With the completion of the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the All Progressives Congress, (APC), all eyes are now on the flag bearers of the parties- Arakunrin Rotimi Akerdolu and Barr. Eyitayo Jegede.
The two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, (SAN) are currently oiling their political machineries to battle ahead of the October 20, 2020 governorship election in Ondo State, in a kind or rematch of the 2016 poll in the state.
Akeredolu emergence followed the defeat of 11 other aspirants who contested the party’s ticket with him and out of the 3,127 delegates who voted, he polled 2,725, beating Chief Olusola Oke garnered 262 votes to the second place. Akeredolu won the highest number of votes in the 18 local government areas of the state
Jegede, on his part defeated the Deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi and the former Vice Chairman of the party, South- West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso by polling 888 votes while Ajayi scored 657 and Olafeso scored 175 votes while Bode Ayorinde polled 95 votes with Banji Okunomo, the former Publicity Secretary of the party scoring 90 votes. Senator Boluwaji Kunlere polled 33 votes and Godday Area, 14 votes.
Both candidates have since commenced a fence-mending mission ahead of the elections by visiting all the aspirants and other key leaders. The Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate and senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice has felicitated with Governor Akeredolu on his emergence as the governorship candidate of the APC.
He called on leaders and members of APC in Ondo State to embrace “our party’s governorship candidate. This is the time to come together to work together and win together.”
Similarly, Jegede has reached out to all his colleagues in the primaries and Olafeso has congratulated Jegede and charged PDP on equity, fairness. “Our party must continue to embrace equity and fairness in every decision we take. I want us to know that acquiring power for nothing is the most dangerous thing anybody can do and it destroys society. That to me is unforgivable.”
Observers have argued that the election might be a rematch for both major candidates, who faced each other in the last elections, arguing, however, that Akeredolu’s performance in the last three and half years are sufficient to earn him re-election, unlike 2016.
A top aide said: “Ondo State government under the leadership of Aketi had reactivated afforestation projects in the state. 10,000 hectares of the state afforestation projects had been sited at Omotoso in Okitipupa local government. The projects which are worth N20 billion had employed more than 1,000 youths in Ondo State. The project is a Public Private Partnership with Weewood, a Chinese company.
“Ondo State before the assumption of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was strictly a civil service state. The state could barely boast of any operating industry before Aketi became the helmsman of the Sunshine State, but the story has changed now. In only three years of Akeredolu’s administration, Ondo State can now boast of an industrial hub that houses 15 different companies.”
AJAYI GOES INTO LIMBO?
Although Agboola Ajayi, the estranged Deputy Governor of the state put up a strong fight in the PDP primaries, coming second behind Jegede with 657 votes, in the end, he lost all- the prospect of succeeding his boss in 2024 with his impeachment which was saved by constitutional provisions. Equally interesting is the speculation that Jegede may not feature him as his running mate.
From the current permutation, his hold on the nine the lawmakers, alongside two cabinet members and the former Secretary to the State Government who were touted to join him if he had emerged as PDP candidate is said to be depleting.
Even in the just-concluded primaries, the scores underscored Akeredolu’s strength in the Southern Senatorial district where he scored 87.94 per cent of votes in Ese-Odo. Oke two per cent, Kekemeke about eight per cent and Sola Iji 2.85 per cent. Ese-Odo is the Local Government of two aspirants, Kekemeke and Iji.
Ese-Odo is also the local government of the estranged Deputy Governor, instrumental to the installation of over 80 per cent of the officials as executives at various levels. But Akeredolu’s score in the area at the primaries affirmed that members of the party in Ese Odo still believe in him.
While the next move of Ajayi, a former local government chairman and member of House of Representatives remained in the wraps, there were indications that despite losing the primaries, he would not leave the party.
A statement issued on Friday by the Director-General of the Agboola Ajayi Campaign Organisation, stated that that the Deputy Governor has proved that “he is a grassroots politician by polling 657 votes, coming second in a contest amongst seven other aspirants, barely 30 days after rejoining the PDP.
“This is why commendations kept pouring in from the state and even from outside the state. It was a great performance, a great day for him and democracy.
“We are equally using this medium to state unequivocally that, PDP remains our party and we, therefore, want all our supporters to remain loyal to the party as we work towards the way forward.”