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Ondo 2020: APC and its many aspirants


AS people continue to celebrate the New Year and look ahead towards making it a better one, the reality is more heightened in Ondo State because for the people in that state, 2020 is an election year; the incumbent governor, RotimiAkeredolu (SAN) will celebrate his three years in office in February.The irregular timetable for gubernatorial election in the state is as a result of the prolonged legal battle between two former governors in the state; late Dr Olusegun Agagu and Dr Olusegun Mimiko. At the end of the tussle, Mimiko was victorious and the outcome of that battle permanently altered the political equation of the state.

Meanwhile, political activities are already on the rise as various political parties, especially the major ones: the ruling APC and its major opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are galvanising efforts and getting their arsenals ready for the contest. While the PDP may have a tough time to pick its candidate from among the 14 aspirants that have so far expressed interest in the race, the house of the APC is struggling with internal hassles that have factionalised the party and torn its soul apart.

Some APC faithful claimed that party’s problem started since the beginning of the last electioneering; many expressed discontent at the manner the incumbent governor allegedly managed his victory immediately he emerged as the standard-bearer of the APC, and after he emerged victorious at the general election. There were allegations that he did not carry everyone along and rather treated most of his co-aspirants at the primary election as adversaries instead of embracing them.

The aggrieved members alleged further that the governor was averse to ideas from the party stalwarts and elders to develop the state after he was said to have hijacked the APC structure and positioned his foot soldiers as party officials at various levels. This, they alleged tore the party apart as the aggrieved leaders and members broke away to form the Unity Forum which presently is the larger umbrella that accommodates all aggrieved members of the party. And with the calibre of members in the forum under the leadership of a former deputy governor and present the Board of Trustees (BoT) member of the APC in the state, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, the Forum is believed to have practically become a rallying point for about 80 per cent of the APC members in the state.

According to keen observers of the political development in the state, the fact that those who have expressed their intentions to run for the governorship have done so on the platform of the Unity Forum lends credence to the credibility and acceptability of the group. It is on record that APC stalwarts like Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice, Chief Olusola   Oke, Chief Bukola Adetula, Ife Oyedele, Ambassador Sola Iji and Jibayo Odimayo, are all racing for the sole ticket of the party, all on the platform of the Forum.

Other observers also contend that but for the internal crisis and schism against the governor by members of the party, by now, the APC in the state should be mobilising support with little stress for the governor’s second term in office. However as it stands, the pundits said, this appears to be an uphill task as the Forum apparently has the number and has become a force to contend with. The observers added that this is more difficult now that the party at the national level had announced that it would only engage the direct primary option in conducting its future elections.

Therefore, the political observers have advised that in making the choice of who bears the flag of the party in the 2020 gubernatorial election, the APC should be guided by certain factors and historical antecedents. First, they claim that it is important to note that the state has been operating on the principle of rotation since its return to civilian rule in 1999. They added, that while it is admitted that this is not an official practice, it is incontrovertible that it guides the political operations in the state.

There are empirical factors to buttress the view. From Adebayo Adefarati (1999-2003) to Olusegun Agagu (2003-2009) to Olusegun Mimiko (2009-2017) to Rotimi Akeredolu (2017 till date), this principle has been respected despite the fact that the governors were not from the same political party. From this highlights, the movement starts from the North Senatorial District to the South senatorial District to the Central Senatorial District and back to the North, where Governor Akeredolu hails from. The late Governor Adefarati could not make his second term because he was ousted by the late GovernorAgagu. Likewise Agagu could not complete his second tenure in office before Governor Mimiko took over from him. However, Mimiko made history as the first civilian governor to complete the maximum of two terms in office as provided by the constitution.

With these as the background and with the present level of the state’s political development, pundits seem to be in support of the clamour by the northern bloc that the zone should be allowed to complete its second term with or without the embattled incumbent governor. This it is claimed is in the spirit of fairness and equity.

At present, the northern bloc has Governor Akeredolu with his structure across the state in all the 18 Local Government areas and he seems to be aspiring for a second term in office. The 4+4 group, consisting majorly of political appointees in the state, is working for him and he has the power of incumbency to get things done. But most analysts are of the opinion that he has a lot of hurdles to cross, especially in terms of complaints from his constituency, the APC where allegations of unimpressive performance, marginalisationof party members and anti-party activities.

Also on the list of those eyeing the governorship from the North is the Senator representing Ondo northern senatorial district and the deputy Leader of the Senate, Professor Boroffice. In terms of credentials and pedigree, he has all it takes to clinch the ticket and with his present relationship with the powers that be in Abuja, he is an aspirant to watch out for.

Another figure from the North is a member of the Unity Forum, BukolaAdetula, who incidentally is Governor Akeredolu’s kinsman from Owo. He ran and participated in the 2016 gubernatorial primaries that produced Akeredolu as APC’s candidate. Being a second-time runner in the race, he appears to understand the game better and has resuscitated his structure across the state in readiness for the contest. The son of Pa ZOK Adetula popularly called ZOKA, a foremost Awoist and protégé of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, seems to be a strong contender in the race.

From the South is Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), also seems not to be tired of running for governorship. He has the prerequisite political experience and sagacity to vie for the office, while Ife Oyedele, a new entrant in the race, is believed to have built a financial warchest to slug it out with his co-aspirants. The Okitipupa-born politician is new in the politics of the state but seems to be ready to take on the heavy weights.

Comrade Sola Iji is a progressive of long history and currently serving as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Republic of Togo. He recently declared to run for the number one seat during one of Unity Forum’s meeting.

The newest name and the youngest among the pack is JibayoOdimayo, an Irele-born politician. He is also showing interest in the sole ticket of the party as he makes the move around the State to announce his entrance into the race.

At the moment, no one has shown interest from the Central Senatorial district in the APC and this may not be unconnected with the respect for the principle of rotation.

However, among all other things, if anyone eventually emerges from the northern senatorial district and goes ahead to win the general election to emerge as the first citizen of the state, he can only occupy the office for four years and cannot run for another term in office. This, pundits argue, is in the spirit of rotation and fairness. The meaning is that it will be the turn of the southern bloc after four years. Thus, the next few months in Ondo State are expected to throw up a lot of surprises as the race to the Alagbaka State House reaches a crescendo but at the end of the day, the state shall remain as one with just one man as the governor.

Ondo 2020: APC and its many aspirants
Tribune Online

source https://tribuneonlineng.com/ondo-2020-apc-and-its-many-aspirants/

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