Ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State, indications emerged that leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been mounting pressure on a former governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko to collapse the structures of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) with the party.
In an effort to rally support for PDP and its candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, Mimiko met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday met in a closed-door meeting at his Abeokuta Hilltop residence.
A source within the ZLP who confirmed the meeting disclosed to Tribune Online that the meeting was at the instance of Obasanjo, saying the visit of Mimiko to the former president was not unconnected with the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
According to him, some other political leaders across the Southwest region, including two former governors, attended the meeting with Mimiko where they all charted a common front on how to oust the incumbent governor of the state, Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said the meeting was specifically called to persuade Mimiko to collapse his structures and the ZLP structures with the PDP to strengthen the party ahead of the election, but said the secret negotiations with the former governor were without the knowledge of the ZLP candidate.
He confirmed that the meeting centred around the need to collapse the structure of the ZLP into PDP ahead of next Saturday’s election to confront the incumbent, Rotimi Akeredolu, saying the development became necessary following the dwindling fortune of the PDP in the state while Ajayi and ZLP seem to be gaining grip of the central senatorial districts which is regarded as the stronghold of Jegede.
But some leaders of the ZLP opined that it will be better for Jegede to collapse his structure for Ajayi who is said to have the grip of the southern senatorial district, where he hails from.
The source said “the feelers from the field is not too good for PDP, apart from Akure where Jegede hails from, which local government area can the party boast of winning?
“The two PDP lawmakers at House of Assembly are currently working for Agboola, and some of Jegede’s co-contestants in the primaries and party chieftains are working underneath for the ZLP.”
It will be recalled that a former spokesman of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, Mr Segun Sowunmi, on Monday confirmed that there were alliance talks between Mimiko and PDP leaders, and said an alliance with former governor Mimiko should not be foreclosed.
He said PDP leaders in the region and Abuja have been mounting pressure on Mimiko to collapse the ZLP structure into the PDP with a view to defeat Akeredolu, noting that Mimiko remained a key factor in ensuring the collapse of the ZLP structures into PDP and support Jegede.
Sowunmi said, “We are not foreclosing alliance with Mimiko, in fact we are still on it and we have been begging everybody that has any voice with to help us beg Mimiko. Mimiko is too precious to PDP.
“I am saying this with every sense of responsibility that Olusegun Rahman Mimiko is too precious to PDP as an individual and we will continue to beg him to come and provide leadership and direction.”
However, the ZLP Campaign Committee has denied any alliance or collapsing its structures with PDP or any other party, saying Ajayi remains the party candidate for the election.
The Head, Media Research for Jegede Campaign group, Samuel Fasua, denied alliance with any political party or group saying “Jegede is not planning or even considering collapsing his structures with any political party or individual as he is sure of victory in the election.”
The spokesperson to former governor Mimiko, John Paul Akinduro, also said he was not aware of his principal meeting with Obasanjo or any form of alliance with any political party.