Maryland–Ondo States Sister States Program: A Model

By Tunde Fajimbola

Maryland (USA) – Ondo State (Nigeria) Sister States Program: A Model

It was historic moment for the State of Maryland in United States of America and Ondo State in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as friendship agreement was signed between the two states in furtherance of the Maryland USA Sister States Program.

The historic event took a delegation from Maryland to experience the rich hospitality of Ondo State government and the warmness of people of the sunshine state of Nigeria. The delegation led by John Patrick McDonough who is the Secretary of State of Maryland is made up of eminent personalities including the Deputy Secretary of State, Policy and External Affairs, Dr Rajan R. Natarajan, Executive Assistant to Governor Martin O’Malley, Linda Aldredge, Executive Aide, Zachary Feldmann and Chair-Maryland-Nigeria Sister State Executive Committee, Sylvester Okere.

Other members of the delegation include Chris Akinduro, Mr. Franklin Akinkoye, Dr. Felicia Bassey-Akamune, Kemi Fadojutimi, Dr. Oluremi Ilupeju, Olufunke Oderinde, Martin Segun Oni, and other members of the Maryland Sister-States community.

On arrival to Ondo State in the South West of Nigeria, the team was received and conducted round some landmark projects executed by Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s administration.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on International Relations and Diaspora Affairs, Mrs Remi Duyile took the visitors round some project sites and tourist centres in company of the Chairman of Board of Ondo State Radiovision Corporation, Chief Sanya Oyinsan.

Some of the places visited include Mother and Child Hospital in Ondo town, Caring Heart Mega Primary School in Akure, Neighbourhood Market, International Event Centre and Automart in Akure.

They were also the guest of various traditional rulers in the state. At the palace of the paramount ruler of Akure the state capital, the Maryland Sister States delegate were given a warm reception by the king, the Deji of Akure, Oba Adebiyi Adesida. Similar reception was also accorded them by the traditional rulers of Idanre, Oba Fredrick Aroloye and Osemawe, Oba Victor Kiladejo, at Ondo Kingdom.

The team had impressive and memorable experience at Idanre Hill Tourist Centre, a designate site for UNESCO World Heritage Centre. It took the Marylanders including the Maryland Secretary of State, John McDonough about half hour to reach the topmost of the wonderful mountain.

The Executive Assistant to Maryland Governor, Linda Aldredge described her experience on the mountain as highly rewarding, exciting and inspiring. Linda said it was a unique opportunity for her to see the wonders of nature as she looked around and surveyed the landscape and examined the historic monuments at Idanre hill.

Executive Aide, Zachary Feldmann described the climbing of the many steps on Idanre hill as great exercise.

Chair Maryland-Nigeria Sister State Executive Committee, Sylvester Okere noted that God has blessed Ondo State with rich natural and human resources in which the Sister-States Program will provide opportunity to tap into and utilise for great benefit of the people.

After the great exercise on Idanre hill, the team later paid a courtesy visit to Owa of Idanre Kingdom where the traditional ruler, Oba Fredrick Aroloye, honoured the Secretary of State, John McDonough with a traditional title, “Seriki of Maryland” where he performed all the rites of the traditional title.

The kings of Akure and Ondo kingdoms have honoured the Secretary of State also with different traditional titles as a symbol of acceptance, love, friendship and ties of relationship. Despite the busy day, November 18th which was the day two of the visit also had it on record that the team had business network meeting with civil community in Ondo State.

The meeting which took place in the evening at Sunview Hotel in Akure gave opportunity for exchange of ideas and interactions where an Associate Professor of Political Science, Dr. Femi Omotoso delivered a lecture.

Monday, November 19 was the day the two states signed a friendship agreement that covers areas of health, education, culture, and media as well as gender and development. The event whoich took place at Babafunke Ajasin Auditorium witnessed the presence of Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, Secretary to State Government, Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, Head of Service, Mrs Kosemani Kolawole, top government officials, political leaders, stakeholders in the private sector, non-governmental organisation, youths and elderly people.

The students of Unity Secondary School, Akure and pupils of Caring Heart Mega Primary School and Olufunmilayo Nursery and Primary School, Akure added colour to the ceremony with songs of inspiration and cultural dances. The ceremony was an exchange of ideas by Ondo State and Maryland.

While witnessing the signing of the program, Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko described it as a dividend of good international relations as he declared that the state government would continue to collaborate with international communities and agencies with a view to drawing reputable investors to the State.
The secretary to Ondo State Government Dr Aderotimi Adelola and the Secretary to the State of Maryland, Mr. John McDonough signed the friendship agreement on behalf of the two States.

Governor Olusegun Mimiko noted that his administration would continue to leverage on the abundant human and material resources to develop the State through collaboration with reputable organizations. He highlighted the education sector and the health sector among other areas of collaboration for sustainable development.

He said: “The vision of our administration is to position our dear State as an institutional brand having unparallel credentials that would automatically open the multiple doors of opportunities for it in the international arena and Diaspora.”

Mimiko however appreciated the government of Maryland State, USA for its interest in the development of the State. The Secretary, Maryland State, Mr John McDonough and the Deputy State Secretary, Dr Rajan Natarajan in their remarks said the collaboration was as a result of the people-oriented programmes of Governor Mimiko’s administration, which they believed would further add values to the lives of the people of Ondo State.

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