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Mimiko’s Defection as Game Changer in South-West Politics

Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko

The polity was thrown into frenzy last week when news filtered through that the Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, may dump the Labour Party (LP) for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). To all intents and purposes, Mimiko’s latest move can be situated in the pragmatics of 2015 politicking, particularly in relation to the South-West where the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently struggling to maintain its fading hold. Should Mimiko defect, the political situation in the zone would become more sharply defined. Interestingly, Mimiko’s planned defection received the endorsement of political stakeholders in the state, including members of the state House of Assembly, members of the state Executive Council, local government chairmen, traditional rulers, labour union leaders, students, artisans and market women, as the governor deliberated with these groups over the likely move. The consensus was that the move would be in the best interest of Ondo State, ahead of the 2015 general election where President Goodluck Jonathan, a key ally of the Ondo governor, is the leading candidate.

All along, Mimiko had been an advocate of Jonathan based on his personal merits and his defection will provide a credible, alternative leadership for the South-West PDP.

A grass-roots politician with fanatical following, Mimiko built the LP structure in Ondo State in just four months and unseated the then Governor Olusegun Agagu in the 2003 election. Mimiko, who had teamed up with Agagu to defeat the late Adebayo Adefarati in the 2003 general election, served as Secretary to the State Government under Agagu, before being appointed as Minister of Housing by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. 

However, Mimiko and Obasanjo parted ways over his governorship ambition, as Agagu decided to break his gentleman’s agreement with Mimiko and seek another term of office in the 2007 general election. Mimiko then built the Labour Party (LP) from scratch in Ondo State and went on to upset Agagu and his federal might in the 2007 election. Since then, he has made Ondo the reference point in progressive governance and quality leadership, and has been recognized by, among others, the United Nations and the World Bank for his landmark achievements in urban renewal, health and education. Mimiko, acknowledged worldwide as a great leader, thus brings into a resurgent PDP his sterling political profile, credibility and charisma.

In retrospect, if Nigerian workers had taken the LP as their own movement, it would by now have been controlling a sizable number of states if not all the 36 states. Mimiko, in spite of his monumental achievements, was a lone ranger, and was bitterly opposed by the defunct ACN, now APC. Beyond this point, however, how practicable would it be for Mimiko to simultaneously campaign for Jonathan for President and for the various LP candidates in the 2015 general election when the presidential and National Assembly elections will take place on the same day? In the 2003 general elections when the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) was faced with a similar scenario, it was roundly defeated by the PDP. 

The AD governors, who were seeking re- election, had adopted Obasanjo for the presidency. But the people having voted PDP in the presidential election, the AD governors were routed in the 2003 election. The fact simply is that the illiteracy factor among the voting population must always be taken into account. Given the outing of the LP in recent elections in Ekiti and Osun, it must be sufficiently clear that defeating the Janjaweed ideology in 2015 would require the fusion of the LP, Accord and PDP, or at least a strategic alliance. This is why, since Mimiko’s planned move came to the fore, there has been excitement in Ondo.

Source: Vanguard

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