By NBF News

Mr Ranti Akerele, a chieftain of the Labour Party (LP) and Commissioner for Information in Ondo State, speaks on governance in the state, the grand outing of the Labour Party in the recent general elections, and other key matters. What of the fact that Ondo is surrounded by Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) governments in the South-west? No cause for alarm, the commissioner says. The interview below:

A chieftain of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Ondo State recently said the present administration lacks control of public resources, stressing that Governor Olusegun Mimiko is a financial dictator, what is your comment on this?

It is obvious that Dr Tunji Abayomi is a total neophyte on issues of Ondo State politics, he has failed to see the paradigm shift in governance in the state, and he has a total disconnect from the realities on ground. Dr Abayomi will like to play up the outcome of the 2011 elections that ushered in the ACN into all Government Houses in the South West except Ondo State that voted solidly for the Labour Party.

What the likes of Dr Abayomi fail to realize is that his approach to the uniqueness of the Ondo State result will continue to expose his lack of knowledge of the Ondo state man. He does not know that the Ondo state man does not suffer fools gladly, you cannot lead him by the nose. The Government of Ondo State is so prudently run, that there are no rooms for budget deficit as there is absolute fiscal discipline. Every procurement is subjected to the Pricing and Project Monitoring Unit (PPMU) which scrutinizes and compares market prices, and contracts are awarded after advertisements in national dailies through competitive bidding by the Executive Council on the recommendations of the State Tenders Board. I serve under this man and he treats my files and I know Dr Mimiko, he is prudent and meticulous to a fault when it comes to fiscal matters. So he definitely is no dictator of any kind.

The ruling party had overwhelming success in the last general elections. What is the magic?

The fact that Labour Party continues to be the overwhelming choice of the Ondo State people is because PDP ruled them for four wasted years and another two illegal years making six, and they neither saw changes in their circumstances nor improvement in their lots. They voted out the PDP, and after the two illegal years of occupation by Dr Olusegun Agagu, the people's mandate was restored and today Dr Olusegun Mimiko has in just two years given to Ondo State arguably the most progressive government in Nigeria today. Such that the general verdict is that Olusegun Mimiko's two years is more productive than Agagu's six wasted years. ?

What are some achievements of the present administration in the past two years?

They are numerous, but let us start with the Mother and Child hospital, the first of four others that are in various stages of completion in the three senatorial zones of the state.

The Mother and Child hospital, Oke Aro, Akure, is the first purpose built state of the art 100 bed facilities dedicated to the care of pregnant women and children less than five years of age offering tertiary level health services free of charge. The vision is to reduce maternal and child mortality by 50% and 30% by the year 2013 respectively. Today, at the facility, there is amongst other things, a unique and cost effective digitalized drug procurement system that has practically eradicated out of stock syndrome, the bane of many free health schemes across the country.

The Akure M&CH is currently collaborating with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to conduct a multiple centre double blind randomized clinical trial on the management of postpartum hemorrhage using tranexamic acid. If that sounds very technical, let me shed more light using simple statistics, As at 2 May 2011, after about 15 months of operation, 10,315 pregnant women, and 14,216 children (2,754) as pediatric in-patients had been registered and treated with about 20 % of them being non- residents of Ondo State. In addition, 5,499 safe deliveries have been conducted as the hospital now averages 20-25 deliveries daily making it the busiest in Ondo State and one of the busiest in Nigeria.

?Let me take the liberty to quote from the visitors' book of the hospital, Moshe Ram, His Excellency the Ambassador of Israel calls it 'the most impressive hospital I have visited in Nigeria'. Cheryl Igiri, a diplomat with the US Embassy wrote, 'Professional and dedicated to service'. If the previous commentators on the facilities don't know what a good medical facility should look like, here is what Prof O. Akinkugbe, Emeritus Professor of Medicine says. 'This is revolutionary, well thought out and a glowing testimony to team work. Congratulations.' Dr Ogunbayo, of Nigerians Governors Forum, calls the Mother and Child Hospital 'Highly functional and impressive hospital, clearly well thought out.' Another medical doctor, who is a consultant OB/GYN Maryland, USA, says of the Mother and Child hospital, ignorantly referred to as a maternity centre: 'Great place, great nurses.'?

I have taken my time to let you into this first class medical facility to prove to you that critics of the Mimiko administration are nothing but rabble rousers who want to flaunt their so called human rights activism. Dr Abayomi, I recollect, lost the gubernatorial ticket of the then AC to Ademola Adegoroye at the primary level in 2006,he is welcome to the field again. ??

Next year is another governorship election in the state, do you believe Dr Mimiko will again carry the day?

As an Ondo State man who has lived in the state since 1984, working as a teacher, civil servant, broadcast journalist, now politician, we have not had a more committed Governor than Dr Olusegun Mimiko. I say without equivocation that what he is doing today in Ondo State is no magic, for Dr Mimiko today is about the most experienced politician in active service in government in the Southwest. Starting with his first appointment as Commissioner for Health in 1992,he followed up with the same portfolio in 1999,was appointed Secretary to Government in 2003,Minister for Housing and Urban Development in 2005, resigned voluntarily from Obasanjo's cabinet to run for governorship election against Governor Agagu of the ruling PDP, and defeated him. So, Dr Mimiko given the realities on the ground and his acceptability as the most suitable Ondo State man will win any governorship election because there is no better man for the job. Please feel free, go to Ondo State and make known your survey amongst the ordinary citizen and informed public. On the other hand, Dr Mimiko is winning elections because some of those who are opposing him are not doing so because they can perform better, or because they have done anything in the area of public management that makes them electable.

What is your assessment of politics in Ondo State?
I must start this way. The People of Ondo State have shown by the result of the 2011 elections, that that they are the most politically conscious and literate voters in Nigeria by the very strategic way they voted in the three elections. They voted overwhelmingly for the LP in the National Assembly Elections, complete haul of the three senatorial seats, eight of nine House of Representative seats, switching to voting for President Goodluck Jonathan of the hated PDP in Ondo State on the advise of Governor Mimiko, just a week later and reverting back to voting 25 Members of the House of Assembly out of maximum 26 on the platform of Mr Governor's Party, the Labour Party.? The choice of the LP in Ondo State is an endorsement of the Mimiko administration's very good and impactful performancesthe LP and the ACN, and since LP is evidently leading them along the prosperous path, what is the need of abandoning a leader who knows them, whom they know. I work with Mr Governor and I should know the strong bond between him and the electorate, particularly the common and general populace, Dr Mimiko moves and is at ease in their midst, he connects with them one on one, he isolates the various publics and deals with them, speaking their language to them, you need to see him in banter with NURTW members and the next moment in a lively meeting with medical workers. ?

I share the enlightened views of one of Nigeria's most articulate political commentator and writer, Dr Reuben Abati. The key to Labour Party's victory is the Mimiko factor. In the 2011 elections in Ondo State the voters were not interested in parties; they voted Mimiko because they have come to trust him. They voted Mimiko in all the elections and you cannot crucify them for this. The Mimiko administration is on the side of constitutionality right now on the issues of local government elections, because as we speak, some people are still in court laying claims to the local government seats, and we will not commit illegalities by rushing to hold elections into councils at great cost and have them nullified by a court. Ondo is not the only state where elections have not been conducted due to on going legal hurdles. The 18 local governments in Ondo State today are replicating the giant strides of the Mimiko administration in their various councils, hence the overwhelming choice of the LP.

For us in Ondo State, our brother states in the southwest are not our rivals and competitors, but co-progressives who will network with us to ensure that we return the good old days of Obafemi Awolowo to our much abused land by our common foe, the conservatives lately represented by the PDP. Mimiko has done well. He is doing well and because the interests of the Ondo State people is good governance, they will continue to vote Labour, for that is the platform of Dr Olusegun Mimiko, the Iroko of Ondo State politics, as he is fondly revered to. I must say here we are very comfortable with our ACN brothers around us, Mr Governor refers to them as his brothers. We are proud of our Yoruba heritage, and I believe we that our platforms, LP and CAN, will give our people in the Southwest the kind of leadership our people were given in the Awolowo era of the 1st and 2nd republics. Ondo State under Mimiko has become a pace setter and a benchmark of best practices in participatory governance hence the people's endorsement at the 2011 polls.