Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwatotimi Akeredolu, last week, took the oath of office for a second term. He, however, comes into office with staggering expectations from the people. James Sowole writes
Amajor area of disagreement between citizens and politicians in Nigeria during election is the issue of second term for the Chief Executive of a state or the president and multiple tenure of office, for holders of legislative positions.
For politicians and holders of offices, second term, is meant to consolidate on the achievements recorded in the first four years of their service particularly, implementation of certain policy programmes and projects to complete or getting them to appreciable level.
To this school of thought, second term is necessary, to avoid cases of abandoned projects and programmes, due to lack of continuity by successive administrations, that are usually caused by different political ideologies and visions, among political parties and chief executives.
Also, some people are of the belief that seeking re-election provides an opportunity for the electorate to assess the performances of a particular administration in relation to promises made during campaigns. It is, therefore, seen as a pay back time in line with a popular saying, “One good term deserves another.”
Experiences during campaigns for re-election have shown that disagreement arises, because most people don’t believe that second term could bring out better part of holder of an executive position, but an opportunity for such a person to amass more wealth for personal use.
This is one of the reasons for agitation by the people that a term of four years should be enough for one person while another person from another area should be given the opportunity to govern.
Since the return to civil rule in 1999, politicians rarely consider performances as condition for seeking re-election. It has almost become a matter of right for a particular geographical area, where the office holder hailed from in the spirit of unwritten zonal arrangement both at the state and federal level.
Preparatory to the October 2020 Governorship Election in Ondo State, all these issues, actually played out. However, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, was re-elected to steer the ship of state for another four years.
Sequel to the victory, Akeredolu was on Wednesday, February 24, sworn in, along with his new deputy, Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa, who replaced Hon Agboola Ajayi, who contested against his boss, during election.
Considering events that preceded the emergence of Akeredolu as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2020 and his eventual victory, during gubernatorial election, peoples’ expectations in various sectors were very high as he began the second and final stanza, as the sixth governor of Ondo State. To political jobbers, the first expectation from the Akeredolu administration is personal patronage in terms of appointments and contracts as payback for the roles they played during his election.
On the other hand, expectations of residents of the state include but not limited to programmes, policies and projects that would enhance their socio-economic lives in terms of infrastructure, public utilities, security and general welfare.
Presenting his inaugural address, Akeredolu, who highlighted some achievements of his administration in various sectors in the first four years, noted that there were lots of grounds to be covered. He, therefore, promised not to rest on his oars, contrary to the stereotypical notion that second term, is not for serious work.
He said: “Though we are yet to reach the set goal, we are confident that the administration is on the right path. We will not depart from the trodden path, which has earned us affection and deep reference from the citizenry.
“We shall continue, with more vigour, to justify the trust earned by our administration. The second term, for us, is not a time for relaxation. We are not under any illusion that it will be easy. We are, however, ready to proceed on the journey with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.”
Reeling off the expectations of the people from the government in the next four years, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Oluwole Adeleye, in an interview, said government should concentrate on completion of ongoing projects rather than embarking on new ones excepts when extremely necessary.
Adeleye, who commended the administration for the various workers welfare packages like prioritising payment of salaries, promotion of public servants as and when due, said the government had chewed more than it could bite. He flayed the situation that led to the reduction in revenue, which lately resulted in percentage payment of workers salaries.
“I want to blame the government of Ondo State (both the previous and the current) for the reduction in what actually comes to the state after releasing Federal Allocation on monthly basis. The former administration (Mimiko’s administratiin) took us to the Stock Exchange market and borrowed N27.5 billion.
“As I am talking, the government is still paying that Bond and this current government (Akeredolu’s) also went for N30 billion bond. So, these debts are being deducted at source from the Federation Account and it has made full salary payment difficult.
“For us workers, we are looking forward to a situation, whereby workers, will be able to get their salary in full and the gross salary for that matter.
“In the area of appointment, my advice is very simple. This administration should run a very compact government. If possible, it should merge the ministries and agencies for effectiveness and save money. We have seen a situation where the late former Governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, reduced ministries from 21 to 13 and they were effective.”
Adeleye also said the labour was looking forward to employment of primary school teachers, to replace those that have retired.
“During the celebration of the last Workers’ Day, the government approved that 2,000 teachers should be recruited and the reason they have not started, is finance. We hope that in the next one or two weeks, the government will start to inject 1,000 teachers into primary schools while agitation is in for secondary schools too.
“The government has done well repairing and renovating the primary schools building and building of toilets. We want the government to continue rebuilding of schools in both primary and secondary levels.”
Another respondent and resident of Akure, the state capital, Mr. Adewunmi Adegbola, wants the government, to release fund for maintenance of streetlights in the state capital in the second term of the administration.
Adegbola, expressed dismay that streetlights are put on only when government is expecting guests into the state. By this practice, Adegbola said government was only receiving people, because the government wanted visitors to believe that things were going on well.
Adegbola posited that the people of the state were looking forward to resumption of free school shuttle buses, to cushion the effect of high cost of taxi fare.
Another major expectation of the people particularly, of the Ondo South origin, is contained in the governor’s speech, whereby he promised that bitumen exploration and exploitation were at advanced stage.
The people, therefore, are looking forward to more government commitments, to the bitumen and Deep Seaport project.
Reacting to some aspects of Akeredolu’s inauguration speech, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ondo State Chapter, expressed disappointment over what it described as the barefaced and unthinkable lies contained in the speech.
The PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kennedy Peretei, in a statement, faulted the government for not addressing some salient issues.
He said, “The Governor did not offer any explanations to the people on the sudden disappearance of the Free School Shuttle buses that operated seamlessly for more than six years under the previous administration.
“He offered no explanation on how the Mother and Child Hospitals have become mere Consulting Clinics. How healthcare has been pushed beyond the reach of common people.
“The boasting of regular payment of salaries is at variance with serial workers’ strike over welfare matters in the State. Lawyers in the Ministry of Justice, for the first time in the history of the State went on strike under the present administration.
“Even now medical doctors are on strike. If the workers were to conduct a referendum, Akeredolu will be amazed at his level of unacceptability.”
With these mixed feelings, the only expectation of the people of the state is that the administration would address the issue of healthcare, amongst other concerns in the state.