Sunday, 20 September 2015

APC in search for Mimiko’s successor

Although Peoples Democratic Party’s Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State still has up to 2017 to occupy his plum office, Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan, reports that All Progressives Congress (APC) may have concluded plans to commence an early preparation and search for the right candidate to take over Mimiko’s job

Although Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State is not billed to vacate his current office until February 2017, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the sunshine state appears to have commenced the process of ensuring that it produces the next occupier of Alagbaka Government House.
We gathered that APC’s preparation for the next governorship election in the state started immediately after the last general election. Following its surprise defeat by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State Assembly elections, in spite of its earlier victory at the Presidential and National Assembly elections, leaders of the APC in Ondo State saw the need to start the race to the Government House early if it must oust Mimiko and the PDP in 2017.

It would be recalled that the APC won both the presidential election and majority of seats in the Senate and House of Representatives in Ondo State duMimikoring the last general election. Specifically, the party won three out of the three senatorial seats and five out of nine House of Representatives seats in the state.

 But the ruling PDP surprisingly recovered from the shock of its earlier defeat and beat the APC in the State Assembly elections. The APC could only manage to clinch five state constituencies while Governor Mimiko’s PDP cleared the remaining 19 seats to retain control of the 24-member Assembly.

According to Chief Collins Adebayo, the party, startled by the unexpected recovery of the ruling party, set out to find out reasons for the development and how to forestall such in future.Adebayo, a Chieftain of the APC in Akure, said finding by the committee saddled with the task of unraveling the sudden decline in the fortune of the party at the last election in the state, prompted the leadership of the party to urge its members towards an early start in the race to the 2016 gubernatorial contest.

“We realised that the Mimiko-led administration have been around for a long time and they have huge capacity to deceive the people with mind blowing propaganda. That was what happened during the last State Assembly election and we see the need to forestall a repeat.

Apart from that, two years is a very short time in politics. Before you know it, the election will happen on us and we don’t want to be caught unaware. We are resolute in our determination to free Ondo State from the shackles of this oppressive administration,” he explained.

Intensive membership drive

Consequently, the APC in Ondo State has commenced what it called the Continuous Membership Registration (CMR) exercise in all the 18 local government areas of the state. According to Adebayo, the exercise, now in its second month, is a huge success.

“If we had doubt about how ready the people of the state are for the good change they are seeing all over the country, this membership registration exercise erased such doubt. You need to see how eager the people are to join our party. With this, the PDP will soon become past tense in Ondo politics,” he said.

A statement issued by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Adesanya, said “the Continuous Membership Registration (CMR) was informed by the influx and exodus of politicians and professionals from the LP, PDP, AD and other political parties to the APC. The defectors have realised that APC will offer a purposeful, peoples’ government in the state”.

“We assure all members of our party, (APC), especially intending defectors, of a level playing field and equal opportunities for all aspirants. One man will not decide all candidates for all political offices like the narrative of the embattled LP. Our party would conduct primary elections for all political offices according to the party’s guidelines.

“We are all indigenes of Ondo State, and the reality of status quo in the state has put the task on all indigenes of our dear state to salvage it from this bad and inept leadership.”

Defection galore

And it appears the party is already reaping from its early moves as hundreds of leading PDP members across the state continue to defect to the APC. Recently, scores of PDP chieftains in the oil-producing Ilaje Local Council Area joined the APC.

Led by Prince Glory Okuntade, the defectors said they were leaving PDP, which they described as Egypt because of the mismanagement that they alleged the party has subjected the country to for the past 16 years it had been in the saddle.

Aside Okuntade, other defectors included former political and party office holders, including Messrs Timi Olowofoyeku, Dele Asogbon, Ademibo Okuntade, Festus Ademuwagun, Chief Ebini Idowu and Oronla Adebanjo.

Okuntade, who spoke on behalf of others, said they have nothing to show their teeming supporters in the coastal area as evidences of the development that their membership of PDP had brought to them.

Former National Legal Adviser of the PDP and its governorship candidate in the 2012 election, Chief Olusola Oke, who earlier defected to the APC, while receiving the defectors, said the time has come for all Ilaje sons and daughters to dump the PDP which has brought untold hardship to the people in the country.

“The change that has taken over Nigeria will come to Ondo State. This is the time for change in Ondo State. It is not good for this state to be in opposition to the federal government. We must be in tandem with the government at the centre. We want to take over the government both at the state and local government levels,” he said.

Speaking in similar veins, another PDP defector and a former commissioner in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Benson Enikuomehin, said the structures of PDP in the local government and state are collapsing as its former leaders are leaving for the APC.

A former special adviser to Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State on Environmental Sanitation, who is from Ondo State, Bola Illori, expressed his optimism that with its determination and preparation, the APC will win the next governorship election in the state.

Ilori confirmed that the party has started mobilising new members for the party as well as pacifying aggrieved members across the state. According to him, the APC is in a better position than before to chase Mimiko and the ruling PDP out of the Government House next year.

“I am very sure Mimiko will not produce his own successor. Anyway, there is no third time and we are set for the election. We are getting more people on our side every day; we are winning the traditional institution, winning the social institution and we are active and ready. The momentum of change is heavy in Ondo and for that we are quite sure that we are set to win. It is over for PDP in Ondo, if you look at Ondo town where the governor hails from, you will know that PDP is no more popular,” he said.

Governorship hopefuls emerging

Already, aspirants interested in vying for the governorship ticket of the party are emerging. Amongst them is the senator representing Ondo North in the National Assembly, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice. The second term senator also vied for the ticket in 2012. He is from the Akoko axis of Ondo North Senatorial District.

Close sources told that in line with the party’s preference for early preparations towards the election, Boroffice would soon announce his intention to contest the governorship seat. “He is serious and ready to go all the way with his governorship ambition,” an aide of the senator said.

Other APC chieftains allegedly interested in the governorship ticket are Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, the current State Chairman of the party, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who currently represents the Ondo Central Senatorial District and Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, who was the party’s candidate in the 2012 governorship election.

Party sources also added that more party chieftains, especially amongst the defectors, are also eyeing the ticket. Leading the pack, according to findings by The Nation, is Chief Sola Oke, the PDP governorship candidate in the 2012 gubernatorial contest.

Oke, who is from Ondo South Senatorial District is banking on the party’s promise of a level playing ground for all aspirants as he enters into the race for the ticket. “Oke is the man who can defeat Mimiko and the PDP. He is the man APC need to effect change in Ondo,” an associate of the former PDP National Legal Adviser said.

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