Mimiko legacy projects, Akeredolu and Ondo people
Many people do not know that Ondo State has been remodeled after the Olusegun Mimiko concept of governance. Let us assume, for example, that rather than the apparently friendly incoming Akeredolu government, a hostile take-over of government by someone not enamored of the Mimiko philosophy of governance was the case, the development architecture of Ondo State would be fundamentally altered right from its foundation! The retooling of the education sector, through massive investments in Mega Primary Schools, Quality Education Assurance Agency and intensive structural and curricula upgrade in many secondary schools, wouldn’t have made any meaning to a fixated mind bent on reversing the Mimiko legacy. That the state frog-jumped from the 33rd position in 2009 to the 7th position in 2016 in the West African Examination Council results would be of no interest because turning the ICT-compliant and digitally equipped primary schools into hotels might catch the fancy of those challenged in the knowledge of grass-roots governance. To do that in Ondo State of today will be akin to causing a revolt of the masses whose children have grown accustomed to the opportunities available for educational excellence.
The flagship of the Mimiko administration and the one for which he has won international and national accolades is in the health sector. The evidence of the superlative performance in this sector is visible such that only people engaged in cognitive fraud will deny the drastic reduction achieved in infant and maternal mortality through the Abiye programme and the transformation of the Medical Village in the Laje axis of Ondo city into a veritable resort of medical tourism! It is now unusual for poor pregnant women to conflate child-birth with probabilities of death or financial ruin. The health sector funding can be better managed but, to go back on this Mimiko legacy will cost any administration tremendous political will. Mimiko’s bottoms up urban renewal paradigm, for which the UN-Habitat gave him an award, is a repudiation of the “trickle-down” theory approach that simultaneously takes development to the grassroots and urban centres. It has been a revolutionary method to replace decaying inner-city structures. Again, it is this same philosophy that informs the building of Caring Heart Neighborhood markets to redevelop the inner cities while also generating ancillary commercial activities besides retail marketing. The Akure Shopping Mall, which houses the Shoprite and several other shopping outlets, has transformed from being a severely criticized project to a compelling shopping destination. The Dome and International Cultural and Event Centre, of which the Nigerian Society of Engineers was mightily proud and to which it referred as both an engineering and architectural masterpiece, has become a must-see for any high profile visitor to Akure, the state capital. Even though a similar scheme was canceled in Oyo and Osun states because of sustainability challenges, the cancellation of the free Bus Shuttle in Ondo State, if ever contemplated after a four-year hitch-free operation, will likely generate disappointment for parents who save up to N15,000 monthly on transport fares to and fro schools on their children. The 3i-initiative projects, of which there are over 500, comprehensively spread out in the different local governments in the state, cannot be discarded.
The concept of participatory governance involving the people is a novelty of the Mimiko administration in the areas of needs assessment and prioritization. Needless to say that the masses in the rural areas have taken this approach as a standard form of democratic dividend. Soon, the masses will realize that the administration of Mimiko has always employed a masses-centric view of development in Ondo which has, significantly, eroded his support and understanding in elitist quarters. The civil servants will realize that governance is about the prioritization of peoples’ needs; that the democracy of numbers favours the masses in the allocation of scarce resources and that Mimiko, or any governor for that matter, could not have manufactured money when the resources from the centre dwindle. With an eight-year regime of two terms which continuation by a successor, candidate was only aborted in the complicity of INEC and Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja High Court — serving as proxies for their master puppeteers, the federal cabal in Abuja — the Mimiko administration has bequeathed legacy projects in Ondo which non-continuation may provoke restiveness, Mimiko has emplaced a development trajectory the reversal of which may be difficult to effect; he has defined the state after his vision of governance. Mimiko’s critics must contend with the historical perspective of his tenure which may not necessarily be in tandem with their perception of him as a friend, ally or governor. History is written on stubborn facts and does not have much room for wishful thinking or, still unfolding events.
Taoheed Ajao is Senior Special Assistant on Public Communications to Ondo State Governor is Senior Special Assistant on Public Communications to Ondo State Governor