Dear Governor Olusegun Mimiko,
Foremost, I note that your government has brought about appreciable level of development in Ondo state. Also, there is no gainsaying the fact that your commitment to the conception and implementation of real welfarist programmes, is legendary. Beyond the testimonies of the beneficiaries and witnesses of your welfare schemes ,your progressive credential was offered fillip, when a former Minister and now a notable face of the Nigerian Opposition Party(All Progressive Congress)in a recent tour to Ondo state ,openly opined that your government ,wittingly or unwittingly bear similitude to the Danish model of governance, which essentially espouses the ideology that the state must be compassionate to the poorest and weakest, and even awarded you the ultimate prize for the most compassionate and purposeful leadership in southwestern Nigeria.
It is the reason of your proven compassion and pedigree as a listening and democratic leader, who respects the expected plurality of the political space, that I find relieve in expressing my mind to you in respect of the ravages of institutional abandonment in my land-Idoani Kingdom, Ose Local Government Area, with the hope that it will stimulate affirmative actions that can also be extended to other semi-urban areas in Ondo state that share our problems.
Before I progress, let me make it clear to you that apart from being a nephew to your childhood buddy, who was a member of the same Student Executive Council you served in, in your days at the University of Ife, the fact that your ‘left of the center ideology’ of governance dovetails with my leaning as a social democrat, abinitio,endeared you to me, and my sympathy for your party, which I deem as the third force, in the Nigerian polity, has been overt. This was why I did my part, passionately, joining other progressives in strategizing, mobilizing, writing, and enlightening to ensure that my people took the most politically expedient decision in furthering their economic and political interests, and which in all sense of modesty, among all other contributions from my brothers, culminated in the practically nem con victory, which you got easily from my town.
As much as I want to be perpetually enamored of your personality, I and others who are perceived as your ardent sympathizers are plunged into abashment, when the evidences or manifestations of the ‘institutional desert’ my town has become stare us in the face. Our morale and advocacy energy becomes vitiated in locally re-enacting the eulogy that we generously bestow your government, in national and global contexts, when Ondo state is placed on the spot for assessment. The shame is usually on us, because we are losing time, the platitudinous alibi that ‘the governor means well for us, he is just taking his time’, which we normally offer to our people, has become a cliché. I can only muster the courage to openly remind you of your social contract with the tax- paying citizens of Idoani, and other semi-urban areas within Ondo state, that share our plights, for you to swiftly respond, favourably, and etch yourself indelibly in the memories of our people as not a mere performer in the state capital but also a developer of the most obscure regions.
Sir, this is the most inauspicious moment for us as indigenes of Idoani. The socio-economic conditions of my people have become exacerbated, and outlying from the mainstream of economic success Ondo state is bandied to represent. We are practically in a state of comatose, developmentally. Most of our roads are in deplorable state, and the ecological destruction which we suffer may have been mitigated had government intervened in the construction of drainages. As other citizens in other parts of the state and country are testifying to improvement in electricity delivery, which the governors can enhance by supporting communities to get new transformers, my people hardly enjoy 60 hours of electricity in a month out of the possible 744 hours, and they are equally constrained from accessing quality water from the water corporation.
Sir, in the area of health that is adjudged to be your forte, my people are yet to start enjoying the dividends of your passion for universal health services access, as the only general hospital, which serves Idoani and its complementary Ireakari region of over 200,000 population, has only one qualified medical doctor. There is no way your commitment towards maternal and infant mortalities reduction can be achieved with such inadequacies. Beyond the foregoing, the demographic advantage we have in the preponderance of youthful population is turning into a major disadvantage, in the absence of vista for sustainable vocational engagements and the financial motivation for formal education, especially at the tertiary level. Most of my people that fall into the cohort endowed with huge mental and physical agility ,anxious for upward mobility, move out in droves, in search of greener pastures, leaving a hapless residue that seek recourse to Okada riding and all sort of engagements that suggest systemic illness.
Albeit endowed citizens of my town, who are concerned about the development lull in the town, have plans to either individually or synergistically develop enterprises, in private capacities, that will unleash our local potentials, and help empower our youths, we however realize, having reached advanced stages in our feasibility studies, that an enabling environment, which only the state government can afford is a sine qua non to such endeavors.
Beyond the socio-economic yearnings of my people ,I feel there is also the need for you to be careful in avoiding pantomimes that do not suggest profound sympathy to towns ,in situations where they are bereaved, by the loss of notable indigenes ,who are close to you. When moments of sorrow in respect of people who are associated with your government are not well managed, there is usually a crater created for the opposition to score cheap political points against you. I have in mind the unbefitting burial perceived to be given to my brother-Daji Bernard-the young man that died as a result of the crash of the plane conveying the remains of the former governor of Ondo state-Governor Olusegun Agagu back to the state, by majority of my people. Though this cannot be said to be your fault, as a committee must have been saddled with the responsibility to co-ordinate the burial, but since the buck stops at your table, the people who blamed you could be somewhat justified.
As I write this letter, my heart, just like those of the teeming people of my town is heavy. Within the spate of 3 months that we lost Bernard Daji, we have lost yet another of our pillar-Mr Ranti Akerele-your former commissioner, who was also known to be your staunch loyalist. I know instinctively that you will be eager to offer the most befitting burial to Mr Ranti Akerele,on his own merit, as your loyalist and pioneer commissioner of information of the Labour Party, and perhaps also leverage on same to neutralize the goofs committed by the committee that organized the shoddy burial that was giving to Bernard Daji. However, beyond the politics of emotions, I expect that you will look into the problems I listed above, and develop solution concepts that can be implemented in making immemorial the legacies of these late men. For instance, a great idea could be for you to develop a good road, well fitted with drainage and other street furniture between upper Idoani and the lower part(Owani),and name it Ranti Akerele road. In doing this, you will not only be solving part of our problems, but also entrench the legacies of your late associates, and by extension, deepening your charisma and goodwill.
But more fundamentally, I strongly believe that for your government to be regarded as co mpletely successful, this second phase of it should be committed to the revitalization and upgrading of the rural and semi-urban areas, adopting the trickle –down strategy to development, as you have been above notch in the embellishment and planning of the state capital. In the absence of plans to unleash the local energies and creativities of the people of our rural and semi-urban regions ,for them to be self sufficient and sustaining in their local environment, we inevitably increase the social and economic costs of urban governance, as the attendant rural to urban drift will spawn the overstretching of carrying capabilities of the urban infrastructure you are putting or have put in place, and crystallizing those conditions that could turn our promising millennium cities to millennium slums.
Sir,in the Nigerian context, the trickle down strategy, which I referenced, has application in the development of multi-campus system in the tertiary education sector. Ogun and Oyo states come to mind when referencing climes where the proliferation of campuses as growth poles represents success stories in the enhancement of locales’ access to and motivation for tertiary education and essentially the boosting of the economic bases of the campus host settlements, as opportunities for profit in private housing provisioning and all sort of commercial ventures that are ancillary to campus operations automatically evolves in forming a pattern of development for the benefitting settlements. Sir,if this path to achieving eco-rational balance in the distribution of resources had been your working hypothesis, a town like Idoani, which is a strategic host for say faculty of engineering or faculty of agriculture of Ondo State University, would have developed the capacity to grow spontaneously and merely requiring development guides and strategic interventions from government for its growth to be sustainable.
Another veritable variant of the application of trickle –down strategy, which you earlier seems to be in favour of is the creation of Local Council Development Authorities (LCDA). I am not in the know of the present stage of the lofty idea, which Idoani is also considered for, whether it remains in the pipeline, or it has been completely jettisoned, but I believe you will be convinced and see reasons with me on why you have to fast-track the creation of Ireakari LCDA and others, as you travel around Idoani for Ranti Akerele’s burial.
Lastly, I believe this missive will be perused and appreciated as a constructive contribution of a friend who wishes that you leave indelible prints of good governance that will perpetually and genuinely mould you into a legend that has the same place as Pa Awolowo in the people’s mind. I crave your indulgence to act on this friendly appeal with all sense of utmost urgency.
May God bless you and the people of Ondo state.
Mr Olapeju Olasunkanmi from Ido-Ani in Ondo State, is a lecturer in Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, Ogun State (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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