Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Ondo 2020: Uncertainties hits major political parties in Ondo

By Maria Ifafesobi
As preparations for the forthcoming October 10, gubernatorial election are in top gears, one can’t fail to notice the tensed atmosphere that is clouding the leading political parties in the state; the All Progressives Congress, Peoples Democratic Party, Zenith Labour Party, and to some extent, the African Democratic Congress. The three frontline candidates representing the leading political parties are also representatives of the three senatorial districts; Ondo North, Ondo Central, and Ondo South, respectively.
The political parties are re-strategizing and at the same time leveraging on their areas of strength to canvass for votes in order to win the election.
In 2016, there was a gubernatorial face-off between Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) (before defecting to APC). Mr. Oluwarotimi emerged the winner of the election polling 244,842 votes while his rival Jegede polled 150,380 votes and Oke polled 226,889 votes.
Almost four years later, Mr. Akeredolu and Mr. Eyitayo Jegede are contesting for the seat of power again after they had both won the primary elections in their respective parties.
What appeared to be the birth of crisis in the ruling party’s camp was when the party’s political gladiators in Ondo State came together and formed a group named Unity Forum. It was formed to work against the second term bid of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. The group, under the leadership of the former deputy governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, produced Mr. Olusola Oke one of their members as a consensus candidate to contest against the incumbent governor in the party’s primary election.
On several occasions, the group had out-rightly rejected supporting the governor’s second term bid.  This reaction was aside other aspirants who were not members of the Unity Forum but were determined to dispose the governor of his reelection. The governor on his part had earlier rejected any possible reconciliation with the Unity Forum until recently, that he stretched a hand of peace after he had won the primary election which has yielded a bountiful result for the APC.
Another trouble in the APC camp was that the governor is also not in the good book of the party’s National leader Alhaji Bola Tinubu. Akeredolu had been reported to have reconciled with Tinubu recently which included the formal introduction of his running mate to the national leader at a Lagos meeting.
Another major crisis that hit the party was when the Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi and the Secretary to the Ondo State Government(SSG), Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde, had a misunderstanding with the governor which led to the exit of the deputy governor from the party and the resignation of Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde from the government. Ajayi decamped to the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, some days to the primary election. On getting there he picked a governorship ticket to contest against Jegede who later defeated him. Jegede polled 888 votes during the primary while Ajayi polled 675 votes.
The former Secretary to the Ondo State Government (SSG), Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde after turning in his resignation letter openly declared that he was not in support of the governor’s second term ambition. He also went further to allege that the governor was not the winner of the 2016 general election but he and some unnamed persons had to help. In his response to this allegation, Mr. Akeredolu charged the State Commissioner of Police to investigate the allegation levied against him by the former SSG.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party was not left out in its own share of challenges. A crisis ensued in the party after the deputy governor defected to the party. This development led to the division of the party into different factions before the commencement of the party’s primary election. The popular opinion making rounds then was that the deputy governor has the money and influence to buy his way within the party. He was also alleged by some party members to have bribed panels to replace the names of some delegates across the 203 wards ahead of the party’s primary election. These allegations triggered a protest by these aggrieved members.
PDP’s flag-bearer, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede when interviewed on a program on Crest FM after he had won the primary election, said he never saw Agboola Ajayi as a threat to his political intention.
“I contested against his (Agboola Ajayi) boss, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in 2016 and came second. If Akeredolu was not a threat to me in 2016, his deputy cannot be a threat to me or my ambition in 2020”. He said.
Another major crisis that arose in the PDP was the issue of zoning. Recall that earlier this year, two senators on behalf of some party members in the South senatorial district wrote to the National Chairman, Uche Secondus and the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, that it was the turn of the Ondo South senatorial district to produce a candidate since the incumbent Governor is from Ondo North while his predecessor is from the Central.
According to Vanguard Newspaper, the letter also contained the rotation pattern being followed since 1999. Below is the list of the rotation pattern;
Mr.  Adebayo Adefarati (Ondo North), 1999-2003
Mr. Olusegun Agagu (Ondo South) 2003-2009
Mr. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo Central) 2009-2017
Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo North) 2017- Till date
After the end of late Mr. Olusegun Agagu in 2009, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gave its governorship ticket to Mr. Olusola Oke who is also from the South senatorial district. Mr. Olusola Oke lost the election to Mr. Olusegun Mimiko who is from the Central senatorial district.
PDP seems to be losing its political grip by the day due to the infight between the Central senatorial district and the South senatorial district. It is a general belief that the Southern senatorial district is the strongest senatorial district in the State.
The Zenith Labour Party seems to be the calmest of them all initially, with little or no internal crisis, unlike the other opposition parties. ZLP which was predicted to be the 3rd force have among its members the former governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who is the party’s national leader. The candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and the People Democratic Party’s candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, with their parties’ leadership were spotted visiting the former governor at his Ondo residence. Details of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s meeting with him were not made public. Also, the Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde also led some South-West PDP leaders who visited the former governor to solicit his support for the forthcoming Ondo gubernatorial election. This was done before and after the Ondo PDP primary election. According to sources, Governor Makinde was the one that initiated the visit. Does that make Mimiko a strong force to reckon with as long as Ondo State’s politics is concerned even after losing in the last senatorial election?
After much pressure from his supporters before and after the PDP primary election, Jegede who was reluctant to seek for Mimiko’s support after losing the 2016 election, finally visited Mimiko a few weeks ago.
The Ondo Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi was not left out in the support seeking game. He met with the former governor to finalize his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) to the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). Recall that Agboola Ajayi left the All Progressives Congress in June and joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he contested for the party’s ticket during the primary election in July. He moved to the Zenith Labour Party after he had lost to Jegede in the primaries.
The defection of the Deputy Governor to ZLP has been speculated by political analysts to affect the chances of PDP during the election. Ajayi is said to have large followership in the South senatorial district. A district regarded as the PDP’s support system.  His move was allegedly reportedly said to have been sponsored by five PDP governors who are ready to cut short the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s plan of winning the forthcoming 2023 presidential election. The failure of Mr. Jegede an ally of Atiku to pick Ajayi as is running mate has aggravated the crisis. However,  Mr. Jegede finally picked Mr. Gboluga Ikengboju a serving member of the House of Representatives at the National Level as his running mate on Monday after much pressure from the party leaders. He replaced Mr. Olumide Ogunje whose name was earlier submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). It was also gathered that Jegede has submitted the names of Mr. Banji Okunomo and Mr. Sola Ebiseni to the leaders to make a choice but they later settled for Mr. Olumide Ogunje after much deliberation. The announcement was made in order to meet up with INEC’s deadline for the substitution of the names of candidates and their deputies for the election.
As the deputy governor officially leaves for the ZLP the two other opposition parties; APC and PDP were jittering. The PDP was said to have had the worse hit as earlier speculated by the party’s leaders from the Southern District.  Leaders of the party both in the state and the national level have held a series of meeting to stop Ajayi’s defection to ZLP because of its implications to the party.
Governor Akeredolu before now was expecting the South senatorial district’s support by his choice of running mate, Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa, but with the emergence of Ajayi, the southern leaders may abandon him and throw their supports behind Ajayi.
Reports had it that close aides to the governor have held a series of meetings to discuss the development and look for a way out. While PDP’s Southern leaders are alleged to be supporting Ajayi gradually.
A statement issued after a meeting in Okitipupa last weekend revealed that the Southern leaders rejected the deputy governorship positions given to the district by the two major parties.
The South Senatorial District chairman,  Mr. Adekanmi Omotayo said that the meeting was attended by political and opinion leaders across the six local government areas in the Southern district.  He said:” It was called to gather support for a third force led by Agboola Ajayi who’s perceived to be leaving the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) anytime soon”.
 Mr. Omotayo who read the statement said that “The resolution arrived at include that the Southern senatorial district has been totally neglected in the scheme of things particularly the governorship seat of the state. That in view of the rotational policy in use in the state, it is now the turn of the Southern Senatorial District to field a candidate for the Ondo state gubernatorial seat.
“That the leaders are wholly in support of the candidature of our son His Excellency Hon Alfred Agboola AJAYI on the platform of the Zenith Labour party in the October 10 Gubernatorial election.
‘That all indigenes and residents of the six local government areas in the Southern Senatorial District should embark on massive mobilization in support of His Excellency Hon. Alfred Agboola AJAYI to ensure his victory and by extension, our victory in the Gubernatorial election”.
However, Ondo-based political analysts are of the opinion that the defection of the deputy governor to ZLP could either make or mar him and ZLP as long as Ondo politics is concerned.
Barely some days to the deputy governor’s official defection to ZLP, the party’s state Deputy Chairman, Mr. Abayomi Adebayo, and the Organising Secretary, Mr. Femi Ikoyi, led over 1,000 party members to defect to APC. The ZLP leaders blamed their action on the candidature of the deputy governor for coming to their party, adding that Ajayi doesn’t deserve their support. They claimed that the arrival of Ajayi to ZLP would turn the party to a ghost town.
According to the party leaders, the defection of the party members cut across the state level, the 203 wards, and 3009 units. They argued that they preferred to support Governor Akeredolu for a second term than to work for the deputy governor.
Mr. Ikoyi said, “We are the political engine of ZLP. We heard someone is coming to Akure. Well, if he comes he will meet only the shell,” affirming that with other alliances the group is bringing to the table for Akeredolu, his re-election is certainly a done deal.
In his response, Governor Akeredolu likened all the politicians regrouping against his second term, as people relegated to the backdoor. He also described ZLP as a car without an engine meant for people who are ready to end their political careers. Adding that the owners of the party are undertakers who are only interested in carrying dead bodies.
In order to fulfill a part of the three conditions given to him by the former governor, Mr. Mimiko, before getting the party’s ticket, Mr. Ajayi picked Mr. Gboye Adegbenro, an ally of a former governor, Mr. Olusegun Mimiko, as his running mate.
According to reliable sources, the conditions include continuation of the projects abandoned by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, picking one of Mimiko’s allies as a running mate, and reconciling with ‘angry members’ in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP.
As the October 10 election approaches, a lot of uncertainties swirls the leading political parties and their candidates as they all struggle for the Alagbaka seat of power. As it is, this might be on for a while until the parties are able to resolve their internal differences.
© Technocrat Media House
For the purpose of republishing, ensure to quote to avoid copyright litigation.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Like Our Facebook Page

You May Also Like


Boluwaji Kunlere, former Ondo senator has been appointed as the Director of the Campaigns in Ondo State by the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation.


The Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says it has aligned completely with the Iyorchia Ayu-led national working committee (NWC) of the party.


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo state has congratulated its new candidates that emerged during the party's primary elections held on Sunday across...


Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wife of the Ondo State Governor ranks amongst wives in the corridor of power who know exactly what to do with...


Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Ondo state government have traded words over an executive order signed by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to provide a...


Peoples Democratic Party in Ondo State says the purported court action instituted against Dr. Olusegun Mimiko by Bode Obanla was a rude shock.