The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, and his Ondo State counterpart, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, yesterday traded words over the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State. The two men were guests at the 2016 Awo commemorative birthday symposium which held at the Ikenne residence of the late premier of the Western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Delivering his remarks as chairman of the occasion, El-Rufai said that his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will dislodge Mimiko’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo’s governorship election which comes up on November 26, 2016. Mimiko will be concluding his two terms as governor in 2017 and is not eligible for reelection, but will want his party and preferred candidate to succeed him.
Mimiko however disagreed with El-Rufai. “You said you are going to take over Ondo State? We are going to resist all attempts of APC’s onslaught. Ondo State is not going to fall for APC onslaught,” he said.
Speakers at the event include former vice president of the World Bank, Obiageli Ezekwesili; Prof. Segun Gbadegesin; Senator Femi Okurounmu, Prof. Alake Fawole, Prof. Ayo Olukotun and Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun. Other guests include governor of Ogun state, Ibikunle Amosun; former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd); Adegbenka Kaka and Olorunimbe Mamora, former Permanent Secretary, Ahmed Joda, among others.
While welcoming the participants, the Executive Director of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu explained that the organiser decided to hold the programme at Ikenne to honour both papa and mama Awolowo.
Awolowo-Dosunmu explained that the event was not the first one the foundation would hold in honour of the late sage, adding that when her father was serving as Premier of the Western Region, he allocated 28.7 per cent to education, 10.7 per cent for medical services and 5.7 per cent for agriculture.
In his remarks, El-Rufai said it is conventional to salute the execution of the free education policy of the Awolowo.
“When in 1979, some of his political opponents sought to propose a wooly notion of qualitative education in opposition to free education, the people of the West gave them short shrift, and rejected them at the ballot box. After his ministry as Premier of the West, Awolowo gave the nation a taste of his acumen and capabilities as civil-war era finance minister. He managed the resources so well that the country emerged without debt from the war.
“In Kaduna State, we embrace the Awo formula for education. A year ago, we campaigned against the dismal state of most of our schools, with many lacking furniture, doors, windows, roofs and water. After the election, the things we railed against became our problems to solve.
“We have 4,254 public primary schools in Kaduna, and many are in very poor shape. Between September 2015 and January 2016, we have spent more than N6billion on school rehabilitation, and the provision of water and toilets to our schools. In our 2016 budget, the education sector has by far the highest allocation accounting for more than a third of the budget.
“We have therefore started the journey, but we have a long way and a lots of hard work ahead of us to complete our programme of school repairs, provision of furniture and tools, students’ feeding and teacher training in an era of declining revenues. “What no one can doubt is our commitment to expand access to education, and to deliver nine years of free, compulsory basic education with well-trained and incentivised teachers.
“The outcome of the 2015 elections is both our present and our future, as it is our collective burden and opportunity. As the inheritors of the progressive legacies of Awo, we, the leaders and members of the APC, must strive as he did to meet the expectations of our people for a peaceful, secure and corrupt-free nation that delivers social services to all and rewards ingenuity and hard work.”
In his remarks, Amosun said if the legacies of Awolowo who died 30 years ago were still the reference point, the progressive government have a lot to do.
According to the governor, he was still struggling to do what the late sage did while alive and in government. While giving his goodwill message, Mimiko said he had rebuilt all the schools built by Awolowo when he was Premier of western region. The Ondo State governor said, his government has ensured access to quality education by making education affordable.