A STATE BROADCAST BY THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE, DR. OLUSEGUN MIMIKO,(CON) ON THE OCCASION OF THE 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF ONDO STATE ON FEBRUARY 3, 2016.
My Dear people of Ondo State,
It is indeed with a profound sense of gratitude to God Almighty that I address you today in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the creation of Ondo State. Let me congratulate all Ondo State indigenes for being worthy partakers of a heritage of honour, hard work and self-assuredness, these are, the legacy and attributes bequeathed to us through our nativity in this state.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF ONDO STATE CREATION
The area historically known as Ondo Province constituted a geographically contiguous territory bounded in the north by the old Kwara State, in the east by the former Midwest State, in the south by the Atlantic seaboard and in the west by the Oyo and Ijebu provinces. During the colonial era, the territory which was created as Ondo State was administered as one Province under a Residency with the administrative headquarters at Akure.
The post-independence tripodal structure of Nigeria, which consisted of the Northern, Eastern and Western Regional governments, fuelled suspicions of marginalization in the minority tribes and induced fears of domination which invariably, led to a civil war in 1967 soon after Nigeria’s second military coup of July 1966.Since the twelve-state structure of Nigeria, worked out by the Gowon administration on the May 27, 1967, failed to allay the fears of ethnic domination and re-structure the country, the succeeding Gen. Murtala Mohammed military government, on the basis of the Justice Ayo Irikefe Panel’s recommendations, further divided the Western State into Ogun, Oyo and Ondo States on February 3, 1976.
I do not think there is any better way to capture the historical essence of our 40-year old journey than to start by paying tributes to our leaders, past and present, whose serial exertions, agitation and movement led to the creation of Ondo State.
On behalf of the people of Ondo State, I salute the courage, industry, steadfastness and commitment of members of the Ondo Provincial Movement, under the Chairmanship of late Chief G.B.A Akinyede and the Secretary, late Mr. Deji Adegoroye. This was the organisation to which ten representatives from the administrative divisions were nominated to pursue the creation of Ondo State. The group had its maiden meeting on the grounds of Omolere Nursery/Primary School in Akure on November 11, 1973 and thereafter, worked tirelessly to mobilise resources and galvanise the people of the old Ondo Province until the State was created on February 3, 1976.I acknowledge the efforts of many of them that had passed on to the great beyond and wish them eternal rest.
Let me also appreciate some of them who are still alive. They are: Oba S.K.A Adedoyin, the Owa Ale of Ikare, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Prince Olu Adeyemi, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, Chief Blessing Kayode, Professor David Ijalaye and Mr. R.A Olagunju. May the good Lord continue to keep them in good health and soundmind. Also, we should acknowledge the invaluable contributions of Chief Olu Falae,Prince F.I Adesanoye, (then Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence and later the Osemawe of Ondo), late General Alfred Aduloju, late Lt. Akintunde Akinsehinwa (ADC to late General Murtala Mohammed), late Chief Olu Akinfosile and late Chief Akin Deko.
DREAM OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS
The core dream of our founding fathers was to ensure that Ondo State achieve a development trajectory that would be in consonance with the state’s vast human and natural resources within a federal system of government. Our founding fathers wanted to bring development nearer to the people.
IN THE BEGINNING
Before the Oil Boom of the 1970s, Ondo Province had consistently contributed enormously to the economy of the now defunct Western State. Archival records show that of Cocoa, we produced 48.3% in 1969/70, 49.1% in 1970/71, and 47.3% in 1971/72. Of Palm Oil, we produced 68.1% in 1968, 78.3% in 1970, and 57.4% in 1971. Of Timber, we produced 67.7% in 1967, 44.3% in 1968 and 61.9% in 1969. However at the point of creation, not much could be pointed to as evidence of infrastructural intervention by successive governments of the defunct Western State despite the immense contributions of the Ondo Province. In any case, the viability of Ondo State has never been in doubt.
The beginning of Ondo State, particularly in the setting up of its PublicService and governmental structure, was like any other beginning -that is, lacking in most of the basic essentials of administrative take-off.In fact, personnel from Ibadan, the erstwhile capital of the defunct Western State, were deployed to give Ondo State, its base of administrative staff.
However, from being an agglomeration of single-digit ministries at its creation in 1976 whose rented offices were scattered all over Akure, Ondo, Ado-Ekiti and other towns under the pioneer Governor, Wing Commander Ita David Ikpeme, Ondo State Government has metamorphosed into a much bigger institution – 22 Ministries, 24 Agencies, several Commissions – with the attendant explosion in staff and personnel. From a modest beginning at Oke-Eda, Akure, which served as the seat of government, the pioneer administration of David Ikpeme, commenced, in 1978, the construction of the state Secretariat at Alagbaka.
Not only this, indigenes of the newly created Ondo State who were hitherto civil servants in different parts of the Western Region, relocated to the state, to form the bulk of the workforce in the state’s public service. We therefore, acknowledge the ingenuity of the pioneer technocrats who quickly established governance structures in borrowed school buildings, houses and make-shift structures. Several of them shuttled daily from other towns like Owo, Ondo, Ikere and so on to their offices.
We pay glowing tributes to the pioneer Secretary to the Military Government and Head of Service, Chief Theophilus Iwajomo and his successor, Chief E.A Emuleomo (both of blessed memory) for their efforts and initiatives at laying a solid foundation for the Ondo State Public Service. We also appreciate the crop of Permanent Secretaries and Public Servants that relocated from Ibadan as well as those that joined the service at that early stage for their sacrifices and contributions.
The civil populace was accommodating making several sacrifices and calmly bearing the dislocation and demolition of structures that were required in order to build a modern state.
The artisans, market women, taxi drivers, farmers, everyone played memorable roles at the formative stages of the state. So also, do we appreciate our traditional institutions and religious leaders who galvanized their people to rally round government at that critical time.
ONDO STATE, FORTY YEARS ON
In the intervening 40 years since the creation of our dear State, we have had a chequered history of governance having been ruled by 11 military officers out of the 16 governors to have presided over the affairs of the state. Be that as it may, military governance of the state only accounts for roughly 16 years while the regimes of the 5 democratically elected governors made up the remaining 24 years of our history. In addition to the deficit in democratic dividends caused by the inappropriateness of military incursion into civilian governance, the excessive turn-over in the number of military governors caused a lot of policy inconsistencies which were disruptive of long-term planning and development.
Nevertheless, rapid socio-economic development was soon to follow the State creation as successive administrations emplaced the needed infrastructure and social amenities, improved agriculture, developed education and health services, established Mass Media outlets, added value to the Public Service and among other things, created employment and strived to industrialise the state. Thereafter, commercial activities took root and began to thrive. The magnetic allure of our resource potentials especially in rock based minerals, Oil and Gas, Tourism as well as human resources continued to increase as more and more people flooded Ondo State, thus, beginning our journey from a Province to A Place of Pride.
On October 1, 1996, Ekiti State was carved out of the old Ondo State thus giving birth to a new Ondo State with 18 Local Government Areas.
To the glory of God, the State has continued to boast of numerous sons and daughters that have excelled in their various fields of human endeavours namely: Medicine, Politics, Military, Entertainment, Sports, Bureaucracy, Human Rights Activism, Law, Academics, Oil and Gas, Business, Journalism, Information Technology, e.t.c. Ondo State and its citizens have in no small measure contributed to National Development.
For example, looking at the winners of the National Merit Awards, one can say with pride that out of 60 Award winners since the inception of that award, 11 Ondo State indigenes have been recipients. This award is perhaps one of the awards that have not been politicised in Nigeria, it is based on merit. As at today, Professor Sylvester Adegoke, Professor Ifedayo Oladapo, Dr. Soji Oluwole, Professor Abiodun Francis Oluwole, Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe, Dr. Akinola Aguda, Professor Tolu Odugbemi, Professor Jacob Olupona, Dr. Ebenezer Meshida, Professor (Mrs) Paulina Adebusoye and Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, all proud indigenes of Ondo State have received the National Merit Award. It is therefore evident that in terms of quality manpower development for Nigeria, our dear State tops the rank.
Similarly, the state has played crucial roles especially in the areas of Education and Democratic development. It is on record that we provided a veritable platform for the launch and spread of Free Education in the Western Region thus helping to establish the easiest window to escape from poverty not only to the Yoruba race but the entire landscape of Nigeria. Ondo State is also well known for supporting progressive ideals at all times as the state has forever remained the haven or better still, the de facto home of progressive groups that championed the re-instatement of democracy in Nigeria; namely Afenifere and NADECO.
The economy of Ondo State – one of the fairly large ones in the country – is complemented by many kilometres of coastal line. Basically agrarian, it is well known for large scale production of food and cash crop. The State has intensified efforts to catalyse industrial resurgence by building a 30 Megawatts Independent Power Plant which is nearing completion. This is to improve power supply substantially to industrial and commercial initiatives and propel anticipated economic activities to unprecedented level in the coming years.
In Nigeria, Ondo State has a high number of well-structured public Schools including four state-owned tertiary institutions. Noteworthy is the construction of world class Mega Primary Schools across the three Senatorial Districts. Our State Polytechnic ranks among the best in Nigeria both in terms of academic performance and infrastructure. Similarly, one of our State Universities, the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko has been severally adjudged as the best State University in Nigeria. Also, the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa is widely celebrated for its entrepreneurial programmes. Recently, we established a University of Medical Sciences in Ondo, the first in the history of Nigeria and one of the best in terms of the ratio of students to available medical facility.
The present Administration has kept faith with the promise to work for the people of Ondo State. Today, Ondo State is not only a global benchmark in a couple of initiatives, the diligent and sincere implementation of our programmes has attracted the commendation of statesmen throughout the nation even across political divides, and elicited public acknowledgement of our modest achievements. Some of these initiatives include, but not limited to, the Abiye Safe Motherhood Programme, Mother and Child Hospitals, Trauma & Surgical Centre, Kidney Care Centre, Urban Renewal Programme, modern neighbourhood markets, the ultra-modern Automart, Water supply schemes, Housing Estates, School Free Shuttle Scheme and the emplacement of over 600 community-driven projects e.t.c. The State now has an International Event Centre otherwise known as The Dome which is fast becoming the cynosure of all eyes.
I wish to salute all my illustrious predecessors namely: Ita David Ikpeme, Esijolomi Tuoyo, Adekunle Ajasin, Bamidele Otiko, Mike Akhigbe, Ekundayo Opaleye, Olabode George, Abiodun Olukoya, Bamidele Olumilua, Mike Torey, Ahmed Usman, Anthony Onyearugbulem, Moses Fasanya, Adebayo Adefarati and Olusegun Agagu for a job truly well done. They built an enduring legacy and left a burning and bright torch that I am proud to hold aloft.
Given the vicissitude of fortunes that Ondo State has witnessed in its 40-year existence so far, I believe, like many indigenes of the state, that we have done well. We have not only benchmarked programmes and projects for other states in the health sector, urban renewal, education, wealth creation and other sectors we have, succeeded in making Ondo State an unfolding destination of choice for entertainment and medical tourism. We have emplaced programmes and instituted policies that the future generation will applaud and we have laid an irreversible path to progress in Ondo State.
With all sense of humility, you are witnesses to the fact that we have recorded a lot of changes since forty years ago and that together, we have posted great accomplishments.
Therefore as we regard the past with nostalgia and a sense of accomplishment, we must look forward to the future and the challenges it brings with hope, enthusiasm and the expectation that the future will be brighter and more fulfilling.
Notwithstanding the current challenges confronting our country, such as falling oil price, high unemployment rate, infrastructural deficit; we must never give in to despondency or fault finding. Instead, we must re-invent our resilience, industry, innovativeness and ingenuity in order to overcome the prevailing challenges and build a richer and better future. It is the bounden duty of this generation of Ondo State indigenes and residents to bequeath to future generations, a society that works and thrives; a society that compares favourably with its contemporary communities across the globe.
My good people of Ondo State, I identify with you in this period of relative hardship occasioned by a dip in our national economy; I empathize with you on some of the privations of life caused by irregularities in salaries and delays in emoluments and I am aware of the causal linkage to the state’s economy. Rather than a feeling of despondency, I exhort every one of us to have an unshaking confidence in Gods benevolence and be sure that the sacrifice of today will herald a better tomorrow.
Let us continue to dream big. Let us continue to work with imagination and creativity. Our future is assured but the work must continue.
Like I said at my Second Inaugural address to you on the 24th of February 2013: “that our job is not finished until
• every child has access to quality education in a 21st century environment that is deliberately-structured to bridge the global digital divide and take our children to the cyberspace where information and knowledge now truly reside;
• until our people have unfettered access to affordable quality health care services especially the vulnerable group: pregnant women, infants and the aged;
• until there is food security in every home and that every child is guaranteed access to nutritious food for maximum development of their inherent cerebral power;
• until every youth is usefully engaged and able to generate wealth for self-fulfilment and the collective good of our society;
• until we are able to leverage on our God-given resources to create a conducive atmosphere for businesses and industries to thrive;
• until our cities, suburban communities and villages are well organized, clean and functional, making them conducive to optimal work and play and that our sandy shores become true tourist havens; and,
• until Nigeria, our dear country, becomes a secure and developed member of the global community along the principles and practice of true federalism.”
My sincere appeal to all and sundry is to join hands with us to sustain our efforts at building a place of pride.
I wish you all happy 40th anniversary.
This article first appeared on Ondotv.com