Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo has concluded plans to dump the Labour Party [LP] for Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, a development that has sparked panic in the state chapter of the LP.
Mr. Mimiko disclosed this to LP leaders across the state in a meeting at the Governor’s Office on Friday evening in Akure, the state capital.
An attendee at the meeting told PREMIUM TIMES that “we were all shocked when he told us his decision”.
“Of course we know he has been fraternising with Jonathan and we have no problem with that, but how do we cope with the original PDP who have always seen us as sworn enemies since the days of (late) Agagu,” the party leader in a local government said.
The PDP is the major opposition to the Labour Party in Ondo. The party’s candidate, Olusola Oke, a former national legal adviser of the PD,P came second behind Mr. Mimiko in the last governorship election in the state.
Mr. Mimiko displaced, after a court battle in the aftermath of the 2007 elections, the late Olusegun Agagu. Mr. Oke is now believed to be the leader of the PDP in Ondo.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that to convince the attendees at Friday’s meeting of the need to move to the PDP, Mr. Mimiko told them of the dwindling revenue accruing to the state.
“He said he needs to join the PDP so as to be able to negotiate more revenue for Ondo and bring more federal presence here,” another attendee at the meeting which ended at about 7:00 p.m. said.
The governor then told his supporters that he would publicly announce his decision at a mega rally in early September.
Panic among LP supporters
Ondo is the only state in Nigeria governed by the LP.
While Mr. Mimiko told his supporters he had made up his mind, many of them are said to be uncomfortable with the decision, particularly because of the bitter rivalry between the LP and PDP members at the grassroots level in the state.
“Look at Okitipupa and the entire Ondo South, which everyone knows is the PDP stronghold,” an attendee said. “Are our people there going to be subservient to or displace the Agagu people there.”
The source made reference to the recent House of Representatives bye-election in Ilaje-Ese Odo constituency which INEC declared inconclusive due to the chaos and intense rivalry between the PDP and LP supporters and their candidates. The constituency is part of the Ondo South senatorial district.
“Rather than join PDP, many of our people oin those areas would prefer to join the APC [All Progressives Congress]. It’s just that the APC in Ondo is almost comatose,” a Labour Party leader in Ondo South, said.
When contacted on Mr. Mimiko’s plans to dump the Labour Party, his spokesperson, Eni Akinsola, confirmed that the governor had been under ‘immense pressure’ to join the PDP.
He confirmed that the governor had been meeting with his supporters in the past one week on the issue.
“He left PDP because of injustice,” Mr. Akinsola said, alluding to Mr. Mimiko’s membership of the PDP prior to the 2007 election. “He’s been discussing with his supporters across the state on his next line of action.”
Mr. Akinsola also hinted that the 2015 support for President Goodluck Jonathan may have influenced Mr. Mimiko’s decision, saying, “He’s never hidden his support for President Goodluck Jonathan.”
The spokesperson said Mr. Mimiko would make his decision public ‘very soon.’