The October 10, 2020 governorship election in Ondo State has become a tug-of-war between the incumbent governor and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and his predecessor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
With just 12 days to the guber poll, the cord of four decades’ old friendship is being strained by politics as Mimiko, who is the national leader of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), has pitched his tent with the current deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi.
Ajayi defiled all odds by ditching his boss and the APC to contest the poll under ZLP as a potent third force, with a rising popularity across the 3009 units, 203 wards and 18 councils of the state.
However, Governor Akeredolu feels unmoved by the alliance with his old friend and predecessor, Mimiko, whose association within ZLP he described as “spent force” and “a car without engine.”
His Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, argues that the outcome of the election would spell doom for the political career of the former governor.
According to Ojogo, “I think it will be a misplacement for anybody to even aver that the governor in his position as the APC governorship candidate feels threatened by the incessant onslaught by his friend and immediate predecessor since the campaign began. We do not believe that we have any reason to feel threatened. We also do not believe that the former governor, who today is the national leader of ZLP, has the capacity and ability to pose any threat to Governor Akeredolu. So many indices abound to also back up my argument.
First, here is a man, who as a two-term governor and after spending eight years, could not muster enough goodwill to even install a successor. Here is a two-term governor, who after his inability to install a successor four years down the line, wanted to go to Senate, but couldn’t even secure victory in any of the local governments in the Central Senatorial zone.
“That shows that Mimiko, who today is a patron of the party, does not pose any threat to us. In any case, we understand his predicament; we understand his pains; we understand the reasons responsible for the onslaught.
But Mimiko fired back at a recent rally in the state, saying, “Your government is anti-people,” expressing disappointment over the performance of his successor.
Mimiko, while canvassing for votes for the ZLP governorship candidate and deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, at Ile-Oluji, Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo Local Government Area of the state, at the weekend, said Akeredolu had inflicted much hardship on the people. He decried the cancellation of free health, social protection programmes like Mother and Child policy and increase in tuition fees in tertiary institutions in the state, just to mention a few.
The former governor noted that he had worked with three governors before becoming governor for eight years, stressing that the present administration has failed to deliver dividend of democracy to the people. According to him, the government of Akeredolu’s claim to performance is nothing but falsehood as all indices show otherwise.
According to him, “There is no person that will say he has not performed. But how do we differentiate performance? Any government that has not democratised education is a bad government. This government that hiked school fee is a bad government. Akeredolu’s government is an enemy of the people. Anybody that votes Akeredolu is selling his children’s future.
“Any government that does not make health free is your enemy. Akeredolu’s government is an enemy of the people by cancelling mother and child and free health for children. Any time they come here to campaign for votes ask him, ‘where is our shuttle buses? Where is our abiye?’ The government that cancelled trauma centre is your enemy.”
The former governor bemoaned the failure of his successor and the APC-led government to build on the successes recorded in the health and education sectors during his tenure as governor. Mimiko also expressed dismay at the cancellation of the accident emergency scheme, which was established by his administration to reduce the number of deaths on express roads around Ondo State.
He urged the people to vote out APC and Akeredolu-led government by voting for Ajayi and his running mate, Gboye Adegbenro as governor and deputy governor on the platform of the ZLP.
But the Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on New Media, Mr. Olabode Olatunde, retorted to Mimiko’s claims thus, “It’s on record that Governor Akeredolu, since inception in office, has not sacked anyone in the state workforce, either at the local or state level. It’s unfortunate that a governor that sacked over 10,000 workers in Ondo Atate is calling the Akeredolu-led administration an anti-people government.
Those lecturers that were sacked unjustly at the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, are still alive to bear witness to the anti-people government of Mimiko in this state.
“These workers were only reinstated by Governor Akeredolu. Because of politics, Mimiko killed the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa (OAUSTECH). What’s more anti-people than the actions of Mimiko in abandoning the various projects left behind by the late Olusegun Agagu?
“The Akeredolu administration came and realised Mimiko only had two Mother and Child hospitals in the state. Governor Akeredolu has now expanded from two to seven and they are now across the three senatorial district of the state.
“As we speak, work is ongoing at the Teaching Hospital, both in Ondo and Akure. Akeredolu has introduced the Contributory Health Scheme, which has also brought about free health care service for children under the age of five and pregnant women.
“So, on health, Governor Akeredolu has surpassed Mimiko in achievements, just as the Akeredolu administration has recorded significant stride in education and people’s welfare.”