THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State, Chief Olusola Oke, has pledged to focus on the development of the state’s vast forest and coastal resources to open new frontiers of economic development for the people.
Available statistics show that the state has an 80-kilometre shoreline, making it the longest among the country’s littoral states and the largest acreage of forest reserves with its abundant ecosystem and varieties of wildlife, some of which are going extinct in similar vegetation in other parts of the world.
Oke told The Guardian yesterday in his Akure home that the flora and fauna of the state’s coastal and forest belt in the southern and central senatorial districts in that order could be harnessed for the development of the state.
According to Oke, who emerged last week as the PDP standard-bearer: “It is a thing of regret that we have gold mines in our coastal and forest reserves, yet these areas are wasting away and nobody seems to have taken cognisance of their potential.
“We have the longest coastline in Ondo State with all its aquatic splendour that can be harnessed to become money-spinners in tourism while the oil and gas reserves could also be tapped for the growth of our industries and others.”
He gave an insight into his political campaigns for the election, saying: “Ours is going to be issue-based. We are not to talk of personalities or individuals. We intend to tell the people of this state the enormous opportunities available here and open their eyes to how we intend to use them for their sake.”
Oke said the current system of building infrastructure at the expense of the wellbeing of the people is an anomaly, adding that if he won the polls, the focus would be on the people.
He said: “Building markets without corresponding economic empowerment of the people won’t do this state any good. We will create avenue for empowerment and back it up with infrastructure. It is not sufficient to develop infrastructure without the people.”
Meanwhile, a group of politicians of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the oil-producing Ilaje Local Council has appealed to the leadership of the party to allow the area take the deputy governor’s slot in the October election.
The group, on the platform of Ilaje Elders’ Group, said the request for the position had become imperative because the area had been marginalised in terms of political positions since the advent of democracy in Nigeria.
In a letter they wrote to ACN National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, the elders said it was unfortunate that the area suffered the political neglect in spite of the fact that it accounts for sizable revenue accruing to both the Federal and state Governments.
The letter was jointly signed by P. O. Omololu, a retired Assistant Comptroller-General of Prisons Service, Fola Ebisemiju, former Acting Vice-Chancellor of Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti and five others.