Olusegun Mimiko, the immediate past governor of Ondo State and presidential aspirant of Labour Party made his declaration for president of Nigeria at the Labour Party National Secretariat in Abuja on Thursday, September 13, 2018.
Below is his full declaration speech titled, Because We Care!
BECAUSE WE CARE!
Declaration for the Office of President of Nigeria in the 2019 Election
Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, CON
At the Labour Party (LP) National Secretariat, Abuja FCT, Sept. 13, 2018
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!
The times are marked by rapid tumbling of our core values. These are times in our country when a decision has become imperative for those we have for too long pretentiously told, ‘the future belongs to you,’ but for whom we have created only the basis for disillusionment in the present, and hopelessness in the future. They are times of growing frustration for the old; and bleakness of life for all.
The truth, however, is that bad as these times are, they will not pass away, if we choose to remain on this same old path. The wanton killings currently enveloping the Middle Belt, and many other parts of the country, can indeed become the lot of the entire country. The excruciating economic pains of today, can indeed become a mere introduction to what lies in the bosom of time for us all. The unprecedented level of division, and distrust at individual and communal levels, with which we are faced today, can indeed spin out of control, and consume this dear country of ours. As a country, we are sitting right now on the edge of a cliff. Below is a massive inferno. Just a little push in the wrong direction will see us fall over the cliff into utter damnation!
Our present circumstances as individuals, communities, and country, have now made one thing clear. Ability to envision great ideas, and demonstrable track record, rather than place and circumstances of birth, must be the most compelling basis for investing candidates with power. This is, therefore, not the time to cheapen the dialogue by engaging in argument on whose turn it is to run the country. Rather, it is time to insist that only the best is good for Nigeria. It is time to all march out and recall our past, take charge of the present, and launch out into greatness, as one inclusive, cohesive family,
It is within the foregoing context that I situate myself. It is the reason why I find it so compelling to humbly declare today, my decision to seek election into the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2019. I am Olusegun Mimiko, a Nigerian, Medical Doctor, and Ekimogun, from Ondo State. I have the privilege of having grown up under the tutelage of parents, who by any standard were no individuals of humungous material means, but for whom love, hard work, and fairness to all, and fear of God, at all times, must take precedence over all things. I had the privilege of being educated in public schools all my life, from primary, all the way to the former University of Ife, Ile-Ife. I graduated from medical school in 1980, spent some time working in public hospitals, before setting up a medical practice of my own.
In my position as a medical practitioner, I was witness to how very small amounts of money made a difference between life and death for pregnant women. I saw where for lack of money for medical care, individuals with curable ailments often asked to be discharged from hospital, to go home and await death. I came in contact with little children, whose future had been permanently compromised because poor parents could not afford for them the nutritious food needed for their brains to fully develop. It is unspeakable the nature of the pain I felt hearing the shrieking cries of a mother whose baby died because she could not bring him for medical attention early enough, for fear of fees.
Confronted with this reality, it became clear to me that at best of times, with my clinic and philanthropy, I could only do so much to help the needy. I thus made a decision to seek political power, not as an end in itself, but as a vehicle for intervention in the lives of people, especially the poor and the weak for whom, after God, I believe we owe the ultimate responsibility. My involvement with politics since then, remains predicated upon this firm conviction that in political power lies the most potent tool for positively impacting the lives of the greatest number of people.
It was in this context that my commitment to social democracy, which had been forged much earlier in my student days, got fully clarified. I saw in the social democratic principle, limitless possibilities of deploying the powers of a strong, responsible and responsive state, on behalf of the people. This is about setting broad rules of engagement, and setting up a robust regulatory framework. It is about clearly defined developmental plans and goals. It is about commitment to democratization of access to human capital, and other social democratic intervention programmes. It is also about nurturing an expansive space for private sector operation, to drive economic growth and development within a democratic system. This is why I am on the platform of Labour Party (LP), which today, perhaps more than any other political party in this country, approximates the social democratic ideology.
I made my debut as the Publicity Secretary of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), led by the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, in my Ondo Local Government in 1983. I have been privileged since then to serve twice as Commissioner for Health, and Secretary to the State Government in Ondo; and from 2005 to 2006, as the nation’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development. The apogee of my political engagement was my stint as governor of Ondo State for eight years, 2009 to 2017. I, Olusegun Mimiko, humbly reiterate, and without any hesitation whatsoever, that in those public offices where I served, I put in my best, served without any blemish, impacted positively the lives of those whose mandate I exercised, and extended the frontiers of good governance, not just in our country, but globally.
Just after six years of our home grown intervention in health care, the Abiye Safe Motherhood programme, became a global reference point in good governance; and a demonstrable path to universal health coverage, attracting laurels at home and abroad. Regrettably, Maternal Mortality rate in Nigeria remains virtually the worst in the world. The good news, however, is that Abiye is scalable across the country, to ensure that pregnancy to Nigerian women, is no longer in any way a death sentence!
It suffices to add that the centrality of women to national development cannot be overemphasized. They shall, therefore, be the fulcrum around which a good number of our social programmes shall run. The marginalization to which Nigerian women have been subjected for so long shall also be confronted. I commit to work hand in hand with our female population to bring them into the mainstream of governance.
As governor, I could not lose sight of the systematic ruin that had become the lot of public schools in the country. Children of the less privileged, who had no other place to go for education, were becoming fundamentally disadvantaged from that early age. There was no chance of them competing with their contemporaries whose parents could afford to send to private schools. We intervened to reclaim the place of education as a leveler, and the most effective social ladder to the top, for the children of the poor. That precisely was what it was for my generation, and those before it. It was the reason why in spite of the limited means of Pa A. B. Mimiko and Iye’uka, our parents, my siblings and I were able to get the right education to become doctors, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, lawyers, linguists, managers, and professors, for next to nothing. It was because I had the opportunity of such highly qualitative education that I could become governor in the highly enlightened political space of Ondo State.
I knew that if we did not intervene in education, hardly would it be possible for the children of poor parents to ever have a story to tell, in the manner in which, to the glory of God, I tell mine now. The type of education our system was giving to these children in our public schools was enough to guarantee these kids would not have a story. What did we do? We built and equipped a generation of mega schools that were good enough for the children of the rich because of their quality, and into which the children of the poor had open access because they were free. We bussed 55,000 school children to and fro school, every school day, free of charge, for seven years. We heavily subsidized tertiary education such that tuition fees at Twenty-Five Thousand Naira (N25,000), in our Adekunle Ajasin State University, Akungba-Akoko, remained virtually the lowest in the country for all of the eight years I was governor. Our experience also demonstrated that quality and affordability need not exist at cross purposes vis a vis social programmes, as the University consistently got very high ratings even in the context of low tuition fees. It was indeed rated the best State university in Nigeria, 2013, by the US Transparency International Standard; and one of its alumni obtained the best result in the 2014 national Bar examination of the Nigerian Law School.
It is significant that today, the quality of public schools across the country not only continues to dip, Nigeria also wears as a toga, the shame of having 12 million out-of-school-children, a figure that is higher than the population of at least 68 countries around the world! The instability in our tertiary education system continues to frustrate our youths, and undermine their self-confidence.
As governor in Ondo State, we expanded our revenue base. We created agriculture incubation centres – agro business cities – to empower our youths. We built a 30 MW power plant in a captive industrial park. We built roads, built markets, cleaned up the cities, and reconfigured our rural communities with requisite amenities. By 2014, the UN Habitat considered what we had done in urban renewal worthy of its award, the UN Habitat Roll of Honour It was the second time a Nigerian was so honoured. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, on my watch, gave Nigeria its first ever building code, among several other accomplishments. I, therefore, can claim, with humility, that I possess the requisite institutional experience, clarity of thought, power of vision, and courage of my conviction, which taken together, should be the irreducible minimum requirement for the presidency of Nigeria.
This is the time for all Nigerians who love this country to wake up, to get up, to take our future into our hands, and do the needful, to eradicate the scandals that haunt our daily existence. It is high time we eradicated the scandal of seeing or reading about fellow Nigerians having to take their own life because of total loss of hope on how to make ends meet, and about what the future holds in stock for them. It is time to do away with the national shame of being called the extreme poverty capital of the world; and being rated the 125th least competitive economy in the world out of the 137 countries surveyed for 2017/2018, by the World Economic Forum. We have had enough of our youths perish in the Mediterranean, in search of better lives in other lands, some of them not as endowed as our own country.
Nigeria has for so long been a graveyard of dreams. It is high time we made of it an incubation hub for great ideas! That time is NOW! It is why I am running for president. 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. 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 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.
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). 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!
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 already underway in our country. The class content of the massacres must also not be lost on us.
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 (as amended). I had addressed these contradictions way back in my second Inauguration Speech, on February 24, 2013, and indeed severally before then, before Restructuring became the buzz word that it is today. In the speech, I had spoken to the need to make our dear country ‘a secure, and developed member of the global community, along the principles and practice of true federalism.’ It is indeed only in the context of a restructured system that the hope for a strong, stable and functional Nigeria lies.
I am running because I believe 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.
We are poised to look into the dismal performance of our economy within the wider context of quality leadership, corruption, and a skewed world economic order. There is thus, no question about the need to confront corruption in our body politic, given the dysfunctionality that it has come to represent, especially in our public space. In doing this, we shall not fall into the temptation of administering selective justice. Neither are we going to at any time seek the vacation of rule of law. For, as someone aptly noted, selective justice is injustice; and doubtlessly, some form of corruption too. Rather, we shall frontally attack corruption in all its ramifications, by strengthening existing institutions, deploying technology tools, and deepening relevant policies on cashless society, while proactively leveraging global frameworks for anti-corruption.
For us, election finance reforms shall occupy a special place in our determined effort to take on corruption, as this constitutes, for all time, and in more ways than one, not just an enabler, but indeed, the very bedrock of corruption in our political system.
Adequate, affordable, qualitative public educational and health services, as well as a robust social housing scheme, are prerequisites to mitigating corruption. They shall be mainstreamed during our presidency.
As president, I will commit 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!
May I hasten to give vent to one more reason why I am running? The Nigerian political terrain is today so much crowded by political tendencies so adept at unnecessary bickering over the mundane. Hardly is there any attention to the core issues that bear relevance to the life of our people, and our country. Hardly is the ideological plank of our foray into the arena of power given any attention. I am running to redefine the dialogue. I am running to interrogate issues of concern to the average Nigerian. I am running to mainstream discussion of the ideological basis of our political engagement. Ours is, therefore, the new narrative; an effort at elevating the quality of political contestation in Nigeria, which is ultimately beneficial to our country and its democracy. I call on fellow Nigerians, who already had it full of politics as mendacity, to join me in this struggle to elevate our politics.
I end this Declaration by calling on Nigerians outside of the so-called majority parties. Large parties they may be, but when placed against the backdrop of the nation’s overall population, the two largest parties operating in the country today, are in such a negligible minority. I call on Nigerians out there, who may already be disillusioned with the way politics is played in this country. I call on poor and abandoned Nigerians, who wonder why livelihood is so hard, even in the midst of plenty. I call on Nigerians who have watched helplessly as their purchasing power, and standard of living have consistently slid by reason of a minimum wage that hardly keeps body and soul together, and a foreign exchange regime that has virtually made survival impossible for small and medium scale businesses. I call on those Nigerians, who are rich by dint of their hard work and creativity, but who today have every reason to be concerned about how to remain safe in a system where they are increasingly becoming an endangered specie, and the object of mass anger and frustration. I call on all Nigerians, at home and abroad, that are truly embarrassed that we do not seem to have demonstrated the capability to do good by our country. I call on those who wonder every day whether indeed the black race was not supposed to be equal to other races.
If you belong in any of these categories, I call you the Independents in our emerging democratic system, and call on you to join hands with me. I come to you with humility, but confidence in God, and the requisite institutional experience, discipline of mind, clarity of thought, broadness of scope, and cosmopolitan outlook, needed for effectiveness as president of Nigeria.
I come with that deep appreciation of the pivotal place of private sector investment in national development, and the need for creating the basis for harmony with a largely regulatory, albeit responsible public sector. Please, rally to our banner, for the presidency of our dear country, Nigeria. This, without an iota of doubt, is the most compelling platform for unleashing the creativity and vitality of our people, and engendering individual prosperity, security, and national greatness.
While our manifesto, detailing our plans, would be made public soon, permit me to say that we are running Because we care!
Because we care, we challenge the status quo!
Because we care, we challenge poverty!
Because we care, we challenge insecurity!
Because we care, we challenge discrimination against women!
Because we care, we challenge youth exclusion and despondency!
God HELP Nigeria!
Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, CON,
Governor, Ondo State, 2009-2017
Presidential Aspirant, Labour Party (LP).
Sept. 13, 2018