“The elephant has emptied the Imo River. The iroko has fallen to the bulldozer”
–Onwuchekwa Jemie in “Lament for Ellsworth Janifer”
By CHIDI OBINECHE
Famed turn-around expert and business magnate, Jimoh Ibrahim has since 2003 had more than a passing interest in running the affairs of his home state of Ondo. His first unsuccessful shot was on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. His failure then made him more resolute and undaunted. And for 13 unbroken years he steadied his eyes on the diadem, built strings around the state and heckled the roots of the governing structure of Segun Peter Mimiko, the man popularly known as the iroko.
The state has slept easy ever since this aspiration budded. Out of the howling wild winds of the searing crises in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP came his stealthy creep into the crystal zone. From very little political reckoning, he slithered around the faction led by his soul brother Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff. With a princely affluence to the bargain, the ambition was well oiled and the ticket very handy. The jitters of his emergence as the PDP factional standard bearer for the November 26, 2016 governorship election were distant and the sound very shrill.
The Ahmed Makarfi-led faction to which the incumbent state governor Mimiko belongs was ensconced in reassuring tight safety net. It held the right end of the stick. Since the crises broke out, it has fielded candidates in Bayelsa and Edo. Its congress had observers from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC as stipulated by the national constitution.
It has retained the crème de la crème of the members of the party across the states. There was correspondingly a surfeiting confidence, a groundswell of robust optimism. But apparently unknown to them, they were up in arms against a formidable never-say-die foe with a capacity to upset the apple cart. The roots of the iroko quaked in the leafy dance to the deep cuts from Jimoh. In the fullness of time, the INEC confirmed his candidacy in tacit compliance with the orders of an Abuja High Court.
The string around the iroko has snapped victory in one fell swoop, and the upheaval it generated is still reverberating. There is an ensuing tug of war on both sides to outwit the other.
Mimiko has taken his case to the presidency and the Court of Appeal, alleging that the court order obtained by Ibrahim was fraudulently secured. The streets of Akure boiled for days on end. But the larvae is in the cauldron of the restiveness of the main opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is equally reeling in interminable crisis that has vitiated its strength and pronged into a seeming empowerment of the moribund Alliance for Democracy, AD.
Heady days are ahead in Ondo. Prime indicators suggest that the winner of the PDP squabble will most likely be the fleet-footed and the swiftest. Can Jimoh Ibrahim’s strings take out the iroko? Will the iroko come down with a thud or like a shrub?
Born on February 24, 1967 in Igbotako, Okitipupa, in Ondo State to Alhaji Yakubu and Omofemiwa Jimoh, he attended St John’s School, Igbotako, and Community Grammar School, Igbotako. After graduating from the Federal School of Arts and Science, Ondo, he gained admission to the Lagos State University, LASU but transferred to the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ife where he read International Law, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He is the chairman, chief executive officer of Global Fleet Group, a diversified conglomerate with interests and subsidiaries in neighboring West African countries. Some of his investments include oil and gas distribution, hotels, resorts, airlines, banking, real estate, insurance, publishing, schools etc. He is married to Modupe and they have four children.