My attention has been drawn to a piece written by one Kennedy Ikantu Peretei, which has been circulating over the social media space titled “AKEREDOLU’S MISRULE IN ONDO STATE (10): FAMILY ON LOOTING SPREE”. As part of the bunch of lies and puerile misinformation exhibited in that piece, Mr. Peretei stated thus: Mrs Betty Akeredolu on her part, has ensured that no board is constituted for the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC). All the BEMORE and FOWOSO projects are fully funded by OSOPADEC. Short of directly signing cheques, Betty is the Alpha and Omega of OSOPADEC. The Commission has not executed a single project since the inception of the Akeredolu tenure” Actually, it should not be my business to respond to this piece not been a media aide to Governor Akeredolu and his family, neither am I employed as their solicitor; but there are areas of the piece which if not responded to will continue to keep the good people of Ondo State misled.
As the chairman of OSOPADEC during the period alluded to, I will be doing the good people of Ondo State, especially the great people of Ilaje and Ese-Odo LGAs, a lot of disservices if I keep quiet in the face of this misinformation. These kinds of lies and deceptions being employed by Mr. Peretei are akin to the deception tactics of Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who said, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as truth,” and that is why the Holy Scriptures says, “answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes”.
On the issue of the BEMORE project, which is one of the pet projects of the First Lady in which OSOPADEC has a rare privilege of collaboration; if the opportunity presents itself one million times, we shall continue to support it because it is laudable and beneficial to our people.
It should be known to Mr. Peretei and his likes that the best assets any nation or community can boast of is not the minerals or other natural resources but its human resource or human capital. A country like Switzerland cannot boast of any single natural resource. Still, the best chocolates, best wristwatches, best pharmaceuticals all come from Switzerland apart from its reputation in the banking sector. Therefore, any nation that wants to grow must be ready to develop its human capital primarily through education, both cognitive and vocational.
In the year 2017, when Arabirin started the BEMORE programme as part of the pet projects, she never needed OSOPADEC money to commence her project. If Mr Peretei does not know the content or curriculum of BEMORE project, he should take the pain to ask rather than exhibiting such a great ignorance in the name of criticism. The BEMORE program is established to enhance the capacity of the girl child, especially in the areas of ICT and solar technology development, courteous living; networking; and other forms of vocational training. This is what the Board and management of OSOPADEC saw, and we decided to enrol a few of our girl children for the program; the participants were carefully selected from all the thirty-two (32) public secondary schools in Ilaje and Ese Odo Local Government Areas such that no school produced less than two participants at the onset of the program and the breakdown is as follows: in the year 2018, OSOPADEC sponsored 120 girls, all expenses fully paid; in the year 2019, the figure rose to 140 girls; in the year 2020, there was no BEMORE program because of the COVID 19 lockdown. But by the year 2021, the program had become so popular among our folks in Ilaje and Ese Odo Local Government areas that the selection process became so competitive, and we were left with no other choice than to increase the figure to 150 girls. This was achieved due to intense lobbying of the organizers of the programme because the maximum capacity for the 2021 Ondo State Summer Boot camp was just 400 girls.
It will interest Mr Peretei that in each of these programs, the participants went home with a laptop, a solar home system; they were equally kitted with at least two pairs of BEMORE customized T-shirts, Jeans and canvas. They were quartered and fed three times daily throughout the duration of the summer Bootcamp in addition to the skills and trainings which they acquired and for which honoraria were paid to the instructors. I’m sure Mr. Peretei will know this could not have been free of charge, and as such, the bills must have been borne by someone. It was the Board and management of OSOPADEC under our watch that approached the organizers of the BEMORE Summer BootCamp Program so that our girls could benefit from this rare developmental program. Therefore, rather than insinuating that Arabirin Betty Akeredolu was feasting on the resources of OSOPADEC, she was actually the one generously giving out to our children by subsidising the cost of imparting knowledge and skills; I challenge Mr. Pertei to visit the public secondary schools in Ilaje and Ese-odo to interview the beneficiaries of the BEMORE programme and their principals to authenticate our claims on this matter.
Mr. Peretei refused to see what OSOPADEC did between 2017 – 2021 because he was blinded by his mischievous tendencies. Let me elucidate a few:
i. As part of our human capital development program, OSOPADEC, under our watch religiously resuscitated and paid over N200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira) as bursary and scholarship to all qualified students of Ilaje and Ese Odo origin in higher institutions.
ii. Over 100 housing units which are all at various degrees of completion, were embarked upon to make life comfortable for workers attached to our public institutions in the riverine area
iii. Several kilometres of wooden walk-ways were embarked upon and completed as a means of facilitating transportation within the communities in the riverine areas during the period.
iv. The Aboto – Atijere road was awarded, and today, it is at nothing less than 40% (Forty Percent) completion
v. The asphalt laying of the Alape junction – Araromi seaside road was also awarded, and work is ongoing.
Apart from these, so many other projects like the Aboto water (treatment, distribution and reticulation project) that were abandoned by the previous administration were completed and commissioned by Arakunrin Akeredolu, SAN, just to mention a few.
For Mr Peretei to have alluded so ignorantly that Arabirin did not want a Board to be put in place for OSOPADEC is nothing but a mischievous conception. In the light of the above, can you please tell the whole world what would it benefit Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu not to have a Board in place for OSOPADEC? Please try something else.
Honourable Olugbenga Edema