Mimiko’s entrant into PDP & the chances of Governorship aspirants in 2017: An Xray

The Ondo State Governor Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who was hitherto the only Labour Party (LP) governor may decide to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the conclusion of his nationwide consultation. Hints of this political movement have however begun to affect the political equation of Ondo State, the Southwest and indeed the nation-Nigeria.

Recall that Dr. Olusegun Mimiko grew through the political ladder from youth leader to Secretary to Local Government, two terms State Commissioner, Secretary to State Government, Federal Minister before ascending the position of Governor though after a protracted legal battle.

Segun Mimiko

Segun Mimiko

In all these he has continued to muster political energy devoid of any political vulture. This has also allowed him to know and understand the political structures and gladiators throughout the nooks and crannies of Ondo State in particular. Dr. Mimiko, contributed immensely in installing all his predecessors who became governors through the ballot. No wonder he was Commissioner under Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua and late Chief Adebayo Adefarati and later Secretary to the State Government under late Dr. Segun Agagu.

If Dr. Mimiko finally decided to re-join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which he earlier joined in 2003 after his over six years sojourn in the Labour Party (LP), the entry or may be re-entry could only be described as triumphant for him and a game changer for several others. It must not be overemphasized that he will be joining the party not only with all the political gladiators in the state but also with all the apparatus of government in the state.

The question now is that what does this portend for the people of Ondo State? First, the movement would have returned Ondo State to the mainstream of Nigerian politics. This will further strengthen the already cordial relationship existing between the state and the federal government as led by President Goodluck Jonathan. Secondly, it will afford Mimiko the opportunity to wholeheartedly work for the re election of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, which majority of the people of the state have signify their support for. Thirdly, this will lead the PDP to becoming the only dominant party in Ondo State.

Another angle to the whole story would be “What will be the effect of this fusion to the 2015 general election in Ondo State? If Mimiko led the Labour Party (LP) on a winning spree since 2009, House of Assembly bye election in Akure North and Ilaje Constituency 2, House of Representative bye election in Akoko South East/Akoko South West, three senatorial seats in 2011, eight out of nine House of representative in 2011, twenty five out of twenty six House of Assembly seat in 2011 and the governorship election in 2012, then joining hand with the hitherto major opposition party in the state will have sealed victory for the state mega party, what some people refers to as the “new Ondo PDP” even before the polls.

Political analysts, watchers and even party followers and faithful’s have continued to argue that Mimiko’s joining the PDP will ultimately determine who succeeds him as governor in 2017. Analysts argued that the political goodwill which Dr. Mimiko have garnered and enjoyed over the years will be leaned upon to present a credible successor. This piece also subscribes to this position that Dr. Mimiko will be a major determining factor in deciding who govern Ondo State from 2017.

The template for the selection will now have to put a lot of things into consideration if the governor finally decides to join the PDP. One, there will be a larger pool of aspirants that will jostle for the position; some from the present PDP, some from the present LP and some who at present may not belong to any of the two but may decide to run on such a strong platform.Jimoh IbrahimOlusola Oke

Before now, the PDP is seen to be stronger in the Southern Senatorial district of the state. This may be due to the fact that since 1999, the governorship candidate of the party have always emerged from the district. If this strength will cornered the governorship slot for the district, then it will be the fight among political titans such as Chief Olusola Oke, Chief Sola Ebiseni, Dr. Pius Osunyikanmi and Chief Jimoh Ibrahim who has been in out of the governorship race since 2003 on different political platforms.

Chief Oke, a former member of the House of Representatives who represented Ondo state on the pioneer NDDC board and later Chairman of Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC) may enjoy the sympathy of being the former flag bearer of the party.

Chief Sola Ebiseni, a former Chairman of Ilaje/Ese Odo local government and the Ondo State Law Commission as well as being a three time Commissioner for Environment in the state, he is a confidant of the incumbent governor Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and late Chief Adebayo Adefarati. His perceived loyalty to whoever he has worked with may earn him the ticket of the party.

Chief Sola Ebiseni

Chief Sola Ebiseni

However, Dr. Pius Osunyikanmi who has being an ally of Dr. Mimiko for years may beat all other contenders to the governorship ticket in the district if he decides to run on the ground he is perceived to be the person being groomed for the plum job by Dr. Mimiko.

If zoning is anything to go by, it will be right that the Central Senatorial district where the incumbent governor is from will be excluded from or take the back seat in the 2017 governorship race. But the Akure people have continued to argue that it is their turn to be at the Alagbaka Government house in 2017. Their argument hinges on the fact that out of the then five division that make up the Ondo State, only Akure division has not been elected as governor.

If this sentiment receives the support of the people of Ondo State with respect to the 2017 governorship, then Eyitayo Jegede SAN may spring surprises as he has been described as a member of the kitchen cabinet of Dr. Mimiko.

Prior to the 2012 governorship election, what was described as “Akoko Agenda” took several people out of the LP including Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Saka Lawal, Dr. Olaiya Oni, Prince Sola Amodeni etc. The 2017 may reenact the clamour for an Akoko governor even as the Owo people are strategizing to outsmart the Akokos if the governorship is finally zoned to the Northern Senatorial district.

In a situation where the “new PDP” ticket is exclusively domiciled in the Northern Senatorial district, the party will have an array of aspirants to choose from. The body language of Dr. Mimiko who definitely will be interested in who succeeds him may finally be relied upon in selecting the party’s candidate.Attorney General, Ondo State

In Owo area of the Northern Senatorial district, two allies of Dr. Mimiko have signified their intention to run for the governorship of the state. Mr. Tokunbo Modupe aka TPT, a close confidant of Dr. Mimiko, from Ose Local Government and the convener of the Orange Family Initiative (OFI) is said to have concluded arrangement to run for governor.

Also a third republic Senator, Remi Okunrinboye who is from Owo, is said to be networking across the nooks and crannies of Ondo State to ensure that he clinch the ticket to pursue an ambition of decades. However, cross sections of the people consider him too old for the job.

It has also been rumoured that a former Presidential Aspirant in the Third Republic, Senator (Dr.) Bode Olajumoke who is also from Ose local government is also strategizing to emerge the candidate of the new PDP.

From the Akoko end of the Northern Senatorial district, they are avalanche of would be governor who are also planning to leverage on the proposed fusion to ride to the Alagbaka government house.

Hon. Gbenga ElegbeleyeA former Minister of defence, Tokunbo Kayode SAN who would ordinarily have emerged as the candidate of the new party because of his cordial relationship with Dr. Mimiko is said to have lost favour with the Presidency. Also, his colleagues in the PDP have continued to accuse him of betraying the party in the 2011 general election. They have always boasted that such action will not cease hunting him.

Dr. Olu Agunloye popularly called Omoluabi from the same local government with Tokunbo Kayode has a very pleasant relationship with Dr. Mimiko and this would have earned him the ticket to occupy the Ondo Government house from 2017 but for his growing age. He may however have settled to go to the Senate in 2015.

For the incumbent Director General of the National Sports Commission and a former member of the House of Representative, Gbenga Elegbeleye he seems to have been enjoying the support of the younger elements in the political circle across Ondo State. The support base of this former Chairman of Akoko North East local government and Ondo State Waste Management Board is said to shore up since the rumoured defection of Dr. Mimiko and the entire Ondo State LP to the PDP. The successes recorded by the country in sports since his assumption of office may be the x-factor he needs judging by the fact that Nigerians are sports loving people, Ondo State not excluded. He (Elegbeleye) was said to have strongly supported Dr. Mimiko in the October 2012 election. This may therefore be his payback time.Saka Lawal

The PDP deputy governorship candidate in the October 2012 election Mr. Saka Lawal, a former political aide of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who had hitherto laid claim to the PDP governorship ticket by ascendency is said to be jittery as his former boss is joining the PDP. His fear is that Dr. Mimiko may deliberately work against his emergence. But this may be far from the truth because Dr. Mimiko is a leader with a large heart who believes that only God anoints leaders. This fear may however limit Saka Lawal’s chances.

The list of aspirants from the north also includes a former Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Victor Olabimtan who is presently a Commissioner in the Federal Civil Service Commission. Olabimtan who was also considered for the PDP Deputy Governorship candidate in 2012 and could not make it because of the fear of the unknown, may still chicken out from the governorship race, as feelers have it that he is working to be Deputy Governor to another aspirant. The former speaker was said to have use his position to favour several indigene of the state particularly from the Akoko area. This would have added value to his aspiration only if he has the heart to take the big risk.

Notwithstanding all these, the political development that will emerge in Ondo state in the nearest future including the 2015 general election and the 2017 governorship election will radiate around the final decision of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko to join or not to join the PDP.

Olu Johnson Egbodofo is a Public Analyst and presently Special Assistant to Ondo State Governor on OSOPADEC email: pariephor@gmail.com

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