VANITY VS EXPEDIENCY: A TALE OF TWO PROJECTS
I follow Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Aketi) for several reasons. First, he is a governor that looks forward. I doubt that any governor in Nigeria, has been more magnanimous to the legacy and reputation of his predecessors like Aketi has been.
I have hardly heard him speak in person, or through a nominee, criticizing or judging a project of his predecessor. Even in the face of aggression, aggravation and temptation, he has always kept mum. I respect him for that.
A second reason, above several others, for which I respect him is that he respects the freedoms of others. As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he respects constitutional freedoms, one of which is free speech. I write this opinion in the exercise of my freedom to speak freely, devoid of prompting, ill will or mischief, and I do not speak for him or his administration. This is the honest truth.
I was inspired when recently, I drove on Igbatoro Road, and I thought deeply about two projects, executed by separate administrations standing opposite each other: First, The Dome, Ondo State’s beautiful events centre, and the second, The Revenue House, a magnificent structure that houses the economic vehicle of Ondo State- The Ondo State Internal Revenue Service. Governor Akeredolu has been known for several revolutionary, ground breaking projects, and I must say that he also shares this quality with his predecessor who is known for several legacies, especially in the area of healthcare.
I write because whilst I sighted these projects, they spoke to me in the area of the mind-sets and the sense of prioritization that may have inspired their commencement and completion, and the timing of their execution. This is what I mean: The Dome was constructed at a time when the people of Ondo State were groaning about unpaid salaries and the terrible effects it had on the people of Ondo State.
As the time it was being put up, Ondo State had the reputation of being a wholly civil service state, where revenues were at an all-time low, and we relied wholly on the Federal Government. To put it mildly, Ondo State was not economically viable, and it was relying on handouts! This was the time when the Dome was put up, at a cost that has been reported to be either as low as =N=6 Billion Naira or as high as =N=12 Billion Naira. The opacity that characterized these figures is a matter for another day.
The Dome, a vanity project, and an event centre to rival top event centres across Nigeria was thus built at a time when it was not a necessity, and when the funds could have been put to better use. Indeed, no economic case can be made for the dome, and I am absolutely certain, as a man of numbers, that the cost of its maintenance is so much more than it has generated over the years. Besides being a vanity project, the dome is therefore even an economic liability, more than it is an investment! Economics is a game of numbers and statistics. Anyone with contrary numbers should please enlighten me.
Seating pretty opposite The Dome is The Revenue House, and the economic engine of Ondo State. Aketi played several ingenious cards since he assumed office. First was with the unsentimental appointment of the man who seats on the helm of affairs of the Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue, Mr. Tolu Adegbie. Second is that he has stepped out of the way of this efficient technocrat who has done wonders to the numbers coming out of Ondo State.
Thirdly is that Aketi has backed the Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue with an industrial revolution, unprecedented in the history of Ondo State. Ondo State, because of His Excellency’s Midas touch now has one of the largest ethanol producers in West Africa, the first ever MDF production factory in West Africa, also producing high density fibre wood and plywood, a thriving textile industry that has empowered our youths, and our women especially, a paper production factory, a truck assembly factory assembling one of the most powerful brands in the world, with several others incoming at the unprecedented Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub.
These industries have had a tremendous impact on the economy of our state and nation, and we depend on them to boost the revenue of our great state. Ondo State is very likely the most improved state in terms of revenue generation, and Aketi is protecting the goose that lays the golden egg by giving her workers a befitting work environment. In an economy growing towards prosperity, Aketi has delivered an expedient project for a very critical agency, at a very critical time.
Aketi iconizes prudence, prioritization and excellence. One thing is certain, with a mandate of four more years, Ondo State will, besides being Nigeria’s fastest growing economy, and Nigeria’s emerging economy, be transformed to her economic powerhouse. He has earned my respect and support to take Ondo State to the next level, and he should earn yours too.
Omidan Olabinpe Akinusi
Dallas Texas, USA.