Kayode Akinmade: Ondo at 40, the sun still shines

Kayode Akinmade: Ondo at 40, the sun still shines

Friday, February 12, 2016 10:10 am


Governor Mimiko

Governor Mimiko

By Kayode Akinmade

There are quite a number of states making progress in Nigeria, trudging on in spite of the odds. With the steady slide in the value of the naira following the tragedy in the global oil market, with the Federal Government’s apparent lack of positive economic vision and with the erosion of the democratic gains made in the immediate past administration; in spite, indeed, of Nigeria’s feeding bottle federalism apologies to Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, such states are forging ahead, inspired by a visionary leadership. At various times in the democratic space, Ondo has witnessed pragmatic leadership through Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, Chief Adebayo Adefarati, Dr Segun Agagu and, of course, Dr Olusegun Mimiko. There have been crises, difficulties and odds, but these have never cowed the Ondo spirit. Out of the 60 National Merit Award winners since the inception of that award, 11 Ondo State indigenes have been recipients.

Professor Sylvester Adegoke, Professor Ifedayo Oladapo, Dr. Soji Oluwole, Professor Abiodun Francis Oluwole, Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe, Dr. Akinola Aguda, Professor Tolu Odugbemi, Professor Jacob Olupona, Dr. Ebenezer Meshida, Professor (Mrs) Paulina Adebusoye and Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, all proud indigenes of Ondo State have received the National Merit Award and these winners have coming from Ondo State, confirm its intellectual supremacy. The state is moving forward.

Addressing the people of the state on the 40-year milestone, Dr Olusegun Mimiko pointed out: “Given the vicissitudes of fortunes that Ondo State has witnessed in its 40-year existence so far, I believe, like many indigenes, that we have done well. We have not only benchmarked programmes and projects for other states in the health sector, urban renewal, education, wealth creation and other sectors, we have succeeded in making Ondo State an unfolding destination of choice for entertainment and medical tourism.

Kayode Akinmade

Kayode Akinmade

“ The present Administration has kept faith with the promise to work for the people of Ondo State. Today, Ondo State is not only a global benchmark in a couple of initiatives, the diligent and sincere implementation of our programmes has attracted the commendation of statesmen throughout the nation even across political divides, and elicited public acknowledgement of our modest achievements. Some of these initiatives include, but not limited to, the Abiye Safe Motherhood Programme, Mother and Child Hospitals, Trauma & Surgical Centre, Kidney Care Centre, Urban Renewal Programme, modern neighbourhood markets, the ultra-modern Automart, Water supply schemes, Housing Estates, School Free Shuttle Scheme and the emplacement of over 600 community-driven projects among others. The State now has an International Event Centre otherwise known as The Dome which is fast becoming the cynosure of all eyes”

Ondo is no pushover in any sector. The state is already a tourism destination through its masterful handling of its cultural assets. The Idanre Hills Resort is now a World Heritage Site, and Mare festival is increasingly one of the most notable festivals across the country expanding by the day. Members of the entertainment industry have now found in Ondo, an excellent haven for artistic expression. The state female football team, Sunshine Queens, is a leading sports club in the female league, and Sunshine Stars, the male team, has been prominent on the national and continental scene despite its young age.

In the area of health, Ondo remains the only state in Nigeria tackling maternal mortality by assigning Health Rangers to pregnant women for proper monitoring from conception to birth; providing mobile phones for maintaining free contact with health rangers and healthcare providers, coupled with appropriate transportation like four-wheel and tricycle ambulances; renovation of existing basic health centres and construction of new ones and adequate provision of drugs and other consumables. With the free phones, pregnant women call the health rangers who visit and treat them at home. When it is time for delivery, the pregnant woman is taken to the hospital, and in case surgery is needed, the theatre would be waiting for her. All the services ( free consultation, admission, medication, blood transfusion and surgical operations) are free.

“ The present Administration has kept faith with the promise to work for the people of Ondo State. Today, Ondo State is not only a global benchmark in a couple of initiatives, the diligent and sincere implementation of our programmes has attracted the commendation of statesmen throughout the nation even across political divides, and elicited public acknowledgement of our modest achievements. Some of these initiatives include, but not limited to, the Abiye Safe Motherhood Programme, Mother and Child Hospitals, Trauma & Surgical Centre, Kidney Care Centre, Urban Renewal Programme, modern neighbourhood markets, the ultra-modern Automart, Water supply schemes, Housing Estates, School Free Shuttle Scheme and the emplacement of over 600 community-driven projects among others. The State now has an International Event Centre otherwise known as The Dome which is fast becoming the cynosure of all eyes”

Impressed by the Medical Village, Ondo which accommodates among others, the Trauma Centre, Kidney Care Centre, Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Centre and another Mother and Child Hospital, the World Bank officially listed Ondo state ‘’Abiye’’ programme on its website as one of the success stories coming out of Africa. And what about the modern Cold Chain Store, meant for the Ondo State Routine Immunization Reaching Every Ward Always (ORIREWA) initiative which ensures that immunization reaches all children as at when due, with the protection of children against childhood killer diseases as major objective?

Again, Ondo is the only state to have eliminated undue paper governance through electronic platforms, particularly multi-purpose smartcard for digitalised service delivery (Kaadi Igbe Ayo). A pregnant woman can receive treatment at any part of the state once she presents her card. The card is her case note. No need to spend valuable hours looking for files. With its Trauma Centre in Ondo State and the University of Medical Sciences, the Mother and Child hospitals and many others, Ondo is the classic fountain in Nigeria’s desert. Ondo is the state where the least fees are paid in tertiary institutions.

In the education sector, Governor Mimiko realised, on assuming office, that in the uneven kind of competition with private schools, the public schools system, either at the primary or secondary education tier, produced students invariably from poor homes who never made it to any tertiary institution because of the manifest deficiency in their scholarship. The effect of the inherently discriminatory system was that qualitative but free primary and secondary education in the state became only a mental construct and catchy political sloganeering because in practice, only the rich could afford it. To rectify the imbalance from source and expose the children of the less privileged to good education just like the children of the elites, the government immediately started building model primary schools, appropriately named Caring Heart Mega Schools to reflect the scope of learning possibilities and the sheer capacity for students’ intake.

With 56 mega schools without any parallels in Africa, hailed as Black Africa’s greatest success story in educational revolution, and with over 200 schools rehabilitated across the state, with more than 50,000 students being accommodated, Ondo has done excellently well, particularly if you consider the Free School Shuttle policy, initiated in 2012. Where a free education package includes school sandals, bags and books, and where you have the only Quality Education Assurance Agency in the country maintaining standards and setting parameters in all the agencies and departments of government in the state, you cannot but appreciate good governance. What is more, if you consider its unique record of paying the highest minimum wage in the country, you cannot but celebrate Ondo at 40.

Ondo is no pushover in any sector. The state is already a tourism destination through its masterful handling of its cultural assets. The Idanre Hills Resort is now a World Heritage Site, and Mare festival is increasingly one of the most notable festivals across the country expanding by the day. Members of the entertainment industry have now found in Ondo, an excellent haven for artistic expression. The state female football team, Sunshine Queens, is a leading sports club in the female league, and Sunshine Stars, the male team, has been prominent on the national and continental scene despite its young age.

Indeed, former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, on a visit to Ondo State in December 2013, enthused: “The truth is that I was ashamed of the fact that so much is going on in Ondo State in terms of development and services to the ordinary people and yet we as Nigerians, and particularly as Yoruba people, have refused to acknowledge or admit it either for self-serving political motives or for other reasons which are best known to ourselves.”

In spite of these obvious landmarks, Ondo State is, like every other state, not yet where it should be. This is because it has no control over its own resources, even though Nigeria is supposed to be a federal Republic. Imagine what the possibilities would be if the state were to exploit its bitumen, estimated as capable of sustaining the Nigerian nation itself for at least 120 years, contributing only an agreed rate to the government at the centre for the running of the federation. That would immediately activate what Governor Mimiko, at a recent engagement in the state capital, Akure, called self-evident, as opposed to text-book, development.

Yet, instead of pursuing fiscal federalism through the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report which contains the roadmap for true Nigerian greatness, the Federal Government is busy chasing shadows, trying to promote an unworkable system. Certainly, Nigeria is the only supposedly Federal Republic in the world where the constituent states depend on federal allocations to exist, instead of using their own resources to develop at their own pace; the only “federal Republic” where the central government is planning agriculture even though it has no land, except through the fraudulent Land Use Act, an instrument of robbery and retrogression. The conclusion, then, must be that the Ondo of our dream is near. It can be said however that the foundation has been well laid through good governance.

-Kayode Akinmade is the Ondo State Commissioner for Information

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