By Ariyo-Dare Atoye
Growing up as a child, I was entertained to a popular tale about the self adulation of a reptile called lizard. Anytime this creature jumps down from a tree or a wall and nods it head afterwards, this action is interpreted in the Yoruba folklore as shaking its head in self praise – ‘if no one would praise me for the feat of jumping down, I will praise my self.’ Likely, the lizards may have grown up amidst unappreciative people.
If you disagree with the above apologue, what about the interpretation given by biologists as to why Lizards do push-ups. They have described it as a ‘territorial display of dominance,’ which is still within the interpretative framework of the the Yoruba folklore. In essence, there is a universal convergence of reasons that the lizard is certainly trying to ‘justify’ something by nodding it head or doing push-ups. It depends on how you view it.
This piece is about my personal grouse with Gov. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and I am not hiding it. My reference to lizard is symbolic: to make a common sense and put my concern in perspective but not as a needless voyage into the personal lifestyle of lizards or trying to throw up a cultural debate. My point is, I have a personal score to settle with the man we all call the Iroko of Nigerian politics.
You will remember the famous and evergreen song of Evangelist Niyi Adekokun “Olorun se mi o mo si fe gba esan…(God offended me and I want to seek revenge). You can also put worries in similar context but with different content – I have a grouse with Iroko and I want it settled. At the end of this piece, you will judge for yourself if indeed I was right to make open my grouse with Mimiko.
Around mid-December 2015, I went to Akure in company of some good friends to identity with some projects embarked upon by Gov. Mimiko. It was not my first time of going to Akure – I have been a regular visitor to the State capital. In fact, my dad has been living and doing business there for over 30 years and by every standard a successful businessman – Akure is a blessing. Also, as an Ekiti man myself, I have a strong affinity with Ondo as my first state of origin. I went to Secondary School in Ondo State.
But before that purposeful visit to appraise the Mimiko’s legacies, I had followed the dualisation of the Arakale road with keen interest because it encroached into my dad’s office building, leading to some modifications. I diligently observed the manner in which compensations to owners of affected buildings were handled without rancour and litigation. I never for once received a call from my father complaining about settlement. It was a double joy of compensation and a good road.
Subsequently, the Arakale road was completed to taste and it was a beauty to behold. It is a supportive infrastructure for business as it further opens up the environment. Fine, I may agree with you that this is nothing extraordinary, but it was special enough to attract my attention to the quality of governance in Ondo State. Since then, I have paid rapt attention to news frittering from Ondo State. However, bulk of them were not really about the development stride of the governor as I know with some other States. If I was not observant enough, what I later found out will shock you.
During the projects appreciation visit, my people, I saw governance talking, walking, smiling and dancing. I saw a full-of-the-moon governance that made me dumbstricken. Some of you won’t understand because you are used to self-induced propaganda. What I am saying goes beyond beautiful edifices or magnificent structures, yes Mimiko constructed them in abundance, but I am talking about qualitative governance that connects with the poor of poor and ordinary Nigerians, as well as dedicated workers at the Mother and Child Hospital eager to do more.
I will mention just four cardinal projects of the Mimiko’s administration which he has used to disprove and relegate some policies of the Bretton Woods institutions. Yes, he has made nonsense of some socio-economic postulations. Please take your time to study (i) Mimiko’s Urban Renewal Project (ii) Cocoa Revolution project and most fundamentally, (iii) Qualitative Free Public Education and (iv) Qualitative Free Public Healthcare Interventions.
I am not going to do anybody the favour of narrating each of these projects before you accuse me of carrying out a paid or hatchet job. Just accept my challenge, I will drop my email below this piece, the first 3 persons to contact me, I will personally pay for your visit by road (to and fro) Akure, give you good accommodation plus feeding and provide the transport to see what I call humanity in governance by yourself.
The conditions I will attach to this challenge are: that you must be a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC); you must not be from Ondo and Ekiti State; you must accept to share everything you see on all the social media platforms you are registered and you must equally grant interviews at no cost to you. For obvious reasons, members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are disqualified from this open invitation.
However, let me talk briefly on Mimiko’s exceptional education initiatives. It is an area of special interest to me as an advocate of #PublicEducationIsMyPride campaign. The spirit of Awo truly and currently lives in Ondo State courtesy of what Mimiko has been doing with public education. The ideal summary of it is that, parents are now withdrawing their kids from private schools to the newly built Public Primary Schools. If you think it is a political tale, when you get to Akure yourself, you too can decide for yourself, which of the two, you want your kids to attend. You don’t announce to a blind man it is raining.
So why am I angry with Iroko? Until recently, Gov. Mimiko has not been letting the world to see what God has been using him to do in Ondo State. The man finds it so difficult to commission projects and politically advertise them. I understand that Mr. Governor is a God fearing leader and he wants God to take all the glory of his works, but governance is beyond that. But since God himself allows democracy to thrive, He will be delighted to see Olusegun Mimiko showcasing to the world, developmental projects that have touched lives. I make bold to say there is a difference between taking glory and showing your legacies to the world. What God don’t want is pride.
But my main grouse is that Mimiko allowed the 40th anniversary of the creation of his State to pass just like that without an elaborate ceremony, using it to tell the living story of the Sunshine State. And in a spectacular way, inviting all the world media to cover it. Take it or leave it, Ondo is a testament of qualitative governance in Africa and a model for performance in Nigeria. I recall that a former governor usually rolled out the drums every one hundred days to celebrate his achievements. It is not too much for Gov. Mimiko to have put up a show on at least ten per cent of the over 600 projects known to me and celebrate them. Remember the tale of the lizard, if you don’t praise me, I will praise myself. Yet Mimiko is hardly worried.
But come to think of it as I round off this piece, why will I even show any form of displeasure against Gov. Mimiko? Here I am writing about a man who is not seeking vain glorification; a man who thinks the cost of commissioning projects will touch more lives; a leader who has calculated the cost of doing an elaborate 40th anniversary celebration as against what project that money will provide for the good people of Ondo State.
Mr. Governor, I do hope you will pardone me for this purposeful grouse against you. Please know that I am worried about the ongoing skulduggery in some quarters and the obvious lies against your person and the state. I am worried that this legacy must be sustained. But I take solace in the fact that God will hear your prayer to have a worthy successor.
Ariyo-Dare Atoye (Aristotle) a member of Shadow Cabinet of Nigeria (SCN) contributes this piece in support of good governance – firstname.lastname@example.org