By Debo Ikuesewo-Akinbami
Before the pledge, bearded Akeredolu made a clenched fist of his right hand. He threw it repeatedly to the wind in a boast of his lawyering trade. “Law is my love”, he said, vauntingly, to his audience, in one tone and pose that almost give some of us- who neither study nor practice law – away as subhumans.
Governor Akeredolu likes to brag about things that are his. The other day, he conceitedly portrayed Owo, his own dialect, as superior to others. He even encouraged adopting it by denizens. This time, his rating of law profession would not be something to worry about. The status of law practice- as one of those professions – won’t change, after all. Not even by the governor’s recurring imposing label.
Like law, the act of bantering is innately his. As I see it, the governor is artful at it. He intently devised the banters to lit up the doleful mood of his audience. They all bore black insignia on their wrists to convey bereavement. The workers had converged for what would be the governor’s first official outing for the year. But Akeredolu would not commence his part until he had requested two minutes’ silence in honor of those who passed on, in service, in the near past, including his Chief of Protocol, Tosin Ogunbodede, a lawyer, who was illustrious in the rating of many.
We are wont to celebrate the dead, more than the living, in this part. At death, the deceased recieve lavish praises from the most unlikely places. Once dead, exhortations sprout even from lifelong adversaries, the obvious and obscure. Ogunbodede got a big share of the wonted laudations. His lifetime and style recieved fine mortal judgements, both in government circles and outside it. At any rate, Tosin’s passing was a personal loss for the governor. For him, he lost a reliable ally and loyal aide of huge worth.
Like his audience, governor Akeredolu suffered a sore loss. He did not decorate his own hand but he had pains in his veins, yet he sought to brighten his enthusiasts with a jest. It was under this weight of severe loss that he encouraged the state to move on, howbeit. Governor Akeredolu believes that the best way to preserve the memories of those who died is to build on the present achievements, to which the deceased markedly contributed.
His mood was solemn, in his usual character. Times are tough, but governor Akeredolu promised not to rest. He also did promise not to be complacent in the face of towering feats. He said scorching fiscal challenges notwithstanding, he is resolute about doing more of wealth creations and expanding infrastructures to the nook and cranny of the state. He assured constituents that his second term would not be for holiday but for delivery of more projects to make Ondo state a better place.
It is true that the government of Arakunrin Akeredolu has emplaced sturdy industrial base in the state. The Ore Industrial Park which hosts four main industries – Ondo-Linyi Textile, a Cassava Ethanol Factory, Trucks and Tricycles Assemblage Plant and a Paper Mill is a visible demonstration of the governor’s commitment on this note. In commerce, he has done a number of things correctly, part of whose results is the propituous swelling of government purse through internally generated revenues.
To his credit, the revenue of the state rose to N2.2 billion, monthly, from the meagerly switching between N650 and N700 million before his governorship. The governor has expanded health facilities as he has done significantly to infrastructure. He scored high marks particularly on road construction and rehabilitation, which is why the roads look good in the most part of the state.
Akeredolu appears well driven by the spoken desire to transform his state to an industrialized one. The gestures are evident in his cravings and workings for improved economy. There is an aura of seriousness about it. Even when it is in the nature of investments to trudge until maturity for evident fruition, the governor’s acts show a graphic giving of the requisite push. He sees disservice in letting the badge of ‘a Civil Service State’ endure on Ondo, hence the efforts.
Before the proceeds start to pour in, however, Akeredolu wants his people to be satisfied with peace of mind, and so, he prioritizes the security of lives and properties. His words: Our people cannot continue to live in perpetual fear arising from the cases of kidnapping, robbery, and other criminal activities. He was reacting to the conducts of criminals inhabiting fields in the state while confronting crimes head-on.
With him, leadership came in handy on the contentious security theme. That is his style with other concerns. Where his kind kept mute, he was irrepressibly audible. Governor Akeredolu stamped a popular stance with characteristic candour. He rose to the occasion. He also rose above sentiments and political conveniences. For him, the stakes are high and he cannot afford to let the people down.
There are areas governor Akeredolu is expected to improve on. Rural development and workers’ welfare readily come to mind as part of such areas with crying need for enhancements. Nonetheless, his new avowal tastes more than mere rhetorics. The promise to go the extra miles, to be restless so that Ondo state can progress is something to encourage him for; in the best interests.
***Akinbami teaches Mass Communication at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko.