Ondo PDP, APC internal crises breed third force
Apparently, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State may not go into the November 26 governorship election as a united force; the same can be said for the rival All Progressives Congress (APC). Both parties, considered to be strong political forces contending for the governorship seat, have lost internal cohesion since the primary elections to pick their candidates.
While the victory of the PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), who enjoys the support of the incumbent governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko is being challenged by Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, a business mogul, the victory of Rotimi Akerodolu (SAN) of the APC is already igniting communal and tribal rift in the party.
The internal crisis of the APC is also setting the camp of one of its national leaders, Bola Tinubu against some powers that be in the presidency.Keen observers of the fallout of the APC governorship primary in Ondo believe that the likes of former governors of Ekiti and Lagos states, Kayode Fayemi and Babatunde Fashola, who are members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) along with some cabals in the presidency were the brain behind Akeredolu’s victory orchestrated wittingly to spite their political mentor, Tinubu.
Akeredolu was reported to have on several occasions, boasted that the outcome of the primary would shock Tinubu.In fact, one of the contestants in the primary, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, had while congratulating Akeredolu remarked that Ondo has been rescued from the hands Tinubu.
As the post-primary crises in the two parties continue to escalate, there are strong indications that the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Labour Party (LP) are warming up to take advantage of the situation.
A member of the APC who did not want his name mentioned told The Guardian that if the internal imbroglio within the party continue till November 26 Election Day, “there is the possibilities for a repetition of what happened in Lagos State during the 1992 governorship election when Chief Michael Otedola, of the underdog National Republic Convention (NRC) took advantage of the crisis between Prof. Femi Agbalajobi and Chief Dapo Sarunmi of the popular Social Democratic Party (SDP) to win the election.”
The source disclosed that the stage where the Ondo APC finds itself presently is dicey because it has now turned into a battle of wits between the forces in Abuja and the ‘lion of Bourdilion,’ whom he claimed will surely put up a stronger fight because Ondo is part of his South West political stronghold.
He cited the example of Kogi State governorship election, saying: “After the sudden death of the APC governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, the expectation was that his running mate, Mr. James Faleke, who was assumed to be too close to Tinubu to the discomfort of the presidency, was denied the opportunity to take the ticket.
“What we were made to understand then was that some cabal in the presidency were averse to Faleke not for any other reason but that he was Tinubu’s man.”The source added that the Ondo APC primary was similar because the forces in the presidency, which of course allegedly include some serving ministers from the South West do not want Segun Abraham, whom Tinubu purportedly endorsed publicly, to represent the party in the election.
“They are the one that threw up Akeredolu, providing him with logistic support to win the controversial primary and there is no sign each camp is going to sheathe their swords before the election.”It is currently being rumoured that Tinubu may be forced to look elsewhere if Abraham’s candidacy failed at the end of the day. It is also being insinuated that the major concern of the forces at the presidency was not necessarily on Akeredolu winning the election but ensuring that Tinubu’s choice did not emerge at the end of the day.
The source said what is obvious in the present situation is that the people of Ondo may not have much say in determining who rules the state on the platform of the APC as long as the forces from Lagos and Abuja are at loggerheads in forcing through their choice candidate.
The decision of the Ondo APC Primary Election Appeal Committee which is already handling petitions that arose from the election will determine the direction the party will take in resolving the current crisis.
For the PDP, Governor Mimiko who is of the Sen. Ahmed Makafi faction is bent on using Jegede, whom many alleged is his stooge but Ibrahim of the Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff faction, who got his candidacy through a different primary conducted in Ibadan, Oyo State capital is not relenting on forging ahead to represent the party in the election.
It is not yet certain as at the time of going to press who the PDP standard-bearer would be but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had said it would abide by the Markafi faction pending the decision of the court.
Some observers claimed that the electorate in Ondo might resolve to reject any candidate that has the backing of either Mimiko, whom they said has lost popularity or any candidate with the backing of Tinubu or the presidency.
“To this end they may likely opt for a neutral person who is perceived to be independent and has the passion to develop the state and not necessarily be an instrument in the hands of any external force,” the observers asserted.
Meanwhile, the SDP standard-bearer, Dr. Olu Agunloye may steal the show if the PDP and APC failed to resolve their crises before the election. His Omoluwabi platform, which he used to boost the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2012 pre-governorship election preparation before the party scuttled the primary by imposing Akerodolu as candidate, is still very strong and viable in the state.
With the outcome of the APC primary already generating rift in Akoko area of the state over Akeredolu and Abraham, Agunloye remains the alternative the pendulum could swing towards when the chips are down.
How far the former Minister of Power and Steel, and former Federal Road Safety (FRSC) Corps Marshal will go would largely depend on how effective and quickly he could strategise his campaign to convince the electorate.
Agunloye is a scholar of Yoruba Culture and Values, an ardent follower of Chief Bola Ige and Professor Wole Soyinka, is said to be well received by the people of Ondo.
Under his management, FRSC was easily the most disciplined and efficient government agency and in addition, he ensured massive employment of youth and enthroned road safety best practices in line with international standards.
However, the Labour Party may also have a chance if at the end of the day Mimiko finds it difficult to suppress the Ibrahim faction currently been aided by the Sen. Sheriff’s camp of the PDP.Observers were of the view that Mimiko may likely use the LP as an alternative plan, if the PDP crisis gets out of hand.