Ondo state was agog when Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu emerged winner of the 2016 gubernatorial election, he polled a total of 244, 842 winning the highest number of votes in all the 18 Local Government Areas of the state. Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party, who is his closest challenger, came second, polling 150, 380.Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy came third with 126, 889 votes.
The intrigues that led to emergence of Akeredolu were quite interesting as the ding-dong towards the election was heightened late Thursday October 27, when the umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC substituted the name of Governor Mimiko’s preferred candidate, Eyitayo Jegede SAN, and replaced it with that of businessman, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim,
In replacing Jegede with Ibrahim, INEC after some days of procrastination as to what to do, had simply decided to obey an order of a Federal High Court which sat in Abuja and presided over by Justice Okon Abang which had validly given an order via a court judgement that the name of Eyitayo Jegede SAN, which had initially been submitted by the Makarfi/Mimiko faction of the PDP be removed and substituted with that of Jimoh Ibrahim which the court had in its wisdom deemed to be the authentic candidate to represent PDP in the November Election.
According to information ferreted from the INEC, the decision to replace Jegede’s name was reached after due consultation with its legal department which advised that the electoral body must obey the court judgment and its ruling, and that the Electoral Commission must do so at the time it did for the Commission to meet up with the stipulated electoral act which stated that the names and list of candidates for governorship election must be published at least thirty days before any such election and that Thursday officially by the countdown began the thirty days countdown.
The Abuja Federal High court had ruled that Jimoh Ibrahim is in its wisdom the authentic candidate whose name should appear on the INEC list for the election and the court was said to have based its reason on the evidence before it that the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff camp which presented Jimoh Ibrahim remained the authentic faction of the PDP which had been enmeshed in unending crisis since losing the 2015 General Election.
However, the Ondo State PDP crisis had preceded that of the PDP at the national level. In actual fact, Ondo PDP had been in deep crisis since Governor Mimiko decamped from the Labour Party which brought him in as Governor, and the Governor had not been able to successfully managed the crisis which invariably is about to cost him his choice of successor.
In 2014, when Governor Mimiko decamped to the PDP, during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan, his coming to the PDP brought him into conflict with notable leaders of the PDP. It was alleged by those concerned that Governor Mimiko came into the PDP with some high level of high-handedness which the leaders of the PDP were not ready to accept and which made the party to be continually in crisis. Inspite of several peace meetings and the putting in place of a sharing formula for both the State Government appointments and that of the party, some aggrieved leaders had continued to accuse Governor Mimiko of not respecting the agreed sharing formula which continued to aggravate the crisis and which led to massive decampment of those who cannot stand what they termed injustice while many others vowed to weather the situation and continue to fight the Governor whom they say came to disrupt the smooth flow of the PDP.
According to reliable information into the continuous Ondo PDP crisis, when Governor Mimiko came back into the party from Labour Party, he was said to be determined to annex all like a soldier of conquest. The first thing the Governor did was to seize the State PDP machinery by coercing and forcing the then PDP State Chairman Ebenezer Alabi to resign and he succeeded in getting this done by using the federal apparatus of the PDP and the Presidency under former President Goodluck Jonathan to achieve this because as at that time with re-election coming closer in 2015, President Jonathan was ever so ready to do anything to have Governor Mimiko in the PDP without minding the imminent crisis which is today becoming a nemesis for Mimiko.
After Alalbi’s resignation, the PDP leaders hurriedly arranged and packaged Dr. Olu Ogunye as a replacement and Ogunye was to serve out the remaining part of Alabi’s tenure. And soon after Ogunye served out Alabi’s tenure, Governor Mimiko wasted no further time to appoint his former Commissioner for Community Development Engineer Clement Faboyede as the new PDP Chairman.
The appointment of Faboyede rather than end the fueling crisis seemed to continue to aggravate the situation which further segmented Ondo PDP into ‘PDP Gbasibe’ which consisted of former Labour Party members and Mimiko loyalists and the “PDP Konigba” literally translated ‘PDP that will not accept injustice’ which is made up of notable PDP leaders including some past PDP Chairmen from the wards to the State level, and leaders such as Jimoh Ibrahim a long time financier of PDP before Mimiko came on board, Olusola Oke who later decamped to the APC in 2015 and is now the flag bearer of the Alliance for Democracy in the November Election, and such other leaders like Olusola Agbesua, Kingsley Kuku and many others.
The crisis within the PDP even came to the fore during the 2015 Presidential campaign rally in Akure where the then President Jonathan was said to have held an all night marathon meeting with all the gladiators to no avail as all the parties to the crisis were not ready to sheath the sword. It would be recalled that it was a pitiable sight to discerning observers and the media during the rally as it evidently showed a house divided against itself with supporters of the different factions displaying open rivalry and chanting acrimonious songs and lyrics while taunting one another. It was a perplexed President Jonathan who hurriedly rounded up the campaign while telling Governor Mimiko to urgently meet with all parties to the feud to find a lasting solution which never came to be until this court battle which seemed to have shocked Governor Mimiko to the marrows according to reliable insiders.
- According to those in the know, what really made the case against Mimiko and Jegede more profound was the technical fact been touted by the Jimoh Ibrahim and Modu Sheriff faction which according to them Governor Mimiko had violated. According to this group to the feud, the PDP constitution expressly does not allow a caretaker executive committee to oversee and supervise Governorship primary like the Mimiko and Clement Faboyede led PDP State Exco allegedly did with the organizing of the primary that produced Mimiko’s man, Eyitayo Jegede who had served Mimiko as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice since Mimiko became Governor. This group to the feud had alleged that Mimiko and the Faboyede led Exco had breached the constitution hence the hammer from Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja Federal High Court which saw this obvious violation. Observers are also quick to point out that since Clement Faboyede PDP Exco was put in place, Governor Mimiko and his team obviously got carried away and forgot to ratify the Clement Faboyede caretaker Exco via a State Congress, one of the obvious technical lapse that the Jimoh Ibrahim faction had since latched on to legally challenge the governorship primaries that produced Mimiko’ s man as the PDP candidate.
However, with INEC aligning with the position of the law as pronounced by Justice Okon Abang on October 14 and INEC affirming the judgement by substituting Eyitayo Jegede’s name with that of businessman Jimoh Ibrahim, the contending parties have once more reverted to the Courts for adjudication. Having failed initially to appeal an earlier judgement filed by the factional Chairman of the PDP Honourable Biyi Poroye, the Mimiko group of PDP decided to get a counter court judgement to stop Justice Abang’s judgement but this was seen as wrong by legal luminaries contacted by National WAVES. These legal experts queried why Governor Mimiko and his team who sought an order from an Akure Federal High Court would decide to go to a court of equal status to seek a restraining order. However seeing the futility of the Akure Fedral High Court’s power, the Mimiko team had since filed an appeal against Justice Okon Abang’s ruling. The matter had come up for hearing on Tuesday November 1, but a twist was added to the appeal hearing because of a petition from the factional State PDP Chairman Biyi Poroye who alleged possible elements of bias and bribery against the three man Appeal Court judges expected to sit on the matter. And with that allegations on the judges, the three man judges had thus decided to step aside from the case and had sent the case file back to the President of the Court of Appeal for the case to be re-assigned.
Amidst the palpable tension that enveloped the Mimiko/ Eyitayo camp, good news literally sauntered in as Eyitayo Jegege was declared the authentic candidate of the PDP. Justice Ibrahim Saulawa panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Wednesday set aside Justice Abang`s ruling replaced Eyitayo Jegede with Jimoh Ibrahim for the elections.
Justice Saulawa ruled that former attorney general of Ondo State, “Eyitayo Jegede should replace Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP governorship candidate.
As most stakeholders were in a dilemma as many questions and permutations are begged for an answer. INEC complied and replaced the name of Jimoh Ibrahim with that of Eyitayo Jegede
The Supreme Court further validated the candidacy of Eyitayo Jegede as the PDP flagbearer
This was sequel to the striking out of all the pending interlocutory appeals filed by the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the party.
Justice Walter Onnoghen, leading four other justices of the apex court, held that judgment of the Court of Appeal on the main appeals rendered the interlocutory appeals academic.
Onnoghen held that it was against the rules of the court to determine interlocutory appeals and motions when a lower court had decided on the substantive issues.
“To this end, all interlocutory appeals relating to the Ondo State PDP governorship crisis and the leadership tussle of the party at the national level are hereby struck out. The contending parties are ordered to go back to the lower court and do the needful. That would mean filing notice of appeal on the judgment of the Court of appeal,” he stated.
With this development, the PDP wanted the election postponed to enable Jegede who had two days to campaign after reenlisted to properly campaign but this request was turned down by INEC who insisted that election will hold as planned. Stakeholders in the PDP are of the view that that INEC assisted APC to win the election by not postponing the election to allow its candidate to properly campaign.