3 October, 2020
•Governors pile pressure on Mimiko over pact
•Alliance is doomed, APC sure of victory – Commissioner
•Police deploy DIG, AIG 11 CPs to coordinate operations
•Military destroy militants’ camps in riverine areas
Emmanuel Oladesu/Dare Odufowokan/ Osagie Otabor, Akure
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) appear to be facing an uphill task in forging an alliance ahead of next weekend’s governorship election in Ondo State.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), which is the target of the uneasy pact, declared yesterday that it was unruffled by the talks between the two opposition parties.
The APC dismissed it as a reactionary contraption that will not work.
Some PDP governors, including Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, are said to be piling pressure on former Ondo State governor Segun Mimiko to make the alliance work.
A former attorney general and justice commissioner of the state, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, is running on the platform of the PDP while the incumbent deputy governor Agboola Ajayi is the standard bearer of the ZLP.
Ajayi first defected to the PDP from the APC and then switched to ZLP after failing to get the PDP governorship ticket.
Sources said PDP does not trust Ajayi.
Jegede in particular is ambivalent about any pact with ZLP, since the terms or conditions would make certain concessions to ZLP inevitable and burdensome.
However, Ajayi is enthusiastic for three reasons, one of which is the weak presence of his party in the state.
The ZLP is weak and incapacitated by its lack of structures in all the 18 local governments.
Ajayi, according to sources, sees alliance as a face saving device for him.
His calculation is also that if Jegede garners more votes from the Central Senatorial District and ZLP puts up a strong showing in the South, the alliance may defeat the APC.
While majority of PDP leaders agree that collaboration may swing the pendulum in favour of the party, Jegede is said to be uncomfortable with the e fact that Ajayi will be a factor in the alliance and the ultimate beneficiary in the ZLP.
Ajayi had contested the PDP ticket with Jegede, who instantly rejected pressures on him to make him his running mate, after his victory at the primary. The PDP standard bearer cited two reasons: Ajayi has established himself as a serial defector; he is also a disloyal deputy to Akeredolu.
The first consultation on alliance failed as Jegede, who is not a seasoned politician, held on to his grievances and distrust of Ajayi over the scramble for delegates at the shadow poll and the negative effects of his defection on the PDP.
Although PDP governors impressed its desirability on him, he was adamant.
A source said that reality dawned on Jegede last week that a helping hand was required from ZLP to narrow the contest into a two-horse race.
Wike, said the source, explained to him that any financial assistance to him by PDP governors on the election might be futile unless the PDP’s position was strengthened by the coalition with ZLP.
According to the source, Wike and Makinde maintained that PDP and ZLP in Ondo are the same.
Although Ajayi is pushing for collaboration, PDP leaders also considered the imperative of holding talks with Mimiko who lent the ZLP as election platform to the deputy governor.
Mimiko is confronted by two challenges: the rift between him and Jegede over how the preparation for the 2016 election was handled by the former governor has not been resolved; and the emotional gulf between them.
Mimiko is also said to have never perceived Ajayi as a formidable candidate outside APC and PDP, adding that the former governor has been attending Ajayi’s campaigns with reluctance.
The prospect of pact has energised Mimiko, who has intensified his criticism of the Akeredolu administration, in spite of his input into the administration in terms of appointments.
The source said prominent PDP leaders, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, reached out to Mimiko on the need to close ranks with the PDP. His media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, however, denied it.
A source close to Oyo State governor said Makinde, Wike and other governors are still mounting pressure on Ondo PDP and ZLP to combine strength.
A source said Obsanjo’s intervention and that of the PDP governors was engineered by Makinde.
There is apprehension in the PDP that the presence of Ajayi in the race is altering permutations ahead of the election.
“That is why there is unending pressure on the ZLP and its candidate to ease out of the race and back Jegede,” a source said on Friday.
The source added: “Our governors will again meet Mimiko. Personally, Jegede has been communicating with his erstwhile political leader, the former governor. A lot has been discussed but a lot still needs to be put on the table.”
Mimiko and Ajayi are said to be keeping members of the ZLP guessing about the talks.
”In spite of the wide rumour about these alliance talks, our leaders have neither confirmed nor denied the reports. This has kept many party chieftains and members guessing as to what is likely to happen,” a ZLP chieftain said last night.
The Nation gathered that Mimiko may be seeking more commitment and assurance from the PDP and those reaching out to him before committing himself and his party to the alliance.
The contraption will not work, says commissioner
Reacting to the PDP/ ZLP alliance talks yesterday, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr.Donald Ojogo, said it was “a reactionary contraption that will not work.”
Contacted by The Nation on the matter, Ojogo said: “It was obviously motivated by greed and selfishness, oiled by ego driven contents and driven by bitterness.
“Those whose aims are not altruistic are bound to fail and get further decimated in their numbers.
“Like it happened in 2016, the combination of PDP and ZLP has hit the rock even before the contest.
“Here is a two way front that represents the worst in the history of our state. For the PDP, the symbol represents and, indeed, presided over the sack of over 10,000 workers.
“The personality dissuaded the government from accepting the lauded Dangote Refinery and today, Lagos has benefitted immensely.
“For the ZLP, its symbol and patrons, we cannot return to Egypt. Never again shall the good people of Ondo State return to the days of unpaid salaries, government of family.”
An APC source said the party was set for victory as the people “appreciate what Akeredolu has done and want to vote for him for a second term in office.”
Military destroys militant camps to ensure violence-free polls
To ensure a violence free election, security agencies in the state, including the military, have destroyed militant camps in the riverine Ilaje and Ese-Odo areas of the state.
Personnel of the Army, Navy, Police, Immigration Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) effected the destruction of the camps at Igbokoda, headquarters of Ilaje Local Government Area and Atijere, Abereke, Agadagba, Obolowo, Aserebobo, Arogbo, Dioba, according to the Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade, Brigadier General Zakari Abubakar.
Abubakar said the move was to warn hoodlums and militants in the creeks “that we are ready.”
He added: “We want to ensure that the election is free and peaceful and make sure that hoodlums don’t interfere.
“The places visited lead to Delta and Ogun states and they will be coming. But I want to assure you that wherever they come from, we will give them blocking force.”
He advised hoodlums on the waterways to shun all forms of violence and intimidation before, during, and after the election.
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