- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Ondo Caring Heart Programme: Harvests of positive leadership
Happenings in Ondo State in the recent times seem to reflect the maxim: “God created the world, the Dutch built Holland,” as it is gradually emerging as another testimony of how man can deploy his intellectual resources to develop his society and people. EMMNANUEL ADENIYI and TUNDE OGUNESAN, who toured some towns and communities in all the senatorial districts of the state, report that the state governor has taken giant strides to open it up for development.
WHEN, on February 23, 2009 the administration of Dr. Rahaman Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party (LP) was inaugurated in Ondo State, the people of the state never anticipated the phenomenal changes that have taken place in the state.
The governor has visibly repositioned the Sunshine State for accelerated and holistic development in the last two years. Reason being that the people had become disillusioned about governance as a result of the failure of the past successive administrations in the state to deliver on their promises and consequently add values to their lives. Governance was made the exclusive preserve of the bourgeoisie, while a chasm and marked disconnect existed between the government and the governed. Some past administrations and leaders in the state blatantly trod on reasoning, neglected people’s voices and closed their eyes to the needs and aspirations of the masses on whose backs they rose to the position of leadership in the 35-year-old state.
Prior to the Olusegun Mimiko-led government, the condition of infrastructure in Ondo State was appalling. Both the intra and inter-state roads in many areas of the state were terribly pot-holed and despicably impassable, while public schools and the few hospitals in its major towns had gone decrepit, no thanks to long years of neglect. Akure, the state capital as well as towns such as Ikare, Oka-Akoko, Owo, Ondo, Ore, Okitipupa, Igbokoda and many others looked more like ghost cities. Streets in the towns were unkempt,” the few industries that long existed there had gone moribund, the lives of traders were lost almost on a daily basis to accidents caused by articulated lorries that kept killing them in droves, street lights were a rarity, markets were literally refuse dumps and youth unemployment soared astronomically.
The Mimiko-led government inherited this gargantuan burden and a massively disillusioned people, yet they believed in his leadership ability to turn around its fortune, at least to justify the mandate given him at the polls. They rested their hope in the governor, whose track record as a grass-roots mobiliser, an analytic thinker, a master builder and an exemplary visionary with an unequalled enthusiasm, dedication and passion for development is well known. Just like the Biblical Nehemiah, who caught the vision to rebuild the ruined gates of Jerusalem, “Iroko”, as the governor is fondly called by many, swung into action upon his assumption of office and came up with developmental programmes that would recreate, revitalise and reposition Ondo State for development. His dream, judging from the numerous projects the government has undertaken within the last 48 months, is undoubtedly to make the state become an enviable haven with neat, well-planned and modern communities apparently to open up the state for industrialisation and stimulate private investments with attendant benefit of jobs creation for the unemployed.
The 12-point programme of his government, codenamed “A Caring Heart”, encapsulates the thrust of his administration and is a mix of agriculture and food security, community-driven and coastal region renewal and general development initiatives, aggressive capitalisation of the state land resources, roads and infrastructure, industrialisation, no poverty programme, gender equality and women empowerment, health care and housing, education and capacity building, artisanship development and empowerment programme, rural development as well as tourism, sports and youth development.
Two years have since passed, the state is now “riding on the sunshine”. The state capital and other towns in the state now wear a new look. Most of its decayed and decaying infrastructures have been fixed, while many decrepit public structures have similarly been rehabilitated. Apart from reviving the multi-million naira Integrated Tomato Processing Industry at Arigidi-Akoko in Akoko North East Local Government of the state, which was abandoned about 25 years ago, the state government has also completed the Alpha 3D Industry in Ikare-Akoko, while the state-owned Alade Idanre Cocoa Catalytic Industry, which was moribund for many years, is being revamped. The Sunshine Cassava Food Factory at Ikoya, Golden Ceramic Product Limited at Idanre, Briquette Manufacturing Plant in Akure and many other small-scale industries that are spread all over the state are either being rehabilitated or re-constructed.
The state government has similarly explored the abundant opportunities in agriculture to address problems such as food insecurity, youth unemployment, over-reliance on statutory allocation from the federation account and inadequate raw materials for the state-owned agro-based industries. Youths are being encouraged to engage in mechanised farming, while loan facilities are given to them with inputs provided at subsidised rates. To boost food production, the Ondo State government also took a giant stride by establishing three agricultural villages at Ore, Auga-Akoko and Epe respectively. The agricultural inputs supply agency established by the state government has given a fillip to food production in the state, as it now operates farm service centres in all the 18 local government areas of the state. This is also accompanied by the newly introduced mobile farm service centre that carries farm inputs to the door steps of farmers in the state. The breathtaking programme introduced by the Mimiko-led government to buy back farm produce and consequently provide market outlet for farmers’ produce has not only been helpful to the farmers but has similarly helped to reduce the yearly post-harvest losses often experienced by them.
In the provision of qualitative health care for the people of Ondo State, the Labour Party (LP) government in the state has truly demonstrated its caring nature to residents of the state. Apart from blazing the trail in the provision of modern health facilities, its establishment of Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Centre in Ondo town where diseases are diagnosed early and promptly treated, it has also improved health care system in all the local government areas of the state. The centre, named after the late legal pundit, Chief Gani Oyesola Fawehinmi, has state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to detect diseases even at their early stages. The Abiye (safe motherhood) project initiated by the state government has also brought succour to pregnant women, nursing mothers and children from age zero to five, as they now receive medical treatment free of charge.
One area where the state government has distinctively shown its caring heart to the people of the state is in its community renewal and general development initiatives. Akure, the state capital, now looks neat and well-organised. The general chaotic atmosphere and commotion that used to prevail on the major streets of the town has been completely wiped off. The city now has what the state government called millennium motor parks to revolutionise the face of transportation in the town. The “Caring Heart” auto mart along Ilesa-Owo road in the state capital is another beauty to behold. The concept of the project coupled with how the state government has given a facelift to towns and communities in the state has clearly shown the state governor’s regard for aesthetics. The auto mart is second to none in Nigeria as it has spacious parking lots for motor dealers to display their cars. It also has a mobile clinic, restaurants, police post, rest rooms, and many other facilities that make the auto mart a beauty to behold. The Akure ultra-modern motor park, which the state government promised to replicate in other towns of the state, also attests to the belief that the government daily seeks the good of the people.
While speaking on the auto mart and the conveniences it has brought to motor dealers, one of the dealers in the market, Mr. Bola Ajimatanrareje, praised the efforts of the state government in building the market, saying it had aided their sales as potential buyers now thronged the place. He said: “We are happy with the market. Formerly, we were in the town in the sun and in the rain. With this market now, we don’t need to expose ourselves to the elements to sell our cars. We also like the environment. Customers are really coming and with what we have been hearing from them, they too like the environment. In this market, we have a car wash lot, offices for motor dealers, police station, canteen, recreation centre, fire fighting station and a space for bank, though not yet developed.
We are not facing any difficulties, because we have all we need to boost our business here. We have enough space for all types of vehicles and business is really thriving. Dr. Mimiko has really tried, for giving us a car market like this, which I think is the first in Nigeria.”
A visit to the auto market would convince anyone that transformational leadership that harnesses available resources and utilise them for the common good of all is in place in Ondo State. The architectural design of the market and quality of structures as well as facilities provided there could best be described as a product of analytic thinking. They are realities from a caring heart.
Another trail blazing effort of Ondo State government is in the construction and rehabilitation of markets across the state. While describing how the state governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, came about the idea of turning impossibilities to possibilities to alleviate the sufferings of the masses, especially in turning shanty and shambolic markets in the state into neat and well-organised public centres where goods could be sold and purchased, former Commissioner of Information in the state, Mr. Ranti Akerele, said the governor, having noticed the wrong location of many markets in the state, conceived the idea following the incessant deaths of traders who were being killed in droves by haulage trucks upon losing control, especially at the Oba’s market in Ikare-Akoko, which is located at the foot of a slope. He said the governor quickly mooted the idea and translated it into something enviable by building modern markets with state-of-the-art facilities across the state.
The markets called Caring Heart Neighbourhood Markets are of two kinds, the regional markets located at Ikare-Akoko, Akure, Ondo, Okitipupa and Igbokoda and community markets. The Nigerian Tribune visited the Alapata regional market, Ikare-Akoko, an ancient village market which has been transformed into a modern market square with beautifully painted lock-up shops, open shops, well-tarred roads, pipe-borne water powered by solar energy, police station, fire fighting station, warehouses and luxury shops, administrative office and many more. Though traders are yet to move to the market, especially market women at Oba’s market in the town, some of them have been going there to check their names from a list of names pasted on a board at the administrative office of the market.
Speaking on why they are yet to move, a trader at Oba’s market, Mrs Momoh Selimot, said the names of traders who were enumerated before the market was reconstructed had just been pasted, adding that they had just been asked to commence payment. She disclosed that traders on the streets had been asked to move to Alapata market to stop the incidence of deaths of traders resulting from incessant haulage trucks accidents at the Oba’s market.
“You can’t relocate Oba market. It is only those who trade on the street and at the back of the market that will move to Alapata market. Motor accidents always occur here. The last one claimed about eight lives. Armed robbers even come here to attack us. We are happy about the new market, because it will take many of us off the street,” Mrs Selimot stressed.
The Owa Ale of Ikare-Akoko, Oba Samuel Kolapo Adedoyin, lauded the efforts of the Ondo State government in citing the market in the town, saying that the market would serve as a gateway to states such as Kogi, Edo and Ekiti and others since traders and buyers would come from far and near to transact businesses in the market. He said the market would put an end to ghastly motor accidents that always occured along Ilepa street in the town.
The royal father, however, appealed to the Ondo State government to rehabilitate the road leading to the town and the new market, saying that government should use moral suasion to encourage traders to move to the market. He also called on the government to rehabilitate Osele market in the town in view of its proximity to the heart of the town, promising that he would speak to the traders to move.
The neighbourhood markets at Isikan, NEPA, old NEPA and Oba Afunbiowo market, Arakale, all in Akure, as well as the ones in Ondo and Okitipupa, have the same facilities like that of Ikare, though the Igbokoda and Ondo markets as well as that of old NEPA in Akure are still under construction.
The state government, explained that the main motive behind these markets was its desire to take traders off the streets and provide the people of the state befitting markets where traders and buyers would be happy and comfortable to trade.
According to the government source, “Street trading on highways has become a common sight in our society. In Akure, the state capital, the two major roads, Adesida-Oyemekun and Isikan-Arakale-NEPA, had almost been taken over by the road side markets. The effect of this on the community is best imagined. Due to lack of parking lots in the markets, customers’ vehicles were parked on the highways, thereby compounding the traffic congestion in the capital city. People lived at the expense of epidemics, as sanitation and potable water supply were extremely inadequate in the markets. Also, the markets lacked adequate security.
“What we have done is to reverse the trend and provide facilities in our markets in order to make them attractive to sellers and buyers. Development is accorded much importance in Mimiko’s administration and every local government area and community in the state has had one or more developmental projects cited in it.”
A resident of Akure, Mrs. Toyin Fayose, who initially expressed her reservations about the seriousness of the state government when old market structures were being pulled down for rehabilitation, could not hold back her happiness at seeing how the markets have been turned around within a few months. In her words, “I was one of the people that criticised the government when the demolition of markets started. It came as a surprise when the markets were finished within two months and the displaced market women were given back their shops with all the amenities and spacious parking spaces. I now have a choice of at least four covered markets to go to in this rainy season without having to wear rubber slippers.”
The Senior Special Assistant to Ondo State governor on Direct Labour, Mrs Mobolaji Suara, who heads the agency that constructed the markets, said constructing and rebuilding markets across the state was the governor’s idea of urban renewal programme and his initiative to create an atmosphere conducive for commercialisation. She said the idea was to move the state from being a civil servants, state to an industrial one by attracting investors from different parts of the country to the state.
She disclosed that the traders, who were displaced when the markets were to be rebuilt, were enumerated to prevent gatecrashers from hijacking the markets’ stalls on completion, adding that big warehouses were let out at N2,500 monthly while lock-up and open shops were let out at N1,500 and N800 respectively. She urged traders who could not afford the rent to pair and pay N400 apiece for open shops to reduce their financial burden, stressing that it was untrue that the direct labour agency was charging more than the stipulated rents. According to her, “We only asked them to pay six months rent upfront to indicate their readiness to take the shops. Nobody paid for forms; we gave them free of charge and enumerated them free of charge.”
Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and his team have put Ondo State on the right footing by gradually turning a hitherto completely agrarian society to an industrial one. His steadfastness and dogged commitment to putting smiles on the faces of the people of the state have justified his description by the internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, Myles Monroe, as a leader who has “...turned street traders to entrepreneurs.”Share