…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.