Long Walk To Mandate

Two friends sat under the shade of a giant almond tree commiserating with each other on the political events in their state:

"The day Iroko reclaims his mandate, I will surely die!" the first young man declared. “But why would you want to die on a day of great rejoicing?" his friend enquired curiously. "I will die from happiness!" the young man affirmed.

These statements from two friends captured the mood of the three-and-half million people of Ondo State on 14th of May, 2007, the day Dr. Rahman Olusegun Mimiko, after a nail-biting anticipation by the people of Ondo State, submitted his petition to the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Akure, the capital city of the state, which was a day to the deadline! The legal battle to reclaim the mandate freely given to the man popularly known as the Iroko of Ondo State politics in the 14th April, 2007 governorship election in Ondo State had thus begun.

As the deadline drew precariously to a close, the people of Ondo State became increasingly worried. They were wondering why Iroko and his Labour Party candidates had not filed their petitions at the tribunal. Being the party that was aggrieved, our people did not care about legal strategy or social expediency, they just wanted their justice and they wanted it swiftly.

Rumours had started to smoulder across the state that Iroko was under tremendous pressure from the powers that held sway in Abuja to give up on his legal challenge of the mandate unjustly given to Dr. Olusegun Agagu.

Although, the vast majority of our people did not buy into the possibility of an Iroko sell-out, there were nagging questions that they desperately wanted answered:

"Why is Iroko delaying a process that he promised will right the wrong so brazenly visited on us? Could he not feel the impatience of the masses that gave him an overwhelming majority of the votes cast in virtually every Ward of all 18 Local Governments of the State, for him to assume office as the governor?"

Perhaps you had never met people more wary of seekers of political office than the indigenes of Ondo State. Fiercely independent-minded, they were not easily led but quick to react on the slightest perception of deception. Yet the kind of loyalty Iroko enjoyed among his people was such that the people trusted him confidently that he would rather die than sell out!

They knew precisely what they were buying into. They would never have reposed such trust in a man of questionable integrity. They knew a man of principles would remain on principles even onto the crucifix. Ondo State people knew that if Mimiko was elected as governor, he would keep his promises. They were also sure that if by any means they were robbed of their franchise, Iroko would be there standing strong to lead from the front and the vagabonds who believed that every man had a dollar price would be in for the shock of their lives!

Ironically, the fact that the people of Ondo State could not anchor their anxiety about the delay in filing on any reasonable explanation only served to heighten their confusion. When a man knows from where danger approaches, his instinct to fight or flee is easily mobilised. However, the one who knows not whither the beast will strike, easily drops dead of dread.

"What are we going to do now? Iroko says: "be patient, don’t fight, we shall go to court.” The candle of time is burning out, yet the torch bearer is not filing! All that while for thirty days, Iroko and his firebrand team of lawyers, led by no less than the guru, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN were busy preparing the mother of all petitions; busy gathering preliminary evidence and strategising on how to reclaim the mandate. Their plan was crisp and clinical. It required nerves. It was not a move for the lily-livered. They would work right within 24 hours of the deadline in order to minimise the time frame within which Team Agagu and PDP would have to digest the petition and fashion a cross-petition. The danger of a cross-petition was that it opened up places you won fair and square to legal.

..... An extract from the book "TO LIVE WITH HAPPINESS"

by Olubansile Abass Mimiko

Judging by the social, economic, political and attitudinal challenges enormously imposed by the confronting experiences in the struggle from the election of April 14th, 2007 to reclaiming of the Mandate on Feb 24th, 2009 it becomes unequivocal to boldly declare that this is really a long, long, long… longwalk to mandate.

Mimiko rally 2007 (Akure North)

Mimiko rally 2007 (Akure North), it even extended into the night...

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