By Dayo Johnson Akure
IT will be an understatement to suggest that upper week’s defection of governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, from his former Labour Party, LP to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, if not handled properly may spell doom for both parties in the state, as the opposition All Progres-sives Congress, APC is waiting in the wings to harvest those that may opt out of the PDP and LP.
Already, the state Chairman of the APC, Hon. Isaac Kekemeke, has disclosed talks are on with some notable leaders of both LP and PDP willing to defect to the party due to irreconcilable differences caused by the defection of the governor.
The interesting thing about the defection is that some interests within the LP and PDP are fighting surreptitiously to frustrate it. While some leaders in LP are not bold enough to tell the governor to his face that they are not following him to the new party but are grumbling because they may not fly in the new party and may be choked by some personalities in the PDP, some leaders in PDP are not too comfortable with the leadership of the governor, whom they would have loved to avoid politically.
Infact, many left the LP to the PDP because of his domineering attitude and to now dictate who gets what in their party makes them sick.
The drum beat of war is coming from some camps within the two parties. Some leaders of the PDP who see the coming of the governor to take over in the party as a death knell to their political ambitions are sponsoring the dissenting voices surreptitiously.
These leaders are major players in the Southern areas of the state.
Findings showed that the grouse of the leaders especially from the Southern areas was that they are the hen that lays the golden eggs, yet they have never been oppor-tuned to occupy the plum governorship seat.
While the leaders from this region are preten-ding to be pleased with the governor coming over, they are still the ones instigating the State Working Committee members to frustrate the coming of the governor by creating furore.
However, the leaders from both the Ondo Central where the governor hails from and the Northern areas seem to be in genuine support of the coming of the governor, believing that he would be able to checkmate the domineering influence of some leaders in the Southern area who are holding the party in the jugular by controlling the State Working Committee.
The general but unwritten agreement is that the next area to produce the governor should be the Northern area of the state, but the leaders from the South are of the opinion that the late former governor Olusegun Agagu’s second term in office was incon-clusive and that the attempt by the former National Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olusola Oke was frustrated by the national leaders of the party who supported Dr. Mimiko to secure a second term ticket, while they abandoned their own candidate.
So, they see 2016 governorship election as an opportunity for them to realize their ambition.
The sign that the defection would not be a tea party was the institution of a legal action against the dissolution of the state working committee by the governor.
Barely two hours after the governor declared for the PDP in Abuja and was received by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo and the Senate President David Mark, some state governors and other party leaders, the state chapter of the party, approached an Abuja Court to pre-empt the governor.
To keep the people of the state posted of the leaders’ action, the Publicity Secretary of the party, Wale Ozogoro in a statement in Akure that same day said “the PDP in Ondo State had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja to restrain the National Working Committee of our party from dissolving the existing party structures in the state.
“The application was brought through an originating summon applied to by the State Working Committee. Already served are the National Working Committee and her privies. Also served is the Senate President who is the Chairman Southwest Reconciliation Committee.
“The party maintained that Dr. Mimiko should keep the structure of his government, while the party structure remains. However, the party welcomes him back to his former party.”
As if that action was not grievous enough, some leaders through the party’s Director of Publicity, Ayo Fadaka in a strongly worded statement lambasted the National Secretariat of the party for shutting them out of the defection exercise.
The statement expressed total discomfort and displeasure to the manner Mimiko’s carpet-crossing was managed by selected leaders of the party at the national level. They kicked against how the defection was midwifed, adding that the process was done with a lot of disrespect to the State Party Chairman and members of the State Working Committee.
Direct input and blessings
“We believe that this action is calculated to treat the entire members of this party as inconsequential and of little or no consequence in the fortune of our own party. Therefore, we declare that this is grossly unfair and so reject outrightly, all negotiations purportedly entered into on our behalf without our direct input and blessings.
“Therefore, we state in the most unequivocal manner that we repose absolute confidence in the Executives of the Party at every level in the State and will take serious exceptions to any action taken directly or indirectly to harm or dismantle them.
“We also state that we welcome Mimiko and his followers to the Party in their individual capacities, we also respect the constitution of the PDP particularly the recognition that it confers on any Governor who is a member. However, we remain mindful of the fact that he is joining as a Governor.
“We say this because PDP is a big Party with established structures that must not be treated anyhow.
“We also understand that Governor Mimiko’s publicly stated goal of decamping into our Party is to enable him contribute effectively to the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan. We must say this is appreciable but as citizens of Ondo State, we do know that Governor Mimiko currently carries a lot of baggage and liabilities that precludes him from discharging such responsibility.
The statement deviated and went personal by saying that the governor “has since descended from that charismatic height he operated from in 2009 when he became Governor to a level of scorn as it is known to the generality of our people that his administration has mismanaged our finances and commonwealth most recklessly, took our State from the level of economic buoyancy to a debtor State where public utilities no longer work.“Most disap-pointing of all is the now emerging trend of the inability of Government to pay workers salaries again as and when due and even owing two months salaries now.
“This we consider a baggage and liability that will do great harm to the electoral prospects of President Goodluck Jonathan than any good.
“Again, we underscore the fact that Governor Olusegun Mimiko is conscious of the fact that he and his Party can no longer win any election in our State, hence we say that his defection to our Party is inelegant as far as political calculations in our State is concerned.
“We also want to bring to public domain the fact that before Mimiko’s defection to our Party, principal and prominent members of his Labour Party had already abandoned him and his Party, and are already members of our Party. The list is endless but prominent among them is serving Senator Boluwaji Kunlere.
“Therefore we declare again that our Party, the PDP was already set on a winning course before this desire of Mimiko to cross into our Party again.
“The generality of our members want it placed on record that they demand proper respect from the leaders of the Party in Abuja and that they equally conduct their research on the viability of people before admitting them to the Party.
“The Party also appeals to its members to remain calm and committed to a Party that they have toiled consistently to uphold and sustain over these long years. We also urge the people of the State to continue to support our Party.”
Worried by the statement issued by the Party in the state, the National Secretariat of the Party has summoned the state Working Committee members to Abuja for a meeting.
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the governor’s defection as the State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Hon. Kekemeke said there was noting surprising about the development as “it has become the trademark of the governor to roam freely in the political environment.”
Kekemeke said that the defection of the governor “is simply an act of self survival for which the governor is well reputed for. It should be noted that this move by governor Mimiko is an attempt to recreate himself in the PDP.
“This self cleansing exercise cannot work as the PDP does not have sufficient sea-water to cleanse governor Mimiko of his irredeemable liabilities.
“This leaves the PDP with the only consequence of implosion as governor Mimiko berths in its shores. The chicken has finally come home to roost.”
Kekemeke said that the APC is “open, ready and prepared to receive as many truly progressive minded citizens of our state into its fold.”
Reacting to the governor’s alleged threat to declare the seat of any member of the House of Assembly who failed to defect with him to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vacant, Kekemeke challenged the governor to allow the lawmakers exercise their right of freedom of political association by defecting to the party of their choice.
According to him “a good number of the lawmakers have shown their intention to join the APC but were hindered by the threat from the governor to declare their seats vacant if they join the part. We condemn the threat by Governor Mimiko to declare the seats of elected members of Ondo State House of Assembly vacant who are set and ready to join the APC.
“It is our position that, just as the governor and his acolytes in the Ondo State House of Assembly exercised their right of freedom of political association by defecting to PDP, other lawmakers who intend to join APC also have the constitutional right to do so without limitation, inhibition, harassment and molestation.
“A number of the lawmakers have spoken with the leadership of this party telling us that their soul is in the APC.
“It has come to our knowledge that Mimiko has in place, mechanisms to entice, intimidate and subdue the people of the state in the Labour Party and in the PDP who have expressed their willingness to work with our party the APC.”
Meantime, Vanguard has gathered that the National Secretariat of the PDP has waded into the furore over the defection.
Events in the coming week will either make or mar the chances of the PDP in the state considering the desperation of the opposition Party to harvest dissenting members from the newly wedded political parties.