By Tokunbo Omosule

ONE of the hallmarks of democracy, perhaps  its most basic informing principle, is the freedom of choice. The freedom of choice, once it is not made in relation to any illegality, is sacrosanct.

In the South-West, a dangerous drama seems to be gradually playing out between the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Governor Olusegun Rahman Mimiko of Ondo State, particularly in relation to the 2013 gubernatorial election in the state.

The ACN, in its desperation to capture Ondo State, has unleashed a sustained media war on the Ondo State government. In this drama of oddities, one notices what the post-colonialist theorist, Edward Said, would call an unrigorous assumption, an assumption predicated on the arrogant belief that the people of the South-West can always be swayed by media propaganda, where the ACN has maintained an unquestioned dominance in the country for reasons of media ownership and patronage.

But the party had better watch out because that same strength may eventually prove its undoing.
Indeed, one can ask if all the noise against Mimiko is for the love of Ondo State, or just part of a sustained effort to gain access to the state’s resources to serve foreign interests? The party has gone a step further by using its security contacts against the Ondo government all in the bid to upstage it.

Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko

This onslaught is not without the connivance of some indigenes, whose stock in trade is to team up with outsiders to “sell” their fathers’ heritage. All indications point to the conclusion that these ones would soon be confined to the dustbin of history as far as Ondo politics is concerned.

Dr Olusegun Mimiko’s antecedents portray him as a master political strategist, ideologue and progressive. He will humble opposition in Ondo State on election day later in the year. He has been commissioner, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Minister of the Federal Republic, leaving a brilliant record all through.

Indeed, having pulled out of the then ruling PDP in Ondo State four months to the 2007 gubernatorial election, the Iroko went ahead to win that election, deploying the mobilisation skills that have always stood him in good stead.

The ACN was at this time clearly out of the picture. However, suddenly, the man has become a “demon” because he refused to join the party and one cannot just help asking what arrogance underlies the assumption that a South-West governor, or anyone for that matter, does not matter until he/she joins the ACN? Just what is there, apart from media propaganda, to recommend ACN as a progressive party?

Can the present ACN governors compare with the Bola Iges, the Bisi Onabanjos, and the Lateef Jakandes? Would any of these worthy ones ever have locked up people in Black Marias for hawking? Would any of them have taken as long as nine long months before constituting a cabinet? And even if the ACN were the most democratic political party around, does Governor Mimiko not reserve the privilege to join it or not? The governor, as far as I know, is the only one implementing the UPN/AG programmes in the South-West.

His revolution in education alone places him higher than any governor in the country, because he is already setting a benchmark for Africa, a feat he achieved on a global scale with his Abiye mother and child programme. If it is the ACN, rather than these achievements, that qualifies him for a second term then Yoruba land is doomed.

According to the self-styled progressive governors, Dr Olusegun Mimiko is a black sheep who will be eventually used to handover the South-West to the PDP.

The strategy is to portray Mimiko as one who is still keen on re-joining the PDP. But where does this leave the LP and its members? Are they expendable? Governor Mimiko and the Ondo people have said that they would not worship on any foreign altar and the coming gubernatorial election would, I believe, demonstrate this resolve.

Until then, the negative portrayal of the governor by his political enemies will not sway the people of Ondo State; it will only enhance their resolve to stand by their governor as he continues to implement his record-breaking programmes.


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