- Race open, odds favour no party – Analysts
Barely three weeks to the November 26 date for the gubernatorial election that will produce Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s successor in Ondo State, analysts have said that the governor’s party, the People’s Democratic Party is in disarray and has a slim chance of producing the next governor.
This was just as Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, said that some agents of confusion were allegedly using the current crisis in the PDP to cause confusion and pave way for the All Progressives Congress candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, to win the November 26 election.
Having presented two candidates, Eyitayo Jegede and Jimoh Ibrahim from different factions, with the Independent National Electoral Commission recognising Ibrahim, based on a court ruling, the analysts described the crisis bedevilling the PDP in the state as self-inflicted.
Fayose urged the people of Ondo State to stand by Jegede and refuse to be distracted. He expressed optimism that justice would prevail.
“This is a fight against democracy. God hates agents of destabilisation and it is very unfortunate that Ibrahim is into this,” Fayose said.
With division getting rooted within the party, analysts and keen followers of the development have, however, expressed fears that there may be no solution in sight to the logjam in Ondo PDP before the election; a situation which they opined might result in the party losing out woefully at the end of the election exercise.
Reacting to the Ondo quagmire, a former gubernatorial aspirant of the PDP in Lagos State and former acting National Vice Chairman, South-West, Adedeji Doherty, bemoaned the emergence of Ibrahim as the party’s flag bearer.
Should the court not overturn Ibrahim’s choice, Doherty said he did not see him winning the election, because “everything is designed for him not to win.”
Neither the court judgment declaring the exco put in place by Mimiko in Ondo State nor the one in May declaring the Makarfi national caretaker committee illegal was appealed by the PDP, which by law had 90 days to appeal, before the judgments become st atute-barred
He added, “Ibrahim was never a member of PDP. I was secretary of the South-West Reconciliation Committee that brought Mimiko into PDP from LP and I know the major players in Ondo State PDP. Ibrahim was never a player; he was a financier from the federal. So, why does the name Ibrahim come up in Ondo PDP today?
“I don’t see why a loyal PDP member will go on TV to support Ibrahim or Sheriff. And I don’t see any reason why someone will go on television, claiming what does not belong to him. PDP has been celebrating thuggery and impunity over the years and supporting imperialism and things that do not follow the norms of democracy. That is what has given birth to all these rubbish going on.”
Meanwhile, a competent source close to Governor Mimiko, who pleaded anonymity, told The Point that Mimiko was already contemplating a soft landing by defecting to the APC to defeat the AD candidate, Oke.
According to the source, Mimiko and his followers know that with Ibrahim’s emergence, the PDP may never get any result from the elections.
The source said Mimiko sought audience with President Muhammadu Buhari last week, “instead of an earlier arrangement he had with APC gubernatorial candidate, Akeredolu, ‘for ‘peculiar reasons’.”
The source added, “We were actually discussing with the candidate, but you know this is an intricate issue. So we needed to encourage Mimiko to seek audience directly with the President instead of Akeredolu for some peculiar reasons that have to do with trust and mutual respect.
“This is politics; we have decided to make the President understand that his party needs us to defeat the AD candidate who is heavily funded from Lagos.
“Certain things have to be tabled for discussions and commitments extracted. But in a matter of days, events will unfold as to how the whole issue will be handled. We have held very fruitful discussions with the President and we are confident that he understood our position.” For the national Publicity Secretary of the Makarfi faction of the PDP, Adedayo Adeyeye, it is the court that can find solution to the logjam.
“With the situation on ground, it is only the Appeal Court that holds everyone’s fate in respect of what will happen in future,” he said.
He, however, does not foreclose the possibility of reconciliation between Ibrahim and Jegede, adding, “Anything may happen, because we would not want to lose that state. But the court holds the decision about the PDP candidacy.”
Elder statesman and National Chairman of Social Democratic Party, Chief Olu Falae, said that it was left to the people of Ondo State to take a decision.
He said, “As it is, the people of Ondo State are to face a big test that will determine their fate in the next four years, because looking at the crises here and there, all the parties are of the same level and have equal chances.
“But, be that as it may, the electorate hold the ace and have the power to determine who emerges the next governor.”
Speaking on the issue, the Chairman of the Ibrahim faction of the PDP in the state, Biyi Poroye, said his group was ready to give the other faction the fight of their lives with an overarching objective to correct all the wrongs they did in the past.
“As it is, the Appeal Court cannot upturn the situation, it is only the Supreme Court that can do that, which I don’t see happening in this case,” he said.
Poroye said that Ibrahim was unconcerned by the noise of the other faction and was pressing on with campaigns and preparation to enable him win the election.
He added that “the Jegede faction knows they have lost, which perhaps explains why some of their men have been coming to us. We are the true leaders of the party in the state and they are always welcome to follow us.”
But the spokesperson of the Mimiko-led faction of PDP in the state, Adebanji Okunomo, speaking on the possibility of his faction aligning with Ibrahim’s, told The Point, that “while we are not refusing such move, Ibrahim is so arrogant that he has not even spoken to anyone.”
He stressed that “even if he wants to reconcile with us, do you think we will come under him and fail with him? Nobody in this state will vote for him, and he is going nowhere.”
Okunomo also shares Fayose’s view that the crisis in the state PDP is sponsored by some external forces, who want the party to go into extinct.
“Imagine, in Edo election, the Makarfi-led PDP candidate was recognised for the election. How on earth is it that the court will now rule in favour of Sheriff, if external forces are not intervening?” Okunomo asked.
Recall that Governor Mimiko’s faction of the PDP had pitched its tent with the Ahmed Makarfi’s faction at the national level, and conducted a primary election in Akure that threw up his former Commissioner for Justice, Eyitayo Jegede, as its gubernatorial candidate.
On the other hand, the Ali Modu Sheriff faction conducted its primary election in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and South-West zonal headquarter of the PDP and produced business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim as its standard bearer.
Trouble had come the way of the Mimiko group when an Abuja Federal High Court, on October 13, declared Ibrahim as the authentic candidate of the PDP for the Ondo gubernatorial election.
The court had ordered INEC to recognise Ibrahim. The court decision, it was gathered, was predicated on the fact that the party’s constitution (as amended) does not recognise caretaker committee at any level of the party’s administration.
PDP its elf has been celebrating thuggery and impunity over the years and supporting imperialism and things that do not follow the norms of democracy. That is what has given birth to all these rubbish that is going on
Genesis of the crisis
The journey began on October 2, 2014, when Governor Mimiko, along with his cabinet and state and federal lawmakers, elected on the platform of the Labour Party, defected to the PDP.
The Point’s checks also revealed that at the time of Mimiko’s defection, Ibrahim was the ‘de facto’ leader of the PDP in the state, with an elected state executive council in place. But Mimiko and Ibrahim are like the proverbial two parallel lines that never meet.
Mimiko’s arrival threw spanner in the wheels, as the national leadership of the party dissolved the state exco, which tenure was expected to lapse in March this year.
The exco went to court to challenge its dissolution. And on December 20, 2014, an Abuja High Court sacked the state executive committee of the party put in place by Mimiko.
Given that the party’s constitution does not recognise a caretaker committee in its administration, Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on May 23, also declared, as invalid, the national caretaker committee constituted to take over the affairs of the PDP from Sheriff after its botched Port Harcourt national convention earlier in the year.
Now, neither the court judgment declaring the exco put in place by Mimiko in Ondo State nor the one in May declaring the Makarfi national caretaker committee illegal was appealed by the PDP, which by law had 90 days to appeal, before the judgments become statute-barred.
All these prepared the ground for the ruling on October 14 by Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja, which directed INEC to recognise Ibrahim as PDP candidate in the Ondo State election.
DARK HORSE AS NEXT GOVERNOR
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that a dark horse may emerge the governor of Ondo State in the November 26 election, as both the PDP and the APC in the state are battling with selfinflicted crises.
The emergence of the dark horse, may be reminiscent of the fashion late Sir Michael Otedola, emerged Lagos State Governor in 1992, against the expectations of all and sundry.
Investigations by The Point revealed that the current resurgence of the Alliance for Democracy, which has picked Olusola Oke as its gubernatorial candidate, might be the surprise that would daze PDP and APC in the upcoming election. AD is allegedly being financed from Lagos.
Oke defected to the AD after Rotimi Akeredolu emerged the APC gubernatorial candidate, despite protests from other aspirants, who kicked against the emergence of the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association.
As the PDP continues to battle with its own crisis, the APC too is enmeshed in internal wrangling over Akeredolu.
WE WON’T SHIFT POLLS DATE – INEC
Meanwhile, worried that the election is less than a month away and with the suspension of the Court of Appeal ruling, which was expected to be delivered Tuesday, following a petition of bias against the panel of judges, the Mimiko faction of the PDP has appealed to INEC on the need to postpone the November 26 poll.
Jegede’s spokesperson, Kayode Fasua, while speaking with The Point, said, “We are appealing to INEC to consider shifting the election date in respect of the ongoing crisis.”
But the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, told The Point that “INEC is not ready to consider shifting of the Ondo State governorship election date.”
He explained that natural disaster and other tenable situations, according to the constitution, are the only reasons that can lead to such an action being taken.