Akeredolu: The Making of a Modern Philosopher King
Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye, a Development Communication Expert and Olatunde Olabode Richard, using the Plato's thoughts on Ideal State and Leadership, reports that contrary to the popular harangue that Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, the executive governor of Ondo State has been distributing dividends of democracy to his people with reckless abandonment, has, however, been leading according to the common good of the people.
As Postulated by Plato, an Athenian Philosopher and Founder of the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the western world, Leadership is a duty of the philosopher kings. The Philosopher Kings, according to Plato, are those who acquire the techniques and skills for the art of ruling. An ideal state, Plato affirmed, “can never grow into a reality” until “philosophers become rulers in this world or until those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.
Plato was dissatisfied with rulers who lack knowledge and moral strength to act according to the “common good” of the people– in other words, rulers motivated by selfish aggrandizement were not strong leaders and thus, must never be found at the corridor of power or in a position of leadership.
While proposing that only the “lovers of wisdom” can govern an idea state, Plato opined that only philosophers are morally and intellectually suited to govern and lead – Morally because they are interested in and have a passion for truth and learning, while showing no interest in the temptations of gaining power for the sake of power – Intellectually because they are able to attain knowledge on the ideal forms of virtue, beauty, and the good. He then asserted that for a leader to triumph against the tangles of his political foes, he must be embedded with wisdom, fair, moderate and must be courageous.
Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the man saddled with the responsibility of distributing the dividends of democratic governance to the good people of Ondo State - the domain of intellectuals that harbours human, capital and natural resources- the habitat home of the rich, wealthy and prominent; the natural environment for animals, plants and other organisms; and a blessed large deposit of oil, rubber, rock, tourism - is, with all sense of modesty, an example of leaders Plato described as “Philosopher Kings and Lovers of Wisdom” that should work for the “common good” of the people.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former two-term President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) is a man whose name has transcended beyond the cosmos. Guileless and intrepid, Akeredolu has proven to understand the ABC of governance with the array of developmental projects he has executed and still executing in his state.
Ondo State occupies a key position in the Southwest geo-political zone. It has borders with Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Edo and Kogi states. In the glorious days of the Western Region under the late Premier Obafemi Awolowo, agriculture was the mainstream of its economy. The state also has the advantage of vast human talents and mineral deposits. Until when oil was discovered in Lagos, Ondo was the only oil producing state in the Southwest.
Given the strategic location of the state, its centrality, the core projection has always been on the vast resources which are available in the riverine area and other strategic location across the state. Apart from the new era of economic recovery and repositioning of the sunshine state, Akeredolu has shown unequal passion and extended the frontier of development across the Southwest.
Plagued by Security Quagmire, Now Land of Peace
An English Scholar, Thomas Hobbes opined that the first major responsibility of government is to protect citizens from violence, provide the safety of law and order, and protect citizens from each other and from foreign foes.
Akeredolu was greeted into office with worrisome security challenges in the riverine area of the state threatening the peace of Ogun and Lagos states. And without much ado, the renowned lawyer tactically tackled the security challenges and restored peace to the south west by ending the reigns of militants who were then kidnapping at will within Ondo, Lagos and Ogun states respectively.
It's no longer news how the Governor’s efforts led to the rescue of the six students kidnapped by some Militants from Igbonla College in Epe area of Lagos state on May 25th 2017. The students were released alive after two months in captivity due to the personal intervention of Governor Akeredolu. That singular intervention of the Governor heralded a new wind of peace into the south west as Akeredolu did not only secured the release of the kidnapped school children but also appealed to the militants into surrendering their arms and ammunition by granting them amnesty. And since he made that audacious move, no case of kidnapping has been traced to militant activities in Yoruba land.
Providing Services People could not provide for themselves
Thomas Hobbes further posited that after the state’s responsibility to “protect citizens”, the next function of government is to “provide goods and services that individuals cannot provide individually for themselves”
On the development of Ondo state, one of the first set of road rehabilitations that was executed by the Akeredolu's administration was the ever busy Oke-Oka / Lokoja Trunk A road in Akoko South West Local Government Area of the state where many lives have hitherto been lost due to the hilly and curvy nature of the road. The road which has a very deep ditch by the side has sent many travellers to death in their prime.
On assumption of office, Akeredolu was very uncomfortable with the reports of incessant accidents on the road. There are big ditch by the sides of the road making rescue operations difficult in the case of auto crash but today, all that are history as Mr. Governor has reconstructed the road pilling both sides with hardcore to prevent moving vehicles from falling inside the ditch even when it strays off the road.
Although, the Oke-Oka road is under the tutelage of federal government and mostly used by people from all over the country, constructing the gully of devastation that once claimed a family of seven while returning from the graduation ceremony of their son in the state owned Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko shows that Akeredolu is indeed pushing the frontier of development beyond the slogan of megalomania.
Today, people travelling through Igbara Oke-Ibuji – Ekiti State boundary are benefitting from the ideal leadership being provided by Akeredolu for people within and outside Ondo State. The 8.1km road, which was practically impassable before now, has been reconstructed to further open up the sunshine state and promote economic growth between the state and her neighbouring Ekiti state. Similarly, the Ikare - Owo High way which is another federal government road that links the state to the northern part of Nigeria is currently receiving attention of the government.
Worthy of note is Governor Akeredolu's recent agitation which has brought succour to cash crop farmers in Nigeria. Disturbed by the practice of denying Cocoa, Oil palm and other cash crop farmers’ access to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) loan facilities, the Governor whose state is the leading producer of Cocoa in Nigeria, took the agitation for the inclusion of cocoa and oil palm farmers to the National Economic Council (NEC) and triumphed. Today, farmers across the length and breadth of Nigeria are enjoying access to credit facilities and forex at CBN due to Akeredolu’s patriotic fight for the common good of the people.
Furthermore, the Akeredolu administration in conjunction with Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has awarded the construction of a 50km road project from Araromi area in Ilaje Local Government, Ondo State to Akodo in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government in Lagos State that would open up the villages that could benefit from about to be constructed seaport in the state and the development spinning off from Lekki Free Trade Zone. It is worth stating for the sake of posterity that this initiative is beyond the gains of Ondo state as 70% of the road will be on the land of Ogun state. With a drive of 45-minute from Lekki, Lagos to Araromi, Ondo State, the project, when completed, will not only serve the economic gains of Ondo State but also widen the economic horizon of Ogun State and add value to the economy of Lagos state.
The Land of Uncommon Potentials
Ondo, from all empirical indices, should be nick-named “the hidden wealth of a nation”. From the commercial city of Lagos, Ondo’s geographical location serves as gate way of economic movement and activities to the northern part of the country including the federal capital territory by Akoko-Ikenne-Lokoja road that links to the North. The same also can be said of Benin-Ore road-the busiest after Lagos-Ibadan express road- to the Eastern and Southern-riverine states. The Akeredolu led administration is presently constructing a flyover bridge at Ore junction of the highway to save life.
The life patterns of the people of Ondo State represent an embodiment of culture, ranging from the local foodstuff to the way of dressing, dancing, wood crafts, such as, carved house posts and decorated doors. The tropical climate of the state is broadly of two seasons which are the rainy season between April and October and dry season between November and March. The state enjoys luxuriant vegetation with high forest zone (rain forest) in the south and sub-savannah forest in the northern fringe which makes the land fitting for agriculture.
Idanre Hill(s) listed in UNESCO world heritage sites, is one of the most awesome and beautiful natural landscapes in Ondo State and Nigeria. Located in Idanre Town, about 24 kilometres southwest, the flora and the topography of the place is a great virtue of mankind creating excitement to fun lovers of nature witnessing spectacular view of the town. Igbokoda Water Front, Iponle-Iloro Waterfalls, Oko Marie Hills at Oka-Akoko, Ebomi Lake at Epinmi-Akoko are other interesting place to visit in the state.
By and large, the Ondo people are relatively peaceful when compared to other Niger-Delta states. This fact alone has made the state be rated among the five best investors destination in Nigeria. For instance, today, four foreign manufacturing companies have started operating at the Ore Industrial Hub due to Akeredolu’s uncommon service to the people.
Additionally, there is cultivation of high varieties of arable and fruit crops such as cassava, rice, maize, sugar cane, cashew, maize, mangoes and tomatoes, cocoa, oil-palm produce and rubber in Ondo State. The state is also the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria, responsible for about 40 percent of the country’s production.
The state possesses a wide ocean fronts and the longest untapped coast line in Nigeria about 180km, bigger and larger than that of Lagos that can gross in millions of revenue for private investors and government like it does in Lagos. Ondo state contributes 12 percent of the entire oil production and has one of the largest gas reserves in Nigeria. Bitumen deposit in the state is the largest in Africa and 2nd largest in the world with over 42billion reserves and probably of the highest quality. If the bitumen in Ondo alone is explored, Nigeria will be saved of #300billion per annum. Ondo also the best land suitable for cultivation of cannabis in Nigeria which if well explored can fetch the state and the Nigerian government $145billion by year 2025. The Ondo State revitalized airport (another feat of Akeredolu) aside the daily Lagos to Akure Air Peace passenger flight, has the potential of being a major cargo hub in West Africa if religiously pushed.
Lo and behold, Akeredolu’s feats in the last 26 months in the position of leadership in Ondo State shows that he truly acquired the techniques and skills for the art of ruling before seeking the mandate to lead his people as posited by Plato in his rules on the essential ingredients of good leadership. Aketedolu is noble, spirited and prudent in the management state scares resources, a feat that has earned him the nick-name of “Mr Due process” from, his people.