The defection of the popular Ondo political warhorse from the All Progressives Congress, APC to the Alliance for Democracy, AD is affecting the political balance in the state.
By Dayo Johnson
Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, popularly known as Iroko, about two years ago achieved the record of being the longest-serving governor of Ondo State. It is as such no surprise that he is arguably the most influential politician in the Sunshine state. After him, come the likes of Chief Olusola Oke, one of the most enduring politicians in the state.
It is as such no surprise that the two men can hardly fit in the same political home.
Oke, a former Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP and the party’s governorship candidate in 2012 jumped out from the party after its defeat in the last presidential election.
He probably foresaw that Mimiko would not support his 2016 governorship ambition given the long history of rivalry between the two men.
His decision to switch to the All Progressives Congress, APC last year was partly a success as he within few months, made a mark by coming third in the APC’s governorship primaries.
He was indeed one of four aspirants who initially stood against Dr. Olusegun Abraham the preferred aspirant of APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Abraham, incidentally came second in the primaries behind Chief Rotimi Akeredolu.
It was after that that Oke found a friend in Asiwaju whom he had earlier lampooned for endorsing Abraham ahead of 24 other aspirants.
His defection to the Alliance for Democracy, AD according to him has the endorsement of leaders of the APC who are dissatisfied with the manner the National Working Committee NWC of the party headed by the party’s national chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun “imposed” Akeredolu on the party as its candidate.
Declaring for AD
Oke while declaring for AD said he took the “decision to dump the party after due consultations with some APC leaders and supporters across the country,” He added that he would contest the November 26 governorship election on the platform of AD.
It is alleged that other aggrieved aspirants like Abraham and Ajayi Boroffice have pitched tent with Oke so as to deplete the votes of Akeredolu especially from the four Akoko council areas of the state.
Running mate: Oke has reportedly picked a former House of Representatives member, Ganiyu Dauda as his running mate to further deal with Akeredolu in the Northern area of the state. Dauda is from Irun in Akoko North east area of the state. Boroffice and Abraham have reportedly reached an alliance to stay in APC. But many believe they will work against the interest of Akeredolu because of the controversy that characterised his emergence.
It is the belief of many that the defection of Oke to the AD would negatively affect the APC and benefit the candidate of the ruling PDP, Eyitayo Jegede.
It is assumed that many chieftains of both the APC and PDP from the southern area of the state where Oke comes from may move out to follow Oke or stay within the parties but work for Oke’s new party, AD.
That support is expected to be reinforced with the support expected from followers of the late Dr. Segun Agagu, a former governor of the state who is also from the South.
The reliable source hinted Vanguard that the Sheriff’s faction led by Jimoh Ibrahim who is also from the southern area might tactically support Oke if eventually he is finally shut out from contesting for the position. Jimoh is still fantasizing that his name would be substituted before the October 19 deadline by INEC.
Akeredolu has also tentatively picked a former member of the House of Representatives Agboola Ajayi from Ese Odo, in Oke’s stronghold in the South as his running mate in a bid to garner some votes from the area.
The PDP is equally considering picking Jegede’s deputy from the southern area.
Political observers are of the opinion that the PDP should not leave the entire south for Oke to fish alone since the area is its strong hold.
Relatively new party
Picking another formidable Ilaje personality would pacify the south and may sway some votes for the PDP instead of taking the risk of voting for a relatively new party. Aside Ilaje where Oke hails from, other areas that constitute the south like Ese-Odo, Okitipupa, Irele and Odigbo are PDP strongholds and may not risk following Oke to AD.
The thinking is that Oke may be disappointed that the entire south that he is banking on may dump him when the chips are down.
His final decision to join AD after romancing with the Action Alliance and APGA showed that he might be gambling. However, many APC aspirants have kicked against the defection of Oke describing it as a good riddance to bad rubbish.
Serial defector: Senator Tayo Alasoadura said the defection of Oke was not surprising as he was a serial defector. Also, the APC has declared that its chances will not be affected by Oke’s exit from the party saying rather that it may lead to the complete collapse of the PDP.
The APC’s Publicity Secretary Abayomi Adesanya said none of his core members defected along with Oke to AD. APC added that his defection did not take the party by surprise as they believed that a leopard would never change its spot.
He emphasised that people only know Oke as a politically unstable person who jumps from one party to another.
“We are relieved that Oke has finally left our great party, we can now sleep with our two eyes closed. The fear of a mole in our party has vanished we can now hold political discussions without fear of betrayal.
“We thank God that our party is finally free from pretenders, those who love their ambitions more than the good people of Ondo State . We are confident that, with the people of Ondo State behind us, victory is a starting point,” he said.
The party boasted that APC would defeat Oke in his Southern stronghold saying some credible politicians are already waiting for him to leave so that they can come in. He added that Oke could not deliver two constituencies in his local government, Ilaje during the state Assembly election despite his claim that he is strong in the riverine area.
However, on why he dumped the APC, Oke said his “defection was necessitated by the injustice perpetrated by some leaders of the party during the primary election.” According to him “the PDP in the state has been celebrating the decision of the APC to field Rotimi Akeredolu as the party’s candidate in the election.
“I was the first person to raise alarm over the giant fraud in that primary. I was later vindicated by the appeal committee who ruled that the primary be cancelled, that a new primary be conducted where a popular candidate will emerge. “I stand on the side of the people of Ondo State, I represent their dreams and vision for a new order in Ondo State, I am a compatriot who believes that we must not allow the status quo to prevail.”