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ACN, NO THREAT TO MIMIKO'S RE-ELECTION

By NBF News
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Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ranti Akerele, has dismissed the allegation of incompetence against Governor Olusegun Mimiko. Mr. Bola Ajimuda, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), made the claim in an interview with Daily Sun. Akerele also took umbrage at the insinuation that the ACN political tsunami will soon overrun the state, like other South-West states, saying the party poses no threat at all to Mimiko. Excerpts:

Allegation of incompetence by Bola Ajimuda
When such an allegation is made, the first question you will ask is: is that person making it is living in Ondo State? Has he lived in the state before? What are the yardsticks used in measuring the performance? Ondo is one of the best performing state governments in the country today. In fact, a school of thought said that Mimiko is the most progressive governor in Nigeria today. Considering the time he has taken over as governor, he has brought order, style and discernable pattern of development into governance. You could see in him somebody who has short-term, mid-term and long-term plans, and you could see developmental politics in action. The thing about the people of the state is that they are very sensitive because of their level of education.

If you look at the results of the last general elections, they confirm that the people appreciate their governor; hence, the popular endorsement of the Labour Party (LP). It is Ondo State alone that you have the LP in firm control of the state machinery, both executive and legislative. In the National Assembly, we have three maximum senators. Our candidates have beaten such notable names as Bode Olajumoke, Olusegun Agagu and Senator Ogunniya. Two of them are what you may call 'rookie' politicians, yet, because of the popularity of the LP and that of the government, it was a landslide victory for the party.

Again, during the presidential election, the state voted massively for President Goodluck Jonathan, as opposed to what we did during the National Assembly election. We did it so much that we returned Jonathan with 80 per cent of the votes. The next person could not even get the mandatory 25 per cent. But the following week, the people reverted to the LP by voting 25 out of the mandatory 26 seats in the House of Assembly. Why did they vote for the party that way? It was like a mid-term endorsement, election for Mimiko. It wasn't the governor who sat for the elections, but the popular slogan in the state was: 'I am voting for Mimiko and his government.'

Ajimuda claimed to be a governorship aspirant, but he is an unknown quality. In Ondo State today, no unknown quantity can be governor. There is no Ondo State indigene who has the pedigree to take on Mimiko. The governor is not only on ground, he understands the people and they understand and love him. The average man in the street will be the one who will decide who is going to be the governor of the state and not people like Ajimuda.

No two-term governor in Ondo State
That shows he does not understand of the state politics. He does not understand even history. He should go and check his history book and found out that Baba Adekunle Ajasin was re-elected in 1983 and his mandate was only terminated by the Buhari coup. Otherwise, Ajasin would have completed the second term. So, Ajimuda was wrong on that count. As far as I am concerned, there is no threat to his second term ambition. He has not even come out to categorically state he is running for a second term. People like Ajimuda cannot reverse the fortunes of the people of Ondo State. The good fortune God gave us when they decided to vote for Mimiko in 2008.

Political tsunami in the South-West
I fail to see any tsunami. The fact that the tsunami could not come to Ondo State confirms that the state is immune from it. People of the South-West, naturally by our disposition and because of our enlightened minds, during the time of Pa Obafemi Awolowo, we gravitated towards self-governance, we like to determine our feet. Other South-West states, which were previously in the hands of the PDP, apart from Lagos, controlled by the ACN, have now changed to ACN. And the fact that Labour Party retained Ondo State fully confirmed one thing: that Labour Party must be doing something right in Ondo; otherwise, the so-called tsunami could have come to Ondo State.

The fact that it couldn't enter Ondo State is the reason why ACN or any other party should forget Ondo State for now. I said 'for now', because the people of Ondo State is having a very big romance with the Labour Party. It is the party of the future. We may have started in Ondo State, but we are gradually making encroachments. We have National Assembly members in Anambra and Bayelsa states, we have a senator in Plateau State. We are having incursions into other areas.

Quick-win projects
Ajimuda does not understand what quick-win projects are all about. He should go and meet the communities who used to travel some 80 kilometers before they got to the nearest hospital. They now have a basic health centre in their town, with nurses and doctors, well equipped with modern equipment. He should tell them that those projects are not important. Or he should go and tell those communities whose kids used to trek 10 kilometers before they got top school that the new school they have in their communities are not useful. We have done over 300 projects in two years through that way. For him, he doesn't understand.

We came into government at a time when there was a disconnect between the people and the government. We believe one of the best ways government can make people have confidence in it is by creating quick-win projects. These are the projects that are winning the votes for the Labour Party. If majority of the people of the state love them, a person like Ajimuda doesn't have to love them.

Jimoh Ibrahim, a hard nut for Mimiko to crack in 2012.

Jimoh Ibrahim as an indigene of the state has the constitutional right to contest for any election in Ondo State, but it is the people who will decide who governs them. For me, he is no treat at all for the one we call the Iroko.