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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Awolowo, Ajasin and the Feats of Fourth Republic Leaders In Ondo and Ekiti States

By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye

Olaoluwa Adeyeye (2016) opined that Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the old Western Nigeria region and Adekunle Ajasin, the first civilian governor of the old Ondo State are two memorial leaders that history and posterity have refused forgetting for a reason not far-fetched: They served their people with zeal, patriotism and commitment devoid of any reckless abandonment.

Determined to create jobs for the teeming population of people in their region with no interest other than demystifying poverty, hunger and starvation, Awolowo and Ajasin established the following companies for the good people of Old Ondo State, namely;

Oluwa glass at Igbokoda, Okitipupa Oil Palm Mill at Okitipupa, Ile Oluji Cocoa Processing Industry at Ile-Oluji, Ifon Ceramics at Ifon, Bolorunduro Timbers at Bolorunduro and Owena Motels in Akure, the current capital of Ondo State.

Others are Ado-Ekiti Textile Industry in Ado-Ekiti, Ire Burnt Brick Industry in Ire-Ekiti, Romaco Rice in Igbemo-Ekiti, Ikun Farms Dairy in Ikun-Ekiti and Arigidi Tomato Paste in Arigidi-Akoko.

However, a critical analysis of the current state of the aforementioned firms and roles of fourth republic leaders in Ondo and Ekiti States at helping to bury them would suffix below:

The Olusegun Mimiko led current government in Ondo State demolished Owena Motels, Akure and sold the land to a popular South African food and beverages firm-Shoprite. Owena until its despoliation fetches Ondo State Government over N20million monthly after payment of staff salaries and allowances.

Today, the where about of all the equipments in the moribund Ado-Ekiti Textile Industry are still unknown. All the equipments inside the once upon a time a lucrative firm were carted away to an unknown destination when the immediate past governor of the Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi announced the plan of his government to renovate the company which he ultimately converted to a lock-up shop.

An Ekiti State born professor of Economics of the blessed memory, Sam Aluko posited during the 2011 Ekiti State Education summit hosted by Fayemi that the Ado Ekiti Textile industry if resuscitated and well managed has the capacity to generate N100million worth of income to the state government monthly.

Also, about N1billion was spent on Ikun Farms Dairy situated at Ikun-Ekiti in Mobal Local Government Area of the state by a fourth republic leader in the person of Olusegun Oni. Oni invested heavily in the farm during his ill-fated regime as Governor of Ekiti State but a drop of milk was not produced in the farm let alone generating a dime to the state.

The Sahara Reporters reported that Oni bought each of the 700 cows brought to the farm from South Africa for N1million. All the cows died within six months thereby wasting tax payers’ money in the process.

Otito Atikase, a former Member of Ondo State House of Assembly had alleged that Arigidi Tomatoe Paste and Okitipupa OilPalm Mill have gulped N3billion of Ondo State tax payers ‘ money with nothing to show for the huge investment up till this moment.

Bolorunduro Timbers and Oluwa Glass, Igbokoda are practically dead. The only thing left in these two firms are their lands. All the buildings are gone. Weeds and wild animals now compete for space in the firms; ditto Ifon Ceramics and Ile Oluji Cocoa Processing Industry-all in Ondo State.

The government of Fayemi invested about N2billion in Ire Burnt Brick Industry but no meaningful result has been achieved there. The last we heard was that the company was employing staff but a recent visit to the firm showed the opposite. The company is currently under key and lock.

The incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose during his first term between 2003 to 2006 attempted to establish a poultry farm aimed to be the largest producer of egg and chicken in south west and second largest in Nigeria but politics of acrimony and anti-thesis played in and the project kicked the bucket.

Fayose, instead of executing the project through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme so as to avoid hues and brouhaha from his political opponents who were desperate to sack him, did otherwise. For reason(s) best known to him, the project was solely spare-headed by the state government. What followed was a colossal failure.

Fayose’s ever-combative political opponents petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) questioning the management of funds earmarked for the project and what followed was a court injunction stopping the project which according to Fayose’s spokesperson, Idowu Adelusi was aimed at boosting up Ekiti economically through Agriculture.

The 19 farm centres already built by the state government and ready for poultry business across the state are today kicking in the bush as the legal tussles instituted against the finances of the project lingers on in court. According to Governor Fayose, over Five Hundred Million had already been spent before the project went moribund.

Today, as these firms cry for attention, the people of Ondo and Ekiti states suffers. The two states are currently indebted to their civil servants to the tune of five months. It is therefore without any prejudice that i posit that the economy of the Ondo and Ekiti states are currently wailing due to the visionless and wickedness of their fourth republic leaders.

While the incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose alleged that his predecessor, Kayode Fayemi left a gargantuan debt of N87billion for him to pay (though Fayemi has denied, referring Fayose to his hand over note), Mimiko, according to Olabimtan, a former speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, would be completing his tenure by February 2017 leaving at least N150billion debt for his successor to pay.

Quoting Jide Oluwajuyitan, a Veteran Journalist and University Don, Ondo and Ekiti states are currently a shadow of themselves. While mineral and natural resources such as granite, clay and arable lands litters around Ekiti begging to be tapped, Ondo State is blessed with the largest deposit of bitumen in the world after Canada.

Ondo State also has the highest deposit of Cocoa in Africa yet the state is boast of the highest poverty rate in south west, according to Socio - Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP). The Owena Multipurpose and Ose Dams no longer function as indigenes of the state now consume dangerous borehole water.

In his words, Olabimtan, a widely respected academic scholar turned politician said the only government nearest to Ajasin in term of foresight and ideas in Ondo State is Olusegun Agagu, the Ijuodo, Okitipupa born late geologist who governed the state between 2003 to 2009.

The famous Olokola Free Trade Zone sighted at Olokola in Ondo South Senatorial District of the state would have turned around the fortune of the state if the current governor, Olusegun Mimiko had not abandoned it.

Olokola was designed to be a modern city that is aimed to compete with Singapore. Before Agagu’s death in 2013, the richest black man in the world, Alhaji Aliko Dangote had announced the establishment of the biggest refinery in Nigeria at Olokola.

Olokola was 60% owned by Ondo State and 40% owned by Ogun States respectively.

However, Mimiko allowed the Olokola Free Trade Zone that already had Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas (OKLNG) as a tenant to be hijacked by Lagos State.

The selection of the OKLNG site was based on the results from three separate studies, each covering a number of selection criteria.

The site was selected on the basis of favourable onshore and offshore site conditions, with good soil and marine disposition. An important consideration in the site selection criteria is minimising social and environmental impact. The selected site was assessed by external consultants to ensure there are no fatal flaws from environmental and social standpoints. In addition, the marine solution has high constructability and low schedule risk.

OKLNG is the best placed LNG project in the Gulf of Guinea region to compete in the current environment.

Olabimtan stated that Mimiko allowed Dangote to take OKLNG project to Epe, Lagos State because of his (Mimiko) personal hatred for late Olusegun Agagau the initiator of the idea whom Mimiko served as Secretary to the State Government before the two hitherto political associates fell apart prior to 2007 general elections.

Arising from the forgoing, i want to posit that leaders are meant to govern their people in line with the universal modicum of democratic ethics but in Nigeria, Political leaders’ acts like rulers.

Sarcastically and Paradoxically, let me state that what the current Governors in Nigeria (with exemption of no one) spends tax payers’ on is to execute cosmetic projects such as construction of governors’ lodge, government houses and governors’ offices, event hall for multi-billion naira, lighting of street light through generator power plant, laying of asphalt on already asphalted roads and beautification of already collapsed roads and extension cum dualization of needless roads.

Today, what we have are leaders solely interested in capital flight and solidification of self aggrandizement though masquerades as democrats and advocates of social change.

Lastly, while i advocate for a return back to regionalism and a total restructuring of the political system of the nation of Nigeria, i pray that God deliver Nigerians from leaders without vision.

Adeleye, aJournalist/Political Scientist, Writes from Magodo, Lagos.

He can be reached via: Maxwell_adeleye@yahoo.com or @maxwelladeleye on Twitter or 08184397228 (SMS ONLY).

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