*Filani, Oke, others predict better days
The once tight grip of Labour Party on the politics of Ondo State recently eased when some foot soldiers of the party changed camp to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP
BY Charles Kumolu
THOSE who followed the re-electioneering campaign of Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, would hardly forget the roles played by the governor’s men, who repeatedly warded off various political missiles targeted at their camp.
Like armour bearers, these men and women displayed what they believed was the best way to exhibit party loyalty, at a time opposition parties, particularly the All Progressives Congress, APC, deployed all known democratic tactics to ensure Mimiko’s defeat at the polls.
To have emerged victorious in that battle which was waged by South West governors under the leadership of Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, would not have been as easy as the elections result made it look, without the input of some notable hands.
Prominent among those, who analysts believe, put aside ethnic sentiments to campaign for the governor’s re-election, was the then Commissioner representing Ondo State on the Board of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Benson Enikhomehin.
With the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, picking its governorship candidate, Mr. Olusola Oke from Ondo South Senatorial District, it was easy for many to have expected Enikhomehin, who is influential in that zone to have supported the aspiration of his kinsman.
Rather, the influential politician pitched his tent with the governor against the expectations of his constituents, who had expected that his weight would have been thrown behind Oke.
Even though Mimiko got about 8,538 votes against the PDP candidate’s 19,281 votes, the contribution of riverine communities to his victory, has been adjudged remarkable. However, since the governor’s re-election in 2012, a number of issues have emerged to destroy the cordiality between the governor and his supporters from Ondo South.
It was as such no surprise that Enikhomehin recently defected from Labour to the PDP.
Ominous signs for LP
Leading the pack of defectors in a move observers described as ominous for the LP, was Enikhomehin, who said he was deceived into believing that once Mimiko wins the election on the platform of the LP, he would defect to the PDP.
Disclosing this at a rally in Igbokoda, the headquarters of Ilaje Local Government Area, he noted that he fell out with Mimiko because the party had no good plan for the people of the riverine areas.
Giving more reasons for his defection at the event, which was graced by PDP chieftains , he described his former fold as a one man business, adding that LP members claim to be PDP members when they are in Abuja, just as they claim LP when they return to Ondo.
While welcoming the defectors, South-west National Vice Chairman of PDP, Chief Isola Filani, said the party had staged a comeback in the region.
”All what we need is the cooperation of all PDP members in the South west, just like they did in Ekiti where they came out to support the party,’’ he added.
Lending his voice, the state party leader, Oke maintained that a new wind of change was blowing across the country starting from Ekiti. “A new wind of change is blowing across the country. Fayose has come to assume the leadership of the South West PDP.
”The bats must disappear. Benson is like Moses who went to Egypt to study them.
He is familiar with their antics and falsehood. They rigged our election they cannot do that again. They have never been part of us and never again will they deceive us. They are chameleons,” he added.
Other party stalwarts at the forum included Ayo Ifayefunmi, Adewale Kukute, Thompson Atikase, Albert Akintoye, Olusola Oludipe, Wale Ozogoro, Tayo Dairo, Fatai Adams, John Ola-Mafo, Denis Alonge-Niyi, Abayomi Sheba, Agboola Ajayi, Akpoebi Lubi, Yinka Orokoto, Idowu Mafimisebi, Segun Odidi, Kunle Odidi and Tunde Akindehin among others.