Vanguard (Lagos)

22 February 2013

Nigeria: Mimiko - Beyond the Hollow Ritual of Oath Taking

A new dawn looms in Ondo State, as Dr Olusegun Abayomi Mimiko takes the oath for a second term in office

As it is customary of this type of epoch making event, the people of the state and indeed, the general public, both local and global audience will be treated to the theatrics of a colourful event.

With an estimated guests attendance of about thirteen thousand people (13,000) the swearing in ceremony of Governor Mimiko slated for Sunday 24th February 2013 at the Democracy Park in Oja Oba area Akure promises to be another historic event in the annals of the state.

Governor Olusegun Mimiko and his Deputy, Alhaji Alli Olanusi will be inaugurated amidst pomp and pageantry. Nonetheless, activities for this great event will be rounded off on Sunday 10th, March with a thanksgiving service at the Redeemed Church of God, Provincial Headquarters along Ilesha Road in Akure.

Notwithstanding the elaborate plans put in place by the cerebral team of the Inauguration Planning Committee headed by the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mr Akin Adaramola, the import of an occasion like the swearing-in of a major political office holder like the governor of a state should not be under-estimated. Not even in the least, the inauguration of a political iconoclast like Governor Olusegun Abayomi Mimiko, who advertently or inadvertently destiny has accorded the honoric duty of using such moments to galvanize hope in his people irrespective of their situations and circumstance.

Precisely four years ago, Mimiko made historical statements on the occasion of his inauguration before the mammoth crowd that gathered to rejoice with him. It was shortly after the Appeal Court Tribunal restored his hitherto stolen mandate after rigorous months of exhilarating legal battles. Specifically, it was February 23rd, 2009, at the Akure Stadium that Mimiko, the avant-garde politician popularly called and known as Iroko made that avuncular historical declaration as a covenant with the people.

Standing humbly before the joyous crowd, the, elated Mimiko, reflected on the rising frustrations of his people under previous administrations seized the moment as he declared: "I will strive at all times to make decisions that will benefit the greatest number of our people. I will work for you. "As the Iroko made this pronouncement, he struck a cord in the declining spirit of his people, who were obviously and earnestly yearning for a messiah of some sort. Giving their concomitant predicament political and social situation at the time, such an assuring prophetic message of hope was all the people needed to give the new occupant at Alagbaka Government House all the support to steer the ship of state. For other politicians, such statements are often regarded as normal political gibberish that have little or no nexus between the speaker and the target audience. However, in the case of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the inaugural pronouncement on 23rd February 2009 has become the defining character of the first four years term tenure of Iroko in the Sunshine State. The statement, "I will work for you" has reverberated throughout the governor's days in office in the last four years of his administration in Ondo State.

A cursory review of developmental programmes and projects under Governor Mimiko in his first term in office will certainly prove cynics wrong. The administration's Mother & Child Hospital is an open book. Located in the state capital, Akure and Ondo, the hospital with facilities of world class standard and other well-equipped health institutions across the state, which has become a catalyst for the success of Abiye, the popular Safe Motherhood Programme of the state government has become an international bench mark .

The success of the Abiye Programme is not only measured by the sheer number of lives that have been saved, or brought to life free of charge but also by its recognition and endorsement by the international bodies such as World Health Organization (WHO) World Bank, and UNICEF as a benchmark for developing world in the war against infant and Maternal Mortality.

The international recognition of Ondo State today is not only in the area of commendable attention of Mimiko to the health of his people, the state has also been acclaimed for development in Human Habitat Renewal. This was manifested recently with the honoring of Mr. Governor in far away Italy for his exceptional performance in Urban Renewal. Without any equivocation, this honour can be seen in the new look of major towns, especially Akure, the State Capital. The beautifications, the road dualization, organized market and transport systems along with other noble initiatives of the administration have earned the state a pride of place amongst its peers. As once stated, by John Henry Newman, a renowned English author, "growth is the only evidence of life."

In the last four years, Governor Olusegun Mimiko has demonstrated the wisdom in Henry Newman dictum in almost all spheres.

In the administration's 12-point Programme Christened - A Caring Heart, Agriculture and Food Security have received requisite attention as food supply in the state in the period under review has received tremendous boost through a number of steps taken to assist farmers. These include the mobile farm in-puts supply system, the farm produce buy back policy and the establishment of Agro-Cities in the three Senatorial Districts of the state to encourage youths on mechanized farming.

The Iroko has in the past four years connected significantly with the grass roots through the popular Quick-Win Projects which are found in more than four hundred communities with different projects such as Basic Health Centre, Town Hall, School Infrastructure, Road, electrification and cottage industries amongst others. The people are happy for being part of governance as they make their choice in whatever they want from government.

Specifically, the rural populace makes the project choice, execute and take charge to guarantee sustainability. Each of these communities can boast of at least three projects that are life-changing and community centred.

The state government has also ahead its peers in the area of empowering its people. This the government has creditably done for groups like Market Women, artisans, widows and farmers through the different credit windows.

The past four years has also witnessed tremendous growth in education with the Mega Schools introduction. It has also embarked upon aggressive infrastructural provisions in all its tertiary institutions. The state government has equally placed its name on the global tourist map with its transformation projects on commerce, trade, Culture and Tourism. The Sunshine State, hither

to a far away zone to tourists in Europe and America has today become a haven for tourists on yearly mountain climbing adventure.

In view of these and many more giant strides, Mimiko's second coming to be preceded with an inaugural ceremony should excite all progressive- minded people. While elaborate plans have been made to make the occasion colorful and unique, Governor Olusegun Mimiko again patiently awaits the historic moment to re-launch himself as the selfless patriot who is an harbinger of good tidings to his people.

On the 24th February, all lovers of history, all lovers of development will watch out for yet another historic and prophetic pronouncement from no other person than the Iroko himself. It is an auspicious occasion for a great expectation that certainly goes beyond the hollow ritual of oath taking! Iroko, again, history beckons!!

John Ajayi writes from Lagos

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