“Don’t join them; don’t be scared to be different” – Gbonigi to Mimiko

February 29, 2012


by Tola Adenle

[If truth be told, the war being fought seems more like a war being waged on the citizens of Ondo State for selfish interests. From: http://emotanafricana.com/2012/02/29/ondos-mimiko-revives-an-old-sleeping-little-giant-with-youth-vitality-technology/

At most political gatherings, speeches and testimonies, etcetera can often be dismissed as coming from people with different agendas and should not therefore be taken as being genuine but like that old US ad, when E.F. Hurton speaks, people listen, retired Rt. Rev. Bolanle Gbonigi always speak from the masses’ angle and people generally listen to him and believe him: he harbors no hidden agendas but is one of those rare Nigerians who are true patriots.

I decided to discard notes I took copiously at the recent Public Lecture by Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe to mark the third year anniversary of Dr. Mimiko, the Ondo State governor. In a lecture attended by traditional rulers led by Akure’s Deji, Oba Afunbiowo II, political stalwarts, and a large audience that included three of Ondo State’s National Merit Award recipients -Nigeria has had 65 of which 10 are from Ondo States – I decided that great and topical as Professor Akinkugbe’s presentation was, the most important issue for Ondo State indigenes and, perhaps the whole of the Southwest, the most pressing issue of the time was the schism that is tearing the region apart.

It started almost innocuously – at least as far as the public in the region could discern but I believe things have now gotten so out of hand that the fight between Asiwaju Tinubu and Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Governor of Ondo State is now so much in the open that a recent send-em-a-message by Governor Aregbesola of Osun State that Ondo State is being ruled by a “non-progressive” and that the state would soon join the “progressives” is, to say the least, very embarrassing – unless the report is untrue. To maintain a real proxy war that it has been – you won’t read of Asiwaju mentioning “Mimiko the ingrate” or Dr. Mimiko being quoted as saying “Ondo indigenes will not worship a foreign god” – Mimiko’s Information has reportedly denounced the choice of newspapers as places to declare “who is progressive …”

It is therefore possible that this “fight” is being stoked by those who have a lot to gain: the travelling salesmen of Nigeria’s type-politics who could be AC today but would move over to PDP if the umbrella-that-protects-only-a-few gives them tickets to run for governorship tomorrow, the turn-coat artists, the sycophants, etcetera.

Almost two years ago, I wrote the essay referred to above.
It was mostly based on first-hand investigations and an Ondo State information pamphlet I picked up on one of my trips home, and boy, the reactions, though few, were instant. Interestingly, those who had read my essays over the years who wrote did so to support me as in “… I’m writing from the East but I have always believed you because you are not one of them …” A sibling teased: “Se Mimiko ti gb’owo fun e?”

A columnist wrote a contradictory essay on Mimiko’s administration shortly thereafter and while it did not mention my name, it showed I must have written without checking facts or both of us were simply ignorant. A while later, the columnist wrote another essay that definitely cancelled out his earlier piece because as someone from Ondo State, he later told me in the presence of another person, that he was home and had a personal experience of the maternal care thing. His cousin who was due for delivery was rushed to a hospital and he had tagged along and was surprised to find medical care awaiting her because her local health assistant had called ahead!

Unlike two years ago, I have had to spend at least four of the last seven months at Akure and I can say – like anyone who has lived mostly in Nigeria these last several years that Mimiko has transformed Ondo State and has changed Akure from a backwater state capital. The evidences are all around for everyone to see: major infrastructure development not only in the state capital but at Owo (as a sales attendant, one of ten masses-type people I spoke to at Akure this week informed me), Ikare, Ode-Ondo (Ondo Town), etcetera. The sales attendant at a building supplies store at Arakale Road said in response to a belligerent question I had framed for everybody: “Ki lo de t’eyin Akure ko fe Mimiko mo” – why do Akure people no longer want Mimiko. This is usually delivered in flawless Iju which is close to flawless Akure.

“Eh, Mommy!” This is the usual way people in the area of Akure usually start an answer to a question or accusation they take as being preposterous. He went on about how people used to say Arakale Road could never be fixed or modernized. He asked if I’d been to Owo where the main thorough-fare has been dualized. I told him I last visited Owo in 1963! “Eh, Mommy, in a so nu ki nba de ‘be” – you will get lost at Owo these days; [you will not know your way around]. As we stood in front of the biggest merchandiser of building materials at Arakale, the young man said many things, including his “reminding” me – I pretended I have always lived at Iju or Akure but he told me he did not believe me – of a governor whose “achievements” were “patch-patch”. He did not use Adedibu’s derogatory words that the late Ibadan rabble-rouser used for Ladoja as governor; I did, but his Yoruba description of a do-nothing governor was equally damning.

I wish doubters would take trips to Akure and beyond the way people used to ask us country bumpkins a couple of years back to go see what Fasola is doing in Lagos. The changes to Akure are that dramatic.
There is nothing I’d like to say further that I haven’t said in the essays listed here:
That keeping the Southwest one is imperative; that it is a goal that’s greater than any single individual or group of people; that personal differences must be sunk on the altar of group survival; that it is only in working together the region can reach greatness, etcetera.







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