It was gathered that candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for November 26th governorship election in Ondo State, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has taken a swipe at the outgoing governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko over what he described as “reckless neglect of agriculture, especially cocoa, to focus on oil boom.”
Speaking at Idanre when his campaign team visited the palace of Owa of Idanre, Oba (Dr.) Fredrick Aroloye J.P., Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, regretted that despite being blessed with crude oil and large deposit of bitumen and cocoa, Ondo State stands in number 21 in the national poverty index as rated by the National Bureau of statistics.
Describing Mimiko as a leader lacking in vision, foresight, focus and direction, Akeredolu queried why Ondo, a state rated in the late 90’s as the largest producer of cocoa in the world after Ghana and Ivory Coast was now missing among the first ten producers of cocoa in Africa.
Calling on the people of Idanre to reject both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) on November 26th, Akeredolu vowed to make use of the untapped large deposit of cocoa in the ancient town to take Ondo State to the greatest height.
In his words, Akeredolu said: “The proceeds from cocoa in Idanre alone, if well utilized, can make Ondo State rival Lagos in four years time. Malaysia was developed through Agriculture. Nigeria and Malaysia were at the same level in the 50’s but today, we are far below them.
“Take for instance, the Cocoa House at Ibadan was built with the proceeds from cocoa harvested from Idanre. The proceeds of cocoa from Idanre were what our father, Obafemi Awolowo used to develop the old western region.
“Awolowo used cocoa money to build the Airport Hotel at Ikeja, NTA Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, Oluwa glasses at Igbokoda, Ifon ceramics, Arigidi Tomatoe Paste factory, Ire brick industry, Ado Ekiti textile all now in moribund.
“Today, because of oil boom, Mimiko has abandoned cocoa, bitumen, oil palm and other agriculture, natural and mineral resources that God has used to bless our state. This is a classical example of laziness.
“When we get to Alagbaka (referring to where the governor’s office is situated in Akure, the state capital) through your support, we will use Idanre cocoa to develop Idanre and the state in general.
“Ondo State has no reason to be owing workers salary if not for laziness and lack of vision, focus and direction of my friend, Mimiko. Many experts and investors are willing to come down to Ondo State to process our cocoa for exportation for attendant benefits but the non-commitment of the state government scared them away.
“By God’s grace, when we get there, we will engage in lucrative Private Public Partnerships which will be used to develop our state through cocoa. As you all could see, the price of oil has dropped globally and because aside oil, nothing leaves Nigeria for overseas, the value of naira has crashed and while the price of oil went down, the price of cocoa is goes up.
“If Mimiko had not outrightly abandoned cocoa, our state wouldn’t have felt the impact of the collapse of oil price in international market.
“The government of late Olusegun Agagu brought Okitipupa oil palm mills back to life, but Mimiko failed to build on the legacy. Bush has now taken over Oluwa Glasses at Igbokoda, Ifon ceramics is dead.
“Arigidi Akoko paste factory has gulped over N2bn naira with no paste produced thus far. The timbers at Bolorunduro are wasting away. Mimiko’s interest lies only in the allocation from Abuja. This is sad”, Akeredolu said in a very emotion laden voice.
The traditional ruler of Idanre, Oba Fredrick Aroloye while responding, thanked Akeredolu over what he described as an “August Visit” to his palace.
The monarch prayed for the success of Akeredolu at the poll and charged him not to renege on all his promises if elected.
On the visit with Akeredolu to the palace was former Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Alli Olanusi, Former member of the House of Representative, Hon. Abegunde Abena and many other APC chieftains in the state.