Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State

…as over 15 aspirants now jostle to for the post

By OLUSESAN  LAOYE

The governorship election in Ondo state which is coming up later this year is now gathering momentum with more gladiators throwing their caps into the ring especially from the two strong political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Already more than 15 aspirants have indicated their interests to take Governor Rotimi Akerrdolu’s chair who is battling within his political party, the APC, to bag the ticket for a second term.

Governor Akeredolu for the past one year has been facing intense crisis within the party stalwarts bent on denying him a second chance to secure the ticket of the party and they have been propping up other aspirants to wrestle power from him. At a stage  there were plans to get rid of him through impeachment but Akeredolu fought his way through to survive  the move.

Those against him include the party national chairman Adams Oshiomhole and some powerful clique at the presidency with a formidable block in the South West said to be having Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as the arrow head. Akeredolu was one of the govewrnors who opposed the coming of Oshiomhole and supported former chairman, Chief John Oyegun. Oshiomhole is said to be seeking his pound of flesh.

The internal crisis within the APC has got to a stage that the strong members of the party in the state have started distancing themselves from Akeredolu’s second term bid. People like Senator Ajayi Borofface from Ondo North said to be with him has denied ever supporting him, saying that he had no pact with the governor.

What is now happening in the party both in the state and Abuja shows that Governor Akeredolu would have to do serious appeasements if they have to consider him for the ticket of the party.

In the APC those who have lined up to grab the ticket to replace Akeredolu include his deputy, Agboola Ajayi. Although he has denied having interest to contest, sources hinted that there were some people in the state and Abuja who have asked him to throw his hat in the ring.

Others in the party are Chief Segun Abraham,who was Tinubu’s candidate four years ago, Chief Wole Oke, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, former state chairman, Mr. Banji Ayiloge and Mr. Jimi Odunayo among others.

Those who are hell bent to take Akeredolu’s job in the PDP are the former Attorney General and commissioner of Justice in the state under former  Governor Olusegun Mimiko who was  the PDP candidate  in the last governorship election, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, former commissioner of Environment  Sola Ebiseni, the current Deputy National Chairman South West of the PDP, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, Mr. John Mafo, and Mr. Okuomo, former chairman, Ilaje Local government

With all these heavy weight aspirants in the race the battle for Akeredolu’s job would be fierce and tortuous. Meanwhile  intense  pressures  are  now  being  mounted  from  all  fronts  within  and  outside his  political  party  to scuttle  the second  term  bid of the  governor  who  has  been having  a  running  battle with  the  leadership  of the  party,  since  he  came  into  office  three years  ago .

Sources hinted the Business Hallmark that despite his move to please the power that be in the party in the last few weeks, the governor has not been having it easy. His crisis within the party was said to have started  since  he won  the  ticket  of  the  party  to contest  the  governorship election  which  he eventually won

Governor  Akeredolu  has been  facing a lot of issues  which  are  meant  to  frustrate  him  out of the APC in the  last  six months. In the  last  six months, several  attempts  have  been  made to use the  state  Assembly  and  the  state executive against  him but  all  attempts failed.

This, it was  said, made  the  powerful  people  in the  party  especially the  National  leader engineered  his  suspension  about  three  weeks ago from  the  party for  alleged  anti  party  activities  during  the last  general  elections which  made  the party to  lose  the  presidential election in the  state, lost two  senatorial  seats  to the  opposition and  only  managed  to clinched  4 out  of the  9 House  of Representatives  seats,  while  majority  of those  that  won the State House  of Assembly  election  were  his  loyalists, which  has  made  the  impeachment  moves  against  him  impossible,  despite  several  attempts.

With  his recent  suspension  by the  National  Exco  of the  party,  it was  believed  that  he would be  frustrated but he has  remained  undaunted and  still  forging  ahead on his plans  to  remain  in the  party,  to win  the  primary and  probably  win  the  governorship  election  in 2020.

Sources  hinted  that  the powerful  people  against  him  have  formed  a group  known  as  Change of Agent  Foundation  that  would  be  drumming  enough  is enough  “Oto ge” as  it was  done  to  Bukola  Saraki  in Kwara  state. The group has been  mobilised to commence  action  ahead of the  party’s primary  in 2020. These  powerful  elites  were  said  to be  seriously  looking  for  who  would  replace Akeredolu.

It was  also said  that  they  have  succeeded  in getting  the  support of some  of his  aides  who  complained  that  the  governor  was  running  a one man cabinet  with  his wife as  they  were  only  in  their  respective  ministries  and agencies  as  figure heads  who  could  not  sign  up to N10,000 contract and  that  they  don’t  have  any  other  thing  going  for  them  except their  salaries.

Some  of these  aides  along  with  other  leaders  were  said  to have  gone  to meet  Tinubu  in Lagos  on the  need  to field  another  candidate  and  not  Akeredolu

Among  the  leaders  of the party who were  strongly  against  the  governor  are Senator Ajayi  Boroface, former Deputy  Governor  of the  State,  Alhaji  Ali  Olanusi  and  former  chairman  of the  party  Mr. Isaac  kekemeke.

Inside  sources  hinted  that  the reason  the  peace  meeting  supposedly  held  sometimes  ago  to reconcile  all  warring groups  in the  party  in the  state  by the  National leader  of the  party  Bola  Tinubu did  not  succeed  was  the  fact  the  National  leader  was  more  concerned  about his  presidential  ambition  and  wanted to remain neutral to save his own ambition.

Part  of the  conditions  it was  learnt  was  to dissolve  the State Exco  which  the  governor  is enjoying its support  and  set  up an  interim  Exco  that would  midwife  a fresh  State  Congress  election that would  be  in place before  the  next primary  of the  party.

The  governor  sensing  a bobby trap rebuffed  the  condition and  this  has  heightened the  crisis in the  party and  the  need  for  the  governor ‘s replacement  which  is vigorously  being intensified.

The  former  Deputy  Governor  of the  State  who  is heading  the  elders  forum  of the party  Alhaji  Ali Olanusi  has  said  the only  way  for peace  is for  the  dissolution  of the  current  Exco in the  state party,  saying  that  Governor  Akeredolu  has  failed to honour his own part  of the agreement reach  in Abuja,  Lagos  and  in Akure respectively.

The  state  chairman of the  party Mr. Ade Adetimehin said when  contacted  that they  are  working  toward  progress  and  unity in the party, saying  that  the  governor  is doing  well. Mr. Adetimehin said that  what  is happening  is a family  natter which  would  be resolved. He said that  he has  called on all  warring  groups  to sheath  their  swords

As the  battle  rages  some  diehard  loyalists  of  Governor  Akeredolu have  started  mobilizing. His Secretary  to the  Government  SSG Mr.  Ifedayo  Abegunde last  week mobilised for  his boss  when  he called  a meeting  involving  some stake  holders and  asked  them to  support  the  governorship aspiration of Akeredolu  for  a second term. Those  at  the  meeting include  the APC chairman  Akure South  LG, Chief  Olu  Ojo, menbers of the  state  Assembly and  other  party  faithfuls across the  state

Also  a group  known  as sun shine  integrity  movements stated that it  is  already  working  to secure 75 percent of votes  of  automatic  delegates  ahead  of the party  primary election  next year

The  Director  General  of  the  group and  the  project,  Professor, Olu  Aboluwoye said  they  have  secured  credible, honest  and party members  with  impeccable characters  to vote  even  if the  party  wants  to  adopt  direct  primary of picking  its candidate “we  have  now secured the  backing  of 70 percent of loyal party  members such  as  commissioners, Special Advisers  and  Assistants, members  House  of  Assembly, council  chairmen  and  other  appointees  of government.