I do not know how many ex-commissioners of health have turned out to be governors of their states in our contemporary democratic history in Nigeria, but it was a delight to read of the emergence of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko through the courts as the Governor of Ondo State.
Most Nigerians do not want to be reminded of previous physicians in governance of states as exemplified by Dr Peter Odili in Rivers State and Dr Chimaroke Nnamani in Enugu State. (Read previous blog on them here). Dr Odili is remembered more for the private air-ambulance he bought for his exclusive use while he was Governor of Nigeria’s richest state, while Senator Nnamani is alleged to have found the means within his humble salary as governor to fund the building of a private teaching hospital “Renaissance University Teaching Hospital“.
Dr. Olusegun Mimiko is a medical doctor who graduated from the University of Ife, and has worked in different health settings for much of his professional life. Between 1980 and 1981, he was a House Officer at the General Hospital, Ado-Ekiti. He had a stint with the Nigerian Naval College (NNS Onura), Onne, Port Harcourt, between 1981 and 1982, from where he returned to Ondo State as Medical Officer in the General Hospital, Ondo, in 1982. From late 1983 to 1984, Dr. Mimiko had his initial taste of private medical practice by working at different times as a Medical Officer at Apagun Clinic, Yaba, Lagos; and as Acting Medical Director, Alleluyah Hospital, Oshodi, Lagos. He returned to public service for another year between April 1984 and February 1985 before finally going into full private medical practice with the setting up of the MONA MEDICLINIC with headquarters at Ondo. Read more here.
Dr. Mimiko was appointed Commissioner for Health and Social Services in January 1992 and his tenure was terminated by a military coup d’etat.
His two major achievements of that era are projects and programmes (NOT BUILDINGS);
1. The Pharmacy Shop System under which 24-hour pharmacy services were being provided in the main hospitals around the State.
2. Accident and Emergency Centres in some of the State Hospitals in the then Ondo State (now Ondo and Ekiti States).
After the 1999 governorship election in Ondo State, Dr. Mimiko was again appointed Commissioner for Health in the State. In this case we identified his major achievements as the Millennium Eye Centre, Akure….
(maybe readers from this part of our country can feedback on how these are working today)
Now Dr Mimiko is Governor!
Reports are emerging of innovations in health service delivery in Ondo State. The Daily Independent reports on the Abiye, or Safe Motherhood, Project piloted (piloted!) in Ifedore Local Government Area of the state. Under the project, pregnant women, right from day they register their pregnancy are attached to a team of medical personnel, and a doctor for close monitoring. She is given a mobile phone loaded with credit on the bill of the state government, thus enabling her to seek and receive consistent and constant medical attention anywhere she may be even in the remotest part of the village.
Also the Daily Champion reports on Mimiko’s new law in Ondo State to enforce the reporting of deaths of pregnant women during childbirth by making non-reporting to the appropriate authorities a criminal act punishable under the law in Ondo State.
Compare this to Chief Theodore Orji in Abia State who says he is spending N500 million partnering with an Indian firm to build specialist hospitals in Aba!…which will then be run purely on a commercial basis! Well what can we say but hail the Ochendo Ibeku, Utuagbaigwe of Ngwaland and Ohazurume of Abia South as a remarkable Governor for his State!
Dr Mimiko has a unique opportunity to set the pace for health, and health care planning and delivery at the State Government level in Nigeria. Let us watch and see if he will take this unique opportunity in showing his colleagues how to make a real difference in the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead