My Good People of Ondo State,
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun (Eccl. 3:1). Exactly eight (8) years ago, I stood before the entire world to be inaugurated, as ordained by God, as Governor of our dear Ondo State, through the instrumentality of your votes, love and support, which remains unprecedented in many respects. Truly, the journey did not start on February 24, 2009. It commenced much earlier.
Recall that you, the good citizens of our dear Sunshine State, had trooped out en mass on April 14, 2007 to vote me in as Governor, a feat you repeated again, against all odds on October 20, 2012 – giving me the unique privilege to serve two terms of eight years in office.
That we had to wait for two years, and through an excruciating legal battle, before the first mandate could be actualized is all now a part of history.
At my inauguration in 2009, I made a solemn commitment to work for you, the good people of Ondo State, at all times and in all seasons. I enunciated a program, underpinned by our campaign manifesto, which sought to bridge the gap between the government and the governed; bring succour to the blighted lives of the poor and weak amongst us; give a fresh hope to our women and children; upgrade our environment; and generally reposition our State for the good.
Today, eight years on, by the special grace of the Almighty God, Ondo State has not only done well, it has indeed become a benchmark across the globe in several of our well-conceived and well-delivered programs. It is now time to go and turn over the baton of state to another governor. As I take my exit, I recall, in modesty, some of the programs that have these past eight years set our State apart.
Our life enriching programmes with the acronym ‘A Caring Heart’ was activated to propel masses-centered approach to governance. We developed frameworks for setting Key Result Areas (KRA) for each MDA, performance objectives and standard were defined while the activities of MDAs were constantly measured to ensure that they conform to the vision, mission and objectives of government. We developed conducive physical working environment to enhance customer – focused and result – oriented governance by enthroning reforms and designing scientific human capital development architecture to bring out the best in every public servant and citizen.
Through the instrumentality of our intervention in infrastructure i.e mega schools, the mainstreaming of the inspectorate institution in our secondary schools, to unprecedented intervention in our tertiary educational institutions, we have brought meaning back into education. We have thereby given our children the platform once again for competitive engagement with their peers all across the world. The percentage of students with credit level passes in five (05) subjects and above, including English and Mathematics in Ondo State public secondary schools shows that students’ results in WASSCE under our administration has steadily improved. In 2016 for instance, we recorded 67.68% in credit level passes in five (05) subjects and above including English and Mathematics in WASSCE/NECOSSCE as against the 25.42% of 2009. From 33rd position on the national scale in 2009 to 7th in 2016.
We have done everything within our reach to help assuage the private cost of education and to also rekindle the hope of our kids in a government that has orientation for service. That perhaps is responsible for the fact that the regime of fees in all Ondo State owned Tertiary Institutions remained the most affordable under our administration.
With a bouquet of programs and initiatives, not the least of which are our Abiye Safe Motherhood program, Agbebiye program, the chain of medical care initiatives encapsulated in the Medical Village and on top of which sits the relatively novel University of Medical Sciences, our health care program has undoubtedly enhanced the quality of lives of our people, rich and poor. It has also turned our State into a medical tourist destination for which we continue to receive compliments from the world over.
Starting from Akure, our State capital, we have in eight years been able to change the general outlook of our cities – making them cleaner, more functional, and more pleasing to the eyes. Our International Event Centre (the Dome) stands tall today as one of the best of its kind in the entire country. The Centre sits on 36.054 hectares of land (360,540,000m2). With different categories of event halls and a total capacity of over 7000, it can host many events simultaneously in a world-class environment.
For eight years, we deployed an Urban Renewal paradigm that is virtually a repudiation of the ‘trickle-down-theory.’ We renewed our markets and our motor parks. We built over forty (40) neighborhood markets across the state. In Ore alone, we set out to build a 1000-capacity trailer park, the first phase for 300 trailers of which has been completed. On the whole, our urban renewal program was good enough to attract an award from the UN Habitat in 2012.
The testimonies of our urban renewal efforts are evident in the successful completion of a new Akure-Ondo axis Motor Park, construction of an ultra-modern Automart, beautification of our towns, reconstruction and dualisation of strategic roads while road side slums and ghettos have been transformed into beautiful greenery and scenery.
In agriculture, our desire to have our educated youths back on the farm was canalized through our four Agro-business villages located at Epe, Isuada, Auga and Ore. Our Cocoa Revolution program continues to post impressive results, as the attention to the average farmer in Ondo State remains unprecedented in its impact. For example in the year 2016, we recorded the highest turnage of graded cocoa in the history of Ondo State. We added value to the production of agricultural products, as well as its processing and marketing.
We recognized early enough that without power, not much could be done in the area of industrial development. Thus, we embarked upon an independent 30KVA power generation project which is now at an advanced stage of completion. When finally delivered, it would turn the Ore axis into an industrial hub that would propel our State’s industrial development.
We have built on assets inherited from past administrations. We have for example, deepened our investment in the Oil and Gas exploitation and in a short while, we shall start earning direct income from one of them.
We successfully kick started the Ondo State Government’s exclusively owned Free Trade Zone and conducted all necessary Environmental Impact Assessment of the Ondo State Industrial City and procured the required license from the Nigeria Export processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) in 2015 to locate the FTZ at Eruna/Ogboti in Ilaje Local Government. We have sought a credible investor in developing a Deep Sea Port. When fully developed, it will be the first Deep Sea Mining Port in Nigeria.
We have secured License for the exploitation of our Bitumen deposit and also signed Memorandum of Understanding with notable Bitumen exploration companies. This will not only improve our economic base but also provide job opportunities for our teaming Youths.
Our Chocolate Factory at Alade-Idanre is nearing completion. The Factory, when completed will increase the income accruable to farmers.
Fellow citizens of Ondo State, I can go on and on to highlight several others of our life-impacting programs, but as direct beneficiaries of these programs, I am aware they need little or no introduction to you.
Our government in the past few weeks had carried out a comprehensive documentation of all of these programs and projects, including but not limited to the 663 quick win projects; the ultra-modern abattoir, the eight (8) completed dual carriage ways; the over 500 kilometres of road done across the State; the water plant in Aboto, Ilaje Local Government that has ensured that our people no longer live the saying of ‘water, water everywhere, but none to drink; the free shuttle scheme that transports thousands of school children on daily basis in the last four years; support for our artisans, etc.
Only recently, the State Government secured a Fifty Seven Million Dollars facility from French Development Agency for reticulation, transmission and distribution of portable water from Owena Dam. When completed, it will provide potable water to the State Capital and many towns and cities in the State.
It is important to note, however, for emphasis that several of the programs we had worked upon these past eight years may not be physical in nature, but are nevertheless no less important in their significance in the overall purpose of improving the quality of life of our people. We, for instance, moved the NURTW away from the culture of violence in their leadership selection process.
To the glory of God, we made Ondo State the most peaceful State not just in the Niger Delta and the Southwest, but arguably across the entire nation. We enhanced the self-confidence of students in our higher institutions, which has propelled them to the top of their game, either in the Law School, or the debating halls across the country. Our women no longer cut the destitute image as they ply their trade having now modern, clean and inviting facilities and stalls built across the State for their use. Our traditional institutions have been accorded their rightful place in the scheme of things as key players in the administration of our communities. I cannot thank the royal fathers enough for the way they partnered with us these past eight years in the determination to make our State the safest in the nation.
We have recorded successes and also have our own measure of insurmountable challenges among which is the inability to pay salaries as at when due.
We have made friends and admirers, we have also attracted detractors. We have not targeted anybody or institution to witchhunt but have been true to our determination of ensuring that the interest of the greatest number of people is the determinant of all the decisions and choices we made.
My good people of Ondo State, to everything there is a season, so the holy book says. It is time now for me to go, having enjoyed the unique privilege of serving as your Governor these past eight years. I thank you for your support. I thank you for believing in me, and standing by me through thick and thin. I value your support and friendship at all times. By God’s own special grace, I will continue to repay the honor you did me by standing up in your support at all times. I pledge to remain a part of our communities even outside of government.
What remains for me is to enjoin you, in the name of God, and for the good of our State, to extend your full support to our incoming Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN. It is imperative we do this so as to keep our State firmly on the path of peace and progress on which it has been for the past eight years. May I then commit you all, the entire citizenry of Ondo State, our Sunshine State, our Place of Pride, into the safe hands of the Almighty God, on whose shoulder the governance of our State has rested these past eight years. To Him alone be all the glory.
Thank you and God bless.
Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, CON.
Governor, Ondo State.
February 23, 2016.