Many troubles in search for Mimiko’s successor
APC may lose Ondo election, says Momoh
As time ticks closer to the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State, the more uncertain it is for those angling for the Alagbaka seat of government to succeed Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
None of the major political parties across the three senatorial districts: the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the major opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC), has an unfettered campaign to win the next election as both parties are bogged down by internal wrangling and crisis.
The emergence of the former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr. Olu Agunloye as the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the party’s August primary had raised the expectation of a third force that might reap the benefits of the crises rocking PDP and APC.
But this hope for the former minister appears dashed when the former PDP National Legal Adviser and governorship candidate in the 2012 poll, Chief Olusola Oke, made a final detour to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to realize his ambition.
Oke ditched the APC after the failed bid to get the party’s ticket and the controversy that trailed its primary.
Less than 47 days to the election, the ruling party has not settled its political differences which originated from the national leadership tussle between Senator Ahmed Makarfi and the former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, which polarized the party’s candidature in the state into two.
Governor Mimiko’s faction, which is loyal to Makarfi, picked the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) as the PDP candidate, but a businessman, Barr. Jimoh Ibrahim emerged the candidate of Sheriff’s PDP faction.
Ibrahim often touted that Governor Mimiko and Jegede are his campaign managers for the election, predicating his conviction on the judicial precedence in Rotimi Amaechi versus Celestine Omehia’s case over the governorship ticket in 2007 election in Rivers State.
The state’s factional chairman under Sheriff’s camp, Mr. Biyi Poroye, asserted that the “PDP-Konigba” and “PDP-Gbasibe” still exist, insisting that the faction would reclaim the party leadership from the incumbent governor whom he claimed hijacked the party from the founding members in the state.
There has been a cold war of sort since October 2014 when the governor made a political inroad to the PDP, compelling the then state chairman, Mr. Ebenezer Alabi to relinquish the seat for Engr. Clement Faboyede and others, who followed him to the party from the Labour Party (LP), flaunting the maxim through “PDP-Gbasibe.”
On the other hand, the internal crisis in APC has refused to abate and the fortune of the party has worsened with the deepening differences between the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
To underplay the impact of the crisis in the party, Akeredolu visited the state chairman and an ally of Tinubu, Isaac Kekemeke during which he asserted that APC was forging ahead and that the issue of the governorship candidacy has been resolved.
“I don’t know which aspirants are aggrieved. I only know about one person who claims he has left the party. So, if anybody believes that it was flawed with irregularity, he is free to say whatever he wants to say. But one thing is certain and APC has taken a decision on who is their candidate,” Akeredolu said.
With particular reference to the friction with Kekemeke, he stated: “I don’t know whether he had any ill feelings about me but I never had anyone against him and I never believe that he has. You people call it ill feelings and I don’t believe there is ill feeling. The point is that when you have primaries in any party, it must raise a dust.
“The party chairman and everyone of us here have decided to move forward and plan for our election so that the only viable alternative which is APC produces the next governor and we are moving.”
Another sour and looming issue in APC is the choice of Mr. Agboola Ajayi from Ese-Odo local government area (LGA), as the running mate to Akeredolu. Several groups within the party have kicked against the choice of Ajayi, even as some accused Akeredolu of picking his maternal kinsman to do the job.
However, the APC governorship candidate pacified the people saying: “You wait for us and the party will decide. What happens normally about the issue of running mate is that you set up a search party. You sit down with the party and look at the pros and coins and the value that could be added to the ticket. We can assure you that by next week, we will conclude the issue of deputy governor.”
In response, Kekemeke who played host to the Team Aketi 2007 said the national secretariat has submitted Akeredolu’s name as the candidate, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has published, adding: “I am a man of authority under authority, so he remains the flag-bearer of our party and that is recognised by me.
Also, Muslims in the state under the aegis of All Progressives Congress Muslim Council have insisted on having the deputy governorship slot because none of the major parties picked a Muslim as its governorship candidate.
According to the Akure South Coordinator of the council, Mr. Saheed Adeki, who led scores of Islamic faithful across the state for a protest at the Jummah Service, weekend at the Akure Central Mosque, they might not vote for the party if their request was not granted.
A member of the group confided in The Guardian that the protest was a stratagem to reroute their loyalty for the choice of Mr. Gani Daudu, who out of displeasure in the primary decamped and was picked as Oke’s running mate from Akoko to wreck vengeance on APC for depriving two Akoko sons – Abraham and Senator Ajayi Boroffice the ticket.
MEANWHILE, a founding member of the APC, Prince Tony Momoh yesterday warned that the party risks the chances of winning the governorship election in Ondo State if it fails to put its house in order before the election.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, he said Ondo is vital to APC “but as it were, the chances of defeating PDP is very slim unless we take a common position ahead of the election.”
Although, he disagreed with the notion that what is currently happening in the Ondo chapter of the party has to do with the survival or performance of the APC at the federal level “the challenges in Ondo is localised and it will remain so, until it is resolved.”
He also dismissed the allegation that some elements in the North, in collaborations with some Yoruba in the party, are working towards hijacking the Ondo platform with the consent of President Muhammadu Buhari.
His reaction is coming on the heels of allegation that Tinubu, whose influence is strong in the South West, has already directed his loyalists in Ondo to move to another party ahead of the election.
Tinubu’s decision, as alleged might have been informed by the way some South West elements in the APC in collaboration with Hausa Fulani hegemony have been trying to undermine the influence of the Yoruba within APC with Tinubu being the principal target.
Momoh said there was no doubt the party is having challenges in Ondo “but it remains Ondo chapter’s affair and it would be resolved. President Buhari has not openly shown any interest in any of the candidates”
In another development, a group called Concerned Oodu’A Stakeholders in a press conference held in Lagos yesterday warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) no to attempt repeating what it did in Edo by yielding to the pressure from the Directorate of State Security Services (DSS) and the police to postpon the election already scheduled for November 26.
The group believed to be speaking for the PDP insisted that if for whatever reason INEC or any government agencies unduly interfere in the coming Ondo election to favour any party “the state would not know peace.”
In his address, the National Coordinator of the group, Kola Are said, “There is every possibility that political desperation could once again be brought to bear in Ondo State and may even degenerate further in the weeks preceding the governorship poll in the Ondo, except genuine stakeholders remain vigilant and speak out against possible re-enactment of the power-play and bureaucratic posturing that characterized the election in Edo State.”
He lamented that the role of the security agents in coercing the electoral body to postpone the governorship poll in Edo, speaks volume of the extent to which the electoral process has been rendered susceptible to flagrant unmitigated manipulation “we would like to warn that the consequences of deploying official obduracy and meddlesomeness of security agencies in manipulating the process in Ondo may be too ominous to contemplate.”