As the 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. As the election moves closer, some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress in the state under the aegis of the APC Unity Forum have united against the re-election bid of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. The group said it would present a strong and credible candidate for the party’s primary election scheduled to hold in July according to a timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission recently.
A key member of the group and the Senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Ajayi Boroffice, said the APC Unity Forum, which comprises aggrieved members of the party, would present the standard bearer of the party in the forthcoming governorship poll. Boroffice stated this in Akure, the state capital during his empowerment programme for women in the Ondo Central and Ondo South senatorial districts. The Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate noted that members of the Unity Forum were currently working together to present a consensus aspirant to slug it out with Akeredolu at the party’s primary coming up in few months. He said, “We in Unity Group of APC in Ondo State will have one person to vie for the primary of the party. “It may be Chief Olusola Oke, Jimi Odimayo, Ife Oyedele, Olusegun Abraham or Bukola Adetula. It can even be me or anybody in the group since we have a common goal of presenting a credible candidate for the party in the coming election.”
* Ondo 2020: Why PDP May Lose Again, Party Leaders Write Secondus, PDP .
Concerned PDP leaders in Ondo State have said the party may lose the election again if Ondo South was not allowed to present candidate. They leaders made this known in a letter jointly signed by Solomon Bitire and Chief Daisi Mafimisebi, former Local Government party chairmen, on behalf of other PDP leaders in Ondo South. A copy of the letter, made available to newsmen in Okitipupa, was addressed to the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and the PDP Presidential Candidate in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The party stalwarts called for urgent steps to avert the ugly incidence of 2016 in the state as well as the recent experiences of Kogi and Bayelsa elections won by APC respectively. They said that it was the turn of Ondo South to produce a candidate since the incumbent governor; Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is from Ondo North while his predecessor, former Gov. Olusegun Mimiko is from Ondo Central. The letter listed the rotation pattern being followed since 1999: Chief Adebayo Adefarati (Ondo North), 1999-2003; Dr Olusegun Agagu (Ondo South) 2003-2009; Dr Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo Central) 2009-2017 and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo North) 2017 till 2020; the statement read though:; “We pray our party leadership will rise and pick the governorship candidate from the favoured zone (Ondo South) to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2016. We also pray the leadership of the party at the national level will not allow itself to be used as instrument to disrupt the political cultures and tradition of Ondo State electorate,” they said.
* As The Race For Akeredolu’s Successor Begins
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 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 full 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 the 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 reelection ambition come 2020, feelers indicate that the move has become essential to the race.
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 bear root out is the political liabilities which the action and inaction of the former Governor, Olusegun Mimiko. 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 the 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?