Ondo and Mimiko: Seven Years of Putting Smiles on People’s Faces

Ise Tataun Takun is a popular slogan in Ondo State, and it is a phrase that signaled the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the state and indicated that where there is a will there is a way. It is a slogan made popular by Governor Olusegun Mimiko at the beginning of his campaign to become Governor of Ondo State. Mimiko emergence as Governor came at an opportune time. Even though his predecessor Olusegun Agagun had done his best to stimulate growth in the state, but his effort was well below par. The level of socio-economic develop was still far from the ideal; almost every sector of the state was stifled by lack of development and initiative. The problem with Ondo state was not particularly lack of money, by lack of insight and creativity. The level of enterprise and industry among the political class was heart-breaking. And this failure in leadership permeated every demography of the state and created a mental siege.
It was this void in leadership that inspired Mimiko to abandon his comfort zone as a Federal Minister of Labour, to contest for the Governorship of Ondo State against Agagu who was an incumbent. His decision then, though was against the political calculations of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and the People’s Democratic Party establishment, all of whom favoured Agagu’s reelection, became a popular grassroots movement that swept across the length and breadth of Ondo State like a powerful tsunami. And despite the evil machination of the establishment to deny the Ondo people of their moment of joy, the will of God prevailed. Now, seven years down the line, it has become crystal clear that the people’s hope in Mimiko was not a sham.
One of Mimiko greatest achievements over the last seven years has been his ability to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor through his revolutionary transformation of the education educational sector. This has led to the construction of what is known as a caring heart schools or Mega Schools situated across the three Senatorial districts of the state. The groundbreaking concept, has made it possible for children of the poor to have access to the same high quality education as their counterparts from rich homes, at little or no cost to their parents. The facilities provided by the Mega Schools meant for Primary school pupils have generally been agreed to be one of the best in the African continent. It is believed also that only few of its kind can compete with it in Europe and America. As a result of this quintessential performance, private schools have been made less attractive, and the rate of enrolment into public schools in areas which hitherto have witnessed very low patronage have now improved dramatically. Fifty one of the mega primary schools have so far been built and they are complemented with free shuttle for pupils and students.
And to ensure that lack of maintenance does destroy the good intentions of the Governor, he has set up agency to ensure round the clock maintenance. The success of this project has made Ondo state the envy of other states in the South West who have requested to send their officials to come and understudy the agency. The Adekunle Ajasin University has also become a reference point for other state universities under Mimiko. There have been massive investment in infrastructure
Nobody. Not even Mimiko harshest critics can doubt the tremendous impact he has brought to bear on the health sector in Ondo State. It is a fact that some of the highest quality health infrastructures in Nigeria are in Ondo state as a result there have been over 3 000 surgeries done in the state’s health facilities. But perhaps the flagship project of Mimiko’s intervention in the health sector is the Abiye project a health interventionist initiative known as Safe Motherhood project for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 5 years of age. Under this programme, pregnant women are entitled to receive free Medicare from conception to delivery including free Caesarian Section. So far the programme has resulted in over 50 000 safe deliveries. Children under 5 years of age also receive free treatment. The project became imperative against the backdrop of inadequate and overlaboured health facilities and insufficient logistics support, coupled with a declaration by the World Bank that Ondo State was at the bottom of the health indices ladder in the southwest in 2009.
The project also led to the creation of Health Rangers squad, which comprises of medics, trained to guide pregnant women through the nine months period of pregnancy and post delivery period. The Health Rangers are mobilized with branded motorcycles or tricycles with which they transverse their designated areas. While on the move the health rangers are equipped First-Aid kits with which they treat common ailments such as malaria, diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Each Health Ranger is assigned to minister to an average of 20 pregnant women. The remarkable improvement in the health system in Ondo State has earned the Governor recognition within and outside the state. Top among them is National Polio Achievement Award in the Nigeria Governor’s Immunisation Leadership Challenge instituted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with Aliko Dangote Foundation.
Commending Mimiko, who won the award for the second time in a row, representative of the foundation Ms Lea Anne Hegg said. “Ondo State as the best in Nigeria in terms of activities that is going on in the health sector particularly in the area of immunization coverage and children maternal and mortality rate reduction.”
In agriculture, Governor Mimiko has moved Ondo State away from primitive farming into a more modern and commercial model of agriculture. This has been achieved with the establishment of four agro business cities across the state, in Ore, Epe, Isuada and Auga. These Agro Business Cities were established solely for the purpose of training our youths in best agricultural practices not only in theory but in the practical sense of it. The Agro Business Cities are agricultural training and agro business incubation centres that allow the trainees (referred to as Pro-farmers and Agro-preneurs) to learn and practice the business of agriculture through the entire value chain of production, preservation, processing, packaging, marketing and other services including even exporting of agricultural products. Already, it has been affirmed that the Auga farm will conveniently take care of the Cow consumption needs of the South West in the nearest future. This project is already a huge source of employment in the state and it is expected to develop into a major source of revenue for the state.
It is also important to state that there has been able to stimulate economic growth by his investment in the housing sector. Before his emergence as Governor seven years ago, there was a major lacuna in the housing sector, and Mimiko being aware of the frustrations of the people in this regarded promises to deliver quality affordable housing as part of his manifesto, thankfully that promise has largely been fulfilled. So far thousands of housing units have been built to ease the pain of home ownership in the state.
The government of Ondo state has used the housing scheme as part of its urban renewal drive; to give the major cities in Ondo State more modern and sophisticated outlook. Other urban renewal interventions are the construction of ultramodern mechanic village; a one stop auto mobile repair workshop designed a self-sustaining business community. The Governor has said he plans to replicate it across the 18 local government area in the state. Mimiko has also built state-of-art markets. Other urban renewal projects initiated by the Governor are international automart; a first of its kind automobile market in Nigeria, regional markets, top class shopping malls, modern motor parks and loading bay and International Event Centre (The Dome) a world class event and conference centre etc. Apart from bringing order and sophistry to the landscape of Ondo State, these facilities also help to create jobs for citizens. As a result of Mimiko’s achievements in the area of urban renewal, the rural-urban migration tide has been relatively slowed down.
Then of course, an assessment of Mimiko’s tenure can never be complete without shedding light on his impact in the area of roads. The four major towns of Akure, Ondo Town, Owo Town and Okitipupa Town have all experienced a face-lift and a new lease of life with major dual-carriage roads meandering through the hearts of those towns. The Governor has widened up narrow roads all over the state and as a result the towns are all wearing a new modern look. He is also building a new modern tolled Dual Carriage road from Ondo Town to somewhere in Ogun State, this new road would shave 45 minutes from journey between Akure and Lagos. Indeed Mimiko’s catalogue of achievement is inexhaustible.
Speaking about his achievement recently the Governor said “what I have to showcase is based on the promise I made to the people of Ondo state. I promised than that I would work for them, that in all seasons I would work for them, that their everyday concern will be my concern.” Looking back to the last seven years, it is obvious that Mimiko has not derailed from his promised. He has not only transformed Ondo State, he has taking it into the future by creating a robust and sophisticated economy where all citizens feel a sense of belonging and are now energized to dream big.
As a matter of fact, Mimiko has left his revolutionary footprint in every sector including sports, transportation and community development. He has written his name in gold as one of the most successful Governor of the.
Because in politics, there will always be the naysayers, who no matter one’s best efforts will always seek an occasion to discredit and grad down the accomplishments of the man in power, but no matter how much they try, the legacies of the Mimiko government cannot be erased; they are indelible and an eternal reminder that Ise Tataun Takun pays.

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