by Yinka Adeosun
Since he was sworn in on the 20th of January, 2017 as the 45th president of the United States of America, Donald Trump has left no one in doubt that the campaign promises he made were not mere puffery. He has hit the ground running in a bid to fulfilling the promises one after the other. In less than 10 days after he mounted the saddle, Trump had sent his list of intended cabinet members to the legislative body for scrutiny, signed a couple of executive orders and set about crafting the United States in his image. That’s a man on fire who knows what he wants and goes all the way to make it happen. Tragically, it took this incumbent government about three months to nominate ministers. Osun state governor, Rauf Aregbesola who was sworn in for a second term in November 2014 is yet to install a cabinet as stipulated by law.
In a few hours from now, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN will be sworn in as the sixth executive governor of Ondo state since it was created in 1976. All things being equal, for the next four years, this fine legal mind will be in the driver’s seat as the governor of Ondo state. Bearing this in mind, it behoves us as citizens to speak truth to power.
Firstly, the governor and his team must realize that the season of feasting over his victory at the polls is over and now is the time to wake up and face the reality of the myriads of challenges bedeviling Ondo state, which he agreed to confront by accepting to be the “constituted authority” of the state.
I do not envy Akeredolu at this time. Suspense and apprehension pervades the land about the kind of governance that the incoming government is bringing to the table. Working without pay for seven months is enough to dampen the morale, especially in a state where government work remains the mainstay of the economy. This is enough to erode whatever is left of the human potentials and ability of the state’s civil service. Akeredolu is inheriting a mess. Many civil servants, pensioners and senior citizens have lost their lives untimely to the harsh reality of living from hand to mouth and not knowing where the next meal will come from. Government institutions are heavily indebted, having being deprived of adequate provision seeing that the state revenue and federal allocation have plummeted.
To be sure, his predecessor made some progress in health and infrastructure which are visible mainly in Akure, Ondo and other selected places in the state. This is just a drop of water in the ocean considering the neglect that was bequeathed to many other areas of the state which are now seriously begging for attention.
Sadly, the mass appeal and popularity with which his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) swept elective offices during the last general elections has eroded due to the downward spiral of the economy since the party assumed power. Hope and expectation have given way to suspicion and distrust. Even with his larger than life posturing of integrity and uprightness, President Muhammadu Buhari no longer enjoys the people’s goodwill as the general consensus is that he has not done much to improve the condition of the masses since taking over.
Perhaps with the glimmer of commendable governance coming out of Lagos, it isn’t out of place for the Ondo people to demand clear, strategic and actionable thinking about the issues affecting the state and the political will to provide the answers despite the daunting challenges that would surely arise. The greatest challenge that the new government will need to tackle headlong is how to change the fortunes of the state from a predominantly civil service state to an industrialised one.
In spite of the enormity of challenges facing the oil producing state, especially at a time when international oil prices have nosedived, his courage to resuscitate industries scattered across the state will stand him in good stead. His ability to put boots on the ground and maximise the peculiarities of the various communities in the state would make a hugely positive impact. Akeredolu must cast off the toga of jingoism and any trait of ethnic bias, which the outgoing administration has been grossly accused of. There is need to foster a shared sense of belonging and inclusiveness while deepening gender development across the various communities.
Agriculture, technology and tourism remain potential cash cows for Ondo state. Blessed with the most fertile land in the region, the state has the ability to provide food and export cash crops which would not only generate revenue for the state but also create foreign exchange for the country. The cocoa of the central and northern senatorial districts, as well as the oil palm of the southern senatorial district will rival whatever derivatives accrue from the sale of crude oil in the state. He will, therefore, need to strategically make agriculture attractive to young people and provide incentives for upgrading to modern technology in that sphere.
According to Peter Drucker, a management expert, the best way to predict the future is to make it happen. No serious builder builds a structure without drawing plans. And you have to be in charge to be in control. No excuse is tenable. The state is blessed with human and material resources to work with. Regardless of the noise from hacks and political jobbers within and outside his party, he needs to be in control, because when the account of stewardship is demanded, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu will be the man to be held responsible.
The die is cast; history, the unforgettable judge will soon beckon. In four years, Akeredolu can imprint his name either for infamy or nobility. He has a golden opportunity to engrave his name and legacy in the hearts and minds of Ondo state indigenes, residents and stakeholders. Let’s hope he gets this message and make Ondo state great again.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Adeosun, a communication specialist, writes from Ondo, Ondo state.