Gov. Akeredolu of Ondo Stste abd his main rival, Jegede of the PDP

Olusesan Laoye

Ondo State, has now turned to a political battle feild for the Saturday October 10 2020, Governorship election, which has been described as the battle of wit and supremacy, especially, among three political parties of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).

These three pitical parties are in serious battle with their candidates who have been leaving no stone unturned to perfect their strategies for victory at the end of the battle.

The APC is fielding the incumbent, Ogbeni Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, (SAN) who is seeking a re -election for another four years, the PDP has the former Attorney General of of the State, Barrister, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and the incumbent Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi who is running under the platform of the Zenith Labour party ZLP

In the past few weeks especially after the governorship election in Edo state, which the PDP won, the party has been engaging in a real fiasco with the APC now controlling the State, with the aim of the replicating what it did in Edo in Ondo , while the APC too, was determined that it would retain power in Ondo no matter what it takes.

The ZLP which is a new comer in the Ondo race for Alagbaka Governor’s office, believed that with its candidate, it can upturn the table and repeat the feat of its leader, Olusegun Mimiko who used his popularity, while in the PDP government of Dr. Olusegun Agagu to contest under the unknown and new Labour party and won the governorship, which made him ruled Ondo for solid eight years.

Agboola Ajayi’s case is the same as that of Mimiko with the way he left his boss Akeredolu in APC, moved to the PDP and finally the ZLP where he has been making his impact felt for the governorship race, in the state.

The campaigns of these three political parties in the State have been characterised with violence and brutality, which now made People of the state to fear and wondered what would happen on election day.

The notion in the State was that the violence which was witnessed on daily basis during the parties campaigns and not limited to specific areas but across the states, may scare voters on election day and this could lead to a low turn out.

With just three days to the election, all the 17 political parties in the race are now finalising their arrangements but the ooreparions of the three hot contenders are more intense than the rest.
The PDP, APC and the ZLP, according to what is on ground now and comments from political observers, are determined to win and have turned the battle to do -or – die.
They have now deployed all their arsenals into, the battle ground which has made the whole state to be tensed

Already all the stake holders in the three political parties, are now storming the State Capital Akure,to plan and strategize for the battle of the titans and to ensure that their parties win the election.

Those who are now on ground to lead the PDP in the planning and, strategy before the election for Jegede, are the former Presidential running mate of Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 Presidential election, and the former Governor of Amambra State Dr. Peter Obi, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Senator, Abiodun Olujimi and Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso, who is also the former Governor of Kano State , among others.

It was gathered that virtually all the PDP governors would be in Akure latest thursday to rally round Jegede as they believed that what happened in Edo which made the APC to fall must be carried out in Ondo State.

Apart from holding meetings with various segments of the society, they have also been meeting behind close doors, to fine tune their strategies as they believed that they have to at all cost bring Odo back to the PDP which they lost after Agagu.

As at yesterday, Kwankwanso has been constantly meeting with the Hausa Communities while Peter Obi has been doing the same woth the Igbo communities, to assure them of what they stand to benefit if they vote PDP.

On the part of its arch rival since 1999 in the State, the APC which says it would bank on the achievements of Akeredolu now, have their major election strategists, Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and Mallam Nasir El Rufai Governor of Kaduna State, and all members of the145 campaign coucil of the party are now on ground to plan ahead of the election and the grand finale, rally, which would be led by the vic President Professor Yemi Osinbajo and all the Governors of the Party on Thursday.
Although there were speculations that President Buhari may be at the rally, it was not sure if he would come but that of the VP has been confirmed.
Also the National leader of the Party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu , Governor of Ekiti Fayemi, Plateau, Simon Lalong, that of Lagos State Sanwoolu, Osun, Gboyega Oyetola, kebbi, Atiku Bagudu,, Jigawa, Abubakar Badaru, who is also the chairman of the AP C extraordinary National Convention planning committee his Yobe State counterpart, Mai Mala Buni members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

It was learnt that the Party was determined to retain Ondo based on the bitter experince it had in Edo and the rally would be one of the strategies.
According to Governor Fayemi (APC) will be victorious in the gubernatorial election in Ondo State, saying that the election will reveal the strength of the party.
He said the party had some some self-inflicted problems that played a role in its loss at the Edo governorship election
“We had self-inflicted problems in Edo. And I’m the first to admit that anybody who knew what we had gone through in Edo would know that we put ourselves in a situation that was problematic. The way and manner of the exit of our former governor created problems for us in Edo and that the popularity of the party’s candidate at the election Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu couldn’t win him the necessary votes.

“As popular as Ize-Iyamu was in Edo as a grassroots political player, committed progressive player, he almost disappeared in the campaign. And I could liken it to my situation in Ekiti state. When I ran for this office I now occupy, most people up till today do not identify the person I contested against. As far as most Nigerians were concerned, particularly people in Ekiti, I ran against Ayo Fayose. We had that problem in Edo. Obaseki did not run against Ize-Iyamu.”
Also former Chairman of APC in Ondo Hon Isaac Kekemeke chided the PDP for hiding under one of his viral video which which has been seen and explained to the security to perpetrate violence and intimidate members of the public, saying that everybody know him as a man who hates violence

With the APC and PDP having their leaders on ground to boost their candidates’ moral for the election, the third hot contender Agboola appears to have been left in the cold by the leaders of his ZLP especially the former Governor of the State Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who has not been forth coming in Agboola’s campaigns.

Agboola and some local,.leaders, were said to be doing the whole thing.
Although the party has no formidable structures to depend on, nationally it was expected that since the election will be holding in Ondo State, where Mimiko had ruled for eight years, he should have been prominent and lead with his clout and the good work he had done in the state.

The action of the former Governor in the Saturday election, according to one of the party chieftains and political observers has now give credence to the insinuations that he may have dumped Ajayi following his purported meetings with the PDP Governors in Abuja and the one he allegedly held with the two former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and GoodLurck Jonathan, separately.

It was argued that it was after these meetings that he became cold to his party and candidate, Ajayi, who is in the battle on his own and advancing daily to achieve his goal.

The PDP it was said resorted to change the game which could give room for the three hot contenders and decided to wittle down Ajayi’s chances in favour of Jegede and they believed that the only person who could do that is Mimiko.

They believed also that, if ZLP is
collapsed with PDP, it would boost the votes of Jegede which could have split the total votes which may eventually give Akeredolu a edge, as it happened in 2016 when Olusola Oke contested under AD, which eventually made Akeredolu to win.

But Ajayi has said that he was not bothered with the antics of PDP as he is solidly in the race
It was learnt that some party leaders had met Mimiko and warned that if he danced to the tune of PDP his political career is in jeopardy.

One of them who spoke on condition of anonymity said that they do not trust Mimiko who is capable of doing anything.
According to him. ” he did it to Chief Adebayo Adefarati in the Alliance for Democracy when he dumped him at the last minute for Dr. Olusegun Agagun, then, in PDP, when Adefarati wanted a second term in 2003.
Not this alone he did it to Agagu in 2007 when he moved to the Labour party to contest and won to rule the state for eight years.
Also in 2018 when he wanted to go for the presidency under rhis same ZLP and discovered that he would not fly, he had to persuade Engineer Gboye Adegbenwo who was to go to Senate to step down for him”.

The source further hinted that the PDP should not bank on him bnecause ” who knows whether he may have even be in a deal with his feiend the incumbent Akeredolu”
However, it was said that Ajayi was not helping matters with his statement against the Ijaw people when he met them during his campaigns to vote for him.
What people say Ajayi did that may not speak well for him in the election was his statement when he met
Ijaw leaders of Arogbo Ijaw community in Akure. The meeting was facilitated by the former National Secretary of Ijaw National, Congress, Chief Francis Williams to win support for Ajayi when some youths rose to ask what he did to the Ijaws in Ese Odo LG in distribution of contracts and projects.
But Ajayi was said to have told them that their votes can’t make him governor, saying that, he has seen it all. “I have been councellor, Chairman member House of Representatives and now Deputy Governor and even if the whole of Arogbo Ijaw does not vote for me, i will be governor if God says. You should mind the way you address me.”

In their reactions to the spate of violence going on, Barrister Niyi Akintola, (SAN) called for peace and urge all parties to shun violence.

Also on violence, both the Deji of Akure, Oba, Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade and the Inspector General of Police Muhammed Adamu have warned all the political gladiators in Ondo state to desist from any act that can bring the war to the state during the Saturday, October 10th Governorship Election.

They spoke in Akure on the fear that the election may be violent during the Ondo state governorship election peace accord signing agreement by all the political parties participating in the election and they warned that there should be no war in Ondo during the election.
According to the Deji of Akure, “we don’t want any war in Ondo state, please advise yourself and your supporters as a soon as you leave this peace meeting go back to your various parties and advise them to abide by the rule and regulation.

While, speaking, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu assured that the Security Agencies would be neutral during the election.

“We are going to be professional to the core, the fundamental human right of individual will be protected and lives and properties will be safeguarded.

He called on political Gladiators not to consider the election as a do-or-die affair, saying that Security Agencies would deal with anyone attempting to disrupt the peace in any part of the State.

Also some areas in the state have been marked as dangerous zones on the day of the election, according to the reports by Yiagu Africap
The report reads in part, “Hotspots and battleground; indicators- verbal attacks; vandalism; attacks & intimidation of party supporters; Proliferation of Small and Light arms, Assault on the freedom of association and expression. The zones are Akoko southeast; Akoko South West; Owo; Idanre; Akure South; Ese Odo; Ilaje; and Ile Oluji/Oke-Igbo.”

The report added that “53 per cent of respondents are concerned that political parties will use violence and intimidation during the campaign and elections; 49% are concerned that security agencies will intimidate voters on election day.

“56% of respondents trust the police to protect the credibility of the election; 28 per cent of respondents say that politicians or party representatives are using hate speech to describe another party or candidate and 16 % say that politicians or party representatives threatened violence or intimidation for vote in a specific way.”

The report also showed that there was an increase of 10 per cent of registered voters between 2016 and 2019.

“Ondo recorded a 10 per cent increase in the number of registered voters between the 2016 governorship election and 2019 election Ondo Central district has the highest proportion of registered voters (41%).

“Akure South in Ondo Central has the highest proportion of registered voters (15.9%).”
The report further showed , “Gender Distribution of Registered Voters; Male- 925,891 (50.8%) and Female 896,455 (49.2%). Total Registered Voters -1,822,346.”00”

In the last few days too there have been big and prominent party members moving from one party to the other.
The latest was that of the Federal Lawmaker on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Hon. Abiola Makinde (HAM) and the Chairman of his Party, Mrs Tokunbo Adetoro who defected to the APC in a bid to support the quest for re-election of
Governor Akeredolu

Also, some members of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in Ondo State, three days to the election, defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akure. Mr Busayo Olamigoke (popularly called bullet), a former ZLP Chairman in Ondo East Local Government area, who recently resigned from the Party, some ZLP ward chairmen, ward youths and women leaders defected to the APC.
With these spate of defections in favour of the APC they could boost the chances of of Governor Akeredolu in Saturday’s election.