BEING AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE, ARAKUNRIN OLUWAROTIMI ODUNAYO AKEREDOLU, SAN, AT THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF COMMISSIONERS/SPECIAL ADVISERS HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 30TH AUGUST, 2017, AT THE INTERNATIONAL CULTURE AND EVENTS CENTRE, (THE DOME), IGBATORO ROAD, AKURE.
Today’s ceremony marks yet another milestone in the history of political representation in our State. With these eminent men and women chosen to serve the State at this level, I fervently hope that the state service delivery system will be reinvigorated upon these appointments. I habour no reservations concerning the capability of the appointees to discharge the mandates entrusted to them.
Extremely conscious of the palpable excitement, dictated by this special occasion, I join members of their families, friends and all well-wishers to congratulate the new Commissioners and Special Advisers who have just taken up new responsibilities in this Administration. These appointments suggest recognition of worth by necessary deductions. This very reason also impels great expectations by our people, justifiably. It is, therefore, needless to remind these gentlemen and ladies of the arduous task ahead.
This is Ondo State, the land of the brave and virtuous. This is a geographical space richly endowed by nature. This is our collective haven; an impregnable fortress for the protection of the weak and the underdog, a place where everyone is held and treated as important. We are proud inheritors of this enviable heritage from our forebears. We are bold, yet not foolhardy, resourceful, pragmatic and hospitable, but far from being stupid. We show understanding, readily, but resist all attempts by the impetuous and naïve, who mistake the craving for collaboration for the much needed progress as weakness. We must remain consistent and resilient in the defence of this collective heritage.
I should, therefore, hasten to admonish that there is indeed little or no time for endless celebrations. These appointments must be seen as a call to service at this critical juncture in the life of our dear state. As our Administration renews its pledge to the people to be accountable at all times, there is the urgent need for rededication by all those who serve the public. We must encourage broad and massive participation of our people in the business of government.
Government and governance should not be stultifying abstractions, distant and disconnected from the service to which these modern concepts evolved to proffer. Those who lay claims to legitimacy of representation, as deriving from the people, must always keep their focus on this time-tested objective. Governance should not be reduced to a circus show; specious, ostentatious and profligate exhibition of inanities. Any decision or action of acclaimed representatives of the people must be an answer to identifiable socio-economic challenge. Elected and appointed public officials must subject their individual preferences to the collective will. Performance must be measured in terms of its positive impact on the people.
If development is about the people, all decisions and actions must be for the realisation of this lofty objective. Any opportunity offered for service must be understood in this context. Nobody must consider his/her choice, out of numerous other equally eminent candidates, as an invitation to primitive self-aggrandisement. This Administration will NOT permit it. Any conduct which seeks to perpetuate the misery of the people will be discouraged actively.
No appointment is “juicy”. Every ministry, agency and established public office is important. This Administration shall extend equal attention to all offices. It would be a mistake, with grave consequences, for anyone to act in a manner which negates decency and decorum. There will be zero tolerance for all acts considered unbecoming of patriotic indigenes of this State. We will simply NOT allow them.
As the ship of this Administration finally gathers steam to set sail, it is pertinent to acquaint the good people of this State with the true financial situation. We believe it is important that our people should possess this information. This must not be construed as politics and we plead with our media practitioners to subject this information to the crucible of serious scrutiny and analysis. The knowledge of true financial status of the State Government will guide and moderate the craving desires of all and sundry. Expectations of performance from the government must be anchored on reality. Government officials must bear this fact in mind, always. It will be easy for the people to show understanding when they know the truth.
The economic condition of this State is precarious, depressingly so. We expend virtually all allocations and the insignificant revenue generated internally on recurrent expenditure. The internally generated revenue is very low. The huge debts owed by the State have been worsened by infrastructural deficit on ground. Yet we strive to discharge our obligations to creditors whose exactions on our very poor revenue militate, significantly, against planning.
The government is looked upon as the major provider of succour to the people. Times are indeed very hard. Job creation is a cardinal policy of the Administration. We are not unmindful of the cynicism of our political opponents who believe that engaging our youths productively is a tall order. We are, however, convinced of not only the possibility of making this objective a reality, but our activities will erase the doubts as we progress. All hands must be on deck.
THE FINANCIAL STATUS AT INCEPTION
This Administration at inception met a staggering debt totaling N220,588,125,731.00 (Two hundred and twenty billion, five hundred and eighty-eight million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand, seven hundred and thirty-one naira).
The breakdown of this highly disturbing debt profile is as follows:
Internal Debt: N53,159,719,891.01
External Debt: N17,485,393,971.50
Unpaid Salaries and Allowances, Aug to Dec, 2016: N17,279,115,588.10
Unpaid Salaries and Allowances, Jan to Feb, 2017: N6,911,663,629.24
Ondo State Pension Liabilities: N4,800,965,850.00
Ondo State Gratuity: N15,043,537, 042.74
Unpaid Local Government Salaries and Allowances Aug to Dec: 2016 N9,320,568,782.41
Unpaid Local Government Salaries and Allowances (Jan. to Feb., 2017): N5,192,437,503.30
Local Government Pension Liabilities: N25,237,348,457.26
Local Government Gratuities Liability: N20,965,598,590.61
Contractors’ Liabilities: N39,740,423,934.76
Outstanding payment requests in the Office of the Accountant-General without cashbacking: N5,451,352,494.25
The breakdown of the Liquid Assets is as follows:
All Banks Balances: N7,236,594,630.36
Fixed Deposit/Call Deposit: N837,000,000.00
Balance in Bond Proceeds: N254,000,000.00
Fixed Deposit (OSOPADEC): N1,449,000,000.00
Portfolio Management Account: N180,000,000.00
Grand Total: N9,956,594,630.36
With a total inherited debt of over N220 billion, it should not be difficult for anyone to know that the government’s capacity for seeming elastic adjustment to cater for the people has been stretched to its limit. There is no gain asserting the obvious; our Administration is not in any position for frivolities. All of us must gird our loins for the great task ahead. The picture is not good. Therefore, all acts with the potential of pushing us deeper into economic crisis must be jettisoned. We earnestly promise to provide the needed leadership.
The Revenue and Expenditure profiles of the State from February-July, 2017 are as follows:
i. Gross Statutory Allocation: N11,633,201,277.00
ii. 13 percent minimal derivation: N103,274,011.82
iii. Exchange gain difference: N3,053,551,514.12
iv. Excess Crude: N2,119,281,611.13
v. Paris Club Refund: N9,100,753,451.27
vi. Internally Generated Revenue (IGR): N4,030,744,916.83
vii. Budget Support: N5,400,000.00
viii. VAT: N4,948,506,727.30
ix. Deductions by AGF: N158,757,495.48
T O T A L = N47,548,077,005.78
Salary of Civil Servants and Teachers (Feb.–Jul., 2017): N23,800,911,706.46
Subvention to Parastatals: N3,721,311,300.00
Gratuity, Public Debt Charges and 10% Grant to LGs: N6,521,343,387.70
Capital Expenditure: N4,296,447,137.87
Running Grants to MDAs: N1,069,544,486.00
Other Government Expenditure: such as payment for WAEC Fees, Assistance to Security Agencies, Boundary issues, Publicity and Special Days Celebrations, Trainings, Free School Shuttle Programme, Feeding of Special Schools and many others too numerous to list here: N3,694,310,315.65
Ad-hoc Staff of Hospitals’ Management Board (HMB): N230,250,427.91
Grants to OSOPADEC: N2,337,027,015.25
T O T A L = N46,515,883,736.50
The balance of N1,032,193,269,279.99 is the unexpended Paris Club Refund reserved for capital projects from the last release.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
Despite the challenges encountered by our Administration since assumption of office, we have approached governance with resilient determination. Paucity of funds has been a major encumbrance as explained earlier. To put out this quagmire, we have already commenced the process of re-engineering our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) efforts which will soon begin to yield the desired results. The Administration has, however, been able to embark on projects which impact positively on the lives and general well-being of our people. We are beginning to register our presence in the consciousness of the people through our activities in virtually all sectors.
Imbued with the unshaken belief that an environment with a developed infrastructure is that which is ready for progress, we have been able to intervene to bridge the very wide gap in infrastructural deficit. Our Administration has constructed the following roads:
Abusoro-Ijoka Road, 1.2km
Iwalewa Road, Akure, 1.5km
Bajare/Okemayo Road & St. Joseph Road, Idanre, 3.0km
Jubilee-Ugbe Road, Ikare, 2.1km
3 no Big Box Culverts at Oyinmo, Ishakunmi & Megida Rental
Oke Alafia Road, Supare – 1.5km
Ogbonomo Street, Igbadara Street, Ajegunle Street & Howlet
Road, Ifon, 2.3km.
Sabomi Road, Ese-Odo, 2.5km
Police Station Road, Ore, 2.0km
10. Road Network in Ondo State University of Science and
Technology (OSUSTECH), Okitipupa
11. Gulf C Road, Ilara
12. Completion of multi-storey Engineering Building at the
Ministry of Works yard, Akure.
It is also gratifying to inform the distinguished citizens of Ondo State that our Administration has re-energised and paid money to some contractors engaged by the last Administration to make them mobilize back to site and continue work on the following roads:
the notorious Oke Alabojuto in Ikare-Akoko which has now been significantly reduced;
three Ondo township roads projects classified as Group II, Phases I and II;
a contractor has been directed to move to site at that deadly Iwaro Oka Hill because of the avoidable accidents that occur too frequently on that axis.
A section of Ondo – Ore Road that had failed completely at Asewele has equally been fixed by our new Administration. In a like manner, a section on Ore – Okitipupa Road that has equally collapsed is currently being worked on by the Direct Labour Unit of the Ministry of Works. The Street Light Project in Owo that had been abandoned by the contractor has been resuscitated by the new government by paying the contractor and the project has come upstream again. It is also necessary for us to make some clarifications regarding Akure Street Lights which service has become comatose. This is what we inherited. The generators providing the street lights have been breaking down too frequently due to old age. Our Government has already taken a bold step to replace the generators with new ones. Let me assure the people that the street light will become functional in a couple of weeks from now.
Renovation of our schools will equally commence before long as contracts for the renovation of some of them have been awarded under the multilateral scheme with our government paying N500m counterpart fund and the Federal Government paying its matching grants.
Agriculture promises to be a major booster to economic recovery in the State. This sector has witnessed unpardonable neglect in the years past. Any economic planning which does not take into account the very important role of agriculture is unrealistic. Beyond the usual cosmetic approach to the sector, our Administration has taken steps to encourage farmers. The youths are also being invited to shun white collar jobs and the unrealistic expectation of having the government provide employment even in over-saturated sectors. The embrace of farming is the way out of despondency.
Consequently, this Administration has disbursed the sum of N210,000,000.00 to farmers cooperative societies in the state under the FADAMA Scheme. The programme had been abandoned completely by the time we came on board. As a way of re-directing our system of agriculture, Mechanisation Centres have almost been completed in Owo and Akure while that of Ore will commence shortly. In addition, we have procured 1000 metric tons of fertilizer for the enhancement of farming. We are collating the data of farmers and youths in the state. We want to mobilise 35,000 farmers for the Anchor Borrowers Scheme. We have given approval for the registration of Ondo State Farmers Micro Finance Bank and have established a Poverty Alleviation Scheme in the State. We anticipate direct empowerment of 300 youths under the FADAMA GUYS programme, among others.
Our intention is to turn our dear State into a hub of socio-economic activities. We are determined to stimulate the economic space for the benefit of our people. The commencement of regular flights from Akure to Lagos, and continuation of Akure to Abuja has been a tremendous boost to the State. Businessmen and women, traders and all those who take investment seriously are trooping into our State with ease. Ondo State is indeed a veritable destination for investors. Air Peace Airline is making this possible. The transparent conduct of this Administration and its insistence on discharging its mandate sincerely and courageously make good things happen.
May I seize this opportunity to address the citizens of this state on the position of Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC). Government notes with concern the yearnings of our people to be kept abreast of its activities and strides through the state owned electronic media. Regretfully, the reality was that both the OSRC TV and Radio that were inherited by our administration were very weak and incapacitated by ineffective and comatose equipment. They are also bedeviled by dilapidated physical infrastructure as well as unmotivated staff whose competence and professional capability had become considerably weakened.
As a lasting solution, Government constituted a management committee consisting of experienced and tested media managers, to reorganize and reposition the organisations for optimum performance. It is my pleasure, therefore, to inform you that arrangements are in final stage to procure first class and ultra modern digital equipment and other accessories for the television arm to come back to life. To underscore government’s drive to bring the reforms to fruition, we are satisfied with the current performance of Orange 94.5 FM which now transmits rich, balanced and engaging news, entertainment and programmes content for 18 hours daily as against its previous six hours operations. Our ultimate target is a round the clock broadcast from the outfit.
We promised to make life more abundant for our people. We will continue to strive to keep that vow within the available resources. We can turn things around positively. We only need men and women imbued with the necessary patriotic zeal and determination to do things differently. I enjoin us to make our appointments impactful on the generality of the people in the State. We must approach issues touching on their lives with seriousness.
Once again, I congratulate you on this unique opportunity to make the difference in the lives of our people. I admonish members of families and friends of political appointees to desist from mounting undue pressure on them. They have been called upon to work for the collective glory of the State. This, to me, is a sacred social contract between them and posterity. They must be assisted to fulfill their destinies. Our people must be made to own the process of governance. If development is about the people, we should be able to assess the quality of our intervention in their lives.
May the Almighty guide and guard you in this onerous task of qualitative service delivery to our people.
Thank you and God bless you.
Long live Ondo State of Nigeria!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
I thank you for your patience.