Sidenote: Olusegun Mimiko: The Iroko fought a good fight

by Stanley Azuakola

*Dr. Olusegun Mimiko  is a YNaija Person of the Year 2012 finalist

On the morning of October 22, The Vanguard Newspaper carried this brilliant headline: “A broom can’t bring down an Iroko.” If it was a Nollywood movie, the next statement would have been, “You’re speaking in parables. Who is the broom and who is the Iroko?”

The story behind the headline was that the day before, Olusegun Mimiko, the man popularly called ‘The Iroko,’ defeated the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olusola Oke, and that of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Rotimi Akeredolu, to emerge winner of the Ondo governorship election in October. No other democratically elected governor in the state had managed Mimiko’s feat of getting re-elected through the ballot box, and not because of lack of trying.

[Read ‘YNaija Editorial: Aliko Dangote is YNaija Person of the Year 2012… Let’s tell you whyHERE]

The sub-plot from that election was the great rivalry between Mimiko and the party of the broom, ACN. No wonder the Vanguard headline. Everyone knew that Mimiko was fighting the battle of his political life against an ACN machine which had swept through other government houses in the South-West. All that remained to make it an ACN clean sweep was Ondo and Mimiko. But the man had other ideas.

Mimiko ran a very deft campaign. To put things in context, the ACN machinery and its leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu were very skilled in unseating incumbents. In just three years, they’d managed to unseat three PDP governments, all in the South-West. But Mimiko’s well crafted messages against the Action Congress of Nigeria proved very effective. They won him the election. Somehow he managed to nullify the ACN’s winning argument in the south-west, the call for the unification of the Yorubas under one (ACN) broom. He knew what his people needed to hear and he told them, the hallmark of great politicians like former US president, Bill Clinton.

What made the victory so special, apart from the fact that the Labour Party under whose platform Mimiko ran was a more lowly party than that of the two main contenders, was that the Ondo election was generally adjudged to have been a fair one. The electoral body, INEC, did its job well enough. The people spoke and were reasonably pleased with the work done by the governor in four years. They chose the Iroko over the broom. They chose Mimiko over Tinubu, the ACN’s overlord.

Despite this achievement, the governor must know that in 2013 and beyond, he’ll have to justify the people’s trust. His margin of victory in the election wasn’t overwhelming. In fact, the combined ACN/PDP total (46.4%) was more than Mimiko managed (40.3%). This means there was a sizeable population of the electorate unimpressed by the Mimiko scorecard, a population he has to do his utmost to satisfy.

But the governor fought a good fight this year. He should be proud.


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