Another wave of crisis has engulfed the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State following the imposition of an “anointed candidate” on the beleaguered members of the party by the embattled Governor Olusegun Mimiko in preparation for the governorship election slated for November 26th, 2016, SaharaReporters can authoritatively report.
Top government sources in the State officially confirmed to our correspondent on Tuesday that Mr. Mimiko had already anointed Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), as his successor.
Mr. Jegede is the incumbent Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Mr. Mimiko’s PDP-led Ondo State government.
Our correspondent reported that the Akure-born legal practitioner is also from the same Central Senatorial District as the outgoing governor.
Mr. Jegede had already confirmed his interest to participate in the contest for the November 26 governorship election under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party to succeed Mr. Mimiko.
He made the confirmation last week when the leaders of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in Ondo State paid him a courtesy visit at his office in Akure.
“I hope to give the race my best, legitimately and legally. Not only am I in the race, but we expect to win by God’s grace and with the support of our people,” he told the visiting women journalists.
Leaders from the Akure division with the support of Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo conceived the choice of Mr. Jegede to Mr. Mimiko as the next governor of the State, SaharaReporters exclusively gathered.
It was learned that Mr. Mimiko’s decision to endorse Mr. Jegede as his chosen successor for the umbrella party is already causing a rumpus among party supporters and members in the State.
This development last week forced the State Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Sola Ebiseni, to resign from his appointment from the cabinet of Mr. Mimiko.
Mr. Ebiseni, who refused to attend the weekly State Executive Council meeting, tendered his resignation letter directly to the governor and noted that his intention was to contest the race for the governorship poll.
But sources close to Mr. Ebiseni hinted to our correspondent that the commissioner decided to resign after he was angered by the decision of the governor to impose the candidature of Mr. Jegede on the party.
A SaharaReporters investigation revealed that there are more cracks in the walls of the party, as its members have been divided and broken into ‘zoning factions’ due to the imposition of the candidate.
Some bigwigs of the party both from the Southern and Northern Senatorial Districts of the State have been threatening war against the imposition of a candidate on them by Mr. Mimiko.
Among these bigwigs were aspirants jostling for the party’s sole ticket in a yet to be announced primary election of the party, our reporter revealed in his investigation.
The gripe of these aspirants is that Mr. Mimiko is imposing a candidate from the same Central Senatorial District on the party.
Last weekend, some prominent leaders of the PDP from the Southern Senatorial District of the State held a stakeholders meeting in Ore area of Odigbo Local Government Area (LGA).
It was learned that Senator Yele Omogunwa, representing the district at the National Assembly, convened the meeting to discuss the choice of Mr. Mimiko in picking his successor from the Central district.
“The governor called to notify me that he would like to hand over to a candidate from the Central Senatorial District but I replied him that it would be necessary for me to see my people,” Mr. Omogunwa said.
During the meeting, the leaders kicked and expressed their disgust towards the action of the governor in picking a successor from the Central district.
These leaders unanimously agreed that they would not go back on their resolve to ensure that a candidate from the Southern Senatorial District is offered the ticket of the party.
It was exclusively gathered that top aspirants of the PDP from the zone who attended the meeting were Oboli Ogunwa, Adebanjo Edema and Sola Ebiseni.
After the meeting, the leaders of the party sent a message to the governor saying that the candidate of the party in the governorship election should not be foisted on the people.
“It is important that we speak out our minds with regards to the governorship election because we are all citizens of this State and as such nobody can be harassed,” the leaders told Mr. Mimiko in their dispatch.
Leaders of the party from the Northern Senatorial District have also rejected the imposition of the candidate by Mr. Mimiko as the preparation for the governorship election intensified.
These leaders, joined by some aspirants from the district, said there was a need for the governor to align by the political rotational system of the State based on the memorandum of understating (MoU).
Prominent among the aspirants of the PDP in the Northern Senatorial District are Gbenga Elegbeleye, Yekini Olanipekun, Baniduro Dada, Bakkita Bello, Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi, Dare Emiola, and Remi Okunriboye.
They described the choice of Mr. Mimiko to pick a candidate from the Central district as a “miscalculation” that would further put the Northern Senatorial District at a serious political disadvantage and the party at a loss.
“An appeal will be made to the national and State leadership of our great party to concede the governorship slot of 2017-2021 to Ondo North Senatorial District as a demonstration of fairness, equity and justice that the State is known for and keeping to the MOU.
“We in Ondo North will neither go into, nor participate in any primary election conducted that will involve any aspirant from the Central Senatorial District because it is not their turn now when their son is just rounding up and eight years of two tenure.
“The national and State leadership of the PDP should not forget in a hurry the consequences of imposing candidates on the poor performance of the party in the 2015 presidential, national and State elections,” the leaders threatened in a communiqué obtained by SaharaReporters.
Despite the furor among these members over the issue of imposing an anointed candidate, the party seems to assure that it would conduct a primary election according to the electoral laws.
Banji Okuomo, the State Publicity Secretary of the party, said the provision for the primary election is purely explicit in the party’s constitution.
Mr. Okunomo further said the party’s primary would be conducted at a date that would be fixed within the period that the electoral commission allows for the party’s flag-bearer to emerge.
“The party wishes to assure all aspirants that there will be a level plain ground for all aspirants in the primary election.
“The issue pertaining to picking the candidate who would be the flag-bearer of the party in the forthcoming governorship election is purely a constitutional affair of the party,” he said.
The party had already cautioned its members against the use of vulgar language among its contestants jostling for the governorship ticket, noting that it could jeopardize the party’s unity.