*OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU*
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR).
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria,
The entire members of Ondo State Scholars Arena-a coalition of intellectuals and academics of Ondo State origin at home and in the diaspora, felicitate with you on your inauguration and assumption of office as the sixteenth President of the Greatest Black nation in the world, Nigeria. It was indeed the beginning of a new dawn for Nigeria and world at large.
Like the three Magi from the East, we have come to the king with our presents: so handy and unassuming, to speak with the king whose voice is authority and will do the biddings of the people and God to deliver the people from the shackles of poverty and misery that have since deprived the masses of the gains of leadership .
This noble association is a non-partisan group built with a clear-cut vision and mission to catalyze growth and development across the 18 local government areas 203 wards and 3009 units of Ondo State by engaging relevant stakeholders to ensure judicious utilization of the available resources in the state; with members drawn from all the existing political parties operating in the nation.
We are glad that another Daniel, who is enriched with wealth of experience in public service and administration, political accumen and sagacity, impeccable records devoid of graft and favouritism, progressive spirit and political sportsmanship, has come to judgment in Nigeria. We are confident that our government and representative democracy will never remain the same under your watch as the Chief Helmsman of the most populous Black nation in the world.
It is on this same note we join millions of Nigerians to felicitate with you, the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima (GCON) and other incoming members of the cabinet on the deserving victory at the polls which translated to your assumption of office. It is a clear pointer to the fact that Nigerians believe in your leadership style and chose to entrust their lives and property into your hands for the next four years.
Nonetheless, we will like to remind you of the expectations of Ondo State people from this new administration based on the level of confidence and trust that we have in your administration. It is important to let you know that Ondo State surmounted all obstacles to support your presidency. Garnering the minimum 25 per cent constitutional requirement across the Federation to be declared winner of the 2023 Presidential election, Ondo State gave you the highest percentage in the country, which is 67 percent; and it is a testament to how the people supported your candidacy.
Our dear Ondo State, since creation on February 6, 1976, has been grappling with underdevelopment in the areas of infrastructure and quality human capital development. Despite the rich natural endowments like bitumen, deepest and longest coastline, tourism, vantage location as border to about seven states and gateway into the Southwest, to mention but a few; let alone the ever-growing human resources, the state has been backward and can be described as the proverbial people living in abject poverty in the midst of abundance.
These agelong jeremiads of pains and agonies have been as a result of poor presence of Federal Government in the 203 wards of the state, which does not only negate the spirit of representative democracy but also defies the spirit of true Federal Character as entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. All these are born out of the deflections made on Nigeria’s true federalism, killing the development in the grass roots and making the impacts of government negatively felt at the local government levels by past administrations.
Consequent upon this, we demand a total overhaul of our Federal System of government by allowing genuine devolution of powers to the local government level. Your Excellency, we need not remind you the importance of the local government as an indispensable third tier of government, and being the most powerful, in any clime where government is working. We count entirely on your progressive spirit that defied all odds to create the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) while you were the Governor of Lagos State. Do this again in Nigeria so that the impacts of government can be felt positively in the grassroots.
This will ultimately bring tangible growth and development to the grassroots; and make the common man on the street feel the impacts of government directly. We plead that you take the giant stride to bridge the wide gulf between the people and government by granting unconditional financial autonomy to the local government, and reviewing the Constitution to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections for the local governments.
Your Excellency, we are confident of the fact that you know, like every other Nigerian with conscience would rightly adjudge and blame the failure of past administrations on the warped Federal System operating in the country since 1999. If this ugly trend is not halted, there is no amount of efforts put in place by the Federal and State governments during your tenure, that will yield meaningful results simply because power resides with the people; and all politics and development are local.
We demand that a state of emergency be declared on the Nation’s power grid for better performance. Aside the erratic power supply across the country, it is quite disheartening to mention that four local government areas in the South Senatorial District of Ondo State, namely: Okitipupa, Irele, Ilaje and Ese-odo, which lay the golden eggs for the state and nation at large, have been shut out of the National Grid for over two decades now. This has greatly hindered economic activities in these areas for years without any hope in sight.
Also, Ondo Bitumen deposit, which is the second largest in the world, has been lying fallow for more than four decades while the nation spends billions of dollars to import same natural resources that God has freely blessed us with. We plead that your administration prioritize the exploration and exploitation of this resource so as to stop capital flight out of the nation and to create massive employment for our teeming unemployed youths.
The immediate past administration has recently awarded the Deep Seaport Project and Akure/Ado-Ekiti Expressway contract. We urge you to hasten the implementation of these projects so that they would not end up like others that were trashed in the waste bin in the past due to change of government. This time sir, they must not be departure-jamboree projects as usual that don’t usually get the attention of successive governments.
Moreover, we appeal to your office to set up an investigation panel on the N6.5b Sea Embankment Project in Ayetoro in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. It has been a liturgy of agonies, sorrow and tears among the people of the riverine area, who lose their loved ones, properties and have over 5km of the island submerged by the recurring sea surge in Ayetoro; and some other communities along the coastline.
As much as we cannot decide the people you pick to form your cabinet, we would not fail to appeal to you not to renege on the hope of a better Nigeria, which you have always advocated and that we believe that you stand for. No doubt, you have the eagle-eye to easily spot talents and able hands, which has been the hallmark of your leadership style over the years. We plead that you choose the best amongst them and give us cabinet members who will typically represent what you stand for and be for the people of Ondo State.
Like Oliver Twist who will always ask for more, we demand that you restructure the security architecture of this nation, especially in the grassroots. In Ondo State, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is doing greatly to ensure maximum protection of lives and property, but sometimes overstretched due to the non-committal attitudes of the Federal Government. On this note,we appeal to you to give more concession and constitutional roles to the traditional rulers in Nigeria so as to complement the roles of government and other conventional security outfits.
Your Excellency, the management and members of Ondo State Scholars Arena, once again congratulate you on your assumption of office and also use this medium to declare our total and unalloyed support and cooperation for your administration. We pray that the Almighty God will grant you wisdom, understanding and knowledge to steer the ship of this nation to the promised land; and grant you the power to surmount the herculean task ahead!
God bless Ondo State!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Odofin Oluwafemi (C-Banking)