A big battle appears imminent within the camp of Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State as preparations for the 2016 governorship election in the state is set to kick off.
With a keen eye on his future political relevance, Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, may have finally settled for one of his commissioners as his successor in 2016, reports Assistant Editor, Remi Adelowo.
Among some close aides of the governor, the scheming over who succeeds him within the next one year has been so intense, thereby causing deep mutual distrust that is threatening to polarise the camp down the line.
In the last one year, speculations were rife that the governor had allegedly settled for Mr. Tokunbo Modupe, a trusted ally and confidant.
But fresh facts made available to The Nation however points to the contrary. The governor, according to some sources, may have allegedly settled for Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, his Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, as his preferred successor.
Expectedly, Jegede’s choice has not gone down well with other close associates of the governor; some of whom are also interested in taking over from him and are alleged to have set up structures across the state in pursuit of their ambition.
Fiercely opposed to Jegede’s likely candidacy is Rotimi Adelola, a doctorate degree holder in Organisational Psychology from the University of Ibadan and Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
Very impeccable sources disclosed that the governor’s preference of Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was allegedly influenced by a national leader from the North-East who, in spite of recent denials, is allegedly interested in the Presidency in 2019.
The top political leader is believed to be resuscitating his political structures well ahead of the 2019 presidential elections and is said to be reaching out to associates across the country.
Our source said the political leader is silently putting together a new political party that would comprise of elements across all political persuasions and divides.
In convincing Mimiko to settle for Jegede, the political leader was alleged to have dangled the running mate slot to the governor. The offer was simple: “pick Jegede as your successor in return for the vice presidential slot.” It was an irresistible carrot too tempting to resist for the governor, who is also reportedly concerned about his post-governorship political relevance in Ondo State politics and beyond.
As added bait, the top politician is also alleged to have “made a commitment” to bankroll the governorship campaign of Jegede, following complaints by the governor that “he lacks the financial resources” to foot the bill.
The man Jegede
The relationship between the political godfather and Jegede dates back to several years ago.
Born to the family of Chief and Mrs. Johnson Bosede Jegede in Akure, Akure South Local Government of Ondo State of Nigeria, Jegede attended the famous St. Thomas Aquinas College, Akure between 1973 and 1978 from where he proceeded to the prestigious Christ School, Ado Ekiti for his Higher School Certificate (HSC) between 1978 and 1980.
After his Higher School Certificate (HSC), he was admitted to the University of Lagos between 1980 and 1983 where he bagged the LLB degree. He then proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos for the one year mandatory professional training.
He was enrolled as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1984.
He worked in the law firm of Murtala Aminu & Co in Yola and after twelve years practice in the law firm, six years of which he was the Head of Chambers, he established his own law firm, Tayo Jegede & Co in 1996 in Yola where his path and that of the political godfather crossed.
A former Chancellor of Anglican Communion of Jalingo, Taraba State, he was also the Chancellor of Anglican Dioceses of Yola and a member of Implementation Committee of American University, Yola, Adamawa State, as well as a member, Chairman Board of Governors, ABTI Academy International School.
Factors against Jegede
Jegede’s choice, according to a source, outrightly violates the principle of zoning. He said: “Mimiko is from Ondo Central Senatorial District, so, Jegede, who is also from the same district, cannot be his successor.
“Since May 29, 1999, no governor in the state has served two terms fully. Chief Adebayo Adefarati from Ondo North only served one term. Agagu from Ondo South was ousted by the elections tribunal. Mimiko from Ondo Central is serving his second term and not satisfied, he is plotting to install a successor from his senatorial district. This cannot stand.”
Between Adelola, Mimiko and Prof. Mimiko
A few months ago, Adelola had reportedly met the governor to sound him out on his succession plan and also inform his boss of his governorship ambition.
The parley was brief, it was learnt. Midway into it however, SSG was, according to sources, taken aback, following the governor’s insistence that he (Adelola) should not even contemplate contesting for the PDP governorship ticket.
But he refused to give up. Sources revealed that the SSG then asked the governor his preferred candidate to enable other aspirants rally round the person. The governor was not forthcoming still on his plans.
It was a clearly distraught Adelola, who later met Prof. Femi Mimiko, the governor’s younger brother, to intimate him of his meeting with his boss.
The younger Mimiko, a former Vice Chancellor of the state university and an influential power broker in the state, is alleged to be backing Adelola’s aspiration to succeed his brother in 2016. The duos, according to sources, have come a long way from their childhood days.
The Nation learnt that the former VC is now caught between aligning with his brother’s position and sticking with his friend of many decades.
Mass defection looms
The governor’s camp recently suffered some high profile defections, a development that reportedly caught him napping.
Prominent among the defectors are a senator in the seventh National Assembly, Senator Patrick Akinyelure and the Director-General of the Technical Aids Corps, Dr. Pius Osunyikanmi, both of whom announced their decisions to quit the PDP some days ago along with thousands of their supporters.
Mimiko’s political camp also suffered a similar fate before the 2015 general elections when a group loyal to former governor of the state, late Dr. Olusegun Agagu, quit the PDP, accusing the governor and the PDP national leadership of unfair treatment.
The defection fever that has hit the Ondo PDP is not likely to end anytime soon if feelers from the state are anything to go by.
A source said: “Akinyelure’s and Osunyikanmi’s defections are just a tip of the iceberg of the tsunami that would hit Mimiko’s camp. In the next few months, many of his associates are likely to jump ship; you just watch and see what happens.”
Will Governor Mimiko succeed in dominating the politics of Ondo State beyond 2016? The answer, for now, remains in the realm of conjectures.