Fresh Start for the ‘Lone’ Governor

22 Feb 2013

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Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko

Personality Focus

In this report, Ademola Adeyemo examines some of the issues that will be the major focus of the second coming of the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, whose inauguration comes up on Sunday

On Sunday, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State will formerly commence another term of four years’ following his victory at the October 20, 2012 governorship poll. Known for his peculiar dress sense- a simple adire matched with Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s kind of cap- Mimiko depicts a man of revolutionary standing with political activities that date back to his undergraduate days as a medical student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in Osun State.

Also, back in school, he was at various times a member of the Students' Representatives Council (Parliament) and subsequently, chairman of the council. He progressed to become the public relations officer of the International Students' Association of the university between 1977 and 1978.

Graduating from OAU, Mimiko went straight for that he’s always had passion for- politics. He joined the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Awolowo, where he served as Publicity Secretary of the Ondo chapter of the party in 1983.  Since then, Mimiko has maintained a promising political carrier- from commissionership to ministerial appointments and ultimately cumulated in his election as governor in 2007.

Although, in his political trajectory, Mimiko had taken some kind of risk when he quit the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and resigned from the president Olusegun Obasanjo government in 2007 to contest against the then governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, and defeated him on the platform of a relative unknown party, the Labour party; his critics had raised issues concerning his political rise, harping on a “use and dump strategy”.

Something of a manifestation of that assertion soon came to the fore when after his inauguration as governor in 2009, he faced a lot of attacks from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for allegedly failing to honour an understanding that preceded his emergence through the instrumentality of the court. He was said to have agreed to join the ACN after his court victory. ACN had argued that without its support which came in many ways, Mimiko would not have been able to reclaim his mandate from the Agagu-led PDP government.

Many however believed that Mimiko declined to join the ACN because he was PDP at heart and would have remained in the party if he had been handed the governorship ticket.

The pain of the ACN was however in twofold. One, ACN wanted to extend its base to the last of the state in the zone for political fulfillment and two; it needed Ondo for its proposed Regional Integration Agenda for the South-west. But wanted to be free to pursue his political ambition without let or hindrance and that, he opted for.

It was for that reason that the ACN saw the October 20, 2012 governorship election in the state as an opportunity to take out Mimiko and form its own government. The party deployed all the weapons in its arsenal to uproot the man called Iroko. But ACN failed at the end of the day as its candidate, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu came a distant third in the race.

However, many reasons have been ascribed to Mimiko’s electoral success. From such sectors as education, health, infrastructure and rural development, Mimiko’s return to Government House was believed to have been predicated on performance. This was in addition to the fact that the people took interest in the choice of who governs them, showing as much empathy.
A public analyst, Simon Komolafe, was of the opinion that “Ondo people want a state helmsman that resides in Ondo State and possibly plies his trade here.” This point, however, buttresses the profiles of such eminent persons like Adekunle Ajasin, Bamidele Olumilua and Adebayo Adefarati.

“This fits the public demand. He has lived all his life in Ondo State and easily identifies with his people as opposed to ‘foreigners’ who are alien to the good people of Ondo State that they hope to govern,” he said.

But there are those who would rather his electoral victory had a bearing with specific developmental initiatives. Such programmes are said to include the Mother and Child Hospital, The Abiye, Safe Motherhood Programme, Health Services, Mobile Clinics and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Centre.

Others are the Neighbourhood Markets, the Mega Schools Project, Agric Revolution, Housing and Urban Renewal, Quality Education Assurance Scheme and Micro Credit Loan Scheme.

Both locally and internationally, the administration’s Mother and Child Hospital has been adjudged one of the best in Africa and it is being replicated in other towns in the state. The hospital was established to provide responsive and state-of-the art health care services to pregnant women and children of ages 0–5. Until Mimiko came onboard in February 2009, Ondo had the highest child and maternal mortality rate among the states in the South-west. But the trend has since changed as for the past two years as the initiative has continued to meet the needs of indigent pregnant women and children free-of-charge. 

The World Bank, at a time, recommended the Abiye scheme as a way of reducing maternal and infant mortality in the world since it is meant to monitor pregnant women from early stage of pregnancy to the time of delivery.

Education in Ondo has also improved in the last four years through the establishment of Mega Schools in major towns across the State to allow children of both the rich and poor have access to quality education.

Commissioner for information, Mr Kayode Akinmade, emphasised this fact when he said: “These schools are meant to provide our children with qualitative education and make them equal contenders with their peers across the nation and the world.  Consequently, the infrastructure in all secondary schools is being upgraded so that by the time the products of these mega schools are going to our secondary schools, the standard would not have fallen.

“This is being done in line with the target and objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This administration’s policy on education is informed by extant realities and foreseeable certainties. There has been a holistic approach that recognises the fundamental
dysfunction and archaism inherent in expecting today’s public schools to be competitive in this age of cutting edge technology, while the administration has invested in teachers’ welfare, capacity building and quality assurance,” he said.

Akinmade also acknowledged the government’s effort in the area of road construction. “Our roads are reconstructed to ensure we fit into the modern structure.  Modern car parks and auto-mart have also been provided and programmes for youth Empowerment have been pursued with utmost seriousness and followed religiously too.

“Over 400 of such people-oriented projects have been delivered in the various communities, state wide.  Most of these projects are sited in areas where no government has ever touched. There has been a paradigm shift in developmental governance and this administration has replicated the successes throughout the whole state.
“One, therefore, needs to emphasise that the serious concern of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the Executive Governor of Ondo State to deliver on his electioneering promises to the good people of Ondo State as encapsulated in the 12 Point Development Agenda christened ‘A Caring Heart’ has been achieved even before the expiration of the first four years of the administration,” he said.

However, there are those who have expressed scepticism about the governor’s ability to record as much success in his second term as he did in his first term because that is often identifiable with most governors who slumber once elected for a second term.

But Akinmade has dismissed such insinuation, saying Mimiko would surpass the expectations of the people in his second coming. He explained that the governor would consolidate on his achievements and commence new programmes for the people.

The commissioner identified such programmes that would be given priority in his second term as the infrastructure in Ore, improve the health sector, transportation, sports, education, housing and urban renewal initiatives. “Mr. Governor is also determined that the industrialisation of the state will experience a boom like never before. Unemployment will also be adequately addressed, as Mr. Governor will consolidate on the previous steps taken to address this challenge which is a national phenomenon,” Akinmade said.

For all that it is worth, Mimiko has become the cynosure of attention in the zone being the last man standing. The burden of performance he shoulders might be more than what he bore in his first term, more so that he might have to also see to the issue of succession at the end of this term. There is also the concern that the merger of opposition parties in the country is another threat that awaits Mimiko’s Labour Party, a situation that might soon necessitate Mimiko and his party pitching tent with another party to solidify his base.

In the final analysis, unlike some of his colleagues who quickly go to sleep immediately they secure another term in office, Mimiko has even greater responsibility to consolidate his place in the equation and sustain the niche he has carved for himself.

Tags: Politics, Nigeria, Featured, FRESH, Governor

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