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Mimiko: In yet another transfer season

By Leo Sobechi
24 June 2018   |   3:52 am
The decision of immediate past governor of Ondo State to return to the very political party that catapulted him to the governorship raises the big question of ideological bent. It goes beyond what Mimiko wants. It is more about what lessons he wants to impart to his followers. However, without prejudice to the extenuating circumstances…

Olusegun Mimiko

The decision of immediate past governor of Ondo State to return to the very political party that catapulted him to the governorship raises the big question of ideological bent.

It goes beyond what Mimiko wants. It is more about what lessons he wants to impart to his followers.

However, without prejudice to the extenuating circumstances within the fold of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which seem to have predicated Iroko’s backward defection like a political prodigal, it is necessary to re-examine the political calculations that have propelled him.

Move Dictated By Closeness To Jonathan

DR. Olusegun Mimiko was one of the governors in peripheral parties that were so close to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The curious arithmetic spewed forth by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) showed that the President needed to firm up his support base preparatory to a possible Presidential primary in PDP.

Although not expressly stated, part of the nagging issues that precipitated the leadership crisis in PDP in 2013 was the incumbent President’s interesåt in seeking a second term in office. Jonathan’s handlers were said to have developed a backup plan, which was to prepare for a primary election in the event that the right of first refusal gambit failed.

That line of reasoning was said to have informed the defection of Mimiko from Labour Party and Mr. Peter Obi from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

The expectation then within the Jonathan circles was that should any of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governors Sule Lamido and Rabiu Kwankwaso or Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, be put forward by the northern caucus to contest the presidential ticket, Jonathan could fall back on the two friendly governors to supply the super delegates to tip the balance.

Stimulated by those exciting possibilities, Mimiko careered into PDP and disrupted the internal poise and structure of PDP in Ondo. Expectedly the existing leadership in place kicked, wondering why the then governor and his supporters should not join the party without a wholesale deconstruction of the leadership in place.

Apart from destabilizing Ondo State PDP, it is believed in many quarters that Mimiko’s unsure steps contributed to PDP’s loss of the governorship election in 2016.

This is because the backlash of his troubled entry into the party found destructive expression in the parallel governorship primary, which also compelled a faction to work at cross purposes with Mimiko’s preferred candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede.

It was not known whether Mimiko consulted with his supporters and acolytes before plunging into PDP, neither was it made public what their opinion was, nor whether Iroko heeded them.

But it was evident that when the leadership crisis at the national level of the party broke out, the former Ondo State governor found things quite unpleasant, particularly given that the face off between Senators Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi camps was threatening his succession plan.

Even prior to the leadership tussle, at the build up to the first botched Port Harcourt meeting on May 22, 2016, not minding that he was the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr. Mimiko did not find things easy reconciling with Ekiti State counterpart, Peter Ayo Fayose, over who becomes the national chairman from Southwest.

Not being the first time Iroko is changing political platform, this might not be the last, but definitely won’t be as momentous or consequential as the first.

In a letter announcing his resignation from PDP, the former governor said his decision to quit was well thought out.

Part of his letter read: “I hereby with utmost humility inform you of my decision to resign my membership of the PDP with effect from today, June 13, 2018 for some well thought out reasons.

It was an honour working with the many prominent Nigerians with whom I shared the PDP platform for the entire period I was in there as a member.” 
Carrying His Cross

HAVING surveyed the polity for the past three years and most likely, coming to the conclusion that he needs to move, Mimiko remembered Labour Party, like a prodigal and how he was almost treated as a Lord in the party, being its one and only state governor.

He must have avoided moving to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), perhaps because it would have mostly been linked to an alleged deal he entered into with the party shortly before the governorship election.

It is not known yet why the former Ondo governor took the decision, but most likely Iroko might have seen the unfeasibility of making a Presidential running mate in PDP with Fayose’s make-believe declaration for a Presidential contest.

Whatever happens the former governor of the Sunshine state should have seen that out of position of political power and influence, he has started to manifest the burden of (mis)calculations.

The controversies that trail his re-entry into reloaded Labour Party must have brought that poignant message home.
Lonely Traveller

SOME owners of his new party, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), indicated their unwillingness to receive the former governor back into its fold, remarking that he left the party at its trial period.

For instance, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, decried the use and dispense attitude of some Nigeria politicians, stressing that Labour Party “would no longer be accessible by desperate politicians to achieve their selfish political desires.”

Also, national chairman of the party, Dr. Mike Omotosho, attributed Mimiko’s renewed interest to another attempt to destabilize it in his attempt to “launder his sagging political image.”

Stressing that the party now belongs to workers as opposed to the bourgeoise class that abused it, Omotosho declared that Labour Party “is the political vehicle for Nigerian workers and the Nigerian poor…

There is no doubt that political journey persons like the former governor of Ondo had in the past taken advantage of the leadership challenges in the Labour Party to satisfy their fantasies for political opportunism.”

Apart from the scathing remarks of LP leaders, Dr. Mimiko would realise what lonely traveller he has become, as the PDP governorship candidate, Jegede (SAN) and his running mate, Prince John Ola-Mafo, have declined to tag along their former leader.

On a positive note, there is the exciting possibility that the forthcoming general election of 2019 would mark a new beginning for Nigeria’s democracy as voters may likely look at habitual defectors with suspicion and distance.

Does Mimiko want to go to the Senate? Time will tell.