MIMIKO AND THE MANY AWARDS
Is the Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, the new Awolowo? Many have tagged him with such an appellation, but the governor has never aspired to Yoruba leadership. Rather, he is satisfied with delivering dividends of democracy to the people of Ondo State, a project that has earned him honours from far and wide, almost on a daily basis, particularly in the last six months. What is behind the magic? What are the governor's unique selling points? Why is it that, despite the propaganda of his opponents, the governor has been continuously seen as a super brand from far and near?
The chairman of the South-East Governors' Forum, Mr Peter Obi, speaking at the Zik Prize for Leadership award for good governance, lauded what is fast becoming the Mimiko mystique, the evolvement of programmes that set a benchmark for Africa while others merely distribute tricycles and strive to justify their relevance in a regional framework. Dignitaries who witnessed the occasion included the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, and a retinue of other traditional rulers, the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedon, the Lagos State deputy governor, Mrs Orelope Adefulure, who stood in for Vice-President Namadi Sambo, and her Ondo State counterpart, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, among others.
In his words: 'Now things have changed, Iroko has changed everything and I am learning from him. Recently, I brought my wife to Ondo State and I told her she should learn because there is so much to learn from Iroko in every area, is it agric or education where he has been winning awards every year? Leadership and learning cannot be separated.'
Last November, at a ceremony which took place at the highbrow Holiday Inn, Kessignton, London, which was attended by over 40 foreign ambassadors and members of the British parliament, Mimiko won the Best Governor of the Year Award, courtesy of Ben TV, based in the United Kingdom. Said the organisers: 'This committee traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria for three months, conducting empirical research and on-the-spot assessment of the state incognito and it found that Dr Olusegun Mimko towers above the others. We found out that no state governor in Nigeria has approached the implementation of his election promises with great fervour and passion like Dr Mimiko. In the education sector, no state governor in Nigeria has ever planted the kind of structure Dr Mimiko constructed for primary school in Nigeria. You will be amazed that these beautiful, child-friendly and academics- inducing structures are not only for the public, the common people, but that they will pay no fees.'
Back home, in the same month, the Iroko was decorated as a Honourary Fellow of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. President of the society, Dr. Tinuola Abiola-Oshodi, told the governor: 'Our society counts you worthy of this prestigious award as a result of your valuable contributions to safe motherhood in Nigeria.'
Still in November, Radio Nigeria, Ibadan honoured the Ondo State Governor with the 'Achiever of Our Time' award. According to the management of the broadcast station, Mimiko had been able to distinguish himself as a rare achiever with exemplary leadership and trail blazing initiatives, which had made Ondo State a model in many areas of endeavour, hence, his choice for the award.
In December, Dr Mimiko was named the Governor of the Year 2011 by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ). As explained by the National President of the NUJ, Mohammed Garba, Dr Mimiko was selected on the basis of his transformational track records evident in Ondo State since he came into office. While accepting the award, Governor Mimiko dedicated the honour to what he described as the 'resilience, sense of pride and dignity' of the Ondo people. He said that his government was proud to be so honoured by the NUJ, which had correctly assessed the administration's modest achievements, and that his government had predicated its transformation agenda on total transformation of the human person with the major pillars spanning education, agriculture, health, urban renewal and rural transformation.
Still in December, Dr Mimiko was honoured by the Academy of Entrepreneurial Studies, Nigeria with the AES Excellent Leadership Award, at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos. AES President, Dr. Mrs. Nike Akande, said the governor's far reaching achievements in such diverse areas as health, education, community development, and his philosophy of governance earned him the prestigious award.
Again in the same month, the Executive Director of the Ondo State Football Agency (OSFA), Mike Idoko, described his double awards from both the Oyo State chapter of the Sportswriters Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and its Ondo State counterparts as a confirmation of his invaluable contributions to the development of football in Nigeria.
An aluta dimension, however, was given to the Mimiko phenomenon when the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) recently passed a vote of confidence on the governor, for his unprecedented and exceptional good performance, following a five-day assessment tour of the three senatorial districts of Ondo State. The Dauda Muhammed-led NANS applauded what it called the revolutionary drive and life-transforming projects of Governor Mimiko's administration.
As noted by many analysts, given Mimiko's ideology, democratic style, transparency, accountability and commitment to the welfare of the people, the endorsement by the Nigerian students was a clear ideological statement, as Ondo State has become the benchmark and index for measuring performance and governance in Africa.
And, to cap it all, the oldest surviving privately-owned newspaper and arguably the most politically magisterial medium in the country, the Nigerian Tribune, capped the Mimiko song with a richly deserved Best Governor of the Year award, at a ceremony where Senate President David Mark, business mogul, Aliko Dangote and the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, were also honoured for their outstanding contributions.
And so what is the secret of the Mimiko mystique? It is ideologically situated and visionary leadership, anchored strictly on a people-driven template. It is no wonder then that Olusegun Mimiko is already a global brand, breaking unparalleled ground, redefining leadership and the political space, building a community of die-hard fans across the globe.