Ahead of the 2020 governorship election in Ondo State, BIYI ADEGOROYE, in this analysis, writes that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu might well be standing on some landmines More than any other state in the country, Ondo State seems to be swimming in an ocean of political crises which have the propensity of becoming landmines for Governor
Ahead of the 2020 governorship election in Ondo State, BIYI ADEGOROYE, in this analysis, writes that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu might well be standing on some landmines
More than any other state in the country, Ondo State seems to be swimming in an ocean of political crises which have the propensity of becoming landmines for Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s re-election next year. The hurdles, according to party sources in the state, are both internal and external, with untold consequences. From his inauguration about three years ago, Akeredolu made a covenant with the people of the Sunshine State, when he said: “We can rise out of this dust and build a new Ondo State where honesty, prosperity and confidence can once again be our self-identity. We can pull ourselves by the bootstraps and shake off our current frustrations and disappointments. “We must recognise the need for a cohesive platform, indispensable to an effective and efficient implementation of policies and programmes of both government and party, respectively. Divergence of opinions is integral to party politics. We are bound to disagree as politicians but we must cast aside bitter recriminations and destructive predilections.” But since then, the story seemed to be anything but true as some have argued that divergent opinions are hardly reckoned with. For instance, if anything, Akeredolu’s promise to rebuild the state has been said to be something akin to wishful thinking, even as his party, which he promised to galvanise in the development of Ondo is now in tatters.
Schism within APC
Before the last elections in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was a united party, a factor that provided a platform for Akerdolu’s victory in the 2016 election. But not anymore as the party is now shredded by schism.For instance, intra-party crises have now torn it into smithereens. On the one hand is the faction loyal to the former deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, who is said to have the support of over 100 APC members who contested and lost in the National and state Assembly elections in February and March 2019. Olanusi also accused Akeredolu of working against APC in the presidential election, where the party came behind the Peoples Democratic Party- an allegation the ruling party has refuted. On another hand is the group loyal to the senator representing Ondo North in the National Assembly, Prof. Ajayi Borrofice- the only senator on the platform of the APC who secured return ticket in the last election, while the Aketi group, the faction of the governor is the last. As a signpost of the crises, the party lost two senatorial seats to the PDP which also won three federal legislative seats and the other going to a fringe party. The loss by the APC was fillip Akeredolu had to probe the party’s performance.
Death of welfarism
For many years, Ondo had enjoyed welfarist policies in education and health. Whereas Akeredolu inherited some of these policies from the Dr. Segun Mimiko government, such policies flew out of the window the moment the former assumed office, to the chagrin of some stakeholders in Ondo State. “Before he came into office, we enjoyed the Abiye Safe Motherhood programme inaugurated by Governor Segun Mimiko, which granted free delivery services to our wives in various government facilities in the state. The scheme which ensured assistance of skilled birth attendants reduced maternal mortality in the entire state and became a reference point throughout the federation “It was a free health programme for pregnant women and young children up to age five in the 18 local governments in the state, which led to reduction of death by over 84.9 per 1000,000 births in 2009, but the Akeredolu’s government abolished it, and introduced fees at the hospitals, leaving our wives in serious danger,” a father in Oke Aro, in Akure said. In another instance, many parents are at a loss regarding the upward review school fees in the state’s owned higher institutions. For instance, students of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic and Adekunle Ajasin University now pay though their noses. A report once had it that the polytechnic students now pay N30,000 and N10,000 acceptance and verification of results, while fresh National Diploma and HND students pay as much as N98,000 and N108,000 respectively. It represent a hike from N45, 000 and N63, 000 respectively. Justifying the over 500 per cent increase, Yemi Olowolabi, the State Commissioner for Information, said it became necessary because of economic realities and needs of the schools, as the fees were introduced about 18 years ago. He said the university’s monthly wage bill and pension amounted to about N200million against its N150million subvention. Besides, the hike in the fees, he said amount paid by students of other state-owned institutions in Ondo and Okitipupa were quite higher than those of Adekunle Ajasin University and Rufus Giwa Polytechnics. But many people in the state are not in sync with the justifications and .the overall performance of the governor. Political parties in the state belong to that group. They have said that the administration of Governor Akeredolu has not made any significant impact since its inception 16 months ago. Mr. Biyi Poroye, who spoke for the party said the government had not recorded any achievement since its inception. He said: “We are not happy with the performance of the Ondo State Governor. It is ridiculous that close to two years in office, Mr. Governor has done virtually nothing to the mandate he got from the people of Ondo State. Regrettably, the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission has suddenly been abandoned to the extent that it presently serves as a dysfunctional agency.” A Peoples Democratic Party Chieftain in Ondo State, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, shared the view, stating that the abolition of such peopleoriented policies and hike in school fee will collectively form Akeredolu’s Achilles heels in the future. “I can tell you that these are very serious problems. And it is regrettable that about three years into office, the governor is just getting set to work. It goes to show that he was not prepared to govern the state. All he seems to be doing is to increase internal revenue generation without commensurate rise in infrastructural development. “Besides, the party is torn apart by internal crises due to poor management of the pre-election issues in the party and sundry anti-party activities. You and I know that a house divided against itself cannot stand and that is the case in Ondo APC,” he said.
As at the last count, at least four aspirants are said to be angling to unseat Akeredolu. They include Isaacs Kekemeke, former Deputy Governor, Eyitayo Jegede, Dr. Tunji Abayomi who is still bitter over the outcome of the last elections. Others are the National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Eddy Olafeso and Chief Olusola Oke who contested against Akeredolu in the previous two elections. Akeredolu’s men, however, said the government is doing its best. “When you look at his budget performance in 2017 and 2018, you will agree that he has made measurable success. In 2018, he proposed a N171 billion budget and for the 2019, it is N190.23 billion. In the current year, Akeredolu earmarked N82.179 billion for recurrent expenditure and N87.906 for capital expenditure. The estimate is tagged “Budget of Advancement” and it is based on the projections of the 2019- 2021 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). A candidate of the party in the last National Assembly election, Mr. Donald Ojogo, said the governor’s performance is unprecedented in the history of the state regarding road construction across the three senatorial districts in the state. “His performance is unprecedented in the history of the state, and any journalist who doubts it can come on a guided tour of the state. For instance, come to Ore Industrial Park and you will see ongoing development in the area. The government is also working in the areas of agriculture and education,” he said. A civil servant views it from the same perspective. He said. “Akeredolu has been doing well in the area of payment of workers’ salaries. For instance, though he inherited seven months local government salaries, he has cleared five months of such and he has been paying as at and when due. He has also constructed one kilometer road in each of the 18 local governments.” On his chances in the next elections, he said one should not rule him out because he will reach out to party leaders and mend fences before the elections next year. “There is high degree of poverty in the state; hence the electorate are susceptible to financial inducement. How do you think the APC which lost the Presidential and National Assembly elections cleared most of the seats in the House of Assembly? That is the point I am making. “The Nigerian electorate have been pauperized and they are open to highest bidder. You needed to have been here during the last elections. The slogan here is dibo ko sebe, (vote and cook soup), and I am not sure the situation has not changed.” Observers, however, believe that opposition parties in the state are not likely to rest on their oars as they may further infiltrate the factions in the PDP to their advantage.
source: New Telegraph