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Mimiko’s defection and the fear in Ondo PDP

Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, was given the name ‘Iroko’ because until recently when Ayo Fayose emerged as Ekiti State governor on the…

Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, was given the name ‘Iroko’ because until recently when Ayo Fayose emerged as Ekiti State governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mimiko was the only South West governor who came to office on the platform of a different political party from the All Progressives Congress (APC) that dominates the region.
Mimiko came into limelight in 1999 when he was appointed commissioner for health in the Chief Adebayo Adefarati-led government. In November 7, 2002, he resigned his appointment as commissioner and joined the gubernatorial race in the state on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD). He lost and later joined the PDP and was later appointed Secretary to the state government in 2003.
Not long after, he was appointed as minister of housing and urban development under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
In 2007, Mimiko turned in his resignation letter and contested for the governorship seat against the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu on the platform of Labour Party.
Many of the PDP leaders followed him to LP. He won the election although he did not get the mandate until two years later through a court battle.
Though Governor Mimiko is still loved by his supporters who describe his first term in office as impressive as they said he embarked on several people oriented programes, but as he served his second term, many of his associates began to grumble.
Due to this, the Labour Party began to lose strong members in the state who started defecting to other opposition parties.
But Mimiko was able to maintain his political relevance by staying close to Abuja. He supported President Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election as he directed his supporters to vote for the PDP candidate. Even during the recently concluded voter’s registration in the state, Mimiko was said to have told the people to register so that they can vote for Jonathan in 2015.
The governor, bothered by the falling state of the Labour Party, was said to have gathered his supporters and stakeholders to discuss the way forward and it was decided among other issues that the best thing for them is to join the PDP.
His supporters were said to have advised him to join the PDP since he has been romancing with the top echelon of the party in Abuja who would be eager to receive him to their fold.
It was gathered that the leadership of the PDP, led by  Adamu Muazu, has also been putting pressure on Mimiko to confirm his loyalty to the President by decamping to the PDP  so as to support the president in  his  re- election bid.
Daily Trust  reliably gathered that the deal was  finally sealed when Mimiko came to Abuja last week and was asked to make the declaration immediately to prove that the PDP has enough strength in the South-west region.
Mimiko was said to have accepted and a press conference was called at the Presidential Villa where he made public his intention to finally return to the PDP, a move which observers say would save the political career of the governor as he can now play a bigger role at the national level within the PDP which he left in 2006.
But immediately after his defection,  some members of the PDP and their supporters have made public their position that they are not comfortable with Mimiko’s action.
Barely 24 hours after the announcement of Mimiko’s return to PDP, party supporters went wild with protests, saying they don’t want the governor in their midst while threatening to resist every move to change the existing structure of the party that is on ground.
PDP chairman in  the state, Ebenezer Alabi, explained to our correspondent in a recent interview that  the party would be happy to have Mimiko back in its fold, only if he does not move against the established order of party structure in the state.
“Our door is open to anybody wishing to join us, there is power in strength, the more the merrier. It is a welcome development,” he said.
Alibi was also quick to say that though the party will be able to work out modalities for having the governor in the party, the only problem that may arise, he said, is if the governor tries to take over the structure of the party.
“We must work out the modalities. If he is coming to strengthen us, that is good. We intend taking over the South-west and the party is the biggest party in West Africa.”
“His coming to PDP will not make much difference but there is a structure on ground, the current executive has a term of four years and it cannot be tampered with. It depends on the merger. If our people don’t see him as the overall director, they won’t mind. They will support him. We will work together to ensure victory for the PDP next year,” he said.
Now that Mimiko has finally ditched the LP which may mean the final death of the party in the state, since its chairman Chief Dele Akinyele has said that the whole labour Party will move with him, the role expected of the governor within the PDP hierarchy is still not clear.
Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state,  Barrister Isaac Kekemeke,  told our correspondent that they are happy that the governor is now in the PDP.
“There is no hiding place for this governor who came into governance via a populist platform, if he thinks that by joining PDP he will escape the reaction of the Ondo State people to him and his government, he deceives himself.
“In fact, it is a case of double wahala for dead body and the owner of dead body. We are happy that this governor’s pretence to being  a progressive is finally exposed,” he said.
The APC chairman said Ondo State is home to progressive politics in Nigeria and that the people are determined to align Ondo State with progressive politics which is today being championed by the APC.
“The blurring line has disappeared, the confusion is cleared, you are either a progressive or not,” he said.
But PDP chairman says he does  not see why the defection of Mimiko to PDP will be of benefit to APC. “In fact, it is a minus, maybe they believe we won’t be able to merge properly, but we will,” he told Daily Trust.
The chairman of Labour Party in the state, Chief Dele Akinyele, also in an exclusive interview said the party is still consulting with stakeholders which include members of the House of Assembly, traditional rulers, religious leader, captains of industries, party members and supporters, workers union and market women and all relevant groups.
He said that the whole LP will move en-mass with the governor to PDP when he is set.
A former Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly and  Federal Civil Service commissioner for Ondo, Ekiti and Edo States,  Victor Olabintan, also told Daily Trust that the return of Mimiko to PDP is a great move that would work for the success of President Jonathan come 2015.
Olabintan said the development is a clear indication that a PDP candidate will emerge as governor of the state in the next gubernatorial election.
He assured that 85 per cent of the state will now work together to add value to the system both at state and national level.
For the people of Ondo State, the game is on and they are waiting to see where it would end.

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