Monday, 14 March 2016
By Samuel Ogundipe
A collective journey that the people of Ondo State embarked upon seven years ago has begun its gradual draw to a fulfilled end, as residents enthusiastically attest to an unprecedented improvement in all crucial areas of the Sunshine State’s development.

The popularities of political office holders are usually at their lowest ebb once campaign for succession gets underway, but Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s unparalleled strides have accorded him the benefits of defying the odds and he now wears his happiness on his sleeves.

“From world-class health facilities to quality basic and tertiary education, Governor Mimiko’s achievements cut across all aspects of the state’s residents’ concerns,” said Dr. Akin Olowookere, the Chairman of Ondo Property Development Corporation and a strong ally of the governor. “By managing the state’s meager resources so prudently, Mimiko has proved that any politician can achieve great success once they have something to offer before running for office in the first place.”

Although he was overwhelmingly elected governor in April 2007, Mimiko did not assume office until February 2009, following a protracted legal battle that climaxed in the Supreme Court. This exhaustive process, however, had a minimal effect on his leadership output, as the ensuing seven years would reveal.

The Rot & Mimiko’s Interventionist Projects
Mimiko inherited a state with a terribly dysfunctional health system. The state’s social welfare program was virtually non-existent and education and infrastructure systems had become moribund. Internally-generated revenue was barely enough to sustain the state’s statutory expenditure and no reliable data to equitably channel available resources amongst residents.
Mother and Child Hospital…
In his first term in office, Mimiko established mega specialist hospitals that provide medical care and emergencies for pregnant women and children. The public health system, which his administration branded as “Mother and Child Hospital,” significantly reduced child mortality rate because it treated the state’s poor free of charge, subsequently earning the state a highly-coveted status as the World Health Organisation’s model state in healthcare delivery. 

Hair stylist, Foluke Shomoye, said she was amongst the earliest beneficiaries of the improved health care delivery system because her husband lost his job in the last trimester of her pregnancy.
“I was very happy and I still feel very happy whenever I remember what our caring and God-fearing governor did with our hospitals in this state,” said Shomoye, a resident of Akure, the state capital.
“I delivered my son in the hospital without getting billed even when they did operation before I could give birth. It saved my family from humiliation because my husband has lost his job when I was 8 months pregnant.”

The Governor also reversed the poor condition of formal education in the state by instituting new education curriculum for early schools while providing the pupils with modern classroom blocks and cutting edge learning facilities. The improved learning situation has had a tremendous impact on the state’s overall performance in West African Examination Council, WAEC, index. 

IGR Quadrupled…
Another aspect that Governor Mimiko has done an enviable job is the state’s IGR, which almost quadrupled from N3 billion in 2008 to 11 billion in 2013, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. In the first five months of 2014, the state raked in N6 billion in IGR, according to its Board of Internal Revenue, which was revamped by Mimiko shortly after assuming office. The increase in the state’s tax receipts has helped the state to not only meet its monthly statutory expenses but also embark on new projects without running into debilitating debts that have crippled some of Ondo’s neighbouring states like Osun and Edo.

His political allies and close friends say Mr. Mimiko had a well-defined vision for fixing Ondo State before running for office and he executed this with unwavering fervour. 
“Before Mimiko came to power, Ondo people were grappling with mediocrity,” said Mr. Eni Akinsola, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor. “Now, they could see that a lot has changed because the governor had a properly outlined vision for the state.”
Akinsola added that all the strides that Mimiko has made as a chief executive are part of his “Caring Heart” agenda, which the governor had devised since he first ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2003.

“The general opinion of the state’s leadership before we came to power was that politicians will never do anything worthwhile for the people, they witnessed incorrigible governance and they were barely getting by,” Akinsola said.
“But Mimiko was determined to change that perspective, and he used his energy, and the force of his personality and the force of his vision, to help the people see that they deserve good governance, which he provided.”

Mimiko’s formula for political success has become a subject of discussion amongst political observers who wonder how he managed to run the state with such prudence that has been lacking amongst his counterparts across the country. He came of age in a state where the dominant politician was Governor Segun Agagu, a man firmly entrenched in business and political wing of the state. When Mimiko took over, he immediately projected himself as an unassuming leader with his down-to-earth mannerisms and disarming gesture. 

A successful medical professional, Mimiko’s politics is rooted in his beliefs that egalitarian policies mixed with an appropriate dose of capitalism would lift more people out of poverty faster if diligently implemented. For this reason, Mimiko’s administration launched the resident’s registration system it tagged ‘Kaadi Igbe Ayo.’ Through this policy, millions of residents have now been successfully registered and a residency card, which gives bearers unfettered access to the state’s numerous social programs, issued. 

Several Projects…
Several projects are currently underway across the state’s towns and rural settlements. Hundreds of new projects have been completed since the governor embarked on a state-wide tour during which he asked residents of every community to tell the state what is the most important on their expectations from their state policymakers. 

Although the dwindling crude oil revenue currently ravaging the country has not left Ondo behind, Mimiko’s government appears ready to continue delivering the dividends of democracy to his people.
Akinsola said all ongoing projects would be completed before Mimiko hands over to his successor February next year.

As political activities intensify for his successor, it’s quite apparent that Mimiko will leave Ondo as a state with the most effective health system in the country and supporters say the governor‘s legacy will be that of a man of immense talent who knew how to implement his visions in a political system characterised by ill-equipped individuals.



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