Ondo PDP unites for Jonathan’s victory
AFTER weeks of acrimony among the top leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, most of the gladiators have finally agreed to work together in the interest of the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan in the March 28 presidential elections.
Crisis hit the party in the aftermath of the defection of governor Olusegun Mimiko from his erstwhile Labour Party (LP), a platform he nurtured to victory in 2007 to the PDP from which he left following some irreconcilable differences with the party in 2006.
While those who stayed back to sustain the PDP during the period the party was in the political wilderness, having lost political authority via a tribunal judgment in 2009, and who were already preparing for an imminent return to political reckoning this year were not happy about Mimiko’s return, some members of the LP who knew their ambitions would be affected by the defection also expressed their opposition to the new arrangement.
The crisis got to a head when billionaire politician, Jimoh Ibrahim and a group of aggrieved members of the party headed for the courts to secure initial injunctions that brought more confusion to the fold of the already-divided party, leading to apprehension that the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) would reap political gains from the discord.
Although the APC caught a few big fishes like former Speaker, Victor Olabintan and several former members of both Mimiko’s and Dr. Olusegun Agagu, his predecessor’s cabinet, from the troubled waters of the PDP, the ruling party seems to have regain its lost bearing in the search for unity.
The two gladiators in the leadership tussle, Mimiko and Olusola Oke, the party’s candidate in the 2012 gubernatorial election who with the late Agagu founded the party in the state, also seem to have found a way around their differences, which three weeks ago, were in the public domain when Oke accused the governor of “attempts to destroy the party on the altar of unbridled personal ambition.”
With the leadership of the old and new members of the party now coming together, the coast appeared to have been cleared for a Jonathan victory in Ondo State even though the relatively high public acceptance of the candidacy of the main opposition challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is still an obstacle to be surmounted.
In Ondo South Senatorial District, which is believed to be the traditional stronghold of the PDP, a stakeholders meeting was held last week among the aggrieved old members of the party who agreed to sheath their sword and embraced the new entrants.
Their leaders including Oke, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Kingsley Kuku, former Chairman of the party, Dr Lucas Gbakinro, former commissioners Ayo Ifayefunmi, Prince John Ola Mafo and Hon Ola Oguntimehin among others resolved to work with former members of LP who in the interest of the PDP.
At the meeting held at Igbokoda, headquarters of the oil-producing Ilaje local council, they agreed to organize unity rallies in all the senatorial districts of the state to show the new found love between old and new members of the party.
In a communiqué read at the end of the meeting, the party members who accepted Mimiko as the constitutionally recognized leader of the party said “we commend our members who remain in the party despite all the challenges. That we pledge to remain in the party, loyal and committed as members of the party and we will not leave for any other political parties.”
Besides, they said “we have heard and accepted the plea from our leaders for us to forget the past and forge ahead by working and supporting our party in all the elections. That we are going to massively mobilize and support and vote for the Presidential candidate of our party, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the only intellectual candidate in this elections. That we work to ensure we integrate everybody into our party. “
Speaking at the meeting, Oke who spoke as the leader of the old PDP said the crisis in the party was as a result mismanagement of the integration during the defection to the platform by Mimiko.
While saying the crisis had been put in abeyance, Oke said, “our mission is to come first in the entire south west. In my local government for instance in the last elections, we deliver 77,000 and I believe we can improve on this and we want to do this across the state. For us to be able to do this, both those that are working at the moment and those who for one reason or the other developed apathy must be brought on board.
“As we can see today, these are majorly old PDP members who had one reservation or the other. But we have delivered the message of Mr. President to them. You can see the enthusiasm, so ours is to complement what Dr. Mimiko and other leaders of the party, including myself, are doing and to ensure that we deliver Ondo state for Mr. President. “
Oke said all members of the party must be brought on board in order to deliver overwhelmingly for the party in the forthcoming election so as to prevent the APC, “which is our common adversary, to gain a foothold in our state.”
According to Oke, a former National Legal Adviser of the party, “the PDP is the strongest political platform in Ondo State because it has been managed by people that are dedicated to the success of the party. We can only reap collective success if we focus on the victory of Mr. President so that we can from there, consolidate on our gains.”