Nigeria: Will Ondo Fare Better Under Akeredolu's Second Term?

Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State
21 October 2020

It has been over one week since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Governor Rotimi Akeredolu winner of the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State.

Mr Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated his closest rival, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with over 90,000 votes across the 18 local government areas of the state to emerge the winner of the poll.

The governor convincingly won 15 councils leaving the remaining for Mr Jegede. Mr Agboola, who is currently the deputy governor of the state, did not win any council.

Mr Akeredolu seems to be popular going by PREMIUM TIMES' interactions with some residents of the state before, during and after the poll. They believe he has performed creditably by transforming the state in the last three and half years he has been in power hence his victory.

However, some residents of the state are not impressed. For them, the governor's tenure has been characterised by stunted development, tightfistedness and arrogance.

Some alleged that it was so because Mr Akeredolu runs the state like his family business as his wife and son were fingered for controlling the state resources.

Many of the residents this newspaper interviewed also echoed the allegation that Mr Akeredolu runs the state affairs like his family business as his wife and son were fingered for controlling the state resources, an allegation the former had also denied.

Promises vs reality

During the debate organised by Channels Television for Mr Akeredolu, and two other frontline candidates, namely Mr Jegede and Agboola Ajayi of the ZLP candidate, the governor clearly outlined some of the things he would do and those he was not sure he would do if re-elected.

Among the things he promised to do was the completion of road and bridge projects under construction just as he reiterated that he would not reduce fees paid by students of the state-owned higher institutions despite the clamour of the electorates.

"It is something I believe this state cannot do. I'm not prepared to do it because we have responsibilities and those responsibilities were put on us by the government to serve him. This state has no business having three universities at the same time," Mr Akeredolu told the audience when challenged by Mr Jegede during the debate.

In 2018, the governor increased the fees paid by students of the higher institutions by almost 200 percent, forcing some of the students to abandon studies or leave for schools where fees are cheaper.

Justifying the action, Mr Akeredolu said he had at a point reduced the fees and challenged the electorates to point to any state university that paid lesser than Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA) in the country.

He was however criticised for reducing the fees again in August 2020, days before the state governorship poll.

Expectations, hopes and lamentations

But with Mr Akeredolu's re-election, will there be improvement in governance in the 44 years old south west state?

Some residents of the state who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES expressed different views on what they expect from Mr Akeredolu during his second term which begins in February 2021.

Gbolahan Adetunji, an indigene of Ile-Oluji, who expressed dissatisfaction with Mr Akeredolu outgoing tenure, said he would expect the governor to work for everyone.

"I sincerely don't have a preference per say, all I just want for the next four years is a government that works for everyone because it has not been easy for most of us so far," he said.

Mr Adetunji however confessed that he could not cast his vote because of his inability to collect his PVC before the INEC issued deadline for its collection.

Ayo Osho, a housewife in Akure, said she expects Mr Akeredolu to use his second coming to complete all pending projects littering his state.

"My expectation is that he should complete the projects he has started and do them well. He called himself Mr. Talk and Do. Now is the time, he has the opportunity to do all what he has said about making an industrial hub out of the state," she said.

Ms Osho, who said she did not expect the governor to win, said however he had brought a number of developments to the state.

A hotel manager, Aderemi Ademola, said he would not expect much from the governor in his second term.

According to him, experience has shown that Nigerian governors in this democratic dispensation do not perform in their second term in office.

"It is a known trend that governors coming for second term don't often do well, " Mr Ademola told this newspaper.

He however urged Mr Akeredolu to create more jobs and always consider the poor in all his decisions.

"He should try and create more jobs that eyes can see. He should also consider the poor masses in his decisions because anytime I remember how he hiked tuition fees and other services, I feel sad. But since he has won, he should do well, for posterity sake," Mr Ademola said.

A bus driver, who simply gave his name as Eko, sounded indifferent when he spoke to this newspaper on his expectations.

"Election is over, if the next four years will be good, it is for all of us and if it is the other way round, we will soak the garri together," the driver who plies Akure-Ado Ekiti route, said.

Mr Eko, who was chanting "4+4 ni ooo" (meaning another four years for Mr Akeredolu) when this newspaper approached him, however said he does not trust politicians but supported the governor because the drivers' union he belongs to endorsed him.

"If you don't comply, they will chase you from the garage, you will be conveying passengers from your parlour to your sitting room," he said jokingly, relaying his understanding of the state's political dynamics to the passengers.

But the special adviser to Mr Akeredolu on Political Matters and Strategy, Victor Olabintan, said he the residents of the state should expect "more than quadruple of what he (Mr Akeredolu) did in the last three years.

"The roads he has built and most of our primary schools will wear a new look in the coming years," Mr Olabintan told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.

The governor's aide said his boss has outperformed his predecessors in terms of infrastructural developments across sectors in the state.

"The road that he has constructed in four years is ten times of what his predecessor did in eight years and the money available to him is less than what his predecessor (Mimiko) was getting from Abuja.

"There was a time Mimiko (the immediate past governor) was getting #8-10billion every month. Since Akeredolu got there we have not gotten #6 billion in any month. In fact, we have been getting too little to pay salaries but yet the man performed such feats," he said.

Mr Olabintan, who functioned as the incumbent's campaign DG in the just concluded election in the state, denied the allegation that the governor is running the affairs of the state like his personal business.

"I'm part of this government, it is not correct. These are postulations by his political enemies who want power at all cost," he said.

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