Borrowing from the lingo of legal practitioners, there is the need to confess, ab initio a caveat emptor attached to this piece. It is my acquaintance with the governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu and access to him to ventilate this view that is ten-a-dime on the streets of the capital of the state. It is said that the governor hates Akure people.While some say wide broadcast of Akeredolu’s perceived hatred of the people is the natural manifestation of Akure people’s ancestral label as those who knowingly abandon the piercing blade of their swords but nevertheless pierce their opponent with the penetrating cudgel of their damaging tongues, this claim of their governor’s hatred for them is resident on every tongue in Akureland at the moment. However, since the trending view transcends personal relationship and is metastasising fast in the hearts of the people daily, there is the need to subject it to the dissection of a commentator’s scalpel so that the world could be the unbiased umpire.
Even though the perceived disdain of Governor Akeredolu for the people of Akure sounds very implausible since a governor is voted in to develop and nurture the progress of every part of the state, Akure submit statistically evident reasons to back up this very dangerous allegation. Before the election that ushered the highly respected lawyer into office, he was quoted to have waved off Akure’s aspiration to have her own son govern the state for the first time since its founding. Derisively, Akeredolu was quoted to have said that the town, which was a Division in the old Western Region, was a hub of several ethnic groups in the state and could not boast of the homogeneity it canvassed as the forte of its aspiration. Hurt by this very diffident and dismissive overview but eventually betrayed by the grovelling inclinations of her politician children who make up the hub of the governor-to-be’s political clientele, Akeredolu literally became a seer in his pre-election analysis as he won elections even in the local governments that make up the ancient town.
Very soon, the SAN would be two years in office and the allegation is that he has also followed in the ignoble path of Olusegun Mimiko in hyper clannish devotion to his town, as against a holistic development of the state. For instance, while the governor’s hometown of Owo has allegedly received frenetic developmental strides, Akure is said to have maintained its static path and passable mention in the course of development. The horrible roads that lead to the state capital are said to be testimonies of this neglect.
Perhaps the most fundamental evidence of the people’s allegation against their governor is the ongoing brickbats over the plan by government to convert the state’s specialist hospital located in Akure into an annex of the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, Ondo. Last week, a ricochet of protests sparked off in Akure against this plan. The Deji of Akure kingdom, Oba Aladelusi Oguntoyinbo, after deafening harangue by his people, had to be at the Ondo State House of Assembly, venue of the sitting in preparation for the passage of the bill.
Akeredolu is proposing the bill that would make the Specialist Hospital and Mother and Child Hospitals in Akure and Ondo annexes of the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, Ondo, (UNIMED). Also ancillary to the bill is a proposal by the governor to transfer the 42-year old School of Nursing, Akure to UNIMED in the next three years. Thus, the school, which is one of Akure’s heritages, would be ceded to Ondo as part of Akeredolu’s indecipherable policy. Apart from the argument of the people that the only consequential government establishment was being taken away from them by the annexation of the hospital, they argue that Akeredolu’s move is an affront on norm and order. There is scarcely any state capital in Nigeria where state teaching hospitals are not domiciled; the only exception being Akure. More fundamentally, the logic of government in taking this decision appears baffling and vexatious. If the proffer of Akeredolu himself before becoming governor is to be taken in in its entirety, how come a state capital that is the agglutination of all people of the state, where a tertiary hospital would benefit the greatest number of the people, would be taken away from them and pronged at a place far less in population and where it would pose grave inconvenience to access by the huge number of people resident in the state capital?
The grouse of the people is why Akure should be administratively subservient to the proposed hospital in Ondo, especially considering its implications for resource allocation, staffing and scaling of facilities offered in the hospital. The people claimed that it is pure sophistry to suggest that both hospitals will be of the same status as equipment, top consultants and others would be concentrated in Ondo and resource allocations would be in a place that is not the capital. Akure people are also requesting that in the event that government sticks to its guns, could the Akure State Specialist Hospital be considered for release to the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) as a starting centre for her Teaching Hospital, a proposal that the bearded governor has shuddered from looking in its direction.
It is the people of Akure’s submission that making the State Hospital an annexe to the proposed hospital in Ondo is a continuation of Akeredolu and his predecessor’s disdain for Akure people. The people cannot understand why he wants to take the School of Nursing, which is Akure’s only state-owned institution, away from it, all in the name of this dream of his. This has given the people an opportunity to wager a guess verging on alleged clannishness of the governor: If Akure’s School of Nursing is ceded to Ondo, it will no longer be there to serve FUTA’s medical school and thus, the Federal Medical Centre, Owo would be a readily available hospital for its usage for clinicals. Right now, except for the fripperies erected therein by Mimiko, Akure, in all material particular, lacks the basic glitter of a state capital. It boasts of nearly nil persons on secondment to the federal government by the state and is merely surviving on the old glory of its ancient renown. Akeredolu can show the people the depth of his love by making an about-turn from this UNIMED path that is courting him the enmity of the people who voted for him.