• Ajayi is still our member, says opposition party
• More pressure on Jegede to accept him as running mate
• AAC flays INEC over substitution of candidate, threatens legal action
There is confusion in Ondo State over the emergence of a third force ahead of the October 10, 2020 governorship election as the state Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, reportedly joined Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
The public and media space had been bombarded with posters that the deputy governor had ditched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to contest the election under the ZLP.
However, indications emerged at the weekend that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP might likely impose the deputy governor as the running mate of the party’s governorship candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede.
This, according to sources in the PDP, was part of moves by some concerned members of the party’s NWC to halt Ajayi’s defection to the ZLP.
Several attempts to speak with the deputy governor were abortive but the state PDP Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Zadock Akintoye, denied the alleged move by Ajayi to join the ZLP.
Akintoye, therefore, urged the party members and public to disregard the information.
Jegede had once rejected the choice of Ajayi as running mate when it was first suggested to him on the ground that he needed someone he could trust and he used one Olumide Ogunje as a surrogate running mate owing to the inability of the party to conclude on who would be the substantive running mate before the deadline for the submission of the list of governorship candidates and their running mates.
However, The Guardian gathered that some PDP bigwigs in Abuja had begun the move of imposing Ajayi as running mate after they uncovered the plot of few of their colleagues to sponsor the embattled deputy governor under another political platform.
It was also learnt that these bigwigs had already met with PDP NWC, led by Mr. Uche Secondus, on the need to prevail on Jegede to accept Ajayi as running mate so that the PDP camp in the state will not be depleted before the October poll.
A PDP leader in the state, who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said: “Jegede may not have the choice than to accept Ajayi as running mate. We can’t afford to go into the poll with a divided house.
“Jegede must understand that despite that he defeated Ajayi during the primary, he is still a big favour and big fish in the politics of Ondo State.
“We must commend some of our party leaders, particularly some PDP governors and NWC members, for their frantic efforts to stop Ajayi from dumping the PDP before the election. They love the party unlike those who are pushing Ajayi to go to another party to contest.”
In another development, the African Action Congress (AAC) has threatened to sue the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for illegally substituting the name of its running mate, Mrs. Mopelola Evelyn Ibrahim, with a non-member, Samuel Tope Omotosho.
In a statement jointly signed by the state’s Chairman, Mr. Alex Adeniyi, and Publicity Secretary, Oluwasunkanmi Oni, and made available to journalists in Akure yesterday, the party accused the INEC of meddling with party politics.