Mimicking Mimiko’s Mantra
Governor Mimiko’s effort at redefining Ondo state is a noiseless phenomenon. But, the results are ubiquitous for copycats to see.
Jimoh Ibrahim, the multi-millionaire business mogul –who has his eyes in every business in Nigeria; and the governorship of Ondo state, is one man who can talk about Olusegun Mimiko very frankly and bitterly too. His unseemly frankness and bitterness likely stem from the assumed discourteous manner Ondo state government handled his management of Owena Hotel and the kidnapping of his aged mother.
Action Congress of Nigeria chieftains as well, within and outside the sunshine state don’t think highly of Mimiko, the man they had tried by all means to lure away from Labour Party to the ACN. National Standard gathered that even the ACN linchpin, Bola Tinubu, was peeved at his own unsuccessful bid to add Ondo state governor as one of his South-west political trophies. After all, Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti are in his mighty clutch.
And even within his own ranks there are those bent on making sure he doesn’t return as the elected governor of Ondo state in 2013. One of such persons is Professor Ajayi Boroffice, the Senate Chairman on Science and Technology; representing Akoko North. In the fall of last year, Professor Boroffice dumped Labour Party for the PDP to vie for the gubernatorial election. To him, the projects embarked upon by the incumbent governor can hardly be termed as development.
“That’s if there is any development in the first place,” Boroffice retorted when asked whether it would not be detrimental to the sunshine state if Governor Mimiko was denied a second-term opportunity.
“No governor has served the people for two terms in office,” the senator added.
Can the incumbent governor break this one-term jinx? Will he be able to weather the gathering storm of PDP and ACN and other unsatisfied elements in his party?
For Olusegun Mimiko, the incumbent governor of Ondo state, the tirade and distraction from his opponents are not worth paying attention to. According to Ranti Akerele, the Ondo state commissioner for information, the governor’s focus is to rebuild the broken walls of development in that state “notwithstanding a twenty-year eclipse (1987-2007) which progressively reduced us in our social, political and economic status”. Without pomp and circumstance, the state is attaining new heights while its governor is redefining governance.
Mimiko’s Urban Renewal Mantra
Governor Olusegun Mimiko had announced during his early days in office: “I will make Ondo state the cynosure of all eyes and enhance the status of our state capital to attract tourists and investors. This will be achieved through massive transformation.” This proved to be more than the usual political pledge Nigerian politicians, especially governors, are known for.
Upon being sworn in as the duly elected governor of Ondo state on February 23, 2009, after the Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal confirmed his victory at the 2007 gubernatorial election, Mimiko’s approach to rebuilding the state’s infrastructure was not to bulldoze existing ones into non-existence and push people further into misery – a typical approach of some state governors.
“Urban renewal has been extremely controversial in many cities as some had been characterized by destruction of businesses and properties, bringing untold hardship on the people” Akerele explained. “But this administration believes that development must have a human face; hence it pursues its urban renewal programme distinctively with a caring heart.”
Between 2009 and 2011, Mimiko’s administration has reconstructed and dualised strategic roads like Fiwasaye to Oba-Ile road through to Akure Airport, Itanla junction to Ademulegun roundabout, Yaba to Surulere in Ondo town; and Arakale road in Akure; built neighbourhood markets which carry no prohibitive price tag that can only be afforded by elitist merchants and political friends elsewhere (NEPA, Isikan and Oba Afunbiowo Neighbourhood Markets; more neighbourhood markets were said to be at various stages of completion at the remaining senatorial districts); constructed an ultra-modern auto mart, modern bus stops and contemporary motor park.
At Oba-Ile and Oda, the Ondo state government is vigorously pursuing low-cost housing projects. Though 3,500 housing units are at various stages of completion, 101 units at the Oba-Ile site and 100 units at the Oda road project site are fully subscribed for, ready to be taken over by the state’s residents. The Mimiko administration is also working on a project called Ore Sunshine City. This arrangement is to carve a commercial city out of the rural Ore town. The project is expected to include a 1,000 capacity trailer park, guest houses, restaurants, workshops amongst other facilities.
These projects, according to the Ondo state government, are meant to serve as “an economic engine and reform mechanism for the redevelopment of our major cities into true urban centres with requisite amenities to facilitate wholesome standard of livelihood and become incentives for investment”.
Resurrecting Rural Life
While many governors hardly think of rural dwellers and their challenges, Mimiko’s government came up with the 3I’s Initiative (Infrastructure, Institution and Industry); a new model of community development for rapid and genuine rural transformation. The Infrastructure, as described by the Mimiko-led government, represents the basic amenities government wants to build for each rural community. Such include electricity, water, access to primary health care and education.
The Institution involves empowering nominated community people at equal number of male and female for sustainable development. Thus, capacity of the community representatives is built for conception and execution of self-help projects. While the Industry looks at financially empowering the people. The target here is the establishment of small scale industries at the grassroots. The government identifies potential and viable industries within the communities and assists in starting pilot projects that can be expanded to encourage commerce and as well generate income for the people which will in turn provide employment and reduce rural-urban migration.
Are These Sustainable?
Faced with such ambitious though laudable development achievements and plans, many are wondering if these developmental projects are sustainable. The chief press secretary to the governor, in a reassuring manner borne out of near-perfect planning and conviction explained to National Standard that everything had been thought through. He’s also convinced Olusegun Mimiko will once again win the next Ondo state gubernatorial race.