After luring over House of Representatives member from Ekiti State, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, who is angling to confront Governor Kayode Fayemi in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state, the Labour Party has further spread its tentacles in the South-west, and upped the ante in the geo-political zone in its bid to challenge the All Progressives Congress’s dominance in the zone.
At present, APC controls five of the six states in the South-west namely Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti, while LP holds sway in Ondo.
Western Post can reveal that former Secretary to Osun State Government under Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, and his former counterpart in Oyo State and at present Chairman of O’dua Investment, Alhaji Sharafadeen Alli, and their supporters have now effectively defected to LP, thus raising LP’s stakes in Osun and Oyo.
After several discussions and negotiations, Akinbade and Alli finally joined LP at a meeting held last week in Ondo town, Ondo State.
Prior to their defection, the two politicians and their associates had held series of meetings with Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who is LP National Leader.
Mimiko, the only governor produced by LP, has been working to get more converts for the party in the zone in order to effectively challenge the dominance of the APC in the South-west.
Former Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, and his associates in the state had earlier declared for LP, and together with Mimiko, the former governor have been rooting to strengthen the party in the zone.
About two weeks ago, Bamidele, representing Ado/Irepodun/Ifelodun Federal constituency of Ekiti State, formally left APC for LP, in his determination to challenge Fayemi at the 2014 governorship election in the state.
Western Post learnt that attempts to woo Accord Party and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, to join LP are yet to yield any fruitful dividend.
Mimiko and Daniel are said to have held series of meetings with Ladoja but the latter had always insisted on remaining in Accord Party, a platform he used to record appreciable impact in the last governorship election in Oyo, within three months of its creation in the state.
The meeting in Ondo town at which Akinbade and Alli pitched their tents with LP had in attendance LP Deputy National Chairman Joseph Akinlaja, Vice-Chairman South-west, Gani Daodu, Legal Adviser Fasakin Biodun, National Public Relations Officer Etuk and Ondo State Secretary Alhaji Ismaila.
Others who attended the meeting were state Caretaker Committee Members of LP, which included Alhaji Adejare Iromini, Chief Layi Olagunju, Mrs. Ojo Suzan, Barrister Kehinde Komolafe and Michael Awodire.
The former Osun SSG again met Mimiko last Tuesday in Akure, Ondo State capital to finalise arrangements for Akinbade’s public declaration for LP.
Akinbade, a grassroots politician and mobiliser, was one of the leading gubernatorial contenders in Osun within the Peoples Democratic Party, until he moved over to LP.
Following his disaffection within PDP and the fear that the party hierarchy in the state might have decided to give the PDP governorship ticket to Senator Iyiola Omisore and foreclosed open primary election, Akinbade was also wooed by the Peoples Democratic Movement to join it.
It was learnt that the former Osun SSG and Chairman of Golden Tulip Hotel, Owu Crown, Ibadan, also held series of meetings with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar over the move to get him to join PDM.
“His decision to join LP is a major plus for the party not only in Osun State but also in the South-west, particularly in the party’s bid to challenge APC’s dominance in the zone, because Akinbade is widely reputed to be a grassroots man,” one top LP official at the meeting where the former SSG joined the party said.
Alli was SSG when Ladoja was governor of Oyo State. He romanced the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, now APC in Oyo State, following which he was appointed Chair of O’dua Investment.
His decision to move over to LP came as a surprise since he is still holding office as Chairman, O’dua Investment.
Sources said Alli is slated to step down at the end of this year and begin campaigns to contest the state’s governorship election on the LP platform.