It is no longer news that three commissioners and one special adviser recently resigned from Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State cabinet in order to succeed him as the next occupant of the Alagbaka Government House. What however jolted political watchers in the state is the different camps, which the aspirants have pitched their political tent.
The aspirants include the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN); Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Bamiduro Dada; Commissioner for Environment, Chief Sola Ebiseeni and Special Adviser on Labour Matters, Mr. Dayo Fadahunsi. For almost eight years, the trio of Jegede, Dada and Ebiseeni sat to take several decisions on behalf of the state by virtue of being commissioners.
As cabinet members, they met once in a week at the State Executive Council meeting and other government functions aside personal interactions.
In fact, they could be described as close friends as they have many things in common including political party membership as the trio moved from Labour Party(LP) to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
But the quest to succeed Mimiko as the fourth civilian governor of the Sunshine State has put a wedge among the three close pals.
Although they claimed to belong to the same political party, they actually belong to different political camps within the PDP. While Jegede belong to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee, Dada and Ebiseeni have pitched their tent with the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff ’s faction of the party.
The actions of the two commissioners have foreclosed the possibilities of them returning to their former positions in Governor Mimiko’s cabinet should they lose out in the party primary scheduled for August 22 and 23. Mimiko had tactically left the positions of Dada and Ebiseeni opened should they decide to return to the cabinet, while he has replaced Jegede, who is poised to win the PDP gubernatorial primary.
Despite the fact that they participated in the PDP’s congress that ushered in Chief Clement Faboyede as Ondo State chairman of the party, Dada and Ebiseeni went to pick their forms from Prince Biyi Poroye, a factional chairman of the party.
Dada, who left Mimiko’s cabinet on July 27, said he decided to pick his nomination form the faction because some of his associates in Faboyede’s camp have been discouraging him from pursuing his ambition.
He declared that his ambition and move to realise it on a rival faction to that of his former boss, Mimiko, was not to spite him but to ensure that he doesn’t err in the face of the law. His words: “We are so close to the extent that if I had gone to him, Faboyede would not give it to me because of the passion he has for me.
He is the one that has been holding me and I don’t want him to hold me again; that is why I have come here to break this jinx. Even the governor is my father, we are not quarrelling; he is my benefactor. He is an elite and I know he will understand.”
Dada, a PDP aspirant from Akoko South West Local Government Area of the state in the North senatorial district, hinged his decision on the recent court judgement that recognized Sheriff as the bonafide national chairman of the party.
“We have the court judgement that was given recently and I am only acting on that particular judgement. I am with Faboyede, while I am here but it is imperative for me to pick my form from a particular source.
It doesn’t mean faction in PDP but I have based my decision today. I have taken that decision because of the court action that I so much believe in as a democrat,” he said.
The former commissioner further said he had served in Governor Mimiko’s government in the past seven years in several capabilities and it was high time he broke away from the tutelage of the governor, saying his decision to contest the governorship election was borne out of his desire to liberate the state. He also assured the people of Ondo State that he would continue with Mimiko’s programmes if elected as the next governor of the state.
He pointed out that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state was too meagre to execute meaningful projects, adding that it was dangerous for any state to rely on federal allocation with the current economic situation in the country.
He therefore assured that his administration will improve the IGR of the state through investment in the agricultural sector. Similarly, Ebiseni who hails from Ilaje Local Government Area of the state led a large number of the bigwigs in Ondo South Senatorial District to pick his own form amid pomp and funfair.
In his entourage were Senator Omololu Meroyi, a former member of the state Assembly, Otito Atikase and former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dr. Yemi Mahmud-Fasominu. Ebiseni explained that he opted out of Mimiko’s camp after the governor failed to heed to the PDP stakeholders demand for a candidate from the South Senatorial District, which according to him is the strongest base of the party in the state since 1999 to succeed him as the sixth executive governor of the state.
The former Commissioner for Environment accused the Faboyede-led PDP faction of not providing a level playing ground for all the aspirants to participate in the governorship primary, alleging that they are scared of an open contest.
According to him, the August 22 primaries under the behest of Governor Mimiko and the state Faboyede led faction is a ruse, disclosing that they already have the results and choice of candidate preordained to be the party’s flag bearer.
While promising his supporters, who accompanied him to pick the nomination form that his government would be responsible and responsive to the yearnings of the masses. He added that his administration will proffer lasting solutions to the problems confronting Ondo people by exploiting the state’s potential in agriculture, education, IGR, natural resources and other opportunities that are under-utilised.
Senator Meroyi, while speaking, reiterated that the decision to align with the Sheriff ’s faction became pertinent when the governor turned deaf ears on Ondo South demands, especially now that the Poroye-led executive is the authentic one.
The former lawmaker, who is the immediate past district chairman of the party and chairman of the Southern PDP stakeholders meetings held severally in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area, affirmed that the six councils in the district will work with the other two districts to ensure that Ebiseni emerges the next governor of the state.
Poroye, who is the chairman of the Jimoh Ibrahim-led faction of the party, in his remark after he gave the forms out explained that the crisis rocking the party was caused by impunity among members of the party.
He further said impunity is more pronounced in the PDP than any other political party in the country, stressing that the level of impunity among PDP members was responsible for its current challenges. He also warned that “until impunity ends among members of the PDP, there may not be an end to the crisis in the party.”
Poroye said many members of the party lacks discipline and courage to say the truth, hence the problem within the party, adding that “if we want the problem in the PDP to end, we must be ready to say the truth and stand by the truth.” He also declared that “the only authentic national chairman of the party is Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
Any other person claiming to be the national chairman of the party is only deceiving himself as there cannot be two chairmen in a single party.” According to him, Senator Ahmed Markafi cannot be the national chairman of the party, adding that “even those following Markafi know that they are only deceiving themselves”