By Ajibola Abayomi,
June 13, 2018.
Former Olusegun Mimiko, former Governor of Ondo State, has concluded arrangements to dump the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with less than 12 months to 2019 general election.
The politician had traversed many political parties over the years starting from the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to Labour Party in 2007 and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP0 in 2014).
Feelers has it that he was eyeing a senatorial seat by 2019 in the state.
Since he handed over power in February 2017 and left government, Mimiko has remained silent on the political activities in the PDP both in the state and at national level, thereby fueling speculations that he is strategising to exit the umbrella party.
Barring any last-minute change of mind, Mimiko would be returning to the Labour Party (LP) to seek further political relevance.
In 2009, Mimiko, popularly known as ‘Iroko’, had used the platform of the then newly birthed Labour Party to dislodge his former boss, the late Olusegun Agagu, from office.
Investigations revealed that Mimiko had repeatedly met with many of his former political associates over his plans to rejoin LP and regain control of the party’s structures.
His defection saga has created a wedge between some of his key political associates, mostly in the PDP (PDP) in the state, who are dissatisfied with his inconsistency.
Mimiko’s defection has also created fear and confusion within the camp of the PDP, as speculation is rife that the former Ondo Governor planned to move with the major financier of the party in the state.
Also, there are rumours that the former Ondo State Governor, who is seen as a “control freak”, has his eyes on contesting for a slot in the Senate.
Mimiko had boycotted all the activities of the PDP at the state and national levels.
He has also been avoiding some key leaders of the umbrella party since his handpicked candidate, Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP, lost the 2016 governorship election in the state to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was exclusively learnt that while Mimiko was planning his return to the Labour Party and keeping his cards close to his chest, some of his known close allies have opted to remain in the PDP.
Top among them is Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2016 election, Mr. Dayo Awude and three former commissioners in his cabinet who do not want their names revealed yet.
One of these former commissioners told Sahara Reporters on the phone that the embattled PDP Chairman, Clement Faboyede, and other party executives were unhappy with Mimiko over his defection plans.
Last month, a group within the PDP in Ondo State had asked Mimiko to account for the campaign funds raised during the 2016 governorship election for the party, following speculations that he was planning to leave for the LP.
The group, which identified itself as PDP Support Group (PSG), said that this was necessary as it was already aware that the ex-Ondo State Governor had concluded to exit the umbrella party.
Bode Obanla, coordinator of the group, said Mimiko must clear his name from all allegations of “fraud” concerning the governorship campaign fund before leaving the party.
“I will implore those who are close to our leader and former governor, Dr. Rahaman Olusegun Mimiko, to please advise him to give a full and satisfactory account of what transpired with the 2016 PDP governorship election funds,” he said.
“He remains a foremost leader in the politics of Ondo State and it is very important to clear all the grey areas concerning the funds before leaving for another party.”
On Wednesday, several sources revealed that Mimiko, who was Governor of Ondo tate for eight years between 2009 and 2017, would be returning with his supporters and political associates to the party he dumped on October 2, 2014.
Sahara Reporters recalls that Mimiko had intentionally dumped the then ruling Labour Party in Ondo State with members of his cabinet for the PDP in his desperate bid to support the re-election of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2015 elections.
However, one of these sources who spoke with our correspondent but asked not to be named, disclosed that Mr. Lasisi Oluboyo, who was the Deputy Governor to Mimiko during his last tenure, would likely lead the park of defectors (former cabinet members) to the Labour Party.
“Seriously, it is no longer news that the former Governor has concluded all his plans to leave PDP for LP,” he said.
“In the last three months or thereabouts, I know Mimiko has been meeting some of his friends and mostly key former political associates who are still very close to him and served under his tenure.
“He has been meeting them on his next move and strategy, which is geared towards the 2019 general election — but some of them are confused on why he should go back to a party he dumped in the twilight of the 2015 general election.
“They feel he should stay in the PDP and work for the progress of the party as the 2019 general election draw scloser but h is too reluctant to stay because his body language has shown he is out of the umbrella party.
“To be frank, I am also one of those who have been meeting him not to leave the PDP but I think he feels he is not being recognized again in the party mostly at the national level; he feels he has been sidelined.
“So, some former members of his cabinet and few political appointees have agreed to follow him, and they would be led by Lasisi Oluboyo, who is the former Deputy Governor in the state. I also understand that few lawmakers in the Assembly have been meeting him to defect along with him back to Labour.”
When contacted on phone, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state, Ayo Fadaka, said if Mimiko had concluded plans to leave the party, it would have no much effect.
Fadaka told SaharaReporters on phone that the defection of Mimiko from PDP would only be a “news” to journalists and not the members of the PDP in the state.
“See, let me tell you that the PDP is like an orange tree that bears fruits and when fruits fall down it has no effect on the tree, Yes, it has no effect because the tree will still produce many other fruits,” he said.
“The PDP has survived the defection of some of its bigwigs in the past and we shall also survive if Mimiko leaves our party.
“But we want him to rethink and look back because many of our leaders who had left at one time or the other are back in the party and many are on their way back to the party.”
To further confirm speculations of his defection, a group within the Labour Party (LP) has already accused Mimiko of desperately working to come back and destabilize the party.
The group, which identified itself as the ‘Concerned LP Group’, said the former Governor was already planning of how to hijack the structure of the party even before his return.
Waheed Enilolobo, Chairman of the group, told SaharaReporters: “We are worried with his second coming and what he stands to gain because this is a man that used our party (LP) to get to power in Ondo State and later dumped it for the PDP in his self-seeking quest.
“We don’t have much problem with his second coming, except that his determination to destabilize our party in his quest to hijack the party structure is most worrisome to say the least.”
Meanwhile, a source told SaharaReporters that Mimiko and the National Chairman of the Labour Party [LP], Mike Omotosho, are currently at loggerheads over his planned defection.
The source said that the former Governor is being seen as a “big threat” with his plans to hijack the party structure immediately after his defection.