The two are the only PDP governors in the South West geo-political zone and have been at loggerheads, especially over the emergence of Gov. Mimiko as the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
Governor Fayose had opposed Mimiko’s appointment and has continued to insist that the Ondo state governor, who is popularly called Iroko, should step down from the position so that he, Fayose can take over the headship of the Forum of governors elected on their party’s platform.
The faceoff is said to be giving members of the PDP’s National Working Committee, NWC, and governors elected on the platform of the party sleepless nights as the crisis is working against unity in the party and could cost the PDP some electoral fortunes in future elections.
Sources close to the PDP Governors’ Forum told Global Patriot Newspapers that Gov. Fayose is not relenting. “He is reaching out to some of his fellow PDP governors to get them to work with him to remove Mimiko and install him as Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
Fayose’s argument is anchored on his insistence that Mimiko lacks the political pedigree to occupy such exalted position and is too new in the party as a governor to understand the inner workings of the Governors’ Forum of the party.
He also argues that the manner of Mimiko’s defection to the PDP last year contributed immensely to the failure of the party during the last presidential election in the South West.
His entry into the PDP caused some crisis in the party in Ondo state and his appointment as the Co-ordinator of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign in the South West geo-political zone soon after his defection to the PDP also elicited resistance from those who felt they had made major sacrifices for the party before he came “to reap where he had not sown.”
Fayose, for instance, had before the defection of Governor Mimiko from Labour Party to PDP last year, anticipated that he would be automatically declared the coordinator of Dr. Jonathan’s presidential election in the South West zone being the only PDP governor-elect from the zone then.
The ambition of the maverick Ekiti state governor was scuttled with the coming of Governor Mimiko to the PDP few weeks to his inauguration in October last year
Fayose was elected the governor of Ekiti state on June 21, 2014 but was sworn in as the governor of the state on October 16, 2015.
His touted supremacy over Governor Mimiko in PDP is hinged on his celebrated victory over an incumbent All Progressives Congress, APC, governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the overwhelming victory of the PDP over the APC at the presidential, national and state assembly elections in the state.
Fayose was also very vocal, attacking the APC and its leaders, including the then APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhai, on behalf of President Jonathan and the PDP and had hoped that he would be the automatic choice for the position of Coordinator of the presidential campaign in the South West zone.
Mimiko, exploiting his relationship with the then President Jonathan, was said to have hurriedly perfected his plans to dump the Labour Party for PDP purposely to scuttle Fayose’s ambition and to become the custodian of the money meant for Jonathan’s campaign in the zone.
Fayose believes that apart from his relationship with Jonathan, Mimiko also secured the support of some PDP NWC members to become Jonathan’s coordinator in the South West and has used the same ladder to climb to the position of Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum .
The Ekiti State governor is unhappy that Mimiko has out maneuvered him in these two critical instances and is working hard to get back at him, especially by getting his colleagues “to realize their mistakes and remove Mimiko and install him as Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.”
When contacted over the raging controversy, Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, declined to comment on the issue.
His words: “I will not comment on the issue. What do you want me to say? I won’t react to the issue. I won’t react.”
But Special Assistant to Governor Fayose on print media, Mr. Lere Olayinka said the PDP Governors and the party’s NWC must reverse Mimiko’s appointment as the chairman of the Governors’ Forum in the interest of peace and the development of the party in the South West zone and the country generally. “How can Governor Mimiko be named the chairman of PDP Governors Forum? What are his contributions to the development of PDP since he joined the party over a year ago? We know the woes and calamities his defection has caused the party. We know the number of prominent people that have left PDP because of Governor MImiko. How then can you appoint such a person to chairman PDP Governors Forum? Governor Fayose is the only governor in Nigeria that won all the 26 House of Assembly seats in his state and all the local governments during the last election. This is an immutable evidence of his eligibility to occupy the position and supremacy over governor Mimiko in the party,” Lere said.
How this controversy will be resolved is left to be seen as the PDP is still reeling from the effects of its crushing defeat by the APC at the presidential polls and many of its governors are still battling with their closest rivals of the APC at the tribunals to legitimize their victories to be seriously concerned about who is Chairman of their Forum.