Hon Tunji-Ojo @House of Reps: The ScoreCard of ‘Akoko Poster Boy’
TWO YEARS OF TUNJI-OJO: THE REPORT CARD OF THE ASOGBODILU OF AKOKO
By: Femi SALAKO
A young and highflying business executive with limited political experience — this was how many described Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo aka BTO when he showed interest in representing the people of Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State at the House of Representatives.
BTO upended the political establishments in 2019 in his bid to secure a seat at the Green Chamber. At that time, he enjoyed wide support from the people and had their confidence, he still enjoys it. But the people had fears.
Their fears were premised on their past experience. They have put out their heads for others in the past and were betrayed in return.
Like someone who came prepared, BTO started with a bang in June 2019 after he was sworn in as a lawmaker. Under six months, his approval ratings skyrocketed. Those with fears became confident they had not made a mistake; they went to town boasting about their choice. How well could you reward those who reposed so much trust in you other than giving them a bragging right among those who spite them for their choice?
After his inauguration in June 2019, BTO wasted no time in pursuing his agenda to reshape the Akoko landscape, draw long-denied developmental projects to the area and reinvigorate Akoko’s influence in Ondo state, the southwest, and the nation.
A legislative representation of determination, sincerity of purpose, reform, may have been interrupted with a pandemic, notwithstanding, more promise of renewal and development are on the BTO agenda.
At the Green Chamber, he recorded his first major win as Chairman of first-time lawmakers. He mobilised other first-timers and was on the frontline leading the campaign drive for the election of Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
As Chairman House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), BTO chaired the Committee that unearthed the can of worms and corruption that has bedeviled the NDDC and crippled development in the Niger Delta region in about two decades.
Domestically at his constituency, tangible achievements abound. He has made grants and financial assistance available to market traders in Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency.
There have also been more positive trends. Before 2019, all major roads in Akokoland, which are major routes for travelers going to Abuja, were in a deplorable state. The state of the roads almost halted economic activities in the area, it became difficult for farmers to transport their produces to the markets in Ondo state and other parts of the country, leading to wastage.
To put an end to wastage and make economic activities thrive, BTO facilitated the construction of Owatumise road to Ugbe Akoko, Oyinmo road in Ikare Akoko, Akunnu-Ajowa road, Federal Technical road, Ikare, completion of Uku/Akungba road to Civil Defence office, Inland Road At Ikare – Ugbe Akoko, Okeagbe Akoko Road, Odeiyare Road Ikare, Ase Akoko Road, Irun Akoko Road, and other ongoing road projects like the Agbo-Okela Road to Oscars road, Afin Akok, Ogbagi Akoko Road To Irun Akoko, Ogbagi Akoko Main Town Road, among many others.
He has also made a case for reconstruction of other roads across the constituency that will start soon.
He vowed to create an environment for education to thrive in Akoko North East/North West. In doing this, he has donated educational materials to all public secondary schools in his constituency and facilitated the construction of modern classrooms in public schools to make learning conducive. BTO is also recently gave scholarship to the fatherless undergraduate from Ajowa, and he has been committed to the payment of indigent students’ school fees. For those yet to be admitted into any institution of learning, the quintessential lawmaker has so far obtained and distributed more than 1000 JAMB forms and enrolled hundreds of students in computer training.
Without leaving anyone behind, about 6000 youth had been empowered with skills to become their own boss while a new skill acquisition center has been approved for Ogbagi Akoko.
Who builds a society without the women who form the core part of the economy? Easily accessible micro-credit loans have been disbursed to hundreds of market women in Akoko North East and West, the two local governments areas that make up the constituency.
BTO donated 500KV transformer to NTA Ilepa Ikare-Akoko as part of efforts to boost information and communication for the local constituents.
When COVID-19 pandemic hit Nigeria in 2020 and led to a lockdown, BTO donated food items to all communities in his constituency.
There have also been broadly positive contributions to healthcare.
Tunji-Ojo donated 14 ambulances to all the health centers in his constituency for quick response to any health challenges. Beyond the ambulances, public hospitals in his constituency were also equipped with multimillion naira modern health equipment courtesy of BTO.
In his response to the spate of insecurity that has made Akoko highways a hotbed for bandits and kidnappers, BTO donated patrol vehicles to security operates to aid their prompt response to emergency and distress calls.
In all of these, the place of traditional institutions has not been neglected. BTO acknowledges the roles of traditional institutions in the development journey of any community and to appreciate their roles, he donated two 18-seater buses to the council of traditional rulers in each of the local government areas in his constituency.
Akoko is his home, and it is not surprising to see some of his legislative footprints in other parts of Akoko outside his constituency.
Through his legislative influence, BTO facilitated the rehabilitation of some roads in Akungba, the community hosting the Adekunle Ajasin University (AAUA) in Akoko South East/South West Federal Constituency.
A legal practitioner and former Chairman of Akoko South West LGA, Tolu Babaleye, described this action as unprecedented of any elected person.
“He is a true Akoko blood and he is a replica of Akoko hero Chief Rufus Giwa of blessed and golden memory. Rufus Giwas was the last Akoko man that tarred roads all over Akoko land,” Babaleye wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
But there’s still, a lot left to be done, BTO is not unaware, and the majority in Akokoland see him as a symbol to get it done even if it will require an additional term to bring the much-needed transformation to the area that has suffered years of neglect.
Two years before the next general elections, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo’s approval ratings remain at an all-time high, a type never seen before in the history of Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency. The 2023 election in the constituency is already taking shape and giving a clear signal of where the heart of the people is.
For the first time in the history of Akoko land, many youth and women groups, as well as traditional rulers came together to endorse a sitting lawmaker for a second term when he has barely spent two years in his first four years.
Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu has also given his nod that confirms he’s fully in supported and committed with the impressive works of Dr BTO and would like to see him do more after the next election cycle.
Overall, the consensus in town is that, in two years, BTO has done a lot for what he promised.
It’s written by Femi Salako (Publisher Triangle News Media)