“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.” ––Simon Sinek
He has made history and redefined the political paradigm in Nigeria’s ‘Sunshine State’. He has admitted his shortcomings, mended the broken fences and risen above primordial sentiments to win the hearts of the good people of the state. And of course, the long-elusive Second Term back into Alagbaka House, for another four years. This is all because he knows, like Warren Dennis rightly noted that“ leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality’’.
What more, he has broken the state electoral jinx by becoming the first governor from Ondo North Senatorial District to be re-elected into office for a Second Term! Before him, Chief Adekunle Ajasin (of blessed memory) could not go beyond four years and three months. It was a similar scenario for Chief Adebayo Adefarati who governed the state between 1999 and 2003. Interestingly, he has also become the second governor, after Olusegun Mimiko to clinch his Second Term in office.
Profound too is the interesting fact that his electoral feat came without the backing of any political godfather. As he would gladly reiterate to his teeming supporters, in and outside of his political party, the All Progressives Congress(APC), God the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit remains his unfailing and ever faithful godfather. His allegiance therefore, naturally swings in the direction of the good people of Ondo state, rather than any power-poaching politician, no matter how influential the person may claim to be. From his wealth of experience he is fully aware that: “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision”, as John Maxwell aptly nailed it.
We are talking of course, about none other than the incumbent governor of Ondo state, Arakurin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), the former Attorney General of the state(1997-1999) who was once the President of the Nigeria Bar Association(NBA) (2008-2010). Only recently, after the heated battle of the barristers, in a three-horse race Akeredolu of the APC coasted to the finishing line with 292,830 votes, way ahead of Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP who got 195,791 votes and Agboola Ajayi the flag bearer of the Zenith Labour Party(ZLP) who polled 69,127 votes.
The results have therefore, largely reflected the good wishes of the voters, reposing great confidence in the ability of the Akeredolu-led government to pilot their affairs for another four years. The reasons are predicated on the purposeful and people-driven vision Akeredolu has for Ondo state. It would be recalled that before he assumed office in February, 2017, the state was largely known as a civil service state. But over the past three-and a half years, his determined efforts have turned it into an emerging, vibrant industrial hub, not only in Nigeria but also in the vibrant West African Sub-Region.
For instance, Ondo state currently boasts of 15 new factories churning out different products tailored towards the priority needs of the state in particular and Nigeria in general. These are buoyed by pragmatic Public Private Partnerships (PPP), thereby empowering the people economically in addition to boosting food security. It would be recalled that on February 25, 2020 President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the industrial park in Ore, Ondo State. Speaking at the occasion, he congratulated Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the people of the state for what he called a remarkable project. The reasons were fact-based.
Amongst these is the ethanol-production plant from cassava processing which happens to be the first of its kind in Africa located at the ever busy commercial nerve centre of Ore town. According to the Governor, the Cassava-to-Ethanol Plant when completed, would require up to 300-400 tonnes of cassava daily, with about one million tonnes of cassava annually.
In a similar vein, there is the Agro Forest Nigeria Limited, a sawmill of Wan-Wood Nigeria that provides them with the supplies of logs and production of wood planks, boards, strips and more for construction and flooring materials.
On its part, the cotton wool factory which began production on March 18, 2019 was as a result of the signing of over six Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Linyi Municipal Republic of China, also located within Ore Park. At the textile section over 360 workers are engaged, with the number of workers expected to increase to 2,000 when it is completed.
Another one is the chocolate-making factory which, though initiated by his predecessor in partnership with a United States based firm, Spagnvola Chocolatiers has been completed by the Akeredolu- led administration. The factory, estimated to be worth N9billion will produce 2.8million tons of chocolate per annum.
In addition to these is the poultry factory located at Emure-Ile that produces 3,000 eggs per day and the Trucks and Tricycles Assemblage Plant with an investor company called Dongfeng Trucks. According to Chief Alex Ajipe, the manager of the industrial hub, the company is one of the leading truck manufacturers in China. It has begun assembling trucks at the recently launched Ondo-Linyi industrial hub in Ore, Ondo State. There is also the Paper Mill situated at the Ore Industrial Park.
The governor said that his government entered into strategic partnerships with Chinese companies when he travelled to China in 2018 in furtherance of his vision to industrialize the state. In his words: “We believe that soon, all of us in Ondo state will laugh. So many people will be employed here. The textile industry is yet to start to its full capacity but a lot of ladies are already employed. The Paper Mill is coming up and uses sawdust, so it cannot be wasted. We have another factory coming up here, an agro-chemical factory. The industries we have here, Ondo State has never had it before anywhere. We thank God for everything,” he added. What could be his driving force?
All these are traceable to Akeredolu’s vision which falls in tandem with Michelle Obama’s view that: “People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.” As fate would have it, Ondo state is blessed with the longest coastline in the West Africa Sub-region. The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) is working in partnership with the Ministry of Transportation for a new sea port in Ondo state. Good enough, the port has natural self- dredging features. So, after the expected approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) the ground-breaking take-off is expected in February, 2021. Once the port comes on stream it has the potential to create 500,000 jobs in the state with an additional three million jobs in the informal sector, serving as a boom for hotels, resorts and several housing estates that will spring up. In fact, with adequate infrastructure, in partnership with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) it will take one only 30 minutes to move from Igbokoda in Ondo state to Lekki in Lagos state!
By the time one adds the upgrading of the existing airport into an international cargo port by the Federal Ministry of Aviation and given the aforementioned vast and vibrant economic potentials of Ondo state, Akeredolu would have written his name in gold, leaving worthy legacies of economic viability, food security and a progressive and prosperous state. By that he would passed on the profound message that: “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts even in your absence” as Sheryl Sandberg, the founder of LearnIn.Org rightly enunciated. For Governor Akeredolu therefore, that is mission accomplished and a destiny fulfilled!
––Ajanaku , journalist was Akeredolu campaign spokesman.