"I come to you this day, with a message of hope, a clear agenda of prosperity and a vision of life abundant… We can rise out of this dust and build a new Ondo State where honesty, prosperity and confidence can once again be our self-identity," it was with this message of hope that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State sealed a pact with the people of the state to give governance a new meaning.
While addressing the people, in his inaugural speech as governor, Akeredolu had among other promises, launched a five cardinal programme, tagged Platforms for Change (JMPPR), and anchored on job creation through agriculture, entrepreneurship and industrialization; massive infrastructural development and maintenance; provision of functional education and technological growth; provision of accessible and qualitative health care and social service delivery and rural development and community extension services.
In his first month in the saddle, Akeredolu has kept faith with his contract with the people with a determined effort to develop Ondo State and place it among one of the best three states in the country.
"Ondo State has the deepest and longest shoreline in the country. It is a capacity that can rank us among the best three states in terms of internally generated revenue. That is our dream and we are determined to achieve it," Akeredolu said.
For the Akeredolu-led administration, part of the strategies to develop the state and improve its IGR is to open up the state to modern market opportunities with the construction of road networks across the three senatorial districts.
For eight-year-old Jokotade, her friends and several other old people of Abusoro area of Akure, the advent of the Governor Akeredolu's administration has ushered in a new beginning.
For the children, and indeed most of the adults who have lived in the Abusoro area and other parts of the state, the sight of the workmen and their heavy machines has led to a new belief among the residents.
"I am very happy. Now, the rains will no longer disturb us, because the new drainage will carry the rain water away," Jokotade said with excitement.
A community leader, Pa Emmanuel said the people are happy about the construction of the road. He praised Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for coming to the rescue of the people, but charged the state government to quickly intervene in the erosion that is eating up the landscape of the community.
He expressed joy that the area was witnessing a good turn-around in its fortunes in his lifetime. "I am so happy that I really don't know how to express myself for now. I must confess that I didn't expect this road to be constructed in my lifetime."
The story was the same for Pa Rufus Adetimilehin. The Octogenarian moved to the area about 11 years ago after he completed the construction of his one-storey building. For the more than one decade that the retired civil servant had spent in Abusoro, life has been everything, but sweet.
"I have lived in this place for more than 10 years. As a matter of fact, I moved in about 11 years ago after I built my house. Since that time, we have always lived as a people that have been forgotten by the government," he said with a bright smile on his face.
For good reasons, Pa Adetimilehin and other residents of the area did not believe that the road leading to their neighbourhood would ever be graded, let alone be tarred.
"We have heard many stories about the government coming to construct our road in the past, with all of them turning out to be false. That the reason that we all didn't believe when we were told that the road was to be constructed."
But with the road construction nearing completion, the people of Abusoro and the several adjoining streets can begin to dream again. Businesses and other commercial activities are expected to pick up in Abusoro with the construction of its road network.
In the centre of the capital city of Akure, the residents of Iwalewa community, off Hospital road, are at the moment over the moons, with the commencement of the construction of the community's road.
A resident, who identified himself simply as Pa Omotosho, spoke with newsmen. According to him, "All the people in this community are happy with our governor for ensuring that this road is put in good shape. You can ask anybody around here, we are all praying for him and asking God to prosper him."
Interestingly, the joy of a better life is not restricted to the people of Abusoro in the sunshine state. The people of Bajare road, in the Okeayo zone of Idanre and its environs are also jubilating.
Though construction work on the road had just kicked off, the people, old and young, trooped out to welcome the inspection team of government projects when it visited the site.
It is not surprising that Idanre, the beautiful hilly town that enthralled Nigeria's Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, into penning a wonderful poem, aptly titled Idanre Hills, would be one of the towns to receive the Aketi touch.
Abusoro road under construction.
Akinsoye, a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Idanre, could not hide his excitement as he joined the crowd to heap praises on the state Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for rekindling what he described as the 'lost hope' of the people.
He expressed satisfaction with the decision of the governor to spread development across the 18 local government areas of the state.
"Despite the fact that I belong to the opposition party in the state, but the truth is that I am very happy with the decisions the governor has taken so far. For instance, unlike other governors in the country who would spend precious time to rubbish whatever their predecessor had one, whether good or bad, he has concentrated his efforts on the job that he is elected to do. That, for me, is maturity and good understanding of what governance means," Akinsoye said.
With Governor Akeredolu's promise to ensure equity and fair play in the distribution of social amenities and other developmental projects across the state, construction of roads, all aimed at opening up the state to better economic activities are currently ongoing in the three senatorial zones of the state.
In the northern senatorial district, Ogbomo/Igbadara Street and Howlet Lane, both in Ifon, are already wearing new looks. Jubilee road-Ugbe junction, Ikare, in the same senatorial district, is not left out of the effort of the government to ensure that every part of the state is opened up to equal economic activities, with the promise of better things to come for the people of the areas.
Jubilee road in Ikare
The people of Ese-Odo in the southern senatorial district are also joined in the current shouts for joy by the people of the state. Apart from the government's partnership with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to construct a road to link Araromi in Ondo State with the Lekki-Akodo area of Lagos State, the state government has also started work on the Sabomi road in the area.
It will be recalled that in his inauguration speech, Governor Akeredolu said he witnessed the deplorable condition of the people and promised to make a difference.
"We listened to the voices of our people in the course of our campaigns to all the nooks and crannies of the state. We heard them loud and clear through their votes. We witnessed, first hand, the deplorable conditions under which they exist. To those who cast their ballots in favour of our programmes, your trust is not misplaced. We are determined to make the difference with the specific mandate of redemption liberally handed over to us," the governor had promised.
It is, therefore, not surprising that with the commencement of construction works on the deplorable roads spread across the state, Akeredolu has spoken loud with a clear voice that he is to be taken for his words.
Also speaking, the governor's Senior Special Assistant on Infrastructure, Eng. Aminu Raimi, said: "We went round the state and found out that these roads are in very bad shapes. We made our recommendations to the government, and they were accepted. The governor gave speed approval for the construction of the roads, because it is one of the cardinal programmes of this administration to open up every part of the state to better economic activities.
"However, the beautiful thing about these roads is that they areas populated by the people. What that means is that the decision to construct the roads is not influenced by any politician or as a result of the presence of any influential person in the areas. They are areas that are populated by ordinary people of our dear state."
With construction works nearing completion in most of the areas, it is generally expected that a fresh breath of life would appear in the economic activities of the people of the areas, with great expectations that soon, other parts of the state will begin to reap from the determination of the present administration to put Ondo State back into global reckoning as the pride of the nation.