Ondo state: Mega city in the making
By Emmanuel Ajibulu
Ondo State of Nigeria otherwise known as the Sunshine State, took off formally on 1st April, 1976, consisting of the nine administrative divisions of the former Western State (Ministry of Information and Culture, 1979). These nine divisions then were Akoko, Akure, Ekiti Central, Ekiti North, Ekiti South, Ekiti West, Okitipupa, Ondo and Owo.
Akure town ship was retained as the state headquarters. However, on 1st October, 1996, Ekiti State comprising Ekiti Central, Ekiti North, Ekiti South and Ekiti West Divisions was carved out of Ondo State. Hence, the present Ondo State is made up of Akoko, Akure, Okitipupa, Ondo and Owo Divisions. Akure remains the State capital to date. Presently the State consists of 18 LGs namely: Akure South, Akure North, Ondo East, Ondo West, Akoko South-West, Akoko South-East, Akoko North-East, Akoko North-West, Ile-Oluji / Okeigbo, Okitipupa, Irele, Odigbo, Idanre, Ifedore, Ilaje, Ese Odo, Owo, Ose.
In the recent political dislocations in Nigeria, Ondo State was seen as one of the States in Nigeria that experienced massive electoral irregularities which ushered in unpopular candidate that was not the people's choice as at that time in April 2007 gubernatorial election; but two and half years later the stolen mandate was reclaimed non violently at the competent court of law and the candidate that enjoys the popular demands of the people of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko later become the Chief Executive Officer of the state. Unfortunately however, the sister state Ekiti was not so lucky to witness same in the just concluded re-run poll, but will still have to seek redress at the tribunal for the alleged injustice that it suffered.
However, ModernGhana.com got feelers from the special adviser to Governor Olusegun Mimiko on Infrastructure and Maintenance, Architect (Dr) Igbekele Daodu, on how the state is faring after the state legally regained its mandate back from the usurpers. He was representing the governor of Ondo State at a forum organised by the Nigerian Institute of Architects (Lagos State chapter) at Eko Hotel and Suites Lagos, in a programme titled: Delivery of Estate Housing for the people, the threat, challenges, opportunities, and the weakness of housing estate delivery to the people amidst lectures, symposium, seminar, and exhibition of building materials.
Architect Igbekele who doubles as the Vice Chairman Ondo State chapter of Nigeria Institute of Architect used the little time to explore some of the achievements of Dr Mimiko in Ondo State—the administration that started barely February 24, 2009. He said:
''We have redesigned Ondo state, in terms of the physical landscape; redesign the act of governance to portray a party that will deliver practical democracy dividends to the people of Ondo State led by His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. In May 13, 2009, the governor laid the foundation of a pilot Mother Child Hospital in Akure and construction has started in full scale. It is designed specifically to meet with stringent quality of international standard and after completion about 101 beds would be in place for pregnant women and children from age 0-5 years, this will cater for free medical services, and we would have 5 of such hospitals that made up the neighbourhood of Akure metropolis, and we would equally repeat that in all the urban centres of Ondo State, this initiative is targeted at reducing maternal mortality. Aside this, the State capital has been littered with car garages, car sellers all over the streets and that was encouraging hoodlums and thieves, markets are littered in the city centre undersigned markets where you lay tomatoes and yams and vegetable on the bare floor, we have relocated them to neighbourhood markets centres and garages. These laudable steps will help us give decency and sanity to our dear city and all hands are on deck to achieve that.
Within the 82 days of Dr Olusegun Mimiko's administration he has kicked off the construction of 350 units of 3-bedroom bungalows in one site of Oba Ile, and another 350 units at Oda road which is the second site of that road, so 700 housing units are under construction and that is for first stage. Also part of this phase is another 350 units at Ilesha road site so there is going to be 350 times 3, that will be on construction simultaneously within the first 100 days in office of Dr. Segun Mimiko's administration. In the 2nd phase of this scheme we would upgrade all the 350 units to 1000 each, at the end of the second phase we would have 3000 housing units, I can tell you this that no state ever met such mileage within such period in Nigeria. It's a demonstration of a government that wears human face and that has the interest of his people at heart. Apart from these, this administration is embarking on urban renewal the master plan will absorb the renewal of 6 major urban centres of Akure, Ondo, Ikare, Owo, Okitipupa, and Ore to start with. These 6 urban centres would be redesigned, upgraded, and urban renewal would be implemented immediately.''
Architect Daodu further reassures all Ondo State indigenes both at home and in the diaspora that all what the State suffered from the hands of the past leadership would be regained as the current administration has come to give succour to the people stating that Mimiko's government will carry the people along, it will be transparent, prudent, and use the resources of the state judiciously and efficiently, despite the sharp economic challenges of the State.
His words: ''Grant s from FG has also being affected by the financial meltdown, Ondo State now has a cut in the federal allocation by some percentage, and it applies to every facet of LG and state government administrations. But today we can only use the little resources efficiently and effectively to meet up with the programme, of the govt and we have a transparent govt which will make use of every naira and kobo that comes to the state, and there will be no naira flight to Oyo, Lagos, Britain, America as witnessed in the state by the past administration. We would use consultants and contractors from the state not from Lebanon, Croatia, etc. There won't be any rice farmers from Thailand, they were invited by the last administration and till today no rice was found in the state after putting over 400 million dollars into an unknown account. We would give rice farming to Ondo people and they will produce maize, rice, other food crops for our consumption, loans would be given to our farmers to produce cocoa in commercial quantity. That is one landmark difference you will see in the administration of Dr Segun Mimiko.''
It is amazing to know that Labour party came barely 3 and half months in Ondo State before the general election of 2007 April yet people of Ondo pledged their support to the party and the party recorded landslide victory at the poll. According to Daodu: '' In December 2006 we had an outing of a party called Labour Party in Ondo state to contest April 14 2007 election with the ruling PDP under the leadership of Segun Agagu in Ondo State and our flag bearer then was Olusegun Mimiko and barely 3 and half months later we went into an election with the ruling party and sitting government and we had a landslide victory against the assumed ruling party but we were rigged out by an announcement that was made from Abuja by INEC , instead of a declaration by the resident electoral commissioner of INEC in Ondo State. We later went to the tribunal to seek redress and after two and half years we regained our stolen mandate back. LP was legally declared as the winner and as the democratically elected government led by Dr Olusegun Mimiko and two days later he was sworn in. Today I can confirm irrevocably that His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Mimiko is the governor of Ondo State under the ruling party of Labour.''