There is no doubt about the attainability of a new, prosperous Ondo state. The state enjoys bountiful blessings of nature. It is also blessed with human resources. But to have a new Ondo state of our dream, we must plan it and work for it. That is what Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is currently doing.

The governor commenced the process of offering the state a long-term development plan last week when he inaugurated the State Joint Planning Committee. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of crafting a comprehensive development plan for the state. According to Governor Akeredolu, the development plan is expected to “catapult our economy to an enviable height and make Ondo State a developmental reference point and cynosure of all eyes in Africa and beyond.”

Lack of planning is a path that always leads to failure. “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark,” said Richard Cushing, former American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. Pablo Picasso also advised: “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

What Governor Akeredolu desires is a development plan that must be acceptable to all. It must be inclusive, sustainable and the people of the state must see it as their own. But for the plan to have all these qualities, the general public must be involved. The plan must contain their inputs.

Governor Akeredolu told the committee: “I, therefore, implore you all to give this task the utmost attention by mainstreaming inputs of the general public into the development plan in order to engender wide acceptability, inclusiveness, ownership and sustainability. We need to emphasise that the Plan should put into consideration the thoughts and opinions of all stakeholders, including the opposition political parties as this is a State Agenda that is expected to embrace all shades of opinions of all stakeholders.”

The sincerity of the governor is evident in his appeal to members of the Joint Planning Committee not to limit their request for inputs to small portions of the population of the state. We can also see the purity of his intention in the imploration. The state belongs to all of us. That is the belief of the governor. So, the process of its development must involve all. The expected development plan will be sustainable if it is inclusive, if the people of the state see it as their own. But they can only own it if it has their contributions. That is the thinking of Governor Akeredolu.

“In crafting this Development Plan, I expect the Council to think through the REEDEMED Agenda and ensure proper alignment of the Plan with it as well as other relevant national and international development commitments,” Governor Akeredolu also told the committee. The REDEEMED Agenda, which Governor Akeredolu presented to the people of the state on February 24, 2021, is expected to guide the conduct of government business in the Sunshine state in the next four years. Carefully put together, the agenda is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Agenda focuses on eight key areas of development. These areas are rural and agricultural development; educational and human capital development; development through massive infrastructure; efficient service delivery, development and policy implementation; effective health care and social welfare services; maintenance of law and order for adequate security; energy, mining and sustainable industries; digital revolution and entrepreneurship.

It is an improvement on the JMPPR 5-point agenda of the first term of the Akeredolu government. The programmes encapsulated in the JMPPR agenda were job creation through agriculture, entrepreneurship and industrialization; massive infrastructure development and maintenance; provision of functional education and technological growth; provision of accessible and qualitative healthcare and social service delivery; rural development and community extension services. As rightly said by the governor, the achievements of the administration in the last four years have been largely driven by the JMPPR Agenda.

To emphasise the imperativeness of the REDEEMED Agenda, Governor Akeredolu said: “This second lap of our administration will be very decisive and our performance will be benchmarked on how much we are able to deliver on the State Development REEDEMED Agenda.”

While inaugurating the Joint Planning Committee, Governor Akeredolu disclosed the plan of his administration to introduce an Open Government Policy. A dedicated line will be given to members of the public. Through this number, the people of the state can reach the Governor on matters of public importance. It is hoped that the people will take advantage of the policy to achieve the desired social re-engineering.

In the interest of the state, government must be put on its toes. Inadequacies must be pointed to. But this must be done responsibly. The Open Government Policy will afford the people an opportunity to open their minds to their governor. It will also give the governor an opportunity to know the feelings of the people about his government. It is a great development.

Oyewamide is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Media and Publicity.

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