The political space of Ondo State is experiencing tremor since return of former governor, Dr. Olusegun Rahman Mimiko, to the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Two weeks after Mimiko rejoined PDP, the major opposition party has jerked back to life from years of inactivity, giving the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) some prodding.
Just on Sunday, Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, raised the alarm that some persons were set to blackmail APC government, governor and his family.
Indeed, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had expressed desire to up the game for APC, admitting that, “No politician can under estimate the political strength of Mimiko.” He had promised to appoint some opposition members to some Boards to weaken the opposition party in the state.”
Mimiko did not only return to PDP, but was treated like a special guest at the just concluded National Convention of the party on Saturday October 30, which produced Iyiorcha Ayu as National Chairman.
As the National Leader of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Mimiko was to merge the structures of the party across 18 councils and 203 wards of Ondo State with PDP on the evening of Thursday October 28 and flew to Abuja the next day for the convention.
Videos were shared on social media of rousing welcome given the former governor on his arrival at the venue of the convention, announcing that the game-changer had arrived in Ondo politics.
To the surprise of everyone on Thursday morning preceding the convention, four PDP governors, led by Chairman of PDP Governor’s Forum, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, visited the state to complete process of bringing Mimiko back to the major opposition party.
Other governors who followed Tambuwal for a closed- door meeting with Mimiko in his Ondo West Local Government hometown, Ondo City, were: Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers State) and Ikezie Ikpeasu (Abia State).
According to Tambuwal: “We are here in Ondo town, the resident of our leader, Olusegun Mimiko to re-invite him back to his political family, PDP and as you can see we have governors from Rivers, Oyo and Abia states and we have had a robust engagement with him.
“We are very hopeful that we are going to have positive response from him soonest. Our message is simple, let us come back together to reposition PDP towards rescuing Nigeria now.”
Since Mimiko was unable to install a successor for himself and PDP in 2016, many thought the curtain had finally been drawn on his political career.
The biggest blow ever suffered by Iroko in his political career that seemed to dim all chances for his political comeback was the defeat he suffered when he left PDP for ZLP to contest Central Senatorial District ticket in 2019.
Due to issues he had with candidate of PDP in the 2016 governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede, Mimiko lost the election for a seat in the Senate to PDP senatorial candidate, Ayo Akinyelure, who had come back to defeat the incumbent APC senator, Tayo Alasoadura.
Mimiko, a two-term governor, had imposed his Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Jegede, who hails from same Central Senatorial District, to the displeasure of other party men from the South and North senatorial districts.
Pundits attributed defeat of the ruling party then to political miscalculation made by Iroko to impose a successor from his district, despite all warnings and threats from two other districts that lay claim to the ticket going by geo-political considerations.
The outcome of the election caused a rift between Jegede and his benefactor as the former accused the latter of betraying him to support his old time friend and APC candidate, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to win the election.
From 2017 till 2019, when Mimiko eventually left PDP for ZLP, the major opposition party lost its verve as there was no strong leadership within to forge a way forward to play serious opposition against the ruling APC.
Eventually, the onus of leadership fell on Jegede as a two-time governorship candidate of the party in 2016 and 2020 respectively. But as said by political observers, he could not provide viable leadership due to lack of grassroots savvy and resources.
Readers of politics in the state also observed that he could not consolidate on the position to lead many of the party chieftains, who see him as a colleague in the cabinet of Dr. Mimiko; and whose loyalties still belong to the latter.
According to them, the former Attorney General is strange to Ondo State politics and was favoured to stardom through benevolence of the immediate past governor, who had hitherto taken his political structure along with him to ZLP.
But the return (third time) of Iroko to PDP: 2003, 2014 and 2021 respectively, has changed the fortune of Jegede as the leader of the party. Without any option he has to follow the new leadership of Mimiko.
Some PDP chieftains lamented in politics, no party thrives when there is no leader that can give direction. There must be a leader give sound direction.
A PDP leader from the South District bemoaned that PDP in the district had become more polarised and disunited than ever.
“I can tell you pointblank that PDP has never had it this bad in the South Senatorial District. The South has been the bedrock and strongest base of the party since 1999 in the state.
“More than 70 percent of party members have been voting against PDP in 2016 and 2020. We see it as an injustice to us.”
Aside political rank-shifting that has taken place in Ondo PDP, the return of Mimiko alongside the former Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, has sent political jitters across the ranks and file of the ruling party. They anticipate formidable opposition.
Ajayi deserted Governor Akeredolu and APC to thwart his second term bid last year by seeking to grab the PDP governorship ticket, before he finally found a common mutual ground with Iroko and his ZLP platform for the kill.
The Vice Chairman, Aketi-Aiyedatiwa Medical Committee, 2020 Campaign, Dr. O. N. Akeredolu, raised the alarm over present development in PDP, saying “It could be more dangerous for Ondo State APC than what we think in 2023.”
Akeredolu recounted his experience with his political mentor and immediate past Commissioner for Health, late Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, who had described Mimiko as “a political guru and genius.
He said: “The news of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and newly found godson, the erstwhile Deputy Governor to Aketi, Agboola Ajayi returning to PDP has been spreading like harmattan fire on social media platforms and finally became reality.
“The reactions from the people on social media platforms show that it is not yet Uhuru for Ondo State APC and the defection of Iroko and Agbo could portend more political danger than what we envisage.”
Akeredolu, who is the incumbent governor’s close ally, christened Mimiko as “an Ondo town born political Igodomigodo,” chronicling his political exploits of the University of Ife Medical School trained doctor who broke the second term jinx as a governor.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate