The embattled Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, reneged on his promise to conduct polls in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State, despite repeated promises to do so.
It will be recalled that in October SaharaReporters published a report concerning the decision by a Lagos court to declare all “caretaker committees” as illegal.
A SaharaReporters correspondent reported that Governor Mimiko used “Caretaker Chairmen" to head the 18 LGAs since 2009. The usage of these “Caretakers” or “Gatekeepers” resulted in poor development across Ondo State.
A SaharaReporters investigation revealed that many of these “Caretakers" are Governor Mimiko’s cronies. Most of these cronies siphon off funds allocated to their LGA until they are replaced by the Governor every 6 months.
The origin of the usage of “Caretakers” goes back to a decision by the Akure High Court on June 8th, 2009 to nullify the 2007 Local Council elections within Ondo State. After the nullification of the 2007 elections, Governor Mimiko removed all of the elected Local Council Chairmen.
He replaced these elected officials with “Caretaker Chairmen”, and has not allowed new local elections since then.
Starting in his second term, Governor Mimiko made several pledges to conduct the local council polls before the end of 2015. However, thus far he continues to rely upon “Caretaker Chairmen” to govern the LGAs.
Last weekend, during the program “Mr. Governor Speaks”, the Governor indicated that the elections could not be conducted this year due to budgetary considerations. He claimed the State would need roughly N500 billion to organize the polls, an amount which is far too high given the fact that the State still needs to pay workers’ salaries.
Yet when presenting the Ondo State’s yearly budget in January, Governor Mimiko earmarked N800 million for the local council polls out of an estimated budget of N130 billion.
The Ondo State House of Assembly Speaker, Jumoke Akindele, continues to allow for the “extension and elongation” of the tenures of the interim “Caretaker Chairmen”, on the orders of Governor Mimiko.
Due to Governor Mimiko’s failure to conduct elections, many of the LGAs of the State face developmental challenges ranging from bad road networks, a lack of potable water and electricity, environmental pollution, and abandoned schools among other issues.