Mimiko’s divided house in Ondo
WITH less than a year to the election that will usher in the successor of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as the governor of Ondo State, it is expected that the incumbent would deploy his massive and deep-rooted political machinery that has earned him the sobriquet Iroko, to install his choice without which he may be pushed to the political backwaters.
But as activities towards the election gather momentum, a serious crack has appeared within Mimiko’s political family as one who is qualified, above any other politician, to be described as Iroko’s godson, Dr. Pius Olakunle Osunyikanmi, the Director-General of the Directorate of Technical Aids Corps (DTAC), has come out publicly to disown him and even put an expiry date on the governor’s political relevance.
Osunyikanmi, who is in his early forties, was Special Assistant to Mimiko when the latter was Commissioner for Health (1999), Secretary to the State Government (2003) and Minister of Housing and Urban Development (2006). A loyal aide, he was also made Special Adviser on Multilateral Agencies and later Commissioner for Education when Iroko emerged as the governor in 2009.
Being perhaps the closest aide to the governor who went with him through the controversial April 17, 2007 gubernatorial election, during which many lost lives and limbs, and the excruciating 22-month period of litigation that restored the stolen mandate, Osunyikanmi, was thought to be the last person to part ways with Mimiko.
Although in the public domain, Mimiko is thought to have facilitated the emergence of Osunyikanmi, who hails from neigbouring Ile-Oluji and whose mother is of Ondo origin like the governor, as Presidential Adviser on Foreign Affairs and later as the DG of DTAC, the former aide said the governor was not the one responsible for his movement up the political ladder.
Last week, a local tabloid in Akure reported Osunyikanmi as putting a lie to the assertion that the governor was not only responsible for his meteoric rise in politics but his education as well.
His words, “it baffles me that the governor could go to the length of spewing lies about me. Dr. Mimiko is like a registered drug with expiry date. Mimiko’s expiry date is very close. In fact, the governor’s expiry date is not February 24, 2017 but October 2016. He will expire in October next year.”
Obviously, the former aide, who is yet to switch political camp, was already planning a defeat for the governor in the election scheduled to hold next October and for which Mimiko’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) are girding their loins to contest.
Osunyikanmi may have left Mimiko’s flock, which is fast depleting giving politicians’ penchants for abandoning sinking ships, but with his knowledge of the governor’s political machine borne out of many years of working together, his closeness to the grassroots, his widely-believed connections with the public servants and the youths upon whom he has used his positions to positively impact and the fact that he is gradually becoming the new face of politics of Ondo State, he is one sheep that should not be allowed to go astray if the Iroko is to retain its sturdiness.