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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Still on tell Tinubu: Ondo is angry!

By Bola BOLAWOLE turnpot@gmail.com

Last week here in this column (TREASURES column, published in the New Telegraph newspaper of Wednesday, 22 May, 2024), we warned President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to beware because Ondo State people were unhappy with the measly offering he offered them as per his Board appointments. The state and its people, who supported the president handsomely in the February 25, 2023 presidential election, got one of the least number of appointments – 6 out of the 550 positions on offer. As if adding salt to injury, states that contributed far less to Tinubu’s presidential victory got greater compensation than Ondo State and its people.

I read online that my first cousin, who happens to be a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, Arc. Akintunde Imolehin, also added his voice to the widespread complaints in a letter he addressed to the APC national chairman and former governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje. In the letter, Imolehin counseled his party and its leaders to watch it! It is debatable what influence, relevance and clout Ganduje still has left in APC after he lost his Kano base to the opposition New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) of his erstwhile political godfather, Rabiu Kwankwaso. Notwithstanding, Imolehin’s letter, dated May 22nd, 2024, was reported by an online publication thus:

“Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Arc. Tunde Imolehin, has emphasized the need for the party to prioritize loyalty and competence in appointments. In a letter addressed to APC National Chairman, Dr. Umar Abdullahi Ganduje, Imolehin, a concerned party member from Ondo State, stressed the importance of rewarding dedicated party members with appointments, citing the need for a working database of loyal and employable party members. The Ipele-born party chieftain argued that this would ensure that competent party members are given priority in appointments, rather than opposition members.

“The letter also highlighted the need for federal character and merit in appointments, but emphasized that loyal party members should not be sidelined. Imolehin warned that neglecting party loyalty could demoralize members and send the wrong signals. He also urged the party to be mindful of allocating positions across the country, giving priority to states that have consistently supported the party, like Ondo.

“Part of the letter read: Our party should have a working and very efficient DATABASE containing a list of dedicated, loyal, appoint-able and employable men and women who are armed with the vision and mission and electoral mandate of the party (in government). This database should be reviewed from time to time to ensure and maintain currency.

“Mr. Chairman sir, we should reward our dedicated party men and women. A few days to his inauguration, I released a document titled: 10 things before Mr. President is sworn in. In item number 3, I wrote about the reward philosophy. Every official, either in government or party, must uphold this philosophy in their various places of assignment.

“Mr. Chairman sir, we have very competent party men and women who can fill positions to drive the vision of the party in government. For every position, it is only moral and commonsensical to give dedicated and competent APC members the first offer of refusal. Merit is important. Federal character is key. But no dedicated, loyal, long-suffering (and) competent APC member must be sidelined for opposition members when the issue of public/political appointment comes up under our government. Anything contrary will demoralize our members in making sacrifices in future. It will send very wrong signals, Mr. Chairman.

” I am not saying that we should not head-hunt (for) qualified non-partisan Nigerians who are equally competent. We are not even running a government of national unity. So, whatever goes right or wrong is attributed to APC. As the governing party, we inherit and own both the liabilities and assets of the government.

‘Also, we have to be careful in allocating positions within the country, even among our qualified party faithful. What sense does it make to give priority to an opposition-controlled state over Ondo state, despite the latter’s successive immense and outstanding contributions to our great party?

“Imolehin’s letter comes as the party is settling into its new role in government, with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration seeking to implement its ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’. The letter is seen as a call to action for the party to stay true to its values and reward its loyal members”.

Since last week, I have received a deluge of calls and messages, most of which complained about what they described as the “lopsidedness” and “unfairness” of the Board appointments rolled out by the President. But give it to him: President Tinubu is a listening president. He has heard the complaints and has ordered a review of the Board appointments. Space constraints will not let me publish all the complaints I received here but two stood out from the crowd.

The first placed the blame for Ondo State’s alleged marginalization on the “quietness” of the State: It reads: “He who maintains silence will be the loser when goodies are being shared. Ondo State should be adequately compensated by President Tinubu for her loyalty and support” Quite intriguing because Ondo State was noted for her volatility. Remember the 1983 Ondo State governorship election debacle and the Omoboriowo saga? Tell Tinuu: The gentility of the tiger must not be mistaken for cowardice!

The second response pinned the blame on the State’s top politicians. It reads: “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has forgotten Ondo State and Chief (Pius) Akinyelure, who is close to him, is not ready to assist anybody. (Amb. Sola) Iji does not have access to PBAT. Once you are not part of the Lagos axis, it is zero. I just hope APC will not regret its current attitude to both members and the public”. This is a serious matter! Need we remind Ondo State top politicians that all politics is local? Therefore, it is dangerous to be seen or perceived as standing against the interest of your own people – or of not helping them enough. Need we remind them of the Fagbamigbe and Agbayewa saga?

One reader who described himself as a politician and academician also called and, after thanking me profusely for drawing attention to the marginalization of Ondo State by Tinubu, he craved my indulgence to look at a “greater evil”, as he called it, taking place right there in Ondo State. He listed them to include: Pending appointments into local governments and local government development areas; contractors who were ordered back to site without mobilization have abandoned the sites again and ongoing projects are stalled; the projects will either be abandoned eventually with funds committed to them a colossal waste or contract variation will further suck the finances of the State; pending appointment of more special advisers, chairmen and members of Boards; delay in the release of funds to universities, polytechnics, OSOPADEC and other MDAs; etc, etc.

“Please, tell our governor: When he makes a promise, he should be quick to fulfil it”. He said a lot more. I am not too familiar with the politics of Ondo state but I know that the governor, who is preparing for a make-or-mar election in a few months’ time, cannot but be circumspect about whether he should make appointments now or use them as bait to garner more support for himself. It is a gamble. It may work! And it may fail!

I hear a lot about what happens in Ondo State (because I am from there) but I speak less. From experience, I have come to understand that the leaders prefer to keep goings-on there tucked away in their closets. They are somewhat taciturn or publicity shy. They seem yet unable to understand how media can be employed positively to help the State but are scared of the “negative” impacts of the media – which they appear fixated upon.

Twice in the last week alone, I heard two prominent citizens of the State complain about what they described as the “distance” of the state from the centre of economic and political activities – Lagos and Abuja – and how this has negatively impacted the development of the state. The same thinking reflected in one of the responses above – of Ondo state not being part of the “Lagos axis”. Such “provincialism”! It is, perhaps, one reason why the state is marginalized, again and again, in the scheme of things. When Buhari was in power, it was the Abuja/Katsina axis that held sway. Now with Tinubu in power, it is the Lagos/Ogun/Osun axis that is in ascendancy. When are we likely to have in place an axis of power that will be favourable to Ondo State?



Kindly tell Gov. Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti state to also woo local investors! Every cent of FDI comes with the expectations of a yield. Both invested amount and yields are returned to foreign investors as capital flight, with accompanying tax breaks and duty waivers! – Boluwatife Oluwafunmilola.

* Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing director/Editor in chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.

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