Recently, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state rolled out the drums to celebrate the 40 years anniversary of the creation of the state widely referred to as the ‘Sunshine State’. The event, which also coincided with his seventh year anniversary, as the Chief Executive Officer of the state, was marked with a lot of fanfare, as the governor used the auspicious occasion to inform the indigenes of the state of his achievements since assumption of office.
In a state-wide broadcast, the governor said the state has posted greater accomplishments. According to him “Given the vicissitude of fortunes that Ondo State has witnessed in its 40-year existence so far, I believe, like many indigenes of the state, that we have done well”.
“We have not only bench marked programmes and projects for other states in the health sector, urban renewal, education, wealth creation and other sectors, we have succeeded in making Ondo State an unfolding destination of choice for entertainment and medical tourism,” he said.
However, Governor Mimiko’s position did not tally with notable opposition politicians in the state, many of whom are seeking to replace him. To these ones, the governor’s performance so far is abysmal, as they claimed that Mimiko has failed to maximise the vast human and material resources in Ondo to the benefit of the residents.
Speaking in a recent interview, Victor Adekanye Olabimtan, a former Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly said the last seven years under Mimiko have been a harrowing experience for the people of the state, adding that the state has been impoverished by Mimiko and now worse off than Mimiko met it in 2009.
“Well, this is my personal view, and I also think it is the view of the greater majority of the people of Ondo state. The incumbent came into power with much popularity. The people of Ondo State believed their messiah who will liberate them from whatever they think was their problem because the then government of now late Agagu was providing good governance. Let me say expressly that the past seven years have been harrowing for the good people of Ondo State. I think the people of the state now know better that they have either by error of commission or omission allowed the mistake of 2007 to destroy Ondo State”.
“The Ondo State of today is far worse than the Ondo State we had before the February 2009. It is a state that is wallowing in abject poverty. This government inherited a buoyant economy but today, the economy of the state is hemorrhaging and bleeding satanically. Mimiko inherited a civil service that is second to none. He inherited a teaching service that had successfully ended the age-long dearth of teachers in Ondo State. He inherited an Ondo State where most of the roads are in a good condition”.
“Iroko, as Mimiko is fondly called inherited an Ondo State where water scarcity has been religiously fought to standstill. However, seven years after, we have an Ondo State that is deeply indebted. We now have an Ondo state that is the worst hit among the 36 states as far as the federation is concerned. We now have an Ondo State where no single teacher has been employed in the last seven years. The last time we employed teachers in Ondo State was in 2008/2009”.
“As I am talking to you, many teachers have retired. Many have died in service. Many have resigned and till date, they have not been replaced. Forget the propaganda of mega school that you read online, please pay a visit to our schools, you will be marveled by the condition under which the leaders of tomorrow are receiving lectures. The entire AUD Primary School at Itaogbolu has just four teachers. Just of recent, because of acute shortage of teachers in primary schools, what Mimiko did was to draft those who have NCE in local government to teaching. Imagine sending someone who has not taught for the past twenty years to classroom to teach, “he said.
Last month, some members of the Ondo Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who recently defected to the All Progressives Congress (PDP) also passed a vote of no confidence on Mimiko, saying the governor has failed the people of the state.
The former PDP chieftains included a former Commissioner for Education, Dr. Pius Osunyikanmi, a former senator that represented the Ondo-Central senatorial district, Ayo Akinyelure, a former Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly, Clement Olawale, a member, Ondo State Sports Commission, Monday Adamu, among others.
Osunyikanmi said, “Many of us have left the PDP because the party is not a progressive party and we have decided to join the APC to help the party win the governorship election. Governor Mimiko has failed the people of this state.”
Akinyelure also noted, “We are here to support the APC. Therefore, you should not see us as outsiders. We left the PDP to join the progressives. Conservative politics is dead in Ondo State.”
Adding his voice to the myriads of criticisms against the governor’s performance, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), a governorship aspirant of the APC in the state also accused Mimiko of impoverishing the people of the state. Akeredolu, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), who contested the 2012 governorship election with Mimiko on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), alleged that the governor had misapplied his administration’s ideas.
Akeredolu, who said Mimiko’s seven years in office had been a curse, instead of being a blessing to the people, also accused the governor of planning to create a crisis in the state by setting one political party against another.
According to him, Mimiko lacks the political wisdom and native intelligence to harness the abundant resources of the state for the economic well-being of the people. For him “Mimiko is intelligent, but he misapplied his intelligence to the detriment of the people of Ondo State. We have an army of graduates who are not working. Let the governor point to what he has done to create jobs for 1,000 people in the last seven years. He claimed he was doing something about agriculture, but it is unfortunate that the place he set up to train youths in agricultural practice has been abandoned; the place is a bush now.
“Of course, agriculture is one of the ways to create jobs for the youths, but Mimiko’s misapplication of resources has left the place unproductive.
He also flayed the governor for allegedly abandoning the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, for selfish reasons.
Akeredolu said, “Why for seven years would a governor leave a university unfunded and now rush there at the twilight of his administration? Because Mimiko wants a university in Ondo town, he now abandoned an existing university. You don’t have to cripple an existing infrastructure because you want to establish another one; that decision does not make sense.”
Mimiko has however dismissed Akeredolu’s allegations as false, asking him to justify the claims with facts.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Eni Akinsola, Mimiko said Akeredolu raised false allegations because of his governorship ambition.
Akinsola said, “I am not surprised that Akeredolu said such things; we are not interested in taking issues with him. We are only interested in running Ondo State with the meager resources we have.
“In this era of serious economy crisis, the governor just inaugurated today a 27-kilometre road in Ajagba in the Irele Local Government Area. In the next two weeks, the governor will also inaugurate a reconstructed school and a mega school in that area.
“Again, he will inaugurate a township road in Ore. And Akeredolu is from Owo and he cannot deny that there is a dual carriage road constructed by Mimiko’s government in his town” he said.
November 26 2016 is the date that has been set aside by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to elect another governor for the state, following the completion of Mimiko’s mandatory two terms of four years each. Whether the governor has performed to the satisfaction of the people of Ondo state as he has repeatedly claimed or impoverished the people as claimed by the opposition would be determined on this date. The people of the state would surely give their verdict on who is right between Mimiko and the opposition political gladiators in the state.