By Ojo Oyewamide
The actualisation of the Aboto water project by the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu government could be regarded as one of the greatest thing that would be done for the people of the oil-rich Ilaje communities in recent times. For years, the people were surrounded by water but there was not a drop to drink. It was a disturbing paradox.
Travelling far distance to get portable water was a nightmarish experience that spanned generations in the riverine communities. But the nasty experience has now become a thing of the past. Some days ago, the Ondo state governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, commissioned the multi-billion naira Aboto water project. Residents of Ilaje and its environs can now have easy access to drinkable water.
The project was conceived by the immediate past administration of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko in 2015. The first phase of it was designed to extend from Aboto-Igbokoda and Aboto-Ugbonla. The second phase was to cover the entire Ilaje Local Government Area. The Mimiko government, however, could not complete the project before the expiration of its tenure. The project was, therefore, part of the heavy load inherited by the present government.
The Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, (OSUSTECH) now Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH) was established by the Olusegun Agagu government in 2007. Less than two years after the founding of the institution, the late Dr. Agagu was removed from the governorship seat. Therefore, he could not continue with his lofty plan for the university.
Unfortunately, the Olusegun Mimiko administration which succeeded the Agagu government did not appear to believe in the idea of the university. The institution was deprived considerable attention throughout the life of the Mimiko government. For eight years, OAUSTECH was a citadel of abandoned projects.
However, the Akeredolu government has changed the negative narrative. Most of the projects have been completed. A couple of weeks back, Governor Akeredolu commissioned some newly completed projects in the school. They included the University Library, University Auditorium and the Administrative Building. All these projects were initiated by the Agagu government. But they were abandoned by the immediate past administration.
The Mimiko government introduced free healthcare for pregnant women and under-five children. To implement the programme, the government established two Mother and Child Hospitals in Akure, the state capital, and Ondo. Good as the Abiye programme was, it had its shortcomings. It was not well-planned, restricted, unsustainable and driven by politics.
When conceptualising the programme, no thought was given to its sustainability. This was responsible for its neglect towards the tail-end of the administration. It became a serious problem to fund the programme. Vendors no longer got paid for their supplies to the Mother and Child Hospitals. They were owed millions of naira. The huge debts were inherited by the present government. Aside the shortcoming of unsustainability, the implementation of the programme was restricted to Akure and Ondo. Both cities are in the central senatorial district of the state.
Despite the challenges of the Abiye programme, the present government continues with it. But it was reworked to allow sustainability and expansion of its scope. Now, the implementation of the programme is in seven centres. The Mother and Child Hospitals have been increased from two to seven. The additional hospitals are in Ikare, Owo, Ore, Okitipupa and Igbokoda. With the new development, the Abiye programme, which has been renamed Abiyamo, has spread to all the three senatorial districts.
Last year, the Akeredolu government began its Abiyamo Maternal and Child Health Insurance Scheme. The scheme provides insurance cover for pregnant women and children under five. It is being managed by the State Contributory Health Insurance Commission. And it was put in place for the sustainability of the free health programme.
There are other life-touching projects started by the previous administrations in the state that the present government has completed. This can be ascribed to the strong belief of the leader of the government, Arakunrin Akeredolu, that government is a continuum.
It is common in Nigeria for the incumbent government to abandon the projects and programmes of its immediate predecessor. That is why Nigeria is strewn with abandoned projects. The distasteful practice is a function of the adversarial nature of the nation’s politics. Projects are abandoned owing to political differences. Governor Akeredolu considers the practice as a disgrace to governance and disservice to the people.
But not all politicians can have the same attitude that Arakunrin Akeredolu has to politics and governance. The governor has done a lot in the last three and a half years to lay a good foundation for a prosperous and self-reliant Ondo state. Owing to the efforts of Governor Akeredolu, the state now has an industrial hub in Ore. The hub is hosting no fewer than six industries. Many others are still coming.
For the first time in the history of the country, the exploitation of the bitumen deposits in the Southern region of the state has commenced. The process of having Ondo Deep Seaport has reached the final stage. All these projects are expected to fundamentally transform the economy of the state and the lives of her people. There are other efforts being made by the present government to expand the economy of the state.
But given the bitter nature of politics in this clime, will all these projects not be abandoned if another person comes into the saddle? Is it not wise to give Arakunrin Akeredolu another term so that he can complete all his economy-transforming projects and programmes before handling over to a competent successor in 2025? Will most of the on-going infrastructural projects not suffer a terrible fate? These questions and many others should guide Ondo electors as they prepare to vote on October 10, 2020.
How would the state have looked like today if the late Dr. Agagu had been allowed to actualise notable projects of his administration such as Olokola Free Trade Zone, Ondo Port, Owena Multipurpose Dam, Akure New Stadium, Adagbakuja New Town in Ilaje and several others? Imagine what would have been the situation in the state if all these projects were not abandoned by the immediate successor of the card Agagu government!
*** Oyewamide is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Media and Publicity