Achievements of Akeredolu Are Merely Cosmetics – Banji Okunomo
A leading governorship aspirant on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Banji Okunomo had taken the APC led administration in Ondo State to the cleaners with the description of Arankunri Rotimi Akeredolu’s achievements as merely cosmetics.
Okunomo who is the immediate past Spokesperson of PDP in Ondo State made this assertion in a recent interview with Triangle Magazine in which he spoke on varied issues. He was quite emphatic that the APC led government in Ondo State has failed to meet the people’s expectations. According to Banji Okunomo, “It is so sad and sardonic that this government has adopted a narrow mindset of doing things to the exclusion of remaining 17 Local Government Areas of Ondo State. You can never see the presence of this government outside Akure, the state capital. This is unlike the time of the previous administration when
state government presence was visibly seen and felt in all parts of Ondo State. It is a fact that the present APC government is not present in any local government of Ondo State except for few instances of cosmetic projects in the Akure metropolis. All the local government Areas are equal stake holders in the affairs of Ondo state”.
Okunomo also spoke on the disillusionment of the people of Ondo State with the government of Governor Akeredolu. He said “I can tell you for a fact that none of the cosmetics works done so far by the present government is appreciated by the people of Ondo State. Go to the world of students, they are not happy with the present administration. The students and their parents are being subjected to heavy school fees that are way beyond what they can afford. Our people are now sadly being over taxed all because we want to run a government. The government is not people targeted, it is not people oriented. We are more or less living a life of poverty in Ondo State. A government that will be people focused needs to come in and change the present system. The kind of welfarism services we use to enjoy in our hospitals are no longer there. Education sector is collapsing because of poor funding by this government. It is unfortunate that this government has been busy with cosmetic projects within certain areas of Akure just to give travelers the impression that they are working. I always weep for Ondo State whenever I see this. There are lots of places in this Akure with terrible roads, yet this government will not go to such areas. An attestation to the disapproval of present government in Ondo State was seen during the last election we had. The people of Ondo state had spoken in a clear terms and registered their disapproval of this present government. But the good news is that we have a remedy to this”.
On his plans for the people of Ondo State if he emerges the next governor, Banji Okunomo had this to say, “The only solution to unsatisfactory system of governance in Ondo State is to bring in BBO as the next governor.
I will rule Ondo state with the fear of God in such a way that the Almighty Himself will continue to strengthen me and my government. My number one target as the next governor of Ondo State will be to look at alternative sources of revenue for the state. I will particularly ensure full exploration and exploitation of the natural resources in our state. Any government that want to succeed must see Ondo State as one and that is the way I am going to perceive all parts of our Sunshine State. I won’t run a discriminatory government; rather, all persons and Local Government Areas will be given equal opportunities”.
The Odeitikan in Ilaje Local Government born Okunomo also spoke on his achievements when he served as the Caretaker Chairman of his Local Council. According to him, “One of the things that drove my interest into becoming the chairman of my Local Government was to tackle the obviously unacceptable and highly worrisome situation of our road in Igbokoda at the time; particularly the Igbokoda Secretariat road. I convenanted with my God that if I have the opportunity of becoming the chairman of my Local Government, I will tackle the road challenge. When I eventually became the chairman, I was able to device an advanced technology of using interlocking block to fix the road. And I am happy to inform that the road has remained in good shape till today since it was completed in 2012. As a matter of fact, three sections of the road were fixed at the time I was in the saddle. The first one is from the Secretariat to the College road, while the other one is from the area of Papa Ayodele sites to College road. Then, the third one is the straight road from First bank to Pa Ayodele’s house. These were roads alone. Other achievement included my commitment to the students community. I was able to establish a policy in the council which has to do with supporting the students community. I donated a vehicle purchased with the council’s money and it was not even part of the normal responsibility of the Local Government, however, the mobility of the Student Union leaders was equally considered important. Also, we supported all institutions that have students of Ilaje extraction with the sum of #50,000 each whenever they were celebrating Ilaje Day. Not only that, I happened to be the first and last chairman that paid bursary to students from Ilaje Local Government. Till today, no government of the Council has paid bursary to students again. Then, I must say it is on record that while I was the chairman, despite the instructions given that we should look inward instead of recruitment, I actually looked inward and was able to employ 344 people into the services of the local government as a way of addressing the rising population of unemployed people. I must say that I also able to relocate the Igbokoda motor park which used to be at the center of the town, thereby constituting serious traffic problem. Another motor park was constructed during my short period in office as the Local Government Chairman. I also constructed a befitting Civic Center for the town, while the issue of water transportation was equally addressed. We were also able to build 24 bridges to ease the movement of our people. This was in addition to giving priority to the welfare of our people, particularly the have-nots in Ilaje Local Government. These are few of the achievements that time constraint will allow me for now”.
He also spoke on his role as the Director General of Nicholas Tofowomo’s Campaign Committee.
Okunomo equally threw light on what swayed victory in favour of the PDP in the Ondo South Senatorial District election. In the words of Banji Okunomo, ” So when people now come with this idea that, oh this person has money, he can win the election. It is a blatant lie. Ondo is a state with a sense of pride and this is linked to our culture. And our culture underscores the understanding that once it is another person’s turn, let it be. It is just like a man with many wives, each of the wives is as important as the other. So, we won the senatorial election on the basis that we made our choice from the right Local Government and that was the most fundamental of all the factors that led to our victory in that election. Those that were called money bags in the election couldn’t even come near the winner. Even the candidates of the other parties came far behind Tofowomo in the election. Tofowomo scored over 81,000 votes while the other candidates scored a little above 50,000 votes. We won the election with a margin of over 28,000 votes. The source of our victory was zoning. It was all about doing the right thing in accordance with the understanding and convention that exist in our party and amongst the people. When it’s the turn of the south, if the North compete, they will lose. And when it is also the turn of the North, if the South compete, they will lose. Such understanding is allowed in politics”.
On the salient issues of what led to the defeat of PDP in the last governorship election in Ondo State, Okunomo also bore his mind on what was responsible for the party’s defeat and the lessons learnt from the time till now. According to Banji, “I believe we already have a lot of lessons to learn. If one refuses to learn from history, such a person is bound to end up becoming history.
We have a lot to learn now in our party. The little that we are proud of in Ondo State now was because suddenly after our defeat in the last governorship election, we were able to learn some lessons and we have been doing the right thing since then. Now, I’m an aspirant, I may not be vocal, but I will say that we should not go back to our vomit. PDP as a party should not go back to it’s vomit. That was what led us into a temporary setback. We should discipline ourselves and always address our challenges. We must not allow any evil to push us back to the path of disappointment. We are determined to get back on track and provide better governance in Ondo state. I can assure that our victory is sure and it will be very sweet”.
When asked if the issues of thuggery, arson and vote rigging that characterized the recently held Kogi State gubernatorial election will not play out in Ondo State, Banji Okunomo responded thus: “Thuggery had been rejected in Ondo state since1983. In that year, there was an attempt to steal victory for an unpopular candidate with the use of thuggery. But, the people of Ondo State stood their ground and said no to thuggery. We have been standing by this ever since then. Elections so far conducted in the state since that time have been largely peaceful and often reflected the will of our people. We have also made it an unwritten law in Ondo State not to take laws into our hands. We must ensure that our individual aspirations do not push us into fomenting trouble that may eventually lead to blood letting. All forms of election related violence must be shunned and we must allow peace to reign”.