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Mimiko’s defection splits Ondo PDP, other

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Expectedly, the move by a former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, to rejoin the Peoples Democratic Party is attracting divergent views

Last week, the camps of the national and the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party erupted in joy when the news that a former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, popularly known as Iroko, would be returning to the party a few years after he dumped it.

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Aside Mimiko, it was gathered the immediate former deputy governor of the state and candidate of the Zenith Labour Party in the October 20, 2020 governorship election, Mr Agboola Ajayi, and his running mate, Gboye Adegbenro, would also be joining the PDP with their supporters across the 18 local government areas of the state.

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Though, Mimiko, who was the National Leader of the ZLP, has been welcomed into the PDP by four governors led by the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, who came to the former governor’s private residence in Ondo town to have a closed door meeting with him.

Tambuwal, while speaking with journalists on the purpose of their visit to Mimiko, made it known that the reason was to re-invite the two-term governor back to the PDP as part of efforts to reunite all their former and aggrieved members across the country, to form a formidable force to wrestle the presidency from the ruling All Progressives Congress in 2023.

The consequence of the Mimiko’s movement in the Ondo State political space is the extinction of the ZLP as the party made it known that it had fused with the PDP during a stakeholders’ meeting held immediately after the four PDP governors had departed. The stakeholders’ meeting was presided over by the state Chairman of the party, Mr Joseph Akinlaja, and attended by the leaders across the 18 local government areas of the state.

Mimiko, a medical doctor by profession but vast in politics, is being described as a guru in Nigerian politics. He entered the corridor of power and began his political leadership voyage in the Third Republic when he was appointed the Commissioner for Health in the old Ondo State (before Ekiti State was carved out of the state) as a member of the then Social Democratic Party.

With the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Mimiko was a member of the Alliance for Democracy and he was reappointed health commissioner in the administration of the late Chief Adebayo Adefarati. After leaving the cabinet of Adefarati in 2002, he dumped the AD to join the PDP and helped in squashing the second term ambition of Adefarati in the 2003 governorship election as the late Dr Olusegun Agagu emerged the governor of the state.

Agagu appointed Mimiko as the Secretary to the State Government. Shortly after, he was appointed the Minister for Land, Housing and Urban Development by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. After resigning his appointment as a minister, Mimiko dumped the PDP to join the Labour Party, under which platform he contested the governorship election against his former boss, Agagu, in 2007. Agagu was declared the winner of the election.

Mimiko, however, contested the results of the 2007 election in court and won at both the election tribunal and the Court of Appeal and was declared the governor in 2009. He was re-elected in 2012 and towards the end of his second term and a few months to the 2015 general election, he and other members of the LP returned to the PDP, which was the ruling party at the national level at the time.

He was in the PDP until he left office in February 2017. Some months later, he again dumped the party to join the newly founded Zenith Labour Party. He contested the senatorial election in the Ondo Central Senatorial District in 2019 under the umbrella of his new party, but lost to one of his political godsons, Senator Ayo Akinyelure. But now Mimiko is making his way back to the PDP.

A source close to the former governor disclosed that serious pressure was being mounted on Mimiko by the PDP and the APC to join them, as both parties were in the process of restructuring and reorganising in preparation for the 2023 general elections.

“Mimiko, you know, can’t just take any decision without serious planning. Before now, both the APC and the PDP had been urging him to join them; they know that he is a political heavyweight in the state and would be a viable asset to them. I think his decision to join the PDP is as a result of certain political calculations and strategies ahead of the 2023 general election,” the source explained.

There have been divergent views on the return of the former governor to the main opposition party. While some perceive Mimiko as a strong factor with political wit and experience needed to reshape the PDP in Ondo State, which has been factionalised as a result of leadership tussle, others regard him as a political harlot and an inconsistent politician, who frequently changes parties in his quest for power.

A former Deputy National Chairman (South) of the PDP, Dr Eddy Olafeso, said, “Dr Olusegun Mimiko’s service and political experience are needed to rebuild the Peoples Democratic Party at this critical time in Ondo State.

“We will embrace and work with him with open arms as he discusses with leaders of our party to return home. It is a moment of great opportunity for our party to have him back at a time we are putting in our best to reposition the PDP in Ondo State and Nigeria ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“Mimiko is a turning point and barometer of political progress in the politics of Ondo State. As we hope for his official declaration for the PDP after a fruitful discussion with our governors, we encourage him to join the party without delay to rescue Nigeria from the misrule of the ruling All Progressives Congress.”

A member of the PDP in the state, Mr Bode Obanla, has a different view as he opposes the return of the former governor on the grounds that that Mimiko should not be allowed to hold any leadership position in the party if he eventually returns, saying that was the stipulation of the constitution of the party. He even threatened to take the matter to court if Mimiko was allowed to defect to the PDP.

Obanla said, “I am happy there are provisions in our constitution that allow me to take Mimiko to court now that he is planning to rejoin the PDP. I have already instructed my lawyer to get prepared. The law is there to check our activities in the party. No one is above the law.

“It would have been a thing of joy for a person of Mimiko’s experience and pedigree to join the PDP, but I will take necessary legal actions against him to protect our great party from harm if he officially declares for the PDP.”

But the state chapter of the PDP has expressed delight on the anticipated return of the former governor, as it noted that the development would add value to the party, not only in Ondo State, but in the South-West and Nigeria as a whole

Mimiko’s Special Assistant on Media and Digital Communications, Mr John-Paul Akinduro, said the return of his principal to the PDP was to strengthen the party and help it reclaim Nigeria from the forces that were pulling her apart.

He stated, “You will agree with me that the country is in dire need of purposeful leadership right now. So, his (Mimiko’s) return to the party, like every other progressive, is timely. As a social democrat, Mimiko has set the bar for good governance in Nigeria.

“His pro-poor policies, programmes and projects, when he was the governor of the state, have become a reference point in education, healthcare, peace and security, urban renewal and wealth creation, to name a few. He is a value addition to the party as evident in the high-powered delegation of the PDP governors, which paid him a visit before he finally decided to move back to the party with his teeming followers.”

As many await his final declaration, the question now is, is Mimiko’s third coming to the PDP to unite the party, or to rekindle his fading political relevance, or to reignite his political ambition? Time will tell.

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Comments 1

  1. Hon Sule Ganiyu says:

    This man promised to give 1million votes to Jonathan in 2015 general election,but lost the elecion even as a sitting Governor when he has all it takes to win that election,what does he have to give now when he contested to become a Senator immediately he left office as a Governor in just 6 local government in his Senatorial District,he also lost the election. His political relevance has gone down.

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