As expected with every victory, the landslide success of Governor Olusegun Mimiko at the October 20, gubernatorial poll, triggered uncontrollable jubilation amongst the great people of Ondo State and even beyond. In the euphoria of jubilation, the number one citizen was swarmed with congratulatory messages from every part of the world for a victory well deserved. Records showed that on Sunday, (Oct 21) the four walls of Ondo State virtually stood still, as thousands of supporters of the Labour Party defied the scorching sun to embark on a victory procession around the state in celebration of the victory, a testimony to the fact that he is the people?s choice.
The Governor, who participated in the victory jubilation, assured the people of the state that with his re-election, more development would come to every part of the state. He said: ?God has blessed our project, it is finished. Now is the time to give thanks to God, that today, a Holy Sunday, the people of Ondo State have spoken across Ondo South, across Ondo Central, across Ondo North. Our people are united by a common desire to build a new Ondo State for a greater future. I thank you for standing on your feet. On our feet, we shall fight for freedom; we shall never go on our knees. You young ones must remember that this fight was and is for your tomorrow.?
Mimiko convincingly won at the polls no doubt, however one cannot forget so soon the various campaigns of calumny which pervaded the pre-Ondo guber polls against the incumbent ?Iroko? especially from PDP and ACN. Although, the People?s Democratic Party was slightly fair in its guber campaigns. But, it sometimes attacked the personality of Labour party standard bearer; most of the campaigns were based on denying the good works of Mimiko which were his qualification certificates before the people. Since the people of Ondo State despise deceptions, sadly the party failed to win the hearts of a majority of the principled Ondo people.
On the part of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which its candidate came third in the contest, the first miscalculation of the party was the alleged imposition of Rotimi Akeredolu as its candidate by the party?s leadership. This, to indigenes of Ondo State meant that there was no internally democratic mechanisms that were fair to all in the party; the people also saw the party as cheating against those candidates who were not given equal treatments. Akeredolu could be a very good candidate but the way he was selected was annoying and those who know the people of the state would not be surprised if a kinsman of Akeredolu opposed him for cheating others in the race.
In another token, it was obvious that the ACN did not take its time to study the people. Since they had been succeeding in the other South-West states, the leaders of the party concluded that the same tactics, strategies and weapons used in those states were enough to ?capture? Ondo State. At the time the ACN was campaigning, Mimiko was the governor of the state and the people would have wanted him to be treated as such. The people did not like some derogatory and uncomplimentary languages used and also the sheer arrogance and pride displayed against their incumbent Governor. It was therefore true that some of those who had vowed to vote for the ACN actually changed their minds when they heard those disparaging words used against him by the party leaders. Even if money and materials were distributed, the people?s hearts had been fixed against the party.
Also another factor which was identified that worked against the ACN was the perception of Senator Bola Tinubu by the people of Ondo state who saw him as pillar and godfather of all the party?s appointed and elected men and women including the six state governors under ACN platform. The truth is that an average indigene of Ondo State detastes godfatherism and dictatorship. The people will rather like a governor whose administration cannot be hijacked by external interests.
Be it as it may, many political observers still find the Ondo gubernatorial race interesting as a result of the intrigues, upsets and revelations that have trailed past governorship elections in the state. The 1983 election is one that is still very potent in the memories of the people. Unprecedented violence followed the announcement of the result by Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO), the then electoral body. The orgy of violence only subsided when amends were made by the Court of Appeal and Chief Adekunle Ajasin was announced as the winner of the election before his former Deputy, Akin Omoboriowo could be sworn in. Omoboriowo had left the UPN after his boss allegedly reneged on an agreement that he would not seek a second term.
For Governor Olusegun Rahman Mimiko, the journey to the Alagbaka Government House started long before the 2007 elections. Having cut his teeth as the Publicity Secretary of the Ondo Local Government chapter of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1983, he ran for electoral office in 1990 when he vied for the Chairmanship of Ondo Local Government on the platform of the Social Democratic Party. His zeal as a party man did not go unnoticed, as he was appointed as a member of the campaign organization of Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua who contested for governorship then. By 1992, he was appointed as the Commissioner for Health by Governor Olumilua. As Commissioner, he facilitated the ?Pharmacy Shop? system which ensured 24-hour pharmacy services in the major hospitals in the state then.
Moreover, Dr. Mimiko had already become a major political force by the time the Fourth Republic commenced. In view of his immense contributions to the electoral victory of the Alliance for Democracy in the 1999 governorship election in Ondo State, he was again appointed as the Commissioner for Health by Chief Adebayo Adefarati. He however resigned precisely on the 7th of November 2002. After quitting as Commissioner, he heeded calls to join the governorship race. He however left the Alliance for Democracy when the party failed to hold primary elections in order to select the party?s flag bearer. He thereafter pitched his tent with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Even as a new member of the PDP, Mimiko was not irrelevant in the scheme of the party. Again in recognition of his being instrumental to his new party?s success at the governorship polls in 2003, he was appointed as the Secretary to the State Government by Governor Olusegun Agagu.
He was SSG till July 2005 when the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as Minister for Housing and Urban Development. Again, Dr. Mimiko heeded calls to contribute more to the development of his state and he resigned his appointment in December, 2006 to participate in the 2007 governorship election. While many were still wondering how he planned to defeat a sitting Governor at the primaries, Dr. Mimiko presented the Labour Party to the people of Ondo State on December 14, 2006 at the City Hall, Akure and he contested for the election on the party?s platform. Though the electoral commission announced Dr. Agagu as the winner, after a legal tussle which ended with the appellate court, it was affirmed that the election was indeed won by Dr. Mimiko. He became the Ondo State Governor on February 23, 2012.
It was a great joy for the good people of Ondo that the state did not experience the ?Armageddon? that actually hung in the air in the Oct 20 polls. In place of doom, the state witnessed bliss, courtesy of a globally-acclaimed free and fair election. In fact, many??individuals and institutions that had, on account of the palpable fear occasioned by pre-election tension in Ondo, been at alert to outdo one another in sympathising with the state, in the event of the undesirable expected, were disappointed. And now that elections are over, we have a re-elected Governor that is competent, progressive, trusted, tested and reliable.
The resounding victory of Mimiko in the election is a product of good governance of his administration, Mimiko stood by the people all through the period, by embarking on various developmental projects that have direct bearing on them. Mimiko?s victory was not bought, but laboured for, and amazingly the governor would not let the people down even in his second term in office. The applause that greeted the victory of Mimiko across the country, shortly after the announcement, especially from the president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan; leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), state governors, including the Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and a host of others was an indication that he was the popular choice of the people.
Emmanuel Ajibulu wrote from 3 Arms Zone Abujafirstname.lastname@example.org