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Defections: Tension In Ondo As PDP Takes Over Guber Supreme Court Battle

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 In what appears like a wake-up call to save the party from extinction ahead of the 2023 general elections, governors elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democrat­ic Party (PDP) have resolved to throw their collective weight behind Eyitayo Jegede, the par­ty’s governorship candidate in the October 10, 2020 election in Ondo State.

Jegede had lost both at the election tribunal as well as the Appeal Court in his challenge of the election that returned the incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. He has, however, headed to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the two courts.

The move by the PDP gover­nors is coming in the wake of the gale of defections that has hit the party lately.

Three governors, hitherto of the PDP, David Umahi (Ebonyi), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Bello Mattawalle (Zamfara), have defected to the govern­ing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last three months. Reports of more defections are rife but it could not be in­dependently confirmed as at press time.

But disturbed by this devel­opment, the PDP governors are said to have buried their hatch­ets to put their house in order ahead of 2023.

Accordingly, the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, is lead­ing the charge to take over what a source described as the “leg work” as the apex court deter­mines the case between the governor and Jegede.

It was gathered that the fresh moves by the Rivers governor had prompted the Ondo State chapter of the PDP to repudi­ate a statement from the South- West zonal publicity secretary, Sanya Atofaratari, which took a swipe at the judiciary.

But the state’s party spokes­man in Ondo, Kennedy Ikantu Peretei, denied that claim, say­ing the party never authorised the statement.

This disclosure comes one week after Rivers State gover­nor reportedly invited Jegede to Rivers State to commission some projects.

It was gathered that the visit afforded the PDP candidate an opportunity to brief Gover­nor Wike about the details of the pending case even as the duo were said to have met an emissary of a Supreme Court Justice who is touted to have a close affinity with a PDP big wig from Rivers State.

According to the source, the meeting was also attended by Jegede’s lead counsel who is also Wike’s personal lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), who was said to have pleaded with his ‘friend’ (Wike) to ‘forgive’ Jegede and intervene.

It would be recalled that in the run-up to the PDP presiden­tial primary, Wike and Jegede were in opposing camps just as the Rivers governor was non-committal to the party in the Ondo governorship elec­tion.

But the source, who is a member of the PDP National Executive Committee, confided in a team of newsmen over the weekend that all issues arising from the presidential primary that prompted the frosty re­lationship between Wike and Jegede were resolved last week.

“Truly, there was no love lost between Wike and our Ondo candidate, but it appears all issues have been resolved be­cause the River governor had already invited Jegede to Port Harcourt to brief him about all the details in respect of the Ondo case that is already before the Supreme Court.

“As it is now, there is no way any governor can claim he is angry with someone, angry with who? Right now, Wike is rallying all the PDP governors to assemble the best legal minds to pursue the Ondo case at the Supreme Court.

“We thank God the governor invited Jegede to Rivers and even asked him to commission some projects in the spirit of the rapprochement. From now on, we are good to go because even the Ondo governor has already offended the Villa and the APC top shots over his uncompro­mising stance and they now see him as being ungrateful to them.

“Again, be reminded that when it comes to the Supreme Court in such political matters, they are resolved politically; and that is what we are working towards rather than the legal is­sues. The people the governor of Ondo is fighting will not mind sacrificing him for any party and we shall benefit.

“Not only that, even the Sokoto governor, Tambuwal, and Abubakar Atiku now know that there is a big chal­lenge ahead of them and they are billed to do some leg work like Wike, by meeting one or two monarchs up North. There must be a PDP before they come for the ticket, so they have also resolved to put their past behind and push for a good landing for the Ondo candidate because already, we are depleting and there is no need to be pretentious about this. So, if we can have Ondo to the party, it will boost our ego and chances ahead of 2023,” he said.

Speaking with Daily Inde­pendent, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, said the party is confident that Jegede will get justice at the Supreme Court.

According to him, Gover­nor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State who is the APC Na­tional Caretaker Committee Chairman was not properly nominated, hence he cannot forward Akeredolu’s name to INEC.

“It is a known fact that Mai Mala Buni, the governor of Yobe State, was not properly elected as the national chair­man of APC. Therefore, he cannot nominate a candidate for INEC. They flouted their own constitution.

“The existence of Mala Buni as national chairman flouts the rule and constitution of their own party. I believe that is the ground that our candidate, Ey­itayo Jegede, is pursuing to the Supreme Court, that ab initio, APC had no candidate because the process of nominating their candidate was faulty. So, we are confident that he will get justice”.

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