Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) said that he deserves to win the October 10 Ondo governorship election because of his achievements in the last four years. He spoke on his stewardship among others on Silverbird Television live programme.
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 a number of our schools; we have over 600 primary schools, we have renovated and built new classrooms all over; that is on the issue of the schools.
I have always believed in what one of the American leaders said, I think it was John F Kennedy that 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 infrastructure, the state’s idea on money will improve and 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, 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 the years, everybody has been mouthing that we want to start mining bitumen. These are operations nobody has ever done, but today we have South West 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 seaport 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 state’s 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 it 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 seaport where mother ship can berth. Today, can they do it in Apapa? No! But if you have a deep seaport where a large ship can come in, and so for me, I have always made a case that it will be the best for the West African Coast. So, it will be 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 four is also above $200m and we that are number five is about $90m.
Why we have problem is that most of the oil found around Ondo State are offshore. 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 lose 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?
Oh!, 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 belief. There might be people who don’t believe that you are open enough. But you see, we ran the primaries then and the party almost was bifurcated 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 and all of us have put the primaries behind us. As it is 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 agreed that we will come together and work for our party because we cannot afford to lose this election.