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BREAKING: ‘Ondo 2024’ I’ll Shore Up Ondo GDP Using Available Resources — Akintelure

Dr. Paul Akintelure, a medical doctor and running mate of the late Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in 2012 governorship election, has thrown his hat in the ring to contest for Ondo gubernatorial polls. In this interview with BOLU-OLU ESHO, states reasons he wants to aspire. Excerpts:

After you ran as the running mate of the late Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in 2012, you haven’t contested any elective position since. Now that you’re joining the race for the governorship ticket of your party, All Progressives Congress, (APC), what prompted you?

I decided to do something which I felt was necessary for society but I never knew that people were watching me. So, they said because of my closeness to the community, because of my assistance to indigenes in terms of philanthropic work and my commitment to the development of the community, the paramount ruler of Ikale land decided to confer me with the title of Otunba of Ikale land. A year after, the Irebuja of Osoro, a sub-section of Ikale also gave me the Otunba of Osoro land. My interest in education is so tremendous. I told you that the Otunba of Ikale was conferred on me, basically because of my impact on the education line.

I don’t care how much it will cost me to train my children. They went to quality schools which I believe should also be entrenched in Ondo State. So, you will forgive me if eventually I become the governor of Ondo State and I decide to perform wonders in the education sector. Education is what can liberate you, that is what can make you great and that is what can make way for you, provided you are dedicated. So, because of the factors I’ve listed about myself, I was called in 2011 to come and represent my Senatorial district. I became the senatorial candidate of AC and you knew the shenanigans that happened then. So, let me say I didn’t win but you know that I was rigged out. So, in 2012, Bola Tinubu, the incumbent president, decided to invite me to join the late governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, as his deputy. I actually wanted to become governor then, but there was this issue of senatorial zoning. Out of the zones, there was this argument that Adekunle Ajasin from the North had governed, Adebayo Adefarati from the North had governed, the South had Olusegun Agagu and the central had Olusegun Mimiko and that it was time for the South to govern again. But, I’m sure that Tinubu in his wisdom felt that it should go to the North. That was why Akeredolu became the candidate of that party then. Thereafter, we didn’t win the election. I have great respect for the dead, so whatever happened, I’m still in the party, the progressive APC.

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We’ve done so much for the party and if you look at the relationship between the late governor and Tinubu, it was cordial and we did everything to cement everything and there was no crack at all, but God knows better as death snatched him. I’m still not comfortable. I still feel that my party should suspend political activities till after his burial. All I can say now is that, may his soul rest in peace. I’ve decided to come to this point because I feel that Ondo State has an abundance of resources, human capacity, but we are still lagging behind. Is it a curse or caused by human factors? I believe that it is a human factor and Ondo State could go to its Eldorado. Ondo could become another California, Ondo could become like Lagos and I’m suggesting that by the time I get there, I need the cooperation of the media in my quest to have Ondo State as my dream.

What can you offer the people of the state that’s different from what previous administrations had done?

My dream is to double the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) of Ondo State in my one year of administration. I’m not a magician, but I’m going to utilize the resources we have. I’m going to pay attention to agriculture in its full meaning. We’re going to pay attention to what is called value addition in agriculture. We’re going to do mechanized farming. We’re also going to involve the youth, so we’re going to have what is called economy on scale. The total production we are having will save cost. So, the cost of production will be reduced. So, at the end of the day, more profit will be generated by farmers. In other words, I’m going to involve youths in what I’ll call graduate entrepreneurship. It won’t be limited to agriculture alone, but it’s about whatever you want to do, whatever skill you prefer because we will take it to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). From statistics, you are aware that yearly, Ondo State turns out about 1,000 graduates from higher institutions. So, we are going to base our workings on the 1,000 graduates. We will liaise with NYSC so that, instead of posting them to anywhere anyhow, we’ll encourage them to practical organizations in terms of skill acquisition. We are also going to pay them money in addition to what NYSC will pay them. At the end of the year, we’ll invite them to defend the project and at the end of the day, we are going to earmark N5 million each for the 1,000 graduates and they are going to repay in 10 years. The loan will be interest free. In other words, they’re going to refund N45,000 monthly. We’re going to budget N5 billion yearly for this exercise and the exercise will generate not less than 12,000 jobs in four years. There is no government that can run without the private sector’s involvement. So, we’re going to ensure that civil servants benefit a lot from our government.

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We’re going to introduce the Pensioners Retirement Self-Employment Scheme. It will encourage people from level 14 and above, who are 55 years and above or 30 years in service to apply for voluntary retirement after completing training for six months. The training will be targeted at their areas of investment. From what we’ve done so far, we are aware that over 500 civil servants will be interested in the scheme because there is uncertainty in the land. We will also give the voluntary retiree the opportunity to bring two people for employment. We’ll not end there. We’ll go into an environmental employment scheme. This will look at the hierarchy of the party because the party leaders and elders will be given the opportunity to look at how we can employ 50 people from each local government to take care of our environmental sanitation. We’re going to introduce dump sites across the 18 council areas in the state. We’re going to get 100 waste disposal trucks. Don’t forget that we have 203 political wards in the state. So, two political wards will have one waste disposal truck and it will be managed by investors. We’re going to create an industrial hub for people to make sure that whatever they are doing in terms of skill acquisition is done in an enabling environment. We’re going to ensure that people in the civil service, once you’ve spent five years, allocate land and housing loans to build on the land because shelter is a basic need. After all these, the issue of crime won’t come in, the issue of corruption won’t come in and you are likely to live longer. So, in a way, we’re promoting our life expectancy and doing this not just because I want to become governor because my ambition isn’t based on my personal interest. Honestly, with modesty, I’m not hungry.

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I can eat three times daily (food of my choice) but I believe that there is what we call capacity. I have the capacity to do these. I have the experience because I’m an employer of labour. I cater for my water, electricity, I pay my salary and a lot of people have benefited from me. For your information, as a medical doctor, I have a vocation too (agriculture). I have livestock, oil palm plantation, poultry, piggery, fishery and crops. So, I feel that the experience is there. I’m not doing this alone, that’s why I’m having commissioners to see the workability.

I have good moral upbringing, so I want to say that transparency is a watchword in my family and accountability is very important. So, all these are part of commitment to the people. I have a clear vision of the plans, policies and programmes of President Bola Tinubu. So, what that means is that as a governor of Ondo State, there is going to be a perfect synergy between myself and the president of this country. It will work in a way of transforming our natural resources. For instance, we have the best port sand in this country and that is why we need the glass industry. We’re aware that most of these mineral resources are Federal Government-owned but with my synergy and relationship, the president will see me through. The variety of bitumen we have in Ondo State is second to that of Venezuela in the whole world. We’re also second to the one present in Canada, but what are we doing with it? Nothing! This I’ll facilitate with my relationship with the president. When you look at what all our past leaders in Ondo State have done, you feel having an impact. So, I want to impact the society to the extent that the human capacity index of Ondo State is proof tremendously.

“We’re going to pay attention to what is called value addition in agriculture. We’re going to do mechanized farming. We’re also going to involve the youth, so we’re going to have what is called economy on scale”

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