By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
A governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ondo state, Hon. Banji Ben Okunomo has promised to publish a monthly report of revenues and expenditures of the state if elected governor in the election slated for October 10 this year.
Okunomo, a one-time chairman of Ilaje Local Government Area, made the pledge yesterday after obtaining the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms to contest the governorship primaries.
Accompanied by a retinue of friends and political associates, the aspirant promised to run a transparent government if given the nod by the electorate, even as he accused incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu of running the state’s affairs like ‘a family business.”
While bemoaning what he described as poor governance in the past few years, Okunomo insisted that Ondo state has no business with the twin vices of unemployment and poverty, stressing that a digitally-compliant technocrat like him would make the state at par with Lagos if given a higher responsibility of service.
He said: “I will be accountable to the people. I will make sure every kobo that comes out of the coffers of Ondo state is accounted for. I will be rendering monthly account to the people of the state if elected.
“I am not going to continue with what is currently the norm in the state where government is being run like a family business.
“I am a young man with a vision and mission and my mission and vision in putting myself forward at this critical time of our political lives in Ondo state is for me to come forward and address the challenges confronting our people.
“Ondo state requires immediate intervention. I am on a rescue mission and that mission is to come on board and make a lot of difference in the affairs of governance of the people of Ondo state.
“My antecedents will serve as an impetus to do more if given a higher respinsibillty as someone who as served as the Chief Executive of a local government in the past.
“I must say that there is nothing in Lagos that Ondo state does not have. We shall make the state an industrial hub where investors would be attracted to given the resources God has given us”, he said.
Scoring Akeredolu low on job creation, the aspirant came short of labelling the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government in the state, a disaster for allegedly failing to take advantage of its huge agrarian potentials.
He continued: “The most pathetic situation is the rate of unemployment in Ondo state. Year in, year out, graduates are produced and these graduates are not employed. There is visible poverty on the faces of people of Ondo state.
“Many of the hitherto existing companies in the state are dead and are non- existent. These are industries that would have provided alternative measures of absorbing the teeming population of our unemployed graduates from universities, polytechnic and colleges of education.
“The only opportunities that exist in Ondo state are those that can be provided by government alone. And unfortunately, this government since it came to power has not been able to employ anyone.
“This means that unless we inject ingenuity in the governance of Ondo state, we will continue to remain the way we are. I am coming to make a paradigm shift from the old order so that Ondo state can become an industrial hub. We need to look at our natural resources with a view to attracting investors to Ondo state.
“I will make agriculture a priority and that is a sector that has been abandoned by the government of our state. The level of infrastructual decay in Ondo state is so unfortunate.”
On his specific areas of focus if he becomes governor, Okunomu said he would use the instrument of government to employ people, stressing that he would “create a corridor of economic opportunities. The free trade zone which has been abandoned but will become an industrial hub in my own time.”
Away from agarictulture, the ex-local council boss also promised to take a good look at bitumen, a resource, he noted Ondo has in commercial quantity.
“Our oil mill is almost postrate and our bitumen has become a thing of mirage. Ondo state has one of the largest deposit of bitumen in this country. I will bring in experts if I become governor for the exploitation of bitumen and provide the mitigation measures which have to be put in place to avert ecological disaster that could accompany the exploitation and exploration of bitumen.
“Bitumen exploration alone is capable of mopping up the teeming population of the unmployed not only in Ondo but other neighbouring states,” he added
He tasked delegates to beam their searchlights on “the man” with the knowledge of contemporary happenings around the world, a master of the digital tools of the 21st century.
“I am not an aspirant by accident. I have been a product of history and anyone who fails to reckon with history will become history itself. The truth of the matter is that you can’t give what you don’t have.
“One of the things working in my favour is that I have a digital mental capacity. Everyone wants to comply with the developed world. We cannot continue with the analogue way of doing things.
“In Ondo state, there is a culture of zoning which is an arrangement that the electorate are very concerned about. From 1999 to date, the electorate rubbishes any political party that does not respect local zoning arrangement.
“It is also true that any senatorial district that produced the deputy governor, produces the successor to the governor,” he stated.