Tinubu’s Promises To Ondo People
By Ojo Oyewamide
President Muhammadu Buhari will exit the Aso Rock Presidential Villa on May 29. The Villa is the office and official residence of the president of Nigeria. President Buhari mounted the saddle in 2015, and it is the dictate of the country’s constitution that he must leave after occupying the office for two terms of eight years.
The process of replacing President Buhari has since begun. Voters will go to the polls on February 25 to elect his successor. Among those seriously eyeing the country’s presidency are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, Abubakar Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party. They have been moving around to solicit votes of the Nigerian electors.
The campaign train of Atiku has been to Ondo state. Does anybody still remember what the former vice president said he would do for the people of the Sunshine state if elected? Did he make any promise? What exactly did he promise the people of the state? Obi has not come to campaign. So, the plan of the former Anambra governor for Ondo state is not yet known.
Tinubu came on Saturday. And he came with a bagful of promises. What are these promises? Let’s take a look at them to know if Tinubu understands the needs of the state. The former Lagos state governor said he would help Ondo state develop her Sea Port. “We will definitely develop Ondo Deep Sea Port,” Tinubu declared at the MKO Abiola Democracy Park, the venue of the APC presidential campaign rally in Akure, the Ondo state capital.
In Ilaje Local Government Area, Ondo state is blessed with the natural gift of the longest and deepest coastline in West Africa. But we’ve not made the best use of this God’s gift. The government of the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu tried its best to ensure there was a seaport in the state. However, the dream was not realized before the end of the government.
But the government of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu revived the seaport dream. One of the biggest industrialization efforts of the government is the proposed Deep Seaport. This is a project that is expected to open up the economy of the state. It will create thousands of jobs. The building of the port alone is expected to bring about N500 billion economic activities to the coaster region of the state. With the seaport, a glorious and prosperous future will be assured. The state will be self-reliant economically.
However, the story of the proposed sea port is that of how the country’s brand of federalism impedes development. As at 2019, all the studies required for the implementation of the seaport had been carried out. The studies were conducted by reputable local and international consultants. Hundreds of millions of naira was expended on the required studies by the state government.
In November, 2019, the Project Implementation Plan for the Deep Seaport was received by Governor Akeredolu from the project Consortium comprising a Spanish firm, Ocean Infrastructure Management (OIM) and Franchise and Business Solutions Limited (FBS), its Nigerian partner. The plan spells out milestones and timelines for the completion of the project.
Also in February, 2020, Governor Akeredolu met with traditional rulers and representatives of the area where the seaport will be cited to solicit their support for the project. At the stakeholders’ forum, the governor spoke on the Environmental Site Investment Assessment (ESIA) and Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the deep seaport. What remains is to obtain Port Declaration from the Federal Government. Since then, the state has been waiting. But Tinubu has promised that the port would become a reality if he clinches the presidency of the country.
The APC presidential standard bearer also promised that if elected, his government would help the state to address the problem of sea incursion in the coastal areas of the state. ”We will tame the surge of the Atlantic like we tamed the surge in Lagos,” he said. This is a promise that gives hope to our people in the riverine areas, especially the people of Ayetoro in Ilaje. Tinubu also promised to make the coastal region of the state a tourist centre and give the state the opportunity to become a manufacturing and economic centre.
He said: “For good and proper things to happen in this country, we will definitely look at all the abandoned projects and failed promises of the past and rehabilitate them, give you the opportunity to become a manufacturing centre and economic centre in Ondo state. We will develop hydroelectricity and give you uninterrupted energy and not estimated billings.”
Are the plans of Tinubu for Ondo state achievable? Yes, they are achievable. All that the state needs from the federal government to realise the sea port dream is approval from the federal government. Tinubu is known to be a federalist. From 1999 to 2007, as governor of Lagos state, he instituted several legal actions to fight for true federalism in the country. It is on record that he won most of these legal battles. He believes that states in the country should be allowed to develop at their own pace. So, it should be expected that a federalist like Tinubu will allow Ondo state to have her sea port.
Can the monster of sea surge in the coaster region of Ondo state be tamed? Can the erosion of Ayetoro be stopped? Yes. There was a time when ocean surge was a serious threat to the Lagos Bar Beach. The surge destroyed properties along Ahmadu Bello way including the compound of the Nigerian Television Authority and several State Liaison Offices. People deserted the area.
The then Federal Government expended Billions of Naira to find a solution to the problem but failed. To tame the monster, the then Tinubu government initiated Eko Atlantic City. Apart from reclaiming the land, a city is being developed on it. It has become a permanent solution to the erosion of the Bar Beach which is said to have started more than 100 years ago.
Weighing Tinubu’s promises on the scale of his uncommon initiatives and achievements as governor of Lagos state shows that the APC presidential candidate has the capacity to achieve his plans for the people of Ondo state if he becomes the president of the country. The ball is now in the court of the people of the Sunshine state as February 25, the Election Day, approaches.
Oyewamide is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Media and Publicity