Ondo Guber | Sheriff blames Mimiko’s impunity for party’s loss

Governor Olusegun Mimiko has been blamed for the loss of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.

 

This is as the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP rejected the results of the poll because “it was manipulated in favour of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.”

 

The PDP faction, therefore, instructed its candidate in the election, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede and its Ondo State chapter to proceed to the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.

 

Akeredolu was, on Sunday, declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He defeated the PDP candidate and 27 other candidates who contested the election.

 

The Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the party, at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, said that the PDP lost the election due to impunity and lack of respect for the party’s constitution.

 

A member of the faction, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who read the text of the press conference, traced the crisis in PDP in Ondo State to when Mimiko returned to PDP in 2014, resulting in mass exodus of PDP members from the party.

 

“The structure (of PDP) was handed over to the Labour Party,” he said. According to him, despite appeals by fellow governors to allow for harmonization, the governor refused.

 

“All the PDP members, led by Olusola Oke, left the PDP for him. In choosing a candidate to succeed him, he did not allow the PDP members to buy forms.

 

He mainly anointed Jegede who was returned unopposed. “Party members cried to the high heavens that Jegede is from the central zone where Mimiko hails from. Their cries fell on deaf ears.

 

“On the other hand, the authentic primary was conducted where six participants were involved and Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim emerged. Jimoh hails from the South.

 

He campaigned vigorously and convinced the people to vote for him. But alas, Mimiko will not allow him carry the party flag. Mimiko used the instrumentality of state government to overwhelm Jimoh, but could not overwhelm the masses and voters. Of course, the result is out there for all to see,” he noted.

 

Ojougboh stated that if Oke had not gone to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Mimiko managed leadership sportsmanly, PDP would have won the election convincingly.

 

“In the election, APC scored 244,842 votes while PDP scored 150,380 and AD scored 126,889 votes. It is a fact that the AD votes belong to PDP and the simple arithmetic shows why PDP lost; our votes went to Oke and AD,” he said. Ojougboh traced the problem of the party to the governors whom he accused of imposing candidates on the party.

 

According to him, the impact of impunity in PDP manifested itself for the first time in 2011 general elections when the then Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) defeated the PDP in Nasarawa State, even though the party had a sitting governor then who could not deliver. “This was the first warning against impunity. It was ignored.

 

Then in 2015 we had governors in Benue, Kogi, Niger, Jigawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Bauchi and Adamawa. “We lost in all these states for a common reason; the governors were not unpopular, but they imposed their surrogates and the people voted them out. We paid for impunity. “An analysis of the 2015 general election shows that the entire 10 states above are in the North.

 

The South-South would not have survived if President (Goodluck) Jonathan did not hail from the region. Of course, the figures that emanated from the South-East were abysmal,” he added.

 

But the National Caretaker Committee of the party said “the election and all actions leading to it fall short of laid down principles guiding conduct of elections in Nigeria.”

 

In a statement issued yesterday by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, PDP described the outcome of the election as declared by Prof. Abdul- Ganiyu Ambali, the INEC Chief Returning Officer as a charade and not the true reflection of the will of the people of Ondo State.

 

“INEC has, however, graduated from inconclusive elections as seen in Kogi, Bayelsa, Osun, FCT, Imo, Nassarawa and some other previous byelections in the country to ‘advanced election rigging’, as in the case of Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections.

 

“It is common knowledge that the APC agents openly bought votes of the electorate in the full glare of security operatives who did nothing to prevent such dastardly violation of the electoral law.

 

It is not surprising that the electorate in Ondo State became so vulnerable to the corruptive influence of the APC because of the hash economic situation in the county inflicted on Nigerians by the APC administration which has indeed made all Nigerians virtually beggars in their own country,” the party said in the statement.

 

PDP noted that it had persistently called for the postponement of the election for at least two weeks to enable it campaign and prepare properly for the election as a result of the setback orchestrated by court order, but it was rejected.

 

It regretted that the actions of INEC, in collaboration with the APC-led administration, did not allow it enough time to campaign and sell its candidate and manifesto to Ondo people, despite the fact that 20 other political parties supported its call for the postponement of the election. PDP accused INEC of acting the script of the APC.

 

“It was a carefully planned and well-orchestrated strategy to rig the election well in advance by preventing the PDP from planning and campaigning for the election. The APC has hereby introduced a new formula for rigging election in Nigeria.

 

“In view of the fact that the election was blatantly manipulated from the beginning to the end to favour the APC, we vehemently reject the results of the November 26, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State.

 

“We call on the judiciary to redeem Nigeria’s image on this matter as we request for the total cancellation of the election in Ondo State,” the statement added.

 

PDP, however, congratulated its candidate, Jegede, and the party in Ondo State for the gallant performance at the poll, “despite the severe injuries inflicted on us before and during the election.”

 

Meanwhile, the APC has described the PDP as a bad loser over its decision to challenge the outcome of the election in court, saying it is a wasteful exercise.

 

The APC National Secretariat and the Ondo State chapter said it would amount to exercise in futility if PDP seeks the nullification of the election in court.

 

The party’s Deputy National Secretary, Hon. Oji Ngofa, said Akeredolu’s election was adjudged the best conducted by INEC. The governing party, however, conceded that the PDP has the right to challenge the results of the election. “Observers were part of the process, even the outgoing governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko has congratulated the winner.

 

If PDP decides to go to court, I will just say that they are bad losers. “They should take a cue from us when we lost in Ekiti; our candidate and everybody accepted the results even when we knew that something was fundamentally wrong.

 

The result of the Ekiti election was accepted in our desire to deepen our democratic processes. “So, for me and, of course for APC, I can say it is within the right of PDP to do so, but clearly this election has been adjudged as one of the best elections conducted in the present regime of INEC.

 

All the agents, apart from the agents of the SDP, signed the result and so it is just a wasteful exercise, but it would enhance our democratic processes,” he added.

 

Also, the Publicity Secretary of APC in Ondo State, Omooba Abayomi, said PDP is free to go to court provided it has its facts. “I urge them not to waste Ondo State resources on issue that had already been settled by the electorate in the state.

 

It is better for them to put their house in order instead of blaming President Muhammadu Buhari and APC over their crises,” the APC spokesman stated.

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