HIGH wired politicking is playing out ahead of the November 26 governorship election in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ondo state. The hullabaloo rocking the leadership of the party at the national level has polarized the party in the state. While the governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko has pitched his tent with the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction in the state; a business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim belongs to the Ali Modu Sheriff camp.
Mimiko and Ibrahim Three aspirants including Ibrahim and two immediate past commissioners under the Mimiko administration, Messrs Sola Ebiseni and Bamiduro Dada have obtained nomination forms from Sheriff’s camp, while two in the Mimiko camp- Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, and Saka Lawal have approached the Makarfi faction for their nomination forms as at the close of the sales on Tuesday. While Sheriff’s camp sells its form for N13m, the Makarfi-led camp asked aspirants to cough out N16m as was done in Edo state.
The sudden appearance of Ibrahim on the political scene in the state after abandoning the PDP for years, threw spanner into the peaceful political atmosphere in the state. Ibrahim, instead of collecting his nomination and the Expression of interest form in Akure, Ondo state raced to Abuja to obtain his.
Infact, he worked against the party in previous elections as he joined forces with the likes of Olusola Oke, the former deputy governor Alhaji Ali Olanusi, Victor Olabimtan, Niran Sule to mobilize support for the All Progressives Congress, APC.
But governor Olusegun Mimiko who read between the lines, knew that Ibrahim was plotting to pull the rug off his feet swung into action to check mate him . Vanguard reliably gathered that Dr Mimiko had to court Sheriff after sensing that the crisis over who is the authentic National Chairman of the party may drown the chances of his party in the November governorship race.
Infact, the governor was said to have collected two form of expression of interest from the Sheriff faction during one of his visit to him as a last joker to silence and pull the same rug off the feet of Ibrahim and send him packing.
Ibrahim was said to be confused following the action of the governor which came as a big surprise to him.
The governorship aspirants, who the forms were obtained for, remained shrouded in mystery by the incumbent and his close allies. Speculations were rife that the governor collected the forms with the intention of fielding any of the three former commissioners, who resigned to succeed him in the primaries to be conducted by the Sheriff faction . This, according to source, was a calculated political move not to lose out completely in the power struggle either way.
The three commissioner include that of the Environment Ministry, Sola Ebiseni, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Bamiduro Dada and the Attorney General and Justice Ministry Eyitayo Jegede SAN. Their spokesmen denied the report but dependable party chieftain confirmed to Vanguard that the governor was on top of the situation and would not allow “ a philistine” reap where he never sold. While both Ebiseni and Bamoduro have publicly obtained their nomination and expression of interest forms from the Sheriff faction, unconfirmed source hinted that Jegede had done same but secretly.
A source said that the governor became jittery following the knocks he had received since other aspirants read his body language which tilted towards Jegede. The governor, a source said, acted fast by reaching out to Sheriff to avoid a gang up against him by his former commissioners who were waiting in the wings to succeed him.
Jimoh Ibrahim joins race However, business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim corroborated the report that the governor had purchased two nomination forms to whittle down his chances in the primaries. He alleged that the governor had paid a bank draft of N22m with the plan of raising two aspirants to contest against him in the primaries slated for August 23 in Akure.
Justifying his picking the governorship form Jimoh said he was considering joining Accord party until the court decision favoured Sheriff who is his friend of over 26years and he decided to retrace his steps. He alleged that the governor was in a panic mood, hence the purchase of the forms. According to him both faction needed not dissipate energy fighting but work together to win the election while the Court at a later date decide the legal matter of leadership and candidature.
PDP disowns Ibrahim
But in a swift reaction, the PDP in the state, disowned Ibrahim who collected governorship nomination form from the Ali Modu Sheriff faction in Abuja. Director of Publicity of the Party Ayo Fadaka said Ibrahim had since left the PDP for Accord Party.
Fadaka said that “Jimoh Ibrahim is not a member of the PDP. He has granted interviews to state that he had left the Party for Accord . Reacting on behalf of Jimoh, Mr Sola Akinuli said that he ranked the greatest investor in the PDP project since he joined the party in 2009. Akinuli pointed out that “like any viable and potent politician there have been overtures from many parties but he has decided not to abandon the PDP.