to call on the citizens of the state to search and vote for that individual that possesses Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin’s qualities of discipline and spartan mode of life that make him stand out as a model of a governor. This is essential if we must correct some of the misgovernance that have taken place in the state over the years. Papa Ajasin was a man whose footprints are still very much visible in all parts of Ondo and Ekiti States 40 years after he left office .

An examination of Chief Adekunle Ajasin will reveal that he towers far above all other Governors that have ruled the state since its creation in 1976. He abhored nepotism as he distributed all positions, appointments and development projects fairly well across the entire state. He was not selfish and corrupt having managed the resources of the state prudently. He did not amass wealth for himself, family and cohorts as has become the norm nowadays. It was on record that Baba Ajasin came to office in 1979 with a set of  native dresses and left office in 1983 with same set of dresses. These are some of the virtues that made Baba Ajasin a colossus and reference for people aspiring to govern the state .Therefore, in choosing candidates and Governor of the state, these are issues that need to be considered not people with deceptive tendencies, avaricious with sectional or primordial sentiments that have dominated governance in recent times in Nigeria.

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Ondo State needs people with strength of character, who the welfare and prosperity of the state and her citizens will be his priority. Not individuals that will be more concerned with self- enrichment. The state needs creative leader like baba Ajasin that will take the state forward and not a consumer leader. A consummate Governor that prioritise education, health and industrial development of the like Chief Ajasin. Of course, besides introducing free and compulsory education, he transformed the state education sector by establishing several new secondary schools in all parts of the state. I am not sure any government have established any public secondary school after him, except that the military regime after him closed some of the schools that are yet to be opened despite increase in population of the state. It was on good record that all industries in present Ondo and Ekiti states were established by him. For instance, his creative instinct made him articulate the idea of Universal Free, Primary Education of 1955 , and unprecedented policy that transformed education sector in Western Region and Nigeria at large.

Thus, the next Governor of the state should be a creative individual that will be able to think out of the box and be able to create wealth that will Ondo State number one state in terms of creative development initiatives. The state does not need someone that will essentially devote his tenure to milking and sharing the property of the state among his family members and associates. We need someone that can add value to the sunshine state by attracting and developing her industrial base. In terms of project initiation, Baba Ajasin stood tall among the Governors in the Second Republic. All the industrial establishment that dotted the landscape of Ondo and Ekiti States were products of these efforts. Some of these included the defunct Owena Bank, Confidence Insurance, Oluwa Glass industry, Ire burnt bricks, NIROWI Timber Industries and several others that I can easily recollect, now moribund. Beyond being an accomplished leader, Papa Ajasin was acknowledged to be very loyal to his boss, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and upon assuming leadership position during Papa Awo’s lifetime and even after the demise , gave the country transparency, accountability, loyalty and patriotism in governance to Nigeria in general and Ondo State in particular.

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He was a prudent and efficient manager of resources. Despite the fact that Nigeria was facing serious economic crisis in the early 1980s, he was able to utilize the meagre resources at his disposal to achieve success in the implementation of the five cardinal programmes of the then Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN. With meager resources, he was able to implement free education at the primary and secondary levels and offered support to students in tertiary institutions through bursary and scholarship schemes. At the same time, he was not owning workers and neither did he see payment of salaries as an achievement. During this period, he established the Ondo State University at Ado which he did not locate in his home town of Owo like the current pattern where Governors locate universities and concentrate other development projects in their towns.

 Papa Ajasin was a dispassionate and fearless leader committed to equitable distribution of resources to all parts of the state. In summary, as a consummate, committed and dedicated leader, he was fully committed to the all-round development of the state as the Governor. He was not corrupt nor selfish in his dealings and therefore represents a model of good governance that should be copy and emulate by the coming generations of Nigerians that want to govern. Unfortunately, this has not been the case over the years in Ondo state and other states in Nigeria.

Therefore, to redress the unacceptable practice, the qualities exhibited by Adekunle Ajasin should be the guiding principles in electing the next some leaders of Ondo State of Nigeria. The citizens have bemoaned and complained enough about the poor performance of some leaders in the country generally, it is high time we elected a Governor that will be committed to the need, aspiration and prosperity of the people like Baba Ajasin that used politics to improve the welfare and condition of the people. It is time to change the negative narrative and circle of choosing self-serving individuals as the Governor of the state. Let the people be dispassionate, deemphasise money politics and elect honourable and incorruptible person imbued with the right attitude to governance as the next Governor of Ondo State.

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Ondo Guber:A search for Adekunle Ajasin model

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