By Remigius Akinbinu
Greatness is great power, producing great effects. It is not enough that a man has great power in himself, he must shew it to all the world in a way that cannot be hid or gainsaid.” – William Hazlitt
Sometimes in the autumn of 2006, his declaration to contest for the coveted governorship seat was received by the people of the state with great enthusiasm, His campaigns across the state were always attended by mammoth crowds, pomp and pageantry. His votes by the people on election day were not only massive but were also tremendously more than those of other candidates put together.
Even though his mandate was impiously subverted by a power wielding, ruling cabal backed by a despotic Presidency, he was regarded as the people’s Governor until the fair-minded appellate panel sitting in Benin City unanimously upheld the initial verdict of the hope restoring Nabaruma election petition tribunal.
The verdict that confirmed him as the duly elected Governor of the State on the 22nd of February 2009 was received with wild jubilation devoid of violence in every nook and cranny of the state as it did not only reflect the wish of the people but also rescued them from over 14 tortuous months of official subterfuge, political jiggery pockery, and official dissemination of mendacious, misleading information which became the fundamental objectives of a state then in the stranglehold of an invidious ruling cabal persistently seeking to rationalise and cover up the tracks of a stolen mandate.
When it was close to the expiration of his first term in office, it was so obvious that he would clinch victory once again in the ensuing re-election battle as he had succeeded in re-defining governance and exhibited a populist administration the type of which could only be traced back to the Obafemi Awolowo era.
In line with expectations of the generality of the people, his victory over his two closest opponents, was landslide which confirms the fact that the people were in approval of his populist agenda largely executed with such tenacity and fervour never before experienced in the land.
Attempts by his vanquished rivals to rubbish his clear cut victory through the courts were not only futile and abortive but were also dismissed ignominously as all sixteen judges that sat over the matter from the Tribunal through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court concurred with the October 21, 2012 electoral body’s verdict of victory in his favour.
This is the story of Olusegun Rahman Abayomi Mimiko, the Ondo born medical doctor turned politician who has combined his God-given attributes of credibility, charisma, character, compassion and competence (I call it his 5Cs) to turn the fortunes of his state around, such that he is being applauded across the world for a job well done.
By the 23rd of February 2013 which made it four years that he has been in the saddle, Governor Mimiko had gotten nothing less than twenty awards and recognition by as many reputable national and international bodies and institutions that have pronounced him and his phenomenal life-changing projects as outstanding.
Among them are the World Bank (which not only declared his Abiye safe Motherhood scheme as the benchmark for Africa but also invited him to address its Spring session in New York on Community Health in Africa), UNDP, NUJ, Academy of Entrepreneurial Studies(AES), BEN TV in the UK, Nigerian Medical Association(NMA), Nigerian Society for Gynecologists and Obstetricians, Radio Nigeria, Financial Standard, NLC, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zik Leadership Foundation, RATTAWU, Nigerian Tribune, Nigerian Tourism Board, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which gave him an award for polio eradication, United Nations which made him the first Nigerian Governor to win its Habitat Scroll of Honour Award and Nigeria Association of Nephrology which gave him the most kidney friendly governor award among others.
Seven years on now and it still appears like yesterday in our eyes, but the performance of Mimiko and his team has been so impressive that one might begin to wonder how he did it. At the initial stages, some of those who wanted him in power did so because they wanted a change, and they saw in him the ready alternative, many also supported him because they knew he possess the ability to turn things around. But as he commenced his campaign and began to reel out his manifestoes, with the phrase “I will work for you” which he usually elucidated with tenacity of purpose and sincerity to a cause, more and more people began to believe in him.
For the first time in the annals of both democratic and non-democratic governance, Ondo state started experiencing dynamism and a wholehearted paradigm shift in governance as the Governor appears to have a Midas touch in almost every notable area of human endeavour.
The first area where Mimiko won national and international applause is the health sector. The ‘Abiye’ programme and the health rangers scheme to ensure positive change in infant mortality and health care delivery are a resounding success. For the first time in the state, we have a world class Diagnostic centre , two award-winning Mother and Child hospitals in Akure and Ondo, Nigeria’s first Accident Trauma Centre, a vaccine storage centre, the Primary Health board building, the modern kidney centre, the diabetes treatment centre, five accident rescue stations in Owo, Bolorunduro, Ilaramokin, Epinmi and Ore, over sixty functioning basic health centres across the state, about sixty tricycle ambulance for pregnant rural women and so on.
And now, Nigeria’s first University of Medical Sciences was kick-started as a going concern late last year. Earlier on, The trauma centre in the university was accredited as a Teaching hospital forming the nucleus of the College of Medicine.
The Governor also took the urban renewal drive to another phenomenal level touching areas hitherto unimaginable. The idea of the caring heart neighbourhood markets never ceases to amaze me. As at the last count, nothing less than forty-five of them are in appropriate locations across the state replacing the tattered, dirty unkempt, often roofless and boundless orthodox market style that are often extended to the major roads.
The new markets are constructed to meet up with international standards in the sense that they take trading totally off the streets, there are provision for enough parking lots, toilet facilities, concrete grounds, portable stalls with decent roofs, water supply, good drainage and electricity.
Also, the modern Automart, has taken the trade in automobiles totally off the roadsides. Not even in the whole of West Africa have I heard of an automart. It is something I was used to seeing whenever I travel out of Africa . The aesthetics and sense in this one will always be astounding to lovers of progress.