The alarm was blown by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Kayode Akinmade on behalf of his boss, Governor Olusegun Mimiko. Punch Newspaper headlined the alarm thus, “Ondo exposes planned attack on Mimiko” and I found it somewhat interesting. This op-ed article is my direct reaction to the alarm – Re:Ondo exposes planned attack on Mimiko.
At this juncture, I must confess that I have known Governor Mimiko long before he became a governor and I played more than a single role in his ascension to the exalted office of executive governor on the 24th of February – 2009, eventhough, we did not and still do not share the same political affiliation. However, selfish or myopic, I must have been influenced to offer support in my own way because I desperately wanted a Great IFE alumnus to govern Ondo State.
Despite many harsh and unreasonable policies of his government, I have always surmounted the temptation of assuming a figure of critic to the Mimiko-led administration. Alternatively, I have consistently offered suggestions and constructive criticisms via close acquaintances who serve in the government. However, since this is the era of false alarm, the government must hear some open truths.
For instance, I don’t know what sense to make of a government policy to build ‘mega’ primary schools at the cost of #3.2billion each. As fantastic as the idea seems, it is wasteful and has failed to solve any of the challenges confronting primary education in Ondo State. On the construction of about 36 of such primary schools, the Mimiko-led government wasted a huge #120billion. The lame defence tendered by the government the other time was that the idea is to protect the children of the poor and to make the children of both the poor and the rich study under one roof. Dr Mimiko got it wrong. Class segregation is hardly an issue with primary education in Ondo State. The challenges remain: lack of adequate teachers, shortage of qualified teachers, indiscipline on the part of both teachers and pupils, lack of culture of periodic training for teachers, poor monitoring and oversight functions on the activities of primary schools, and poor funding amongst others. I am afraid the #120billion wasted on few buildings has not addressed any of the highlighted challenges. If the huge #120billion was channelled to the creation of small businesses in Ondo State, Governor Mimiko himself will be amazed and flabbergasted at the enormous rich families he would have created.
Also, I cannot fathom why any responsible government will abandon the reticulation project of Owena Multipurpose Water Dam. This is a project that was designed to supply water to six local governments of Akure North, Akure South, Ifedore, Idanre, Ondo West and Ondo East. The project was awarded by the administration of Late Dr. Olusegun Agagu and contractors have been on site until Dr Mimiko terminated the contract. The defence from the government was that the contract lacked route survey. Nigerians, let’s even concede without admitting the no route survey excuse. The government claimed the project lacked route survey in 2009. Six years after, nothing significant has happened. For God sake, how many years will it take the Mimiko-led administration to cartograph a route survey and mobilise contractors to site? Those who have been writing and sponsored to write about the development and miracle in Ondo State should know that drinkable water is still a big issue in Akure, the state’s capital. The abandoned water reticulation project is, perhaps, the face of the development in Ondo State. No matter the propaganda and outright falsehood, the people can see through what they now call cosmetic development under the Mimiko-led administration.
Meanwhile, the Kaadi Igbe Ayo project is a project which its finances are still shrouded in secrecy. The project itself is milking more funds than its importance. While the media has reported #5billion as the cost for this project, government sources have claimed the project has milked over #10billion of tax payers’ money. Yet, the people including the unemployed youth are forced and intimidated to pay #2,000 to get these cards. The government claimed the card will allow all residents equal access to government’s social and welfare services. By the way, what welfare services are they talking about? This project is an institutionalised fraud and I hope the government will offer convincing explanations someday.
Still on false alarm, Mr Akinmade alleged that “enemies of the state” planned to “begin with a series of petitions to be written against the personality of the Governor (Mimiko) and his administration”. I disagree with him. If, indeed, some persons or groups have decided to write petitions on the finances of the state to seek better understanding and clarifications that the government has failed to avail her people for the past six years. Those persons or groups must be friends of Ondo State. They cannot under any quise be regarded as “emenies of the state”. Infact, it is in the interest of our people that some friends are asking questions on their behalf. It is also an avenue for Dr Mimiko and his administration to offer stewardship.
And if Governor Mimiko is indeed sincere with the transparency and accountability mantra that he has consistently mouthed in the last six years, he should be willing and happy to open the books and finances of the state to EFCC if and whenever he is called upon to do so. That false alarm is quite unnecessary and pointless.
Mr Akinmade alleged, “the meeting was held in Abuja in the house of a prominent Ondo politician”. Whether the meeting was held in Abuja or Akure is irrelevant. Whether it was a prominent Ondo politician or a prominent Ondo cleric that hosted the said meeting, again, it is irrelevant. At best, that is a distraction.
Mr Akinmade authoritatively claimed, “a lawyer was assigned to write frivolous petitions against Dr. Mimiko using frame-up allegations”. Just wait! Is it the role of Akinmade to determine which petition is frivolous or genuine? Nemo iudex in causa sua – it is a principle of natural justice that no person can judge a case in which he has an interest. If and when the petition is eventually written, Mr Akinmade & co should allow the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and by extension, court, to determine maybe it is frivolous or not. This frail attempt to pre-empt an invisible petition is laughable.
In The Passions of Law edited by Susan A. Bandes, under Fear, Weak Legs and Running Away (A Soldier’s Story), William Ian Miller rightly noted, “But the greatest cost is that false alarms lead to mistrusting the next true alarm”. This truism, perhaps, seems unknown to Dr. Mimiko and his boys.
Meanwhile, I suspect that the false alarm is intended to cause panic, elicit sympathy, solidarity and anxiety amongst the people of Ondo State to lay the foundation for a campaign of witch-hunting against the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari should the EFCC eventually decides to investigate the Mimiko-led administration.
I must emphasise again that it serves the interest of Ondo people if EFCC decides to look into the finances of Ondo State government. Also, the people of the State are warned not to allow themselves to be used against themselves. Particularly, the jobless youth who will be tempted to embark on nonsensical protests and solidarity rallies at a miserable pay of #5,000.
Like a public commentator correctly noted, “all politicians and people that looted Nigeria shall never know peace”.
Incase Governor Mimiko has forgotten, he should be reminded that transparency and accountability were strong points upon which he campaigned and sought for votes in 2007. He shouldn’t be afraid and he has nothing to be jittery about if indeed he has exercised his executive powers in line with the oath of office he took on February 24th, 2009 and renewed 4years after on February 24th, 2013.
As a matter of advise, there is a step Governor Mimiko can take to win the sympathy and support of the people. Quite simple. He should direct forthwith his Commissioner for Information, Mr Kayode Akinmade and his SA on Web Design & Administration to upload all government expenditures, all finances, details of all awarded contracts and all liabilities of Ondo State on www.ondostate.gov.ng – the official website of the government. By then, if any person or group writes a ‘frivolous’ petition based on the finances of Ondo State to tarnish the image of Mr Governor, I will rise to defend him. Not a few thousands of Ondo people will also rise to defend Mr Governor.
If the above is not done, whether Governor Mimiko likes it or not, he will descend without immunity from that exalted office of Executive Governor on February 24th, 2017. His administration will go into the annals of history as one that abhors transparency and accountability and the most secrecy administration in the history of Ondo State.
Kayode Fakuyi writes via email@example.com from Okitipupa, Ondo State.
Fellow Nigerians, on Monday – 1st of September, the media was awashed with an alarm raised by the Ondo State Government over what it described as “concluded plans by enemies of the state, to embark on character assassination, outright falsehood and massive propaganda to undermine the government of the state.”