*I am inspired by Awolowo and Ajasin – Kekemeke*
The leading gubernatorial aspirant under the APC in Ondo State, Hon. Isaac Kekemeke has disclosed his source of inspiration in contesting for the governorship seat in the State. According to him, “Awolowo is an inspiration to me; Ajasin is an inspiration to me. I am taking after them in political programming, administration, competence, character and commitment to the welfare of the people.” He explained that both great men were “planners , all the time focusing on the people, the grassroots people.” Kekemeke was exchanging views with a group of Ilaje supporters led by Otunba Sylvester Ikuojamoye that paid him a visit in Akure on Saturday.
He recalled that Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced free educàtion and free health services in the Western Region in the early fifties at a time his critics thouggt it impossible from the funding point of view. “As a matter of fact,” he explained,” it was actually ambitious but through political will and prudent spending, he made a success of the programmes, shooting the Western Region ahead of the other regions in education and health care services.
He also recalled that Chief Awolowo went beyond the two programmes to introduce four cardinal programmes under the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1979. Accorfing to him, they were free education, free health care, full and gainful employment, and integrated rural development. He explained further that Awolowo conceived the programmes for the country optimistic that he would become the president and hence be able to implement them with federal financial might. “When he was not able to make it to the presidency,” the former secretary to the state government explained, “his five governors went ahead to implenent the programmes in their respective States of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Bendel and Ondo..One of the Governors was our own Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin. Incidentally Pa Ajasin it was that prepared the blueprint for the free education programme.”
Explaining his own programnes, Kekemeke said, “Inspired by these legends, i have identified six cardinal programmes on which i base my blueprint for the development of our State. These are educational development, health care development, agricultural development, industrial development, tourism development, and entrepreneurship promotion and skills acquisition. Our own programmes are, therefore, a modification of those of Awolowo in such a way as to reflect the realities of our time.
“Our own education programme includes free and compulsory primary and secondary education, award of scholarships, and granting of students loans. In our health care programmes, we have free health services for pregnant women, children from birth to age five and seniors from age 65. We have Ibile hospitals for the promotion of our indigenous medical system. We have primary health centres for all the 203 wards in the State. And we will build a pharmaceutical industry for the manufacturing of basic drugs to eliminate the incidence of fake drugs and promote industrialization.”
“As you can see,” he continued, “instead of full and gainful employment, we have enrepreneurship development. Instead of integrated rural development, we have agriculture, and under our own agricultural programme, we will have civil farmers who will be farmers that will be on salary while on their own farms. Then we added industrialization and tourism.”
In response to a question, he said, “I agree that implementing these programnes would pose challenges. But that precisely is why we must embark on them. Running a government is not a tea party, it is a challenging task. Or who says Chief Awolowo and Pa Ajasin found it easy in their days? All that we need is political will and creative financial engineering, and I dare say we will be up to the task. If our political fathers could do it, we must have no excuses. In any case, of what use is a government that has no definite programmes on which the people can hold it accountable?”
Otunba Ikuejamoye, the head of the group had earlier commended the former attorney general and commissioner for justice for the mature way he had been conducting his election campaign. According to him, the conduct had been peaceful, grassroots oriented and devoid of mudsligging. He recalled that while the other aspirants were waiting for endorsement, the pioneer state chairman of the party went ahead and down to the grassroots to sell himself. “The result is that today your presence is being felt all over the State,” he testified. Otunba Ikuejamoye expressed his happiness that the Ilaje/Eseodo federal constituency is being conspicuously represented in the gubernatorial race and assured the former commissioner for works, housing, lands and transport of the full support of Ilaje people.