Lagos lawyer Banji Alabi is the Convener, Ondo State Eminent Personalities Group (OSEPG). A group of professionals dedicated to the development of the Sunshine State. In this interview with reporters in Lagos, he speaks on the progress so far made by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu. Excerpts
Can you give us your assessment of the Akeredolu administration? The Akeredolu administration has done well thus far. Recall that this administration came in at a very difficult period when the State was neck deep in a very serious crisis. However, things did not take long before they started taking shape because the governors unique selling point is integrity. This reflected in the massive votes he recorded across the State, and luckily he has steered the ship of the State in a manner that has been very commendable. We are not particularly surprised in view of his background as a through bred professional who rose through the ranks as a lawyer to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He came in with a great deal of experience having worked with the late Sir Michael Adekunle Ajasin at a relatively young age as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. Even the opposition Peoples Democracy Party publicly acknowledged that Akeredolu has done well so far. I am indeed delighted that the administration has justified the confidence reposed in it by the people of Ondo State who voted massively for Gov. Akeredolu, SAN.
You are supposed to be apolitical. So why did you support Akeredolu’s bid? You are right. But remember we also gave our support to the Mimiko administration. Our role is to get the best for Ondo State at every point in time. We see ourselves first and foremost as Ondo State people, and the best we can do is to give our all to the State because we have no other State we can call our own. ‘Aketi’ is a thorough bred professional. Remember that he has devoted entire life to the legal profession in Nigeria, rising to the exalted position the President of the Nigeria Bar Association. As a group of professionals from Ondo State, we have had very close contact with him and can attest to his integrity and professionalism. We are not politicians, but as a group committed to the growth and development of Ondo State. We make bold to say that only those who have what it takes can take Nigeria to where it ought to be in the comity of Nations. That is why we believe that Governor Akeredolu’s experience will work for the good of Ondo State.
Has Gov. Akeredolu performed? I think the Governor deserves the praises of all thus far. Recall that it was all industrial unrest in the dying days of the last administration because salaries of several months could not be paid. Today, it is a brand new day in Ondo State. To appreciate the enormous work of the governor, I want to suggest that the government should publish the balance sheet of what it inherited from the Mimiko administration to enable Ondo State people appreciate the good work this administration has put in within a short period. As a member of the transition committee which ushered in this administration, I can clearly tell you that Ondo State was on life support before this governor came in. It is however a thing of Joy that things are moving very fast. I am happy that Ondo State is been restored by Gov. Akeredolu. Today, civil servants are happy because salaries are been paid. Even lecturers that were sacked by the Mimiko administration at the state-owned Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akolo have been re-instated and their full benefits paid to date. The Governor has also signed an MoU with a foreign firm on the Olokola project to construct a 27km bridge across the sea to link Ilaje area of the state with Lekki in Lagos state. This no doubt is a milestone in view of what Ondo State stands to benefits from this strategic project. For those who don’t know Lekki is the home of business in Lagos which is Nigeria’s business, capital. It therefore means that huge business benefits will accrue to Ondo State as the Lekki area is home to Africa’s largest private refinery. The Icing on the cake is that the impact of this young administration is gradually been felt in the area of infrastructural development across the three senatorial districts of the State. Only recently he gave cheques running into hundreds of millions of naira to FADAMA framers. This will go a long way in boosting food security in the state. It will equally reduce unemployment because more people will be engaged in agriculture.
With the appointment of commissioners, what do you expect? I think this is the time the goods will be delivered faster and better. I say this because even when the cabinet was yet to be inaugurated, signs that this government is serious were more than evident. I have gone through the list of commissioners and I can attest to the fact that the governor did a very good job in picking people with quality. What this means is that Ondo State is set for business. May I also seize this opportunity to commend lawmakers for approving the list in record time. The Ondo State Government in its entirety need to show the world that we can aim for the sky and the time is now.
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