Home Articles & Opinions 2019 presidency, Mimiko and the question of national security  *

2019 presidency, Mimiko and the question of national security  *

by Our Reporter

*By Femi Ayelabowo*

Strangely, under the watch of a battle-hardened, retired general of the
Nigeria Army, now president, insecurity of human life has taken
centre-stage and unreasoned, unchecked bloodletting has turned the country
into a Hobbesian state of nature – nasty, short and brutish. When a miffed
former Chief of Army Staff and ex-Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Theophilus
Danjuma accused the Nigeria Army of complicity in the continuing bloodshed,
it came home to Nigerians that something very fundamental was wrong both
with the footing of the administration and its puzzling denial mode.

It is at this significant historical juncture, when Nigeria is most
uncertain about its values, its leadership and its safety that former
two-term governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has stepped into the
fray and solemnly promised to change the Nigerian story if elected
president. Dr. Mimiko is the presidential flag-bearer of the Zenith Labour
Party (ZLP) and has signaled his intention to challenge settled,
conventional assumptions.

In his words during his mid-September presidential declaration in Abuja:
“There comes a moment in the life of a nation when every patriot must stand
up to be counted! At such a moment, no persons 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!”

After about 30 years subsequent to swapping his stethoscope for the
political podium, Dr. Mimiko has certainly and clearly demonstrated that
both medicine and politics fundamentally address human development. Watched
carefully by his political foes and allies, the* “Iroko”, *as he is fondly
called, has proceeded to lay out the intellectual framework for his proposed
nationalist intervention.

According to the sedate scientist, “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.”

Though the odds appear insurmountable, history shows no hurdle is
insurmountable to an indomitable human spirit. In looking at the big
picture of the nation’s security dilemma, Mimiko is certain there are
forces striving to abort the Nigerian dream and should be stopped. His
words: “There is 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.

“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.”

It is against this damning backdrop that he envisions a three-pronged
approach to transform Nigeria. A powerful pillar of Mimiko’s tripodal
vision is restructuring of the Nigerian state. He captures the essence of
restructuring, drawing from direct experience.

Read him: “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 save the nation!”

Mimiko correctly holds that there is really not much Nigerians can do even
in the best of times, to place themselves on the global cutting edge of
development, for as long as they remains shackled and ensnared by a
centralized governance structure that is the 1999 Constitution.

Elucidating on ant-corruption war, a second pillar of his national vision
that also has critical bearing on national security, the ZLP presidential
flag-bearer stated that given the dysfunctionality that corruption has come
to represent within the Nigerian state, it needs to be totally and
confronted frontally. His words: “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.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, education is a third pillar of the Mimiko vision
for Nigeria which also has implications for impacting the national security
positively, drawing from his direct experience from Ondo State. According
to him, “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 that 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.”

Peering into the immediate political firmament, Mimiko urged the members of
his party and Nigerians not be intimidated by the big parties but rather
focus on the size and weight of ZLP’s ideas.  He said: “We must focus on
the purity of our ideological commitment. We must focus on our passion and
compassion for the weak and the poor in society. We must focus on the
clarity of our vision and thought that we bring to the fore for Nigerian as
we go into the elections.”

Perhaps the most powerful strategy of the Mimiko offensive is a willingness
to disrupt settled assumptions that have hobbled the nation’s progress for
decades. This is because decisions to be made by the electorate in 2019
general elections actually verge on the existential and requires
unconventional engagement. Probably, few realize this.

*Mr. Ayelabowo writes via Femilabowo@gmail.com<Femilabowo@gmail.com>*

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