Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and the Olusola Oke, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2012, are engaged in a “cold war of words” over control of the party’s campaign largesse as well as leadership of the party machinery in the state. Mr. Oke, an estranged key party figure, has accused the governor of undermining him and other party members as well as failing to account for campaign funds allegedly donated by the party’s national headquarters.
The latest crisis, which broke open last weekend, centers on conflicting claims by Mr. Mimiko that he alone funded and organized the presidential campaign visit of President Goodluck Jonathan in Akure. In disputing the governor’s impression, Mr. Oke asserted that he contributed funds to mobilize people for the event.
Both Mr. Oke as well as two other sources at the Ondo State secretariat of the PDP disclosed that the party leadership in Abuja had released N80 million a few weeks before Mr. Jonathan’s campaign rally in the state.
Our sources said Governor Mimiko’s failure to account for the funds triggered the latest feud in the state chapter of the PDP. One source said it was a major reason Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State kept away from the Akure rally. “Governor Fayose was not happy that the national chairman of the party did not release any such amount to Ekiti during the president’s visit to the state,” the source said.
One pro-Oke source said part of the funds was given to a few members of the pan-Yoruba social-cultural group, Afenifere, which endorsed President Jonathan after consultations with Mr. Mimiko at the residence of Reuben Fasoranti in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Mr. Oke is embittered by what he regards as the governor’s propaganda in the state and national media to take credit for organizing Mr. Jonathan’s presidential campaign.
Speaking in Akure on Saturday, Mr. Oke accused the governor Mimiko of failing to account for N80 million he collected for the presidential campaign rally in Akure. He added that the governor failed to “carry party members along,” noting that numerous individuals had made financial contribution to the president’s campaign event.
“See, the truth of the matter is that the national secretary of the party released N80 million which our so called ‘Mr. Governor’ collected and transferred into his account, and refused to tell anyone of us how he squandered the fund. Even till date, he has refused to account for it,” said Mr. Oke.
He added: “Earlier, before the campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan to Ondo State, the governor didn’t call anyone [to disclose] if he received any money from the Presidency. But [he] was only preparing alone and building structures at the venue. That was when I knew that program was going to be a failure.”
Mr. Oke blamed the governor for the failure of the campaign rally. “It was clear on that day that people do not want the PDP again. The people are tired of the fallacy, they are tired of the deception, they are tired of failed promises, they are tired of poverty, they are tired of backwardness and they are tired of being deceived,” he said, adding that he was one of the few in the state with the credibility to talk to the people of Ondo State.
He asserted that, even though the presidential rally in Akure was well funded by the PDP headquarters in Abuja, he and Kingsley Kuku, the special adviser to the president on the Niger Delta, raised personal funds to mobilize supporters to the campaign ground.
He also accused the governor of sponsoring personal attacks aimed at defaming him and his supporters in the riverine areas of the state.
Mr. Oke said Governor Mimiko seemed to have defected to the PDP in order to “disrupt” the party. He accused the governor of portraying many party stalwarts in poor light in Abuja, disregarding the fact that the members had labored to sustain the party. He said the governor wanted to leave the impression that he was the only person working for the party’s success in the state, adding that this was not the case.
He warned that Mr. Mimiko, who had lorded it over members of the Labor Party, would not be allowed to do the same in the PDP where, he said, everyone is regarded as equal.
He lamented that the ongoing crisis, which he blamed on the governor and his cohorts, might derail Mr. Jonathan’s bid for reelection.
“Mimiko said I have not being working for the interest of the party. Could this be true?” he asked. Then he added: “He met me here in PDP after his kangaroo defection. I am a leader in the PDP in Ondo State and I have been there from inception. I didn’t defect neither am I a joiner.
“I don’t need to go and give him a daily report on how I am gathering support for our presidential candidate. I learned he believes in propaganda. I believe in interacting with my people. Let us see who wins.”
Declaring that the governor played “enmity politics,” Mr. Oke advised Mr. Mimiko to learn how things are done in the PDP. “Forget that he was once in the PDP. Let him know, he is now a new comer. He can’t come here and talk to us, especially the elders in the party, on how to work or run our affairs. He needs to know that the PDP is the one that respects the integrity of its followers,” he said. He added: “We don’t have sole administrators here like they used to have in the moribund Labor Party. I and the elders are the ones to educate him on how the PDP is now being run which is different from the ‘gira gira’ politics he used to know. I am not going to report to any landlord or headmaster.”
Mr. Oke said a report in last Thursday’s edition of ThisDay titled “Oke Playing The Loser’s Game”, was part of the governor’s efforts to tarnish his [Mr. Oke’s] image, adding that the governor was also trying to depict Tokunbo Modupe, Mr. Mimiko’s choice for state coordinator of President Jonathan’s state campaign team, as the only one working for the reemergence of the president.
“The people behind this publication are no other persons than the PDP of LP extraction in the state and I point all the fingers at Governor Olusegun Mimiko. I am convinced that he is behind this.
“I know it’s their plan to brand me incompetent and not working enough for the success and reemergence of President Goodluck Jonathan. The loyalists of the governor have been to Abuja on several occasions to report us to the leadership of the party that we are not doing enough and that it’s only Governor Olusegun Mimiko that is working. They have even said I am working silently for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state,” he said.
He also alleged that Mr. Mimiko had in the past constantly blocked in his road to promotion. “I recalled how this same Mimiko blocked me from being inaugurated as the chairman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Abuja. He also blocked my way from emerging the party’s national secretary at a national convention held in 2012,” Mr. Oke added.