Ondo State not a bicycle for ACN -Prof. Arifalo
From TIMOTHY OLA, Maiduguri
Tuesday, April 17 , 2012

A University don and  former gubernatorial candidate in the 2007 governorship election in Ondo State on the platform of All Nigerian Peoples (ANPP), Professor Ebenezer Ibukun Arifalo has advised the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to tread softly in its quest to extend its control in the South West states, adding that his home state Ondo was not a bicycle for the ACN to ride.

The professor of  Forestry at the Federal University of Technology, Yola (FUTY) said the recent comment of the ACN leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu regarding the refusal of Governor  Olusegun Mimiko to return to ACN indicates that the party was desperate to gain control over all the states in the South West, describing the ACN as too ambitious.

“In politics, people can talk or react to issue the way they choose but people should talk in line with the mind of the electorate and God. I respect Asiwaju Tinubu as a politician and a former governor but he is just an individual, he doesn’t know the feelings and problem of the people of Ondo. Probably, he is thinking that with money ACN can hijack Ondo State but that may not be possible because our people know the direction they want to follow,” he stated. Arifalo spoke extensively on the politics of his home state and challenges of governance in Nigeria.

Excerpts:
My experience in ANPP and PDP
I contested the governorship on the platform of ANPP in Ondo State in the 2007 election but left later because the party was not actually on ground very well. My friends encouraged me to leave and join them in PDP but I left later because of my experience there. I left PDP because I could no longer understand the way the leadership was running the party especially in my state and the way they were playing their politics. There were a lot of in-fighting and misunderstanding.
Those of us who have our own profession and found ourselves in politics were looking for a party that will give our people a better life. I was personally concerned about the development of Ondo State because I realized the state was not growing as it ought to like its peers. Agreed that Ondo is a home of knowledge but the development in terms of modern infrastructure was lacking in the past. That was why I offered myself for service and contested the gubernatorial seat in the first instance but Dr Olusegun Mimiko won.

Before I left PDP, I called those who matter in the party to let them know the problem within but  nobody was interested in my concern rather everybody seems to be interested in their personal interest whereas the struggle for the development of the state ought to be a collective one.
So,  I decided to leave and now I am in Labour Party. One thing is certain you can’t have two leaders at a time. Though, I had wished I could serve my people but since another person was given the opportunity over and above all of us, I think it is just appropriate for me to give my support to him and to demonstrate my sincerity of purpose. This necessitated why I joined him in the party having realized that he was actually committed to the development of the state.

It is God that do approve peoples’ thinking no matter how beautiful the idea is conceptualized. All I wanted is for Ondo to grow, for the people to have a new breath of life and thank God somebody is doing that now. You need to go to Ondo State to see the quality of the roads being constructed by the state government. These roads will not need another reconstruction or rehabilitation in the next couple of years by anybody who succeeds Governor  Mimiko and that to me, is how a society develops. He has already done this and anybody coming after him will just continue from where he stops without necessarily dismantling the good standard.

Government is also providing water and don’t forget our people depend mostly on farming. I am also a farmer but I am happy the government is giving a lot of encouragement to our people both the local farmers and big/mechanized farmers. If development has phase, it will definitely see the people through to the Promise Land but we don’t have such situation in this country as a new leader often jettison the efforts of previous leaders as soon as he comes in and begin new thing which he may not even finish by the time he is leaving.

So with what Mimiko is doing, if sustained, Ondo people will continue to be happy. Again, I must say that Mimiko is a man who deserves respect in every aspect and you can check it out. He single-handedly brought labour to Ondo State, fought his way through the rigours of election and uncertainty of our electoral system without a god-father and even dislodge the incumbent, I think he should be recognized as a strong politician. Probably, that was why our people named him Iroko because Iroko is a strong tree and regarded by the Yoruba as the king of all trees in the forest. I have gone through the electoral process and I know it is not an easy ride but Mimiko won even in the midst of intrigues.

God fathers stifle development
The intrigues are better understood when you’re an insider and it is not what one can discuss on the pages of newspapers but you know electoral victory is not an easy ride as I have said earlier. It is a different kettle of fish entirely if you’re in politics because in Nigerian politics, candidate don’t just emerge from anywhere even if such candidate has a lot of money to share and fine programme to offer the electorate, somebody has to be there to play the god-father role before he could be considered and the man must oil these machine that brought him into power.

So that is why development is often stagnated because half of the money meant for the provision of infrastructure and essential services for the people will go into servicing these shadow governors who operate behind the scene. We call them god-fathers in Nigerian politics but I regard them as shadow governors because they dictate what happen in government. Perhaps that is why the Ondo governor is able to perform to this level because he doesn’t have a god-father who he will have to send something to every month at the god-father’s dictate. Check out what I am saying from states where the governors were installed by some people. I remember the story of the former Oyo State governor, Senator  Rasheed Ladoja, his deputy and successor Chief Alao Akala and late, Alhaji Adedubu. So it is a serious problem.

May be Governor  Fashola would have performed better than he is presently doing in Lagos had he got the seat without his god-father’s pushing him through and probably that was why we hear stories of bickering between them once in a while.
Ondo not a bicycle for CAN In politics, people can talk or react to issue the way they choose but people should talk in line with the mind of the electorate and God. I respect Asiwaju Tinubu as a politician and a former governor but he is just an individual, he doesn’t know the feelings and problem of the people of Ondo. Probably, he is thinking that with money ACN can hijack Ondo State but that may not be possible because our people know the direction they want to follow.

They are not really looking for a crowd gathering but politics of development. We have come a long way and we don’t have the time for the do-or-die type of politics but the politics that will affect positively the lives of our people. Though money is needed in politics as well but it is not always a means to an end. Ondo people are intelligent enough and educated to understand the dynamism of contemporary politics that it is no longer the largeness of a party but the largeness of governance in terms of service delivery. So they are not interested in any adventure that will take them years behind.
In other words, our people are not after money but development and we already have somebody doing that. He has the potential to deliver and so why is ACN leader trying to force the party down our throat, after all Ondo is not a bicycle for their party.

Gov Mimiko not empowering people?
It depends on what you mean but I guess what his critics are talking about is that he is not sharing money with individual. For me, a governor was not elected to give public resources to individual. He is actually not doing the sharing thing in Ondo but he is working.
If what we need is development, then sharing may not well come in. I know his style of governance may not be popular among some people but the majority appreciate what he is doing.

We need to understand what we need from our leaders: did we elect him to come and work or share money to some people while our roads are impassable, our hospital in comatose, education sector appalling-no water, electricity?
Tell me what is the impact of the few that were given money by past governments in the state on the entire society? Yes they might have built mansion, bought the most exotic cars with such money but has all these impacted well on the larger society?  To me, Mimiko symbolizes example of how leaders in Nigeria should carry themselves because he has played the role of a seasoned politician who has studied the road map for development. His style like I said may not be popular because we’ve gone out of the right way in Nigeria and the bad way has been generally adopted as the right way in our society. But sincerely, our people are happy with the governor’s performance and there is no regret electing him as their leader. I’m saying all these because I am connected with my people though I don’t live there. I’m not also saying all these for any personal gain but because of my strong conviction about events in my state.

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