By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Governor Segun Mimiko’s declaration for a second term last Wednesday was a gathering of diverse sorts with different strokes
It was a tough job getting the Nollywood actor, Babatunde Omidina popularly known as Baba Suwe into the newly built Democracy Park in Akure, Ondo State last Wednesday.
Escorted by his Nollywood colleague, Jibola Dabo, the two thespians were visibly stressed by the overflowing cheer and enthusiasm of the crowd who pushed and shoved the security men as they made every effort to catch a glimpse of the celebrities seated inside the SUV that snaked towards the gate of the Democracy Park.
The pair were in Akure for Governor Segun Mimiko’s formal declaration for a second term in office on the ticket of the Labour Party.
The presence of Omidina, Dabo and many other artistes almost gave the occasion away as another celebrity show. There were, however, also many other politically minded men and women including many Yoruba leaders who came to endorse the unprecedented attempt to achieve a second term by the incumbent governor of the Sunshine State.
No governor of the new Ondo State has succeeded in achieving a second term in office since the state came into its own in the early nineties.
The previous governors of the state Adebayo Adefarati and Segun Agagu ended up serving single terms in office.
Remarkably, the two of them were stopped from achieving a second term partly because of the opposition mustered by the political machine of Mimiko.
But last Wednesday in the ambience created by the Nollywood celebrities, musicians and some of the leading politicians from the Southwest, Mimiko and his handlers seemed to have the landmark of a second term in view.
Among others present were former Finance Minister and presidential candidate of the former All Peoples Party, APP, Chief Olu Falae, Yoruba leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Odua Peoples Congress, OPC founder, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, Afenifere leader, Chief Rueben Fasaronti among many others.
There was also a strong representation from the labour unions as shown in the presence and assertions of the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar and president of the Trade Union Congress, TUC Comrade Peter Esele.
Though many of them gave ringing endorsement to the second term aspiration of Mimiko, the seemingly apolitical assertion of Baba Suwe was outstanding in its affirmation of the need for a second term for Mimiko.
Noting that he had not been to Ondo State for nearly ten years, the celebrated actor said he could not find his way when he arrived the day before, noting that the roads were all changed and he had to be guided through. “I saw things like Tinubu Square and in fact, I thought I was in Lagos,” he said to the wide cheer of the crowd.
Other Nollywood celebrities present included Foluke Daramola, Dele Odule. Also present was the prominent Yoruba musician, Adewale Ayuba.
Falae, Adebanjo, Fashehun in their separate comments at the occasion spoke loud of how Mimiko in his present term has touched the lives of the people of the Sunshine State and endorsed him for a second term.
Adebanjo in a seeming response to Mimiko’s many political rivals in the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN dominated Southwest dismissed aspersions against him saying: “You all know that I am a child of Awolowo. I can also tell you that Mimiko is a child of Awo and he is a true progressive. He is not like those who call themselves progressives but are only so in name but behave like thugs,” the elder-statesman said.
Another remarkable person present at the occasion was Dr. Olu Agunloye, former Minister of Power and Steel who was making his first public appearance on the same platform with Mimiko since the two of them fell out over the Labour Party senate ticket for Ondo North in the days leading to the 2011 general elections.
Mimiko had dumped his longstanding buddy, Agunloye in favour of Senator Ajayi Borofice allegedly following the intervention of the monarchs in the senatorial district.
Borofice after the gift of the ticket and seat to him was to dump Mimiko within months and decamp to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN where he struggled vainly with Agunloye and others for that party’s gubernatorial ticket.
Mimiko in his own comments at the occasion promised to build upon the achievements of the first term. Mimiko who was accompanied by his wife, Olukemi to the occasion said: “I am convinced that this event today is not by coincidence. I must appreciate our workers in this state for their unequivocal support and solidarity at all times. This day is a vindication of our effort to turn around the fortune of this state. God has used us to translate our vision into reality.”
“Today, we thank God for what he has used us to do in the last three and a half years. This period is a challenging one for our nation and I’m very optimistic that tomorrow will be better for our country. I want to appeal to you to remain calm and peaceful. I know that they will come to provoke you but please do not allow their provocation to cause chaos in the state”