Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) spoke on a Silverbird Television live programme on his achievements and chances in the election. Excerpts:
What legacies are you carrying into the second term that people will say this is what the governor has done in the first term?
Well, I have a lot, to show people that we have done in our first term. I can point to number of our schools, we have taught over 600 primary schools, we have renovated and built new classrooms all over there is nowhere in the state, that is on issue of the schools.
Now on issue of roads, as I mentioned to you about infrastructural deficit, I have always believed in what one of the American leaders said, I think it was John F Kennedy that he said, the roads that you have or the infrastructures is what has made America, it’s not because of the money, it’s because America has infrastructure that she has money. I am one of those who believe in the ideology that with good infrastructures the state idea on money will improve because of that I had gone on out to work on major roads in the state and one of the key areas that I believe it will last for long or forever is the fact that we had broad section that is the redemption bridge which we have in Ore today, if you drive by Ore you will see it. For me that is something that everybody will see forever, it has changed the landscape of the whole of Ore. Many months before now when we came back that very spot used to look like a place where road accidents occur. But, today, it’s clear everybody just moves freely, everyone is happy about it, i believe that, that is the legacy and the issue of industrial development is also a legacy and we are working on bringing up issue of bitumen that over years everybody has been mouthing that we want to start mining, bitumen operations nobody has ever done it, but today we have southwest bitumen off on Irele, they have started modular refinery and one other key one that I’m working at and I pray when I have another opportunity after this election is to have Port Ondo.
What is Port Ondo?
Port Ondo is our deep sea port and on the deep sea port we have done a lot of studies and we have read the outline business and this has gone through ports authority and we are waiting that it will get to SRC Infrastructural Conceptionary Regulatory Commission. If it gets there, we should be able to pull it through because a lot of job has gone through it.
What difference will Port Ondo bring to the Ondo economy?
Well, the difference port brings to any economy is huge. It will change the total land scape of Ondo State, if the port moves in fully, Ondo State will not need to go anywhere again. Lagos state, what do they live on, they don’t have oil they live on port and industries. And we believe that when we have the port,industries will spring up along the corridors then the economy of this state is built forever.
And I believe that if will not be this state alone and I can assure you that the economy of Nigeria will improve with Port Ondo, because it will be a deep sea port where you have drought of over 15meters where mother ship can park. Today, can they do it in Apapa? No! But if you have a deep see port where we can a crown where a large ship can come in, and so for me, I have always make a case that it will be the best for the west African coast. So the only one in west African port where everybody comes in and goods move and development will keep coming from the Hinterland. So we will be able to do that if we have the opportunity of one term continuity we will press for it with everything we have to make sure that the port comes in.
Ondo is an oil producing state and it should not even complain when it comes to finances. So, what is happening?
The oil is giving us a little edge. Although, we are number five in the country.There was an analysis I tried to make people see. There was some payment that was supposed to be made at a point.
The number one state was greater than $500m, number two is above $400m, number three is above $300m,number for is also above $200m and we that are number five is about $90m.
So producing is not about (…), until probably there’s a change. why we have problem is that most of the oil found around Ondo State are offshores. All the money goes to the federal government. If for instance the Nautical miles between us is extended, so that we can be everywhere then our oil will change.
How are you tackling the challenge of reconciliation in your party?
Well, there’s not much I am doing. I have said it openly everywhere; with what I am doing, I have not done less at any given time.
So, if there’s result now it is because my colleagues, members of our party have resolved to want to work with us, to work together, so the credit should go to them not me, because the last time I contested I did the same thing. I went round. But when people were not convinced that we should work together there were still some crises but today I thank God Almighty. It’s not me, the Glory goes to God and I want to thank my colleagues who were the co-aspirants then, all of us in the party believe that the party must come together, that’s where we are now,everybody believed, saying let’s all come together. Let’s work together. And I believe that we have every reason to work together- we cannot loose Ondo State, it’s not possible, we cannot.
Are there mistakes that were made and you felt that this one shouldn’t have been, but we have learnt our lessons?
Ohhh, there were, there must be. But, when you talk about mistakes that were made, there must be. There were mistakes.
From all sides?
From both sides, from all sides it cannot be only for governor’s sides. With all respect to my colleague in the party. I have always been open, that’s my own believe. There might be that people don’t believe that you are open enough. But You see, when we ran the primaries then and the party almost was bivocated and some people moved to another party. There’s no way we won’t have such crises. But this time around we have had primaries all of us have put the primaries behind us. As it supposed to be that when the dust of primaries settles all of us will come together to work for APC. And I want to thank all of them, that all of us have now agree that we will come together and work for our party because we cannot afford, our part cannot afford to lose this election.
What happened, is it that Mr governor don’t want to work with his deputy or what was the issue that led your deputy away from your party?
Well, he will be in a better position to answer that question, why he had to leave, not me. But if what we have seen has happened over the time he left, is there any reason to go by? I assume that his problem is ambition and he is entitled to it. That is why he left from here went to PDP he didn’t stay more than two to three weeks, he left from there, he’s gone to ZLP.I am sure by the time he suffers that great loss in ZLP he will now be moving to another party to be able to contest in another election. So, I don’t see anything that we have done, we have not wronged him and I believe so and I can say so.
That is what you think?
No, we have not wrong him, but he is right to be ambitious. Its good. what over ambition can cause you is this and that is his case he will face it.But it’s better for him to answer why he left.
At what point did you start to notice the crack on the wall between you and your deputy? You didn’t get security report in that regards?
I didn’t, and even if they have given me, I probably would not believe it because I felt that…, look, I have somebody that I expect to work with me to be loyal to the ticket but at the point, what I got to know later was that even from the day he became the deputy governor he had been planning. So, there’s nothing you can do-you can’t stop those people with ambitions. One of the most difficult position to occupy in life is to be deputy.
One of the most difficult?Why do people say that?
I am telling you now, you see, it’s difficult because it could be tempting, except you have the grace of God. If you are somebody that do not really believe in God, you don’t serve God, you would not be at peace. There would be other things that would push you and they would push you to make mistakes. So, for me, why I believe it’s difficult is that since we came in people have been complaining, they have come. I discountenance it, I don’t even listen to them. And I let him know and he would be there and he would tell me, oh, don’t worry sir and I will say look you will be the one to gain. At the end of the day there’s that sort of problem you would have as a deputy. Not every deputy will be like Philip Shuaib who felt that look this is a ticket and he stood in it.
But, this is somebody (you can ask all the governors, deputy governors), I gave him all the opportunities and he himself, to my colleagues when he sees them would say, look help me thank my “oga o” he has done so well to me.
But, with the issue of ambition there is nothing anybody can do.
About ambition. now let me quickly go to this other issue. You have, I don’t know, within these three and half years, you’ve had so many friends, you have also made enemies. And former Governor Mimiko was your friend and you people were in good terms and if what we read the paper this days, is everything to go by there a thought for us? He is just giving support to another political party which means he is not supporting you for second term. How do you feel that the man that you took as your friend, things have turned this way?
No, I do not, I really don’t feel bad, seriously because what is there is simple, you need to see my friends’ path in life and in politics. You need to look at the path he’s followed. If you expect him to change then you are the one that’s a fool.
I don’t understand that…
I will tell you. Look, I didn’t expect Mimiko to do otherwise. He cannot do otherwise. He worked with Adefarati, he betrayed him and left. He worked thereafter with Agagu, he betrayed him and left. Right? So, his case as some has said, people tried to describe it and I hope people would follow; it’s like that of a scorpion and a toad and both of them were at the bank of the river and storm was coming and the scorpion said to the toad you know I cannot swim why don’t you take me across and the toad said to him, I know if I take you, I know you will sting me. The scorpion said I am begging you, don’t let me die. I will never sting you. By the time he took him, before he got to the bank.
Did you know this of him all the while you were still friends?
I know that of him. That’s why I am saying that he can never change…so by time the scorpion they got almost near the scorpion knew he can go on his own. He stung the toad. And the toad now said,but you said, “you won’t sting me.” He said, please now forgive me it’s in my character. So, I will forgive him it’s in his character. who am I to now worry about a man.
People said Mimiko is a formidable grass root, politician. Do you think, Governor, that you can withstand the political machinery of Mimiko ahead of the next election…
(laugh)…, Let’s us talk something serious. Mimiko has no force anywhere. I am saying it in the open, plain to him. He is no force. If he were to be a force, he will now run to go immediately after he left as governor. He wouldn’t run to be senator and lose all the local government except one. Six local government he could not win. He came 3rd, they say he is a force, which force? He is a spent force. His own is that he has nostructure. He has a vehicle that has no engine and he now got a willing buyer and that one has bought that vehicle and he cannot move. They cannot move! we are not boasting. Mimiko has no structure. He is not a grass rooter anywhere. Maybe if I say this to him to encourage him to say pray more. Let him come…
Because, he said he has a lot of things to say.
We know, that’s what I am saying, let him say it, say everything he want to say. In 2019, he lost his senatorial election, he came third.
Election is just around the corner and you have the PDP, and you have the ZLP and other political parties. Now, tell your people again what you have for them in the next dispensation.
Well, what I want to say to the people of Ondo State is very simple, you have seen me in the last three and half years. You can feel the impact of your service. It’s there for you to see and people say even if you’re blind, you can feel it because when you’re driving and it’s smooth. You would ask, why is this place this smooth? It’s because Akeredolu has improved on those infrastructures. And if it’s deafness, you cannot hear, you can see it with your eyes. So, I want to tell our people that it’s been a wonderful time serving them and I take delight in doing what I am doing. In being straight with them, in been honest with them and in serving them. And if I have the opportunity of another term, which I am begging them to give us. We’ve gone all out to campaign, begging them to give us another term. They should be assured that we would do more than what wehave done in this first term because we are now more sure-voted. We now have the experience. We already have plans for the next four years. We have things that are in the office, we have things that we have not completed and the only way we can complete it is through continuity. So, that the state will not fall prey to another governor who would take over and abandon a whole University for eight years. They should know that thesethings can happen so continuity is important. Continuity not only for Akeredolu but continuity for a progressive party like APC is important.
Since you dropped with the word APC, let me ask this one before we round up this session. Talking about the APC, one party that is so challenged, even the national body of APC, you just had the former national chairman removed and even the insinuation there was that you were part of the force that worked against him.
Worked against him, how?
I mean, to get the former national chairman out of office.
The only force I belong to is a force that believes in APC, that’s all
What does that mean?
what I mean is that APC must survive it So, whatever it takes us, whatever it takes the APC members to ensure the survival of the party I am part of it and I support it.
And even if it means somebody has to go you will support it.
No, what I am saying is this, it is clear to all of us when you talk about the issue of survival, when you talk about the interest of a party whether we like it or not you cannot make an omeletwithout breaking an egg. There are people who would make sacrifices. So if there are people to make sacrifices, so be it. But I am saying to you that there’s no way I will sit to plot to say anybody should go. What I am saying is that what is happening in the party
will we continue as we are that one chairman today, another chairman tomorrow, acting chairman this day? Is that how we will continue to run the party? And I believe that Mr. President and others took a right decision to say let us save this party from ruins.
I just got a message from somebody and they want me to ask you why do people call you Mr Talk and Do.
(laugh)…. Why don’t you ask the people, but if ask me…?
Probably they want you to explain better.
The reason why they say this is that, I have always kept my words. No matter what it is, I am a bit measured in promises. So when you come to me saying you want this, when I believe I can’t do it I will tell you straight, I am not going to say okay, we will look at it. But if it’s something I can do I will tell you yes, take it to the bank, we will do it.
So people in the state, when they found out that if I say it, I will do it, now call me Mr. Talk and Do.
So, you’re not the typical politician.
I don’t want to be one. I want to be myself.
Thank you so much Mr governor.
I know what you mean by a typical politician.
A typical Nigerian politician.
don’t ever want to be a typical politician. I want to be true to my people and to my conscience.
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