MIMIKO MAKES THE SUN SHINE AGAIN
Ondo State is a state where the locusts had eaten, I quite agree. It is also a state where the locusts have been driven and normalcy is being restored, I also agree. To many of us who come from Ondo State, the state is a place of pride.
We are a hardworking people. We were noted for our sound education. Our health and agriculture sectors were second to none. In commerce, we ranked amongst the best. In the comity of states in Nigeria, we were first amongst equals.
It was a thing of joy going home to see one good thing added since you last visited. And then, the locusts came. As usual, locusts are very destructive insects, the farmers’ nightmare. Any farm they invade are set for destruction.
They eat any plant, any crop, any seed in sight. Locusts don’t leave any such invaded farms until the destruction is complete. So it was in Ondo State several years before 2009.
They were the years of locusts when everything good in the state went bad. The rot set in, in virtually all the sectors. The education sector collapsed, no thanks to poor infrastructure and poor morale of teachers.
The only indication that education still existed in the state was the poor pupils you found roaming the streets. The situation in the health sector was worse. The staff, although being paid, had no tools to work with. It amounts to an understatement to say the hospitals were mere consulting clinics.
The agriculture sector did not fare any better. A state that used to earn great incomes from cocoa and other cash crops became bereft of the products. Little or no attention was paid to the sector. Commerce lay prostrate because the government lacked the idea on how to exploit the vast human and natural resources for the good of all, or did not have the will power to do so. The state became one of the states with the worst road infrastructure in the country as contracts for rehabilitation were awarded to cronies who lacked the capacity to execute the projects thus abandoning them after collecting huge mobilisation fees often amounting to the total costs of the highly inflated road projects.
The people apparently saw through all that was going on and voted for a change in the state leadership in 2007.
That vote was stolen by the beneficiaries of the status quo ante, and it took two years by the courts to reverse the injustice. The coming to power of Governor Olusegun Mimiko signposted an agenda to restore Ondo State after the ejection of ‘’the locusts’‘.
Two years on, a visit home recently, that used to be sad moments under the immediate past administration, showed that the restoration of the state has not only begun on a solid note, the agenda of good governance is also well on course.
Our slogan is ‘the Sunshine State.’ We did not adopt the slogan for nothing. We adopted the slogan because we know we have the human and natural resources which, if well coordinated by government, can make us shine like the midday sun. Regrettably, we refused to shine in the dark days of the immediate past administration. Now, the landmarks of the past two years tell us that the sun in Ondo State does not only shine but also shine brighter. My visit showed that all that Governor Olusegun Mimiko has been busy doing is to reinvent the state.
The milestones are in consonance with the administration’s slogan of Ise loogun ise. Ise takuntakun, literally translating to hard work cures poverty.
The state capital, Akure, has turned into one huge construction yard. I visited Oba Adesida Road where a marvelous expansion is currently going on and traders around Oja Oba are being relocated to ensure traffic flow. Another wonder to behold is the Arakale Road dualisation project. The significance of the road is that it is an alternative route to the state secretariat for motorists entering Akure from Ondo and Ilesha, and seeking to avoid Oba Adesida Road.
But the single lane Arakale Road had been prone to heavy traffic too. Now the road is being dualised by the Mimiko government with the attendant gain that the project, when completed, is bound to ease traffic on Oba Adesida Road. More heartening is the piece of information that everybody whose property was demolished in the course of the project has been duly paid compensation.
This also shows the governor’s disposition to social security and the people’s overall welfare. I also learnt that the Mimiko government is restoring the state’s lost glory in education. Not only is the administration putting up new structures in public schools to replace the dilapidated ones, and raising teachers morale by providing incentives, one of the innovative measures in the sector is the deployment of evaluators in public schools. The evaluators go to the schools across the state on daily basis and interact with teachers and the local communities, with a view to ascertaining the weaknesses of the public school system and devising the means of rectifying them.
This measure is said to be restoring confidence in Ondo State public school system. With time, residents, who send their children to private schools at great costs and because of the poor quality of the public schools, may have the choice of sending their children to public schools. The health sector is not left of the new deal by the Mimiko administration for the people. This is hardly surprising as the governor himself is a medical practitioner who believes health is wealth as the health of a population determines its output. There is the Caring Heart programme that has seen pregnant women, the children and aged benefiting from free health. There are at least two specialist hospitals - Abiye Hospital, Mother and Child Hospital - built by the Mimiko government to reduce women/children mortality rate in the state.
The agricultural sector is said to be heavily subsidized to ensure farmers get implements at give away prices. This gives the hope that Ondo State still gives food production and cash crops the pride of place especially with the establishment of a mechanised farm in Ore. The mechanized farming has the twin advantage of absorbing at least 2,000 of our unemployed youths roaming the streets. There is also a novelty in the area of community development which is a clear departure from the past when projects were initiated in the communities without prior consultations with the people. Courtesy of this policy, government now ascertains the people’s needs with a view to meeting them by deploying officials to the communities and the feedback used as the yardstick for citing projects. One understands that things are equally looking up in the area of tourism as a huge revenue earner in Ondo. Mare festival in Idanre, for instance, is getting all the fittings to make the town built on seven wonderful rocks an international tourist centre. All said and done, the icing on the cake of what the Mimiko administration is doing is the peaceful environment which has engendered unprecedented development in Ondo in just two years!
While my visit lasted, there was not a single incident of threat to the peace. This was unlike the immediate past when, due to government intolerance of the opposition, a month hardly passed without political clashes and mayhem. Governor Mimiko is a God-sent leader in Ondo State. All he has done could not have been possible without his public spiritedness and a clear mind about what he wanted to do before assuming office. Things can only get better for the people of Ondo in the remaining two years of the governor’s administration. I join the people to say well done as Mimiko marks his two years in office.
Kayode Akinmade is Chief Strategist, ConnectComms Limited.