6th August, 2012
By ‘Dimeji Daniels
I was at the Akure Sports Complex when Olusegun Mimiko praised Adaba FM to high heavens for serving as a succour to him at the time that the ousted Governor Olusegun Agagu made the State-owned media, OSRC, a no-go area for him. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former Ekiti Governor Ayo Fayose were present among other dignitaries at the swearing in ceremony.
I was there in company of my boss, the Head of News of Adaba FM, Jide Ogunluyi, to do a live commentary on the event. Those were the days (and before his victory at the Appeal Court) that Adaba FM would air Mimiko and Labour Party’s jingles before collecting money. Most of the payment was made months after he became governor. This was also the time that Labour Party leaders would quickly put a call through to the powers that be to complain about any seeming ill treatment meted out to them at Adaba FM, even though the station’s staff was nice to them. They behaved in those days as though they had been given a carte blanche.
As the first correspondent Adaba FM posted to the Government House, I saw Mimiko up close, and those were good days. His Chief Press Secretary then, Bisi Kolawole, was nice, so also were the other correspondents in the Governor’s press crew. Although Adaba FM had a cordial relationship with Mimiko at this time, I made it a point of duty to always report from an objective point of view. While I was there, I would write beautiful reports for PDP. I remember the PDP Publicity Secretary, Adedipe, and the Secretary to the State Government under Agagu, Isaac Kekemeke first doubting my objectivity, being a reporter with Adaba FM, but I assured them that doing a good job was all I cared about; they were convinced by my reports. I remember now that one of my colleagues in the press crew warned me that I should exercise caution to avoid endangering my life. Eventually, I got tired of the set-up and asked to be redeployed to the desk.
In those days, Adaba FM slaved for Mimiko; I don’t think the Governor should forget this overnight. For close to three months, most of us were sleeping at work because we had no accommodation, coupled with the harassment and abuse we suffered in the hands of the Agagu administration. Agagu threatened to demolish the station, but he later changed his course and started bringing his jingles for transmission on the station too. Looking back now and thinking deeply, I cannot but ask that should Mimiko have been Agagu, he would probably have hunted all Adaba FM staff out of Ondo State. Agagu was more hit by Adaba FM, yet in those days the staff of the station never woke up to find a man-made gully on the road leading to their station. Their General Manager was never warned by the government of Agagu. Their reporters did not have to look over their shoulders this much then.
Same way Mimiko could not go near OSRC then, can ACN or PDP go near the station now? Where then do they go? Definitely, Mimiko should know that same way Adaba FM provided succour for him, the station, in the same manner, owed it a duty and a social service to provide succour for the disadvantaged now. This simply is not about Tinubu. Even if ACN is Tinubu’s party, is PDP also his party, at least PDP also has a free rein on Adaba FM? Among Tinubu and Mimiko, who seems closer to PDP?
One thing I noticed about Mimiko while at the Government House was that he was a smart politician, but my fear has always been that he may someday outsmart himself. It is a fact that Mimiko understands the politics of Ondo State to the extent that he knows what mesmerises Ondo people. A younger brother of a former Commissioner in the Mimiko government, Solagbade Amodeni, even confirmed that Mimiko once said he knew what captivates the people of Ondo State. He was also said to have allegedly claimed that as long as you build infrastructures in Akure, Ondo and Owo, second term would be a piece of ticket. If this were true, what about Okitipupa, Akoko and other towns in the State where indeed Mimiko seemed to have done nothing. Could he be right after all? Are Akure, Ondo and Owo the only towns that matter? The election of October 20 should answer this question adequately. It is also the election that would confirm my fear whether Mimiko has outsmarted himself at last.
Since my resignation from Adaba FM last year June, I had only been to Akure a couple of times. My first visit to Akure this year was in July and I took my time to assess the hype about Mimiko’s achievements. Indeed, the Mother and Child Hospital, which had been there before I left Akure, is a commendable project, but the so-called beatification of Akure leaves little to be desired. I saw the over-hyped fountain around First Bank, Alagbaka in Akure and the newly asphalted roads and I got the impression of beauty and development in dirt. The roads are already being covered by sand in some places because they were done in a way that does not allow free flow of flood, in a manner that suggests that it was rushed, maybe to give the people something to talk about in the meantime. Puddles and dirt could be seen on some portions of the road at Oke-Ijebu and I could not help but think that gradually the road is going back to its former state.
Whenever I think about the over N407 billion that the administration of Olusegun Mimiko has collected as allocation till date, minus the internally generated revenue (IGR), I can’t but remember those days when we would hand over all our monetary gifts from January to December to our mom and at Christmas, she would buy us a pair of shoes or a cheap ready-made clothes and say,”That’s all your money o”. We would protest, but to no avail. Are Ondo State people like us too, while we were growing up? Are these Christmas gifts (projects by Mimiko) commensurate with what the State has taken as allocation so far? Like us, would their protests also be to no avail?
It is right for some people to argue that Agagu got allocation as well and did not do as much, but that is like the case of a child who got nothing at Christmas despite all the money he has saved with his mother and one who got a small gift, but lesser in value to what he has saved with his mother. If the mother of the child who gets nothing is wrong for “swallowing” all the money, is the mother of the one who gets a small gift less of a thief? Which of these two mothers would God judge right?
These are the issues ACN and PDP members discuss on Adaba FM. Has the station done badly by letting them say the truth? I personally don’t think so. If anything at all, I think Adaba should be commended for being a ray of hope at a time some would gladly cover all sources of light to prevent the truth from being known.
Elections are not won on the pages of newspaper and on satellite TV. Simply most of the journalists who do hatchet jobs for Mimiko will not vote in Ondo State and are not even in the state. Anyone who doubts the authenticity of my claims should consult artisans in Ondo State for their opinion and it will be discovered that Mimiko is far behind in the election of October 20. The teeming unemployed youths of Ondo State are another group that should be consulted. Although there are many elephant schemes that have been set up in the name of youth empowerment, ask Ondo youths who the real beneficiaries of such schemes are. For every criticism you push Mimiko’s way, he comes up with a phantom scheme and satellite TV and newspaper adverts to defend himself, thus giving one the impression whether publicity is another achievement of the Mimiko administration.
Like I said earlier, Mimiko is a smart politician, but I have a strong feeling that the time to outsmart himself has come. ACN and PDP should pull up their trousers in readiness for the October 20 election to prevent the election from degenerating into a war film. The first election I monitored in Ondo State was the Akure North bye-election into the House of Assembly. I had heard stories about ‘ayeta’, but that was the first time I saw it in play. It was so hot that even the dreaded strong man of Iju-Ita Ogbolu politics, Chief Tayo Alasoadura, who was then a PDP chieftain, sought the safety of his compound along Ado-Ekiti road in Iju, and as for me, when I saw strong men staying in the confines of their homes and their vehicles smashed, I almost drenched my jeans with panic urine. Ilaje Constituency where PDP lost was not so different. ACN and PDP indeed need to pull up their trousers – and INEC has got a yeoman’s job on its hand to make the October 20 election violence-free and sane. Adaba FM too should probably apply for police protection to monitor the election.
And I must add, I am a progressive Nigerian seeking the progress of my dear nation at all times. I don’t seek to court the kind of violence that was unleashed at the venue of Adebayo Adefarati Memorial Lecture in Akure, or worse, or less. Security agencies should take note of this. May October 20 be a peaceful and a truthful day.
•Daniels writes from Ado in Ekiti State