• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Ondo 2020: Battle for Akeredolu’s seat hots up

Oluwarotimi Akeredolu

As political activities gather momentum in Ondo State ahead of the October 10 governorship election, a number of aspirants have already indicated interest to contest the July primaries and are campaigning against the incumbent Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

Already, more than 15 aspirants have indicated interest, mainly in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to unseat Akeredolu, who is currently facing internal rumbles within his political party, the APC. He also appears to be facing an uphill task to get the party’s second ticket.

It appears that despite efforts put in place by the incumbent governor to get a smooth ride ahead of the October 10 governorship election in the state, some forces within the party are bent on working against him from securing the

Second term ticket of the APC

The greatest threat to Akeredolu’s second term bid is mainly from his party, APC, as many of the party bigwigs in the state, their followers across the 3009 units, political influencers in the South West and Abuja are sworn adversaries of the governor.

On the other side against him are: Olusola Oke, from the Southern senatorial district of the state, Segun Abraham, one of the leading candidates in the 2016 governorship election who hails from the Northern senatorial district.

Also, Ajayi Boroffice, the three-term Senator representing the Governor’s North District and Deputy Senate Leader; Bukola Adetula, who are all co-aspirants in the 2016 poll.

Also, notable among those ready to slug it out with Akeredolu is the immediate past chairman of APC in the state, Isaac Kekemeke.

Kekemeke from Ese-Odo Local Government who has set the ball rolling as regards his ambition to dislodge Akeredolu from power with his ‘Lekeleke’ slogan, was a former commissioner for works in the state. He has also served as Secretary to the State Government.

Kekemeke and Akeredolu fell apart during the build-up and after the APC primary in 2016, after the alleged backing of one of the aspirants by the former.

Others who are hell-bent on thwarting Akeredolu’s re-election bid include,the Irele-born oil mogul, Jimi Odimayo. Odimayo was one of his biggest sponsors for the 2016 election.

Another strong APC chieftain from the state who is set to wrest power from Akeredolu is the Executive Director of Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), Ife Oyedele.

The NDPHC Director before the appointment of Alasoadura was highly positioned and favoured as the right man for the ministerial job, considering his closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Oyedele was a strong member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) before the birth of APC after the merger of political parties but lost out in the struggle to make the ministerial list.

Oyedele, who hails from Okitipupa Local Government Area, was said to have played a crucial role in the formation of APC in 2013 and he was being groomed and nurtured to take over the mantle of leadership in the state in 2020 from Akeredolu.

Again, many of his political friends like Banji Ayiloge, his Campaign Director in 2012; Abdulsalam Taofeek, former Speaker and commissioner; Sola Amodeni, a commissioner too, who left the cabinet, have turned lethal foes to battle with.

Besides, it was learnt that majority of his cabinet members, especially commissioners, grumble over the leadership style of the governor, and most of them express displeasure for reducing them to mere “titular office holders.”

Recall that the governor too, while addressing journalists on the outcome of a stakeholders’ meeting held in Abuja last month, dared the leadership of the party on his ambition, boasting that APC would lose Ondo State if he was not given the party’s ticket.

He declared that he was the only candidate who could win election for APC in the state, leveraging his confidence on his achievements, especially for paying workers’ salaries regularly, massive infrastructural development; his pedigree and popularity with the masses.

Also, recently, Governor Akeredolu said he has drawn a battle line with political leaders in his party (APC), under the auspices of the Unity group, who are gathering against his second term ambition in the state, saying he is no longer interested in any peace meeting but “battle ready” for members of the group.

He said, he was ready to confront members of the Unity Forum, headed by Ali Olanusi, a former deputy governor, allegedly frustrating his attempt to get a second term ticket.

Among members of the Unity Forum are Olusegun Abraham, who lost the party’s governorship ticket to Akeredolu in 2016, and Ajayi Boroffice, a serving senator.

Others are Olusola Oke, who contested against the governor in 2016 and Ifeoluwa Oyedele, an electrical engineer and political associate of President Buhari, who sources confirmed has support of key APC members for the 2020 governorship ticket.

Also, one of the interested aspirants to contest against the incumbent governor, was the President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Francis Faduyile who recently declared his interest in contesting for gubernatorial ticket on the platform of the All Progressive Congress.

The professor of Pathology, who hails from Okitipupa Local Government Area in the south senatorial district, said that the state needed someone who could explore all the potentialities of the state for socio-economic development of the state.

Apart from Faduyile, a renowned America-based industrialist, Adekunle Adeleye, from Ilaje Local Government Area in the South senatorial district of the state, said he was ready to contest against Governor Akeredolu in the upcoming governorship election in the state.

Adeleye has not openly joined any political platform in order to contest the election but said his political vision and ideologies are people-oriented.

The governorship aspirant, who said he was still consulting widely for a visionary and ideological platform to contest, said he would introduce new perspective in governance without borrowing money home or abroad to execute his projects.

As for the opposition parties, the major opposition party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is also waiting anxiously to reap from the crisis festering in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Several political readers in PDP have predicted that the internal crises rocking APC would not only make it extremely impossible for the incumbent governor, to get re-election but will also make the boat of the party to hit a rock.

Several political gladiators across the 203 wards and three senatorial districts of the state have shown interest for the number one citizen’s job; amongst them, some are putting up a debut while there are handful who are giving it a slug again with greater fervour.

In the South Senatorial District, which has been the strongest base of the party, PDP, since return to civil rule in 1999, there are the South west chairman of the party, Eddy Olafeso; Sola Ebiseni, Boluwaji Kunlere, Otunba Bamidele Akingboye (OBA).

Also from the district are the former state Publicity Secretary of the party, Banji Okunomo; a former Commissioner for Information and Deputy Governorship candidate in last election, Olu Mafo.

While in the Central, the former Attorney-General and commissioner for Justice, Eyitayo Jegede, an Akure person who was the party’s candidate in 2016, has again shown interest to re-contest; and in the North: the former Special Adviser on Labour Matters, Dayo Fadahunsi and former Commissioner for Culture, Tourism and Special Duties, Femi Adekambi are all interested.

Meanwhile, the PDP state Chairman, Clement Faboyede, had boasted that the major opposition party would send Governor Akeredolu packing out of the seat of government in Alagbaka in the October 10 governorship election.

Faboyede declared that the party is making frantic efforts to ensure that its house is in order across the 18 local government areas of the state, adding that the party will conduct a transparent and hitch-free primary election that will produce the standard-bearer for the party.

His counterpart in the APC, Ade Adetimehin, however, declared that the APC was the only party with ideology and that can keep promises.

“APC is the only ideological party that makes promises and fulfils it, I assure you that,” he boasted.