Now that the elections have come and gone, we turn our searchlight and focus on Ondo State, where the Labour Party (LP) has continued to ‘rule the roost’ and has now taken over from the PDP as the dominant party in the state by flooring both the PDP and the Action Congress (ACN) in the National and State House of Assembly elections, thereby consolidating its firm foothold on political power in the Sunshine State which was triggered off in 2009, when the courts declared Governor Segun Mimiko winner of the gubernatorial polls of 2007.
A brief historical insight would be appropriate at this juncture, to further illuminate the dynamics and forces which have played out and are still playing in the state, to elevate a relatively unknown and unheralded party to take over and become the party-in-power in a state that is highly regarded as one of the most politically enlightened, endowed and sophisticated states, with a mature and robust political culture largely driven and influenced by the people’s individual streak for independence, justice and an egalitarian society.
Ondo state is driven by fairness, respect, openness and the freedom of choice, as espoused by democratic principles which the country currently practices.
From the foregoing and since our country returned to democratic rule in 1999, Ondo citizens have exhibited these traits at the ballot box, voting with their conscience, and particularly voting en-masse and in unison, in the same manner and direction, to embrace any party which they believe, would best foster their individual happiness and bring socio-economic development to their doorstep and their communities.
In the same vein, they would reject in its entirety, any political party (and by inference any politician), which fails to live up to the people’s very high expectations, when the party is given the opportunity to govern and lead in Ondo State.
After the last elections the people voted massively for LP because the people believe that the past two years in which the party has been in the saddle with Segun Mimiko at the helm, the party has brought socio-economic development to almost every part of the state and every community, town and local government has been touched and reached by the programmes and government initiatives that the LP has espoused since 2007.
The people readily talk about the mother and child heath hospitals being opened in many local governments, the new modern markets and rehabilitation of existing ones, model primary and secondary schools being constructed and delivered on schedule across the state, and the upgrading of key arterial roads in the zonal headquarter towns of Ikare, Owo, Okitipupa, and Ondo, and the massive reconstruction and urbanization of the state capital roads in Akure.
The people also speak glowingly about the LP’s fulfillment of the promise Dr. Mimiko made to the people about the construction and delivery of a world class diagnostic medical center to Ondo State citizens in honor and the memory of distinguished legal luminary Chief Gani Fawehinmi who was a celebrated Ondo citizen, to serve the citizens of the state and save them the trouble of travelling to Ife, Ibadan and Lagos, for analysis and diagnosis of their serious ailments.
LP state chairman Chief Olaiya Oni who was a former Secretary to the state government (SSG) who is versed and renowned for his versatility and knowledge of the inner dynamics and workings of government, recently opined that because the top echelon of the LP of Ondo State have lived and continue to live amongst the people, they understand and relate to the citizens much more intimately and are able to decipher, decode and empathize with the feelings, hopes and aspirations of their people and gives the party a distinct edge because the party can encapsulate more readily, positively and distinctly, democracy dividends to the people.
He postulated on some reasons why other parties particularly the PDP, have continued to lag behind and failed badly at the recent polls.
One, is the continuing in-fighting and back-biting leading to a surreptiously damaging battle for supremacy within the PDP which was most visible and notable throughout the last polls and played into LP’s hands and worked in LP’s favor.
There is also the attitude of some PDP leaders of playing the politics of exclusiveness which invariably boiled down to insisting that only they and their supporters would have exclusive control and dictate the affairs of the party thereby alienating the majority of the key executives and thousands of their numerous supporters, and this was a major bane of the party during the last elections as it promoted disunity, discord, aloofness and party disintegration and total alienation.
Ondo people turned away from the PDP in 2007, resurfaced prior to last month’s elections and as expected, the same results were obtained.
Third, the PDP has an image problem that has remained and constituted a major drawback and hindrance that negatively impacted and affected the PDP’s fortunes in the last elections.
This issue was accentuated in the April polls by the PDP imposing unpopular and politically weightless candidates as candidates on the party even when it was common knowledge that such candidates were either unknown or had been rejected for a previous malsfeance in the constituency, but the PDP still went ahead and foisted such rejected candidates on the people.
These aptly sum up the state in which the PDP finds itself at the moment in Ondo State and a major surgical operation leading to a return to the basic party principles enshrined in its slogan, “power to the people” would be required to bring Ondo PDP from the doldrums, and back to its pre-2003 day, when it was at the zenith of its powers.
The work must begin in earnest and time for commencement is now, especially gubernatorial elections are slated for 2013, and the LP would not relinquish power without a major struggle, and that, the PDP must be ready for, and must quickly put its house in order to prepare for “one helluva battle” with the LP.
Justin Olu Fasoranti, Ore