As 2020 gubernatorial election draws nearer in Ondo state, series of consultations, endorsements, reconciliations and political cross carpeting have taken place in the state to either re-elect or to replace Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) who is the sitting governor in the state. Rotimi Akeredolu came to power on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) by defeating Eyitayo Jegede, who contested on the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo 2016 governorship election.

But as another governorship election draws nearer, efforts are in top gear by some politicians with the ruling APC to outwit the incumbent governor, just as the PDP which is a major opposition party in the state is also warming up to unseat Governor Akeredolu this time round.

There is no doubt that the administrative style of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has created some cracks in Ondo APC which some are planning to use against the incumbent, it is advisable for Akeredolu to close all the perceived and visible gaps in order to win the election again. Meanwhile, a step has been taken to reconcile the Southwest Chieftain of APC, Bola Tinubu and Akeredolu in Abuja against 2020 election in the state, knowing fully well that Bola Tinubu is one of political strategists needed to retain Ondo governorship seat for APC. The Issues Magazine reliably gathered that besides the meeting in Abuja, a series of meetings have been planned for various political gladiators and caucuses within APC in Ondo state to further douse all tension and clear road for Akeredolu’s re-election.

Although a close aide to the governor, who spoke in confidence with press men on the matter, made effort to dissociate the recent peace moves from the governor’s re-election ambition come 2020, feelers indicate that the move has become essential to the race. The Tinubu’s group led by a former deputy governor, Ali Olanusi, and supported by Isaac Kekemeke, who was the former state Chairman of the party, had called on the National Working Committee to ensure that Mr Akeredolu was denied the party’s ticket for a second term for his alleged “anti party activities” during the last general elections. An aide to Mr Akeredolu, who would not want to be named, said the first phase of the agreement was for “media aides to the party to cease fire and maintain the peace.” He said all the parties are interested in ending the feud and want peace to reign.

“As I speak with you, other meetings will be held in Ondo State, so that other players within the state would be actively involved in the peace moves,” he said. It was gathered that the reconciliatory meeting was initiated by a former APC National Vice Chairman Southwest, Pius Akinyelure, who had made several attempts to bring the duo together. He got the opportunity recently when Mr. Akeredolu flew to Abuja to honour Mr. Akinyelure’s invitation to meet with the former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu.

Although the details of the meeting were still shrouded in secrecy, it was gathered that both men expressed their grievances and resolved to work together in the overall interest of the party particularly in Ondo State. Meanwhile, the Governor’s Special Assistant on New Media, Allen Sowore, confirmed the reconciliatory meeting, adding that “peace had been achieved between the two leaders”. Tunde Rahman, media aide to Tinubu, also confirmed the meeting, but refused to give details.

In a meantime, the spoke person for People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said that sixteen aspirants are jostling for ticket in the party.

He said, “We have always ensured at all time that we give visible examples to show that we are a party that promotes free and fair electoral process. Ahead of the governorship election in Ondo state next year, about 16 aspirants have indicated interest to represent the People’s Democratic Party during that exercise”.

Spokesperson for the party in the state, Zadoke Akintoye, made the disclosure in a chat with Sahara Reporters in Akure, the state capital. He said, “Our party in Ondo State has never zoned its governorship seat and there is no history where you would find the party deliberately zoning his gubernatorial ticket.

“We have always ensured at all times that we give visible examples to show that we are a party that promotes free and fair electoral process. “We will allow all contestants regardless of the zone they come from to contest in the election. The best of them will emerge in a free and fair election. “We have 16 aspirants at the moment that have indicated interest to contest for the ticket of our party. “Our job as a party is to ensure that there is freedom of choice by party members as to who would become the party’s candidate.”

The Issues Magazine recalls the series of political crises that characterised the 2016 gubernatorial election in the state, and if there is any lesson one could learn in the Ondo State Gubernatorial Election on Saturday 26th November, 2016, it is “courage to dare and believe in oneself irrespective of challenges” that Rotimi Akeredolu showed before and during the election.

Akeredolu had a fair share of the battle. But the main news remains how Jimoh Ibrahim and the former Governor Mimiko’s eleventh hour alliance finally worked against the seemingly bright chance of new entrant, Eyitayo Jegede of PDP, Olusola Oke of AD against Akeredolu of APC and the rest is now history. As 2020 governorship election of the state is drawing nearer, another problem that might hold root is the political liability which the action and inaction of the former Governor, Olusegun Mimiko of the ZLP. The state is one the Civil Servants in the country whom whoever becomes governor must respect if such person wants to live long and achieve anything tangibly.

In the 2016 election, The Issues Magazine recalls that major roads, markets and streets in Akure, Ondo central senatorial district, the perceived political stronghold of Jegede and the former Governor, Olusegun Mimiko wore sorrowful and scornful look towards the announcement of Akeredolu as duly elected governor. The scornful look was misinterpreted by security agents on ground for possibility of crisis afterwards, this made way for intermittent patrol of security vehicles round the city in order to forestall any protest or any eventualities that might trail the election result and victory of the present incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of APC.

Now that Olusola Oke of then AD is back in ruling party of APC, and Jimoh Ibrahim back in PDP, with the former Governor of the state, Olusegun Mimiko of the Zenith Labour Party might also wish to go back to his former party, PDP. The question begging for answer is, will Governor Akeredolu return to Alagbaka Governor’s Office?

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