Ondo State closed a chapter in history as Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s eight-year tenure ended and the baton of power changed hands. Time is thus ripe to subject the closed chapter to critical but truthful analysis lest the truth be subsumed in lies through rumour mongering and orchestrated media attacks. When Mimiko became governor eight years ago, he definitely had no illusions about the difficult task ahead of him, especially with the attendant dismal and gloomy situation that characterised almost every sector of the state economy. For example, there were palpable challenges in the health sector. Again there were inadequate and poorly equipped health facilities manned by ill-motivated and understaffed professional work force. To further worsen the matter was the frightening statistics of the 2008 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) that rated Ondo as having the worst maternal and child health indices in the South-West. Ondo was also the only state in the zone and perhaps one of the very few in Nigeria without a state-run Teaching Hospital for both under and postgraduate training.
The majority of the citizenry were a voiceless, dejected lot, abused and abandoned. They had no say in the management of their own affairs, as they were merely spectators and never participants in governance. There was therefore a huge mutual distrust between the government and the governed. The lists of inherited gut-wrenching problems were indeed endless, but Mimiko was fully prepared for governance. With an indomitable spirit and resilient political will, coupled with an impressive administrative competence, he was able to shoulder this burden of responsibility. Today, Mimiko’s unprecedented achievements are being hailed as a milestone in good governance. In fact, his incredible feats in the areas of urban renewal, education, healthcare and agriculture, were never previously achieved.
Out of a deep conviction that without a peaceful atmosphere, no meaningful development could take place in the state, the first major step he took was to institute a regime of peace in the state, something which was lacking to a large extent before he took over the reigns of power. This move invariably set the pace for unprecedented growth and development in Ondo State for eight glorious years.
With a comprehensive urban renewal programme, Governor Mimiko was able to transform Akure, the state capital, hitherto a shanty town, into a millennium city that every indigene is proud of. This feat attracted international recognitions, accolades and awards. In the area of education, Mimiko was able to re-engineer a largely dysfunctional school system. He initiated and built world standard mega schools all over the state. They were so conceptualised to bring quality education to the doorsteps of pupils of different parenting backgrounds, that is, the rich and the poor. Furthermore,provision of quality and adequate instructional materials, extensive renovation of schools, training and retraining of teachers, establishment of a nationally acclaimed Quality Assurance Agency which is a creditable tool for education management and impact assessment, are some of those features that took education in Ondo state to the next level.
The governor’s five-star performance was perhaps in the health care sector where he recorded a lot of firsts and feats, setting standards. Apart from the world acclaimed Abiye initiative and the establishment of the first of its kind Mother and Child Hospitalin Nigeria which was conceptualised to provide specialized medicare, free of charge, to the highly vulnerable group of pregnant women and children and consequently achieve a zero percentage mortality rate, the Medical Village in Ondo city that houses the first University of Medical Sciences in Nigeria, Trauma Centre, Mother and Child Hospital, Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Centre, and the Kidney Centre, is fast becoming a global reference point in the area of health care delivery. Indeed, some laudable programmes of Mimiko’s well prosecuted health revolution agenda have been benchmarked for Africa as a model for development strategies.
Mimiko also succeeded in taking thousands of youths off the streets through gainful employment in the ICT, renewable energy and agriculture sectors. Therefore, going by the above facts, thebare-faced lies concocted by detractors failed to gather momentum or gaintraction that could sufficiently rubbish these painstakingly built legacies that have over timebecome institutionalised in the socio-economic cum political space within the society and fullyingrained in the hearts of the greatest number of the people of Ondo. Mimiko built the first Public Service Training Institute which is meant to serve as a breeding ground for public servants in the state and beyond, through generalised and customized training; An International Events Centre called The Dome; A Mega School at Ijapo Estate, Akure; and Aboto Water Scheme in Ilaje area of Ondo state.
So, beyond any peradventure of doubt, truth be told, Dr. Mimiko remains till date, the best governor ever in Ondo and indeed one of the best in Nigeria. His uncommon achievements speak volumes, while his legacies are unprecedented in the annals of history. For Mimiko, there is in fact a growing list of gratitude of Ondo people, especially the poor majority and the vulnerable in the society whose lives were positively affected by the outgoing governor’s people-based policies and projects, and the list continues to add up every blessed day. Even Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) gave support to this assertion when he declared during a recent visit to Mimiko at the Governor’s office that, “We all owe you debts of gratitude for your service to this state and to Nigeria and whether we like it or not, you have a track record that I am not too sure many people can surpass.’’
Finally, with a resilient, focussed and integrity-laden Akeredolu in the saddle as governor, Ondo remains in good hands. He undoubtedly possesses the capacity and ability to make a huge difference by making life even better for the common man on the street.
- Ogunremi lives in Ibadan