Jimoh Ibrahim isn't the most liked man in the PDP. Party leaders now have to deal with his emergence as standard-bearer
In October, 2016, Jimoh Ibrahim made it into the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) final list as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the November 26 election in Ondo State.
Against all the odds, you’ve got to say.
It’s quite the turnaround for a man who has carved a reputation for himself as a buyer and destroyer of once thriving businesses.
Back in July, Ibrahim’s businesses were shuttered by AMCON after it was discovered that he owes Union Bank the sum of N50B. He emerged from that crisis unscathed.
Weeks later, Ibrahim announced he'll be vying for the governorship position in his home State of Ondo.
He was laughed off as a joker by power brokers in the PDP.
But here we are, staring at the possibility of Ibrahim becoming the next Governor of Ondo State, baggage and all.
To get here, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the businessman, make no mistakes.
The PDP is evenly split between Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu-Sheriff. Each faction stakes a claim to leading the party.
While the Makarfi faction put forward Eyitayo Jegede’s name, Modu-Sheriff’s arm of the PDP announced Ibrahim as its candidate.
The PDP had to settle for one of Eyitayo or Ibrahim and the courts were brought in to mediate.
On October 14, 2016, a Federal High Court in Abuja presided by Justice Okon Abang, gave Ibrahim the nod over Jegede.
Abang subsequently threw away a plea by Jegede who sought to be allowed to appeal the October 14 ruling.
With the deadline for the submission of names by all political parties for the Ondo governorship contest looming, INEC had no choice but to obey Abang’s ruling.
“We received a court order from the High Court in Akure and that was yesterday (Wednesday), but there was a subsisting one by Justice Abang today (Thursday), that is what happened,” Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olusegun Agbaje, told Premium Times while explaining the decision of the commission.
Agbaje also hinted that the legal battle within the PDP, was far from over.
“That is why we put in front of the name (of Ibrahim) ‘court order,’ to show that the name was picked as a result of an order of the court,” he added.
“The situation will continue that way until the matter is decided by the Supreme Court if the parties choose to proceed to the apex court.”
There are indications that the courts will be very busy in the days ahead.
The Makarfi faction has been fuming since Ibrahim’s name emerged as the PDP standard bearer.
Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko--who belongs to the Makarfi faction--has also been throwing his toys out of the pram.
Protesters in Ondo have taken to the streets, erecting bonfires, cordoning off streets and hurling stones at passersby. Ibrahim isn’t their man, they’ve said.
This wasn’t the plan for many members of the PDP. With Ibrahim on the ballot, many PDP supporters have said, the APC's Rotimi Akerodolu, may well be sworn in today.
How Sheriff outsmarted the Makarfi faction yet again is subject matter for another day.
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"That is INEC‘s candidate and not PDP’s candidate and it is unfortunate that INEC that is supposed to be an unbiased electoral umpire has allowed itself to be used by those whose intention is to truncate the nascent democracy we have in this country," fumed Banji Okunomo, who is the Publicity Secretary of the Makarfi faction in Ondo.
Sheriff has described the latest turn of events as victory for the rule of law.
The former Governor of Borno State has also advised Jegede and his supporters to work with Ibrahim to win the election for the PDP.
Take our word for it: the last hasn’t been heard of this matter.
There are indications that the legal battle between the Makarfi and Sheriff faction on one hand; and Ibrahim and Jegede on the other, has only just commenced.
Once again, PDP heads into a major electoral contest, a divided house.
You can whisper it in Wadata Plaza—this is all to the APC’s advantage.