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Ondo PDP’s House of Trouble

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Since he defected to the Peoples Democratic Party from Labour Party on October 2, 2014 and PDP headquarters dissolved the party executives in the state to pave the ground for him to take over the leadership of the party, Ondo State Governor OlusegunMimiko’s centre can hardly hold. The old PDP in the state led by Chairman Ebenezer Alabi is insisting the old executives are still in place. Mimiko has turned the old Labour Party Secretariat into new PDP Secretariat, where his lieutenants led by Chairman Caretaker Committee Dare Adeleke are holding court as PDP executives. A meeting he held with some selected old PDP members to share political offices in the state last week was anything but successful. Last Saturday, there were parallel congresses organised by both Mimiko’s and Alabi’s factions across the state.  The old PDP leaders in Abuja on Tuesday openly kicked against the sharing formula adopted by the Governor’s camp for political offices in the state. The party’s headquarters is now saying the state PDP executive council was never dissolved in the first instance. Meanwhile, some of the old PDP lawmakers are threatening to defect to the All Progressives Congress. TEMITOPE ADEDEJI, who has been following the developments within the party, reports…

 

By the weekend, it was the sharing arrangement for political offices in the state in the wake of the defection of Ondo State Governor OlusegunMimiko from Labour Party to the Peoples Democratic Party  that was still rankling the PDP in the state. Leaders of the warring camps in the state had taken their case to Abuja PDP headquarters where the party leadership had intervened.  The aggrieved party members were complaining over the sharing formula for elective offices in the state which was lopsided in favour of the Governor’s camp.

The Mimiko group had reportedly grabbed 17 State House of Assembly seats as opposed to nine to the olde PDP group led by Mr. Ebenezer Alabi. For the House of Representatives slots, the Mimiko group will take six as opposed to three for the Alabi group. And in the Senate, it would be two seats to Mimiko’s group and one to the other camp. The Alabi group had kicked against the arrangement, insisting the state legislative seats should be done on the basis 16 for Mimiko group and 10 for them while the House of Representatives slots should be done ona five to four ratio. It was to register its opposition to the development that the Alabi group kept resisting the dissolution of the state executives of the party, insisiting its executives were still in place.

Indeed, as PDP held its ward congresses last Saturday, the Ondo State Chapter of the party held two parallel congresses, with both factions claiming to be holding authentic congresses. The factional chairman of the party, Alabi, had earlier vowed to hold a parallel congress despite the dissolution of the state executives led by him by the National Working Committee of the party.  In some of the wards visited by WESTERN POST in Akure South and Akure North Local Government areas of the state, the exercise conducted by Alabi’s faction went on peacefully while security agents were also present at the centre to prevent a possible breakdown of law and order.  Speaking on the exercise, Alabi, said the exercise was very peaceful, saying there was no crisis at all the centres where the exercise was being held.

Meanwhile, the faction led by Governor Mimiko also held their own congresses across the state with some top PDP members in the state alleging that they were shut out of the congress to pave the way for the emergence of the Governor’s loyalists. For instance a member of the House of Representatives representing Okitipupa/Irele Constituency in the state, Hon. Albert Akintoye, has spoken against the alleged manipulation of the congress, describing it a charade.

 

Defection, Threats of Defection

Akintoye who is the only House of Representatives member elected on PDP platform in 2011 and a few other PDP lawmakers and one member from Labour Party had threatened to defect to the All Progressives Congress over the development. Akintoye who threatened to defect said his planned move had to do with the unresolved crisis that trailed Mimiko’s defection to PDP. Chairman of the state APC Isaac Kekemeke had said at least thre PDP House of Representatives members would join APC. He said in a statement that the APC was ready to do everything that is morally right to accomodate them.

 

Claims, Counter Claims on Congresses

The Caretaker Chairman of the party in the state, who is leading Mimiko’s faction, Mr. Dare Adeleke, said the congress conducted by his faction was the authentic one, saying the exercise went peacefully .

He said the other faction’s congress was not recognized by the national body of the party, claiming that all stakesholders were present to monitor the exercise including security agents and INEC officials.

On the claim to the leadership of the party by the other faction, the Caretaker Chairman said:  “Anybody can claim to be anything, we are not concerned about that, all I know is that our own congress is very peaceful, we have INEC officials, the security agents were present at the centres. Also the national officers of the party were around to monitor the exercise. We are the real PDP”.

Alabi had described the congress conducted by the Mimiko faction of the party as illegal and against the party’s constitution, maintaining that ethexercise held by his faction was the authentic congress.

He said Governor Mimiko and other new defectors to the party were not eligible to participate in the congress because they did not register with the party when the membership registration was going on at the ward level, reiterating that they joined the party when the registration for the congress at the ward level had closed a month ago .

Alabi disclosed that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ), security agents and other stakeholders were present at the congress held by his faction.

He said: “The congress has been peaceful, I appreciate our people for coming out in their large numbers to participate in the exercise, I also appreciate the INEC officials and security agents for making the exercise a success.”

Expressing the authenticity of his own parallel congress, Alabi said, “it is only those names that appeared on the register at the ward level as at 1st of October, 2014 that can participate in this exercise, anybody who is not a member of that party as at that time is not entitled to participate.

“The PDP Constitution says when the party membership register at the ward level has been closed 30 days to the Congress, any person who joins the party after that  cannot participate in the congress”.

 

Crisis Build-up

The defection of Governor Mimiko to PDP came up in Abuja on October 2, 2014 at the State House where PDP bigwigs like Vice President NamadiSambo, Senate President David Mark, National Chairman AdamuMuazu were all in attendance.

On Sunday, October 26, 2014, Muazu held a press conference in Abuja over the Ondo State chapter of the party during which he said the executives of the state chapter had been dissolved. He had said: ”the National Working Committee of the party has resolved and concluded that the Ondo State chapter of our great party is hereby dissolved”.  Meanwhile, the then executives of the state chapter of the party had gone to court to obtain an injunction restraining the governor from tampering with the existing structure of the party. But this notwithstanding the governor eventually inaugurated a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the party led by Hon. Adeleke.

The most interesting part is that the PDP Secretariat along Oyemekun road in Akure was sealed-off by armed security men, which included soldiers to prevent the dissolved executive members from operating there. But the former Labour Party Secretariat was hurriedly re-painted in PDP colour and opened for operation as new PDP secretariat. It is situated along Alagbaka, Akure.  On Wednesday October 29, 2014 around 11 am, a court order was issued that the party secretariat should be opened and the security men should also vacate.  The place has since been opened and other activities have been going on there.

The Director of Publicity of the dissolved Executives, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, on hearing of the news of the dissolution of the executives had said in a press release: “We received with shock the news of the dissolution of the Executive of the party at every level in the state this afternoon. To say the least, this action is a clear intention by those we expect to safeguard the interest of the party to work against such interest”. He said further in the statement that the NWC had taken laws into their hands.

“We also consider this action a disappointment, particularly, the fact that there is a subsisting court order barring the NWC from taking this sort of action. Therefore we reject it absolutely.”

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