Olusegun Mimiko, the immediate past governor of Ondo State, on Thursday, September 13, 2018 announced his intention to run for the office of the president on the platform of the Labour Party in the 2019 general elections, with security, restructuring and youth empowerment topping the agenda of his “Because We Care” declaration speech.
“There comes a moment in the life of a nation when every patriot must stand up to be counted! At such a moment, no person worthy of a place in history can afford to remain ensconced in their comfort zone. When the totality of our being, and the very essence of our humanity are in violation, patriots must advance to recapture the present; and commit to re-defining the future. For our country, Nigeria, the moment is now!”, Mimiko told a gathering of party leaders and stakeholders at his declaration at the Labour Party National Secretariat, in Abuja.
Before contesting as Governor of Ondo State in 2007, Mimiko had served as housing and urban development minister under the Obasanjo administration, secretary to Ondo State government and a two-time commissioner for health in Ondo State.
The former governor enters the race with an outstanding profile of achievement and landmark success in health sector, education sector and other sectors while he was governor of Ondo State for 8 years.
The Abiye Safe Motherhood programme of his government, which drastically reduced infant and mortality rate in Ondo State, became a global reference point in good governance; and a demonstrable path to universal health coverage, attracting laurels at home and abroad
“I am running because like many Nigerians, I am sick and tired of seeing our country become the butt of jokes everywhere you travel to around the world. I am running because I know we can do better; and we will do better,” he told the members of the press.
“I know this because anywhere Nigerians find themselves, no matter the situation, we always rise above adversity. We don’t just survive, we thrive. It is high time we replicated all over our country, that indomitable spirit of Nigerians, that spirit of accomplishment, which has made stars of individual Nigerians all over the world. The only way to do this is by electing capable hands. It is by electing a great president, that can drive this national vehicle to greatness.”
In his declaration speech, he highlighted some of his major achievements in health, education, agriculture and security as Ondo Governor, which earned his government laurels across the world.
Mimiko, who has never hidden his stand on restructuring, has been one of the leading advocates for the restructuring of Nigeria. He said “I once again, hereby commit wholeheartedly to leading the process of restructuring Nigeria. I say this not as a cliché. Rather, this is a commitment that derives from a deep conviction that there is really not much we, as a people, can do even in the best of times, to place our country on the global cutting edge of development, for as long as it remains shackled and ensnared by a centralized governance structure that is the 1999 Constitution. It is indeed only in the context of a restructured system that the hope for a strong, stable and functional Nigeria lies.
“As governor of Ondo State for eight years, I saw first hand what limitations the federating units are confronted with, in the unitary system of government that we operate, which we wrongfully refer to as federalism. From security administration, through taxation, to investment in infrastructure, many of the things taken for granted in several federal climes, the basis of their vitality, are denied under our 1999 Constitution (as amended).” He added.
“This makes it practically impossible for state governments to be anything other than pitiable adjuncts of an overbearing central government. It is from the anvil of such practical experience that my commitment to Restructuring was further sharpened. It is noteworthy that the redeeming cry now is, restructure and safe the nation!”
On insecurity and wanton killings across the nation, Mimiko said “there is also no denying the fact the centrifugal forces that seek to tear our nation apart have been greatly strengthened in the past few years. One cannot but mention in this regard, ongoing killings all over the country, but especially in the Middle Belt. The attendant devaluation of life is constantly expressed in unmistakable cheapening of human life in our cities, towns, and villages.
“Nigerians have now almost completely lost their sense of outrage over the taking of human lives, as we can see in the heightened but evil commitment to ritual killings, kidnapping-related killings, unprecedentedly violent robberies, and sundry activities of emergent street gangs. We must also fully interrogate the nature of the ongoing massacres in the Middle Belt and elsewhere across the country. It is particularly worrisome that a systematic demographical reconfiguration is underway in our country. The class content of the massacres must also not be lost on us.”
Irked by the high level of neglect of Nigerian youths, Mimiko, who recorded remarkable success in youth inclusion in government and empowerment, assured of his commitment “to mobilizing the youths of Nigeria for education, providing opportunities for them to be productively engaged; and elevating them into leadership through a careful process of acculturation. It is the type of mobilization that has never been seen in this jurisdiction, but which in other climes had been boldly undertaken to change the trajectory of national development for good.
“As governor of Ondo State, I ensured that every one of my programmes was either decidedly youth focused, or came with an unmistakable youth content. In addition, a preponderance of my aides, including members of my cabinet, were young men and women. I, therefore, without any equivocation whatsoever, say to the youths of Nigeria, you have a partner as no other, in me!”
He said he joined the race to become Nigeria President because he believes that working together, “we can restructure and redesign our country in such a way that it would mean for all of us, young and old, male and female, North and South, Christians and Muslims, farmers and herders, a golden door to lasting individual and collective prosperity.”
Mimiko disclosed that the manifesto detailing his plan of action will be made public soon.
In his reaction to the declaration, national chairman, Labour Party, Abdulkadir Abdusalam (Paladin Paiko) said Nigeria can restore its glory and reclaim its greatness if Mimiko is given the opportunity to lead Nigeria.
He expressed his confidence in the ability and passion of the presidential hopeful to set new narratives for the country.
Abdulsalam said until Nigeria was able to provide basic amenities for the people, and take care of its population, the country cannot be called the giant of Africa.
Mimiko‘s declaration received a bipartisan support across the country, and had in attendance leaders of several political parties, including Peter Ojonugba Ameh who doubles as the chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council and chairman of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, chairman of the National Conscience Party, Tanko Yunusa, the chairman of Alliance of Social Democrats, Emeka Okengwu.
The declaration which took place at the Labour Party Headquarters office in Abuja, was attended by members of the academia, civil society, organised private sector, representatives of ethnic nationalities, women and youth groups from across the country.