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The die is cast as the people of Ondo State brace for the October 10, 2020 governorship election. And the electorate has a clear choice in spite of the number of candidates jostling for the governorship seat. The man they would overwhelmingly cast their votes for is none other than the incumbent Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who has been piloting the affairs of the state with tremendous success since February 24, 2017, having won the primary election of the All Progressives Congress on September 2, 2016, and the governorship election on November 26, 2016 respectively. Just like the keenly contested elections in 2016, he is the standard-bearer of the APC for the election on October 10.
He fought a battle that saw him clinch the Governorship ticket of his party, defeating his opponents by a wide margin in the primary election of July 20 which was widely adjudged as free and fair. The majority of delegates from the 18 local government areas of the state pitched their tents with Akeredolu, thus giving him victory.
Before the party primary, there were all sorts of distractions designed to undermine the reelection bid of Akeredolu. The major distractions were the defection of his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, from the ruling APC to the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, and the resignation of the former Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde. Ajayi’s desire was ostensibly to actualise his ambition of becoming the Governor of the state. But the ambition crashed like a pack of cards when he ran for the PDP ticket and was defeated by Eyitayo Jegede. Despite his defeat, Ajayi is still running from pillar to post seeking where to actualise his ambition. He later joined the Zenith Labour Party, having visited the arrowhead of the party and the former Governor of the state, Dr Rahman Olusegun Mimiko, in his home town, Ondo and as well met with Alhaji Alli Olanusi.
However, Akeredolu has brushed aside these distractions by appointing another formidable Akure-born Temitayo Oluwatuyi as the new SSG and settled for a homegrown politician, Mr Lucky Orimisan Ayedatiwa, as his running mate. Ayedatiwa was Commissioner and representative of the state on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission. A pointer to how the October 10 election will look like are the deft moves by Akeredolu for reconciliation with aggrieved co-aspirants, party leaders and members immediately after the primary election. Aketi, as the Governor is popularly called, has been extending the olive branch to everyone in the APC. He is visiting, receiving and meeting all the party stakeholders in his genuine desire to work and win together to continue to develop the state.
His fight for Ondo State has been shown in many ways including his struggle for the creation and the incorporation of the Amotekun Security outfit. Governor Akeredolu was one of the few Southwest Governors who backed the project right from inception even when it was frowned upon by the Federal Government. All efforts by the Buhari-led Government to quash the outfit using Judicial and Executive sanctions were decimated by Akeredolu-led team of Southwest Governors who pushed for the implementation of the outfit as an independent, external security force which would be solely funded by the State Government. His efforts on Amotekun has paid off as the group has proven to be very handy in the decimation of criminal activities and the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the Southwestern states.
He has also shown how devoted he is with the Ondo state health sector as he signed into law, the establishment of the Ondo State Contributory Health Scheme, which covers free maternal and Under 5 Children healthcare services across the three senatorial districts of the state Also, to ensure qualitative healthcare service delivery, his Government procured medical equipment worth millions of naira as part of the move to boost health care delivery in the state. Governor Akeredolu has also gone as far as upgrading the General Hospital Akure to a Teaching Hospital for the University of Medical science, Ondo City a project which was supervised by his wife, Mrs Betty Akeredolu who is also the founder of Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN).
Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), a Non-Governmental organisation, was borne out of the experience of Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, a breast cancer survivor, who rather than keep what she knows about the dreaded disease to herself after fighting and defeating it, decided to raise nationwide awareness about it and to also provide support for its patients with a view to minimising the disease in the country. The organisation has funded many Breast cancer awareness symposiums all over Ondo State and Nigeria and it has also helped in funding the treatment of many Breast cancer patients in Ondo state.
Mrs Betty Akeredolu is also a well-known champion of Women empowerment in Ondo State. No fewer than a hundred women from Akoko South East Local Government Area of Ondo State benefited from the maiden edition of the ongoing Women Empowerment Outreach organised she organised under the umbrella of Forum for wives of Ondo State Officials, FOWOSO. When Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wife of Ondo State Governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, on December 7, 2017, launched the Forum for Wives Of Ondo State Officials and Female Political Appointees (FOWOSO), not many envisaged the impact the pet project would have on thousands of women in the state, and the multiplier effect on the development of the general population in the state. The reason for their inability to conceive of the gains of the project might be due to the erroneous notion of the majority of people in the society that equates gains of any programme to the amount of direct financial and material benefits of such programme, which is due to ugly experiences on similar projects in the past. However, two years down the line, FOWOSO has been able to reach out to no less than 1,800 women in the 18 Local Government Areas of the state.
Governor Akeredolu has shown how detribalised he is by marrying his wife, an Imo State indigene, and he has also shown his full support for Ondo state inhabitants who are from other ethnic groups by celebrating their traditional ceremonies with them and honouring their invitations for special traditional meetings.
As the campaign gathers steam, candidates of the 17 political parties participating in the election have been talking tough even though most of them know they are no match for the incumbent who had defeated all the candidates that contested against him in 2016. Among them is Jegede who is contesting again as the standard-bearer of the PDP. Just as they proved to be no match for him in 2016, because most of them are just pretenders masquerading as contenders, history will certainly repeat itself on October 10 when they shall taste the bitterness of defeat once again. Indeed, what the electorate in Ondo needs to do is adhere to the principle of not changing a winning team. They have to reelect Akeredolu, the head of the team, for sustainable development and continuity in 2021. The Governor’s impeccable records of governance speak for him ahead of the election. The 4+4 programme with AKETI as an acronym anchored on Agriculture, Knowledge, Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Infrastructure, is a road map for the sustained existing developmental stride in Ondo State and can only be achieved with his reelection.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK