By OLUSEGUN OGOLO
Thank God the governorship elections in Ondo state (southern Nigeria ) have come and gone.
Although 12 poitical parties participated in the elections,there were just three major contenders: Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) represented by Rotimi Akeredolu,Labour Party (LP) represented by Olusegun Mimiko and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) represented by Olusola Oke.
When counting was concluded, incumbent governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party (LP) was declared winner by INEC,the electoral commission.
Surprisingly,the elections went on very peacefully in a state known for extreme electoral violence and political thuggery although she boasts the largest number of Professors in Nigeria.
The security arrangements made by the Federal Government obviously made an impression on the political thugs in and around Ondo state; this ensured that a permanent lid was placed on whatsoever plans they intended to execute.
According to the punch newspaper of 20th October 2021: 11,000 policemen, and three Commissioners of police were deployed to head the security units in each of the three senatorial districts in the state.
In fact according to the Tribune of Friday the 19th of October 2012, the General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Major-General Abubakar Mohammed said his men ‘… were free to shoot at anybody caught making trouble and does not want to be arrested.’
I wasn’t in Ondo state during the elections, but I followed the proceedings on radio and television and what I saw was a community of eager and willing voters.
The 2006 census puts the population of the state at 3,441,024 of which 1,646,666 were registered voters for the 20 October 2012 gubernatorial election in the state.
A post mortem of the elections shows that the electorate stepped out with a vengance,and I wasn’t surprised:
Firstly, after being governed for 4 years (2003 – 2007) by a PDP led administration without any progress or development to show for it, the people of Ondo state ensured by their vote that the PDP would stay out of power (at least) in the next 4 years, in the state.
It is very sad to note that this same party -the PDP has been the ruling party in Nigeria since 1999.
By their consistent supply of mediocres and charlatans, the PDP has filled critical offices in government with individuals that are nothing but greed and corruption personified. How do you explain a situation where 75% of the annual budget of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is spent on only 2million people in a country of 167million individuals (this argument was made by the minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman).Where in the world does this happen? And according to Fela, ‘…which kind contirii bi dis one sef?.‘
If the results of the ondo state election is anything to go by,the PDP may have seen better days even at a national level.
Secondly, the people voted against the ACN, again this does not surprise me. The Action Congress of Nigeria is the ruling party in 5 south western states in Nigeria, namely Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, and Edo states. The major problem with the party is that a dictator and an authoritarian is at the helm. This fellow goes by the appellation asiwaju (which by interpretation is frontman, or leader).
It is common knowledge in Nigeria (see the Punch Newspaper of 3rd April 2012) that the Asiwaju of the ACN rather than allow the emergence of the party’s candidates and representatives via primaries, single-handedly picks individuals; the most recent being Rotimi Akeredolu. While party faithful secretly seethe at his undemocratic practices, none is apparently bold enough to challenge him.
The asiwaju’s main preoccupation is the narrow minded pursuit of the so called Yoruba integration, a project that seeks to unite the entire south-western part of Nigeria under the ACN with him as the undisputed leader of the Yorubas ,(when national integration would have stood him out as a true visionary).
Adding their state to the number of asiwaju’s conquest must have been both unbearable and unthinkable to the good people of Ondo state hence their vote against the ACN.
The electoral commission finally declared Dr Mimiko the winner. Congratulations to him.
Whilst this win gives the impression that Mimiko is very popular amongst the people, this assertation would imply an apparent injustice to the other candidates because they also had some votes. Governor Mimiko did not win by a landslide, there is still in Ondo state a sizeable number of people that believe other candidates can do a better job than him.
For Gov Mimiko’s information, the story most likely would have been different if the PDP and the ACN had formed an alliance just like the Torries and the Liberal democrats did in the UK.
This last point actually throws up a number of questions about the Governor’s first term in office.
‘The economy of Ondo state is basically agrarian with strong bias in farming, fishing, lumbering and trading. The state is reputed for large scale production of cocoa, palm produce and rubber. Other crops like maize, yam and cassava are also produced in large quantities. Sixty-five percent of the state labour force is in the agriculture sub-sector. The state is also blessed with very rich forest resources where some of the most exotic timber in Nigeria abounds. The State is equally blessed with extensive deposits of crude oil, bitumen, glass sand, kaolin, granites and limestone. Therefore, the state has great potentials for rapid industrial growth in view of its raw materials base. The tourism potentials of the state is also high as its historical sites, long coastline, lakes, forest and cultural events can be developed for tourism. However, these very huge investment potentials in the state remain largely untapped over the years due to a combination of technical and administrative reasons’.
Ondo is one of the oil producing states in Nigeria,meaning in addition to the regular Federal allocation to states, it gets an additional 13% via derivation.
Now considering the natural resources and the economic potential of Ondo state, have the people of this state been given a fair deal in the last 4 years? Can Governor Mimiko truely say that the quality life of Ondo people has been improved by his first term in office?.
Campaign promises made by Nigerian politicians are mostly ridiculous and lacking in intellectual deepth : they say “when I become governor,or President or so and so, l’ll build roads, schools, hospitals, ultra-modern markets …” the list just goes on.
May I announce to governor Mimiko and the other governors in Nigeria that campaigning for office on the platform of these shallow and poorly thought out promises especially in the light of the resources available in the country is simply insulting the intelligence of our people.
Building schools, roads and hospitals are basic requirements of any society; for God’s sake, people pay taxes what less should taxes be used for?
If government collects taxes from people, it is immoral to give those same people the impression that you are doing them a favour by building basic social infrastructure for them.
The lack of visionary leadership in Nigeria has been the bane of our society. While governments in other parts of the world are taking decisive steps to tackle unemployment ,reduce government spending, improve living standards, tackle corruption, and guaranty good governance, the situation in Nigeria is the exact opposite.
75% of our annual budget is spent on recurrent expenditure; and we still lie to ourselves that spending the balance 25% (actually a substantial part of this balance is stolen) would give us a place amongst the 20 biggest economies of the world by 2020.
Our law makers have been a perpetual burden on our economy carting away undisclosed sums as salaries, allowances and benefits (and to their shame they are ever asking for more).
Contrast this with Senegal, a fellow west African country were the new government of Macky Sall just adopted the unicameral system of government after years of practicing the expensive bicameral system that our senators and house of rep members are determine to hold onto.
What exactly is wrong with this country?
Our educational system is on life support. In fact foreign universities find it very profitable to establish offices here in Nigeria and they routinely conduct intensive marketing campaigns to admit Nigeria students into their schools.
How about our hospitals, our roads, our agricultural sector, manufacturing, national security to name a few? Nigeria appears to be a big joke, and the tag line ‘giant of Africa’ simply amplifies the joke.
Is not strange that while Rwanda, a small central African country that experienced one of the most terrible examples of genocide is currently prospering and more united (under its current President Paul Kagame) ;Nigeria, whose civil war ended more than four decades ago is tottering dangerously towards a very scary end.
While Rwandese are proud to simply refer to themselves as such, Nigerians are imprisoned by anti-development issues: ‘the north,south-south,Niger Delta,Islam,sharia,Christianity,Federal character,Pension scam,Fuel subsidy scam e.t.c’
The job of any governor/national leader is to create a climate that would ensure the prosperity of his people and lay the ground work for the development of future leaders.
When will authentic leaders emerge in Nigeria?