An Open Letter To The Youths Of Ondo State – Adedayo OlaOluwa
Dear Sunshine Youths,
Season’s greetings wherever this letter might have found you. I feel obligated to address us quickly before the year begins in earnest. As you already know, this year is an election year for us in Ondo state. It is another chance to right some wrongs as far as leadership is concerned in the state. When the head is bad, the body can never be whole. If we must get it right, it has to be from the choice of who heads our democratic government in the state come February 2017. But the path to getting it right begins from this year and shall climax by October or November when the Independent National Electoral Commision shall conduct gubernatorial election to usher in a new governor in our state
Sunshine youths, Ondo state is not one of the most misgoverned among the 36 states that make up the country, Nigeria. Certainly not! That cloak of shame would befit either Kogi or Benue state. Apologies to indigenes of both states. In the same frank vein, Ondo state is certainly not one of the best governed state in the last eight years. It is a sad reality that confounds us daily. And a shame really. I’ll tell you why.
In terms of human capital, Ondo state is arguably the most blessed in this country. Ondo State, like Massachusetts in America has been referred to as the intellectual power house of Nigeria. Akoko in the Northern senatorial district of the state has the second largest concentration of professors in the country. The entertainment industry which I must say is the largest employer of labour right now in this country is dominated by young creative minds of Ondo state origin. HipTv, the most veritable platform for anyone in the Nigerian entertainment industry to blossom is owned by an Ondo state indigene. Successive Ondo state Government have left Mr Ayo Animashaun to keep developing Lagos while our own entertainment industry at home is only paid official rhetorics. It is our future they have neglected not the made man. Certificated or not, an average Ondo man is intelligent and exposed. Ile Oluji in the Southern senatorial district of the state has the largest numbers of Nigerians in the UK. The best private beach resort in West Africa and second best in Africa is owned by an Ondo man. I have carefully and deliberately chosen these particular examples to buttress my claim that Ondo state is arguably the most blessed in the country in terms of human capital because all the illustration employed are areas where if the economy has been consciously diversified into, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Where are we now? Where we are now is a situation whereby even a national bailout fund becomes too inconsequential to salvage our economical incapacity. It is so bad that civil servants who form the core profession of our parents and guardians are continually owed in excesses of two or three months salary arrears. We know before now that there’s no civility in servitude but the present administration in the state takes selfless effort to continually rub it in our faces. I even heard bounced cheques were issued as leave bonus last December. It has become that ridiculous. It is some enemies of progress that are always eager to compare us to states owing their workers more than 3 months salaries. We as Sunshine youths must not join the bandwagon of hypocrisy. Our Sunshine state has no business been comapred to Imo, Osun or Zamfara. If my claims of being human capital superior seems too wild to be believable, how about other areas? Ondo state is one of the most blessed states in the country in terms of natural resources. It is all their on google. It is high time we stopped perishing for lack of knowledge.
Before the exploration of crude oil in commercial quantities, Nigeria was largely dependent on cocoa, oil palm, tin, rubber etc for export. In the 1950s through 60s, Nigeria was the largest producer of palm oil in the world. According to Wikipedia, as of 2011, Nigeria was the third-largest producer, with approximately 2.3 million hectares (5.7 ×10 6 acres) under cultivation. It is instructive to know that Ondo state is one of the largest producers of oil palm in the country. Yet we can’t afford to pay our workers salaries.
Cote d’Ivoire our neighbouring West African nation bases the survival of her economy on cocoa export. Nigeria is the fourth largest exporter of cocoa in the world. Yet, a state that helps the country to rank the fourth largest exporter of cocoa cannot afford to pay the salaries of her workers.
Nigeria is one of the largest banana and Plantain growing countries in Africa. Nigeria produces 2.74 million tonnes of banana annually, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Ondo state is second only to Edo in the production of banana and plantain in this country.
Today, Nigeria is the second largest tin ore producing country in Africa, just above Russia globally. In fact, with proper investment, it is wildly believed we have enough reserve to best others. Aside Jos and Kano, Ondo state has the largest deposit of tin in Nigeria. Yet we can’t pay our workers salaries.
Nigeria is by far the world largest producer of yams. Over 70 to 76 percent of all the yam production in the world comes from Nigeria. I have searched for a data to verify how much Ondo state contributes to this huge quoted percentage but to no avail. But I can tell us our dear Sunshine state is among the fourteen states in the country that accounts for the 70 to 76 percent production.
Nigeria is the world largest producer of cassava also. In the southwest region of the country, Ondo state remains the largest producer of the cash crop.
From 2012, Nigeria stands as the second world largest producer of cashew products. Ondo state is one of the twenty states where cashew is grown in the country.
Since I was in secondary school, I have been told that bitumen is a tarlike form of petroleum that can be refined to produce commercial products such as gasoline, fuel oil and asphalt. The Nigerian bitumen deposit put at 42.74 billion metric tons is the second largest in the world. The largest chunk of it is reportedly located in Agbabu in Ondo State.
Ondo youths! Have we forgotten so soon that a projected 9 billion dollar refinery with a plan to have a capacity of around 400,000 barrels a day and was to take off by late 2016 in Ondo state? For whatever reason, our irresponsible State government couldn’t drive the process of agreement through. You will need to pardon my language. A responsible father doesn’t allow such brilliant opportunity to pass his children by. Do we even have the faintest idea how many of our destinies have been derailed owing to this glaring ineptitude?
It is becoming increasingly apparent so far that the problem with Ondo state is certainly neither that of poor human capital nor resources but of poor leadership. This year would chance us another golden opportunity to change leadership from the top. Our state is in dire need of a sincere leader who is willing to harness the state’s resources for the purpose of lifting her indigenes from the state of penury to plenitude. We don’t need an incumbent’s lackey to continue the pillage and fruitless leadership we have endured in the last eight years. We don’t need another political careerist that takes the simplest administrative decision on the altar of political expediency. We need a professional not an opportunist in Alagbaka next year. We need a professional in politics not a professional politician. We need a governor with a clean slate who has not been sullied by the murky waters of our brand of ‘jegudujera’ politics. We must say no to one of them!
Governance in Ondo state has gone to bed in the last three years. We can’t afford to wallow in misgovernance without paying attention to how we can arrest it’s propagation. In the past few months, our governor has been hawking Special Assistants appointment to curry late support from all the eighteen local governments that make the state. It tells a lot about how we’ve been led in the last three years. If the energy Mr Governor has expended into appointing footmen to procure victory in the forthcoming election has been channeled into further giving us dividends of democracy, perhaps our parents won’t be owed salaries in arrears. But then, as a professional politician, our governor can be pardoned for making a ‘good’ example of James Freeman’s timeless quote. ” A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, the next generation”.
Perhaps before we get ahead of ourselves, our first appeal should go to the leading opposition political party in the state. I should have pluralised the political party but we all know that Labour Party is in the pocket of the incumbent Governor. We must appeal to the leaders of APC to have compassion on the masses. We must use every means availed us by the virtue of whatever position we hold now. The political party which is platform for gubernatorial hopefuls shouldn’t leave us with a governorship candidate that could be best described as a choice between the devil and the red sea. They shouldn’t gift us the lesser of two evil conundrums at the polls. It all begins from that point of choosing the party’s flagbearers. Electorates can only decide between eventual political party candidates. Therefore, I appeal to us to be part of the process as youths and stakeholders in the Ondo state project. We must not leave it late. We must position ourselves in a way to demonstrate that a party that chooses a candidate that doesn’t reflect our wishes has failed abnitio.
In conclusion and to reassert my earlier stance; the people’s hope especially lies in the hand of the major opposition political party in the state. I know because I have sampled the opinion of the average youth on the street. The thought of spending the next four years on the same adminstrative pedestal is discouraging enough. We must raise voice in unison to appeal to the All Progressive Congress party to give us a statesman as a flag bearer in the forthcoming polls and not a regular politician. If they have our interest at heart, they must not give us one of them to choose from.
I shall write to enlighten us on our numerical strength in subsequent open letter before the election. It is an important asset we must not fail to exploit at the forthcoming election.
Thank you for your time.
Yours in Stuggle,
ADEDAYO OlaOluwa Fisayo (Ogbeni La)
NANS PRO (Southwest)