Rotimi Akeredolu
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of |Ondo State

…as Agboola rattles PDP, APC

By OLUSESAN LAOYE

Ondo State is now a political hot bed where all leaders in the South West have focused their attention.

It is also a state where the three political giants in the state are jostling to be at the Government House Alagbaka in Akure the State capital. Since the primaries of all the political parties have been held, expectations are now on how to capture power by the respective parties.

Before the primaries of the political parties, the impression was that the battle would be between the  known two powerful political parties – All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic party – but the outcome of the primaries has changed the whole scenario; it has produced a third force which now made the dominant APC and the  PDP to be jittery.

The man behind the third force who has changed the political permutations of the big two is the Deputy governor of the state, Agboola Ajayi who has now emerged the governorship candidate of the Zenith Labour  Party (ZLP), being controlled by the former governor of the state for eight years, Chief Olusegun Mimiko. With Mimiko who has not been reckoned with at the initial stage of the battle now in the picture, the battle has now taken a new dimension. His party ZLP with Agboola Ajayi as its candidate, would now fight to finish in the election

When Agboola Ajayi who is now making waves in the state and who has also made the other two giants to start re-strategizing, began his move to  rule the state, no one thought it would be this serious and even those in his former political party, the APC, where he is still serving as a Deputy governor, never took him serious; they took him as a joker who  did not know what he was doing until it downed on them and his boss Rotimi Akeredolu that he meant business.

It was when the governor realised that Ajayi was serious and was rocking the boats of both the government and the party, that an impeachment move was made. But unfortunately for Akeredolu he found him a hard nut to crack. Ajayi resisted it. When the move was on the verge of disintegrating his government and was even about costing him the hope of coming back and obtaining the APC’s ticket, he had to soft pedal and let go.

Agboola Ajayi at the heat of the ensued crisis, immediately moved to the PDP where the leaders in the  state assured  him the ticket of the party but he lost to Eyitayo Jegede who has been on ground and who was also the candidate of the party in 2016. Ajayi who felt betrayed, had to run to Mimiko’s  ZLP which with open hand gave him automatic ticket to contest the governorship  with its platform. This now makes the party which has been inconsequential to be relevant has turned its leader Mimiko to be relevant too and become a big force  to be reckoned with.

 Mimiko’s influence

 With the involvement of Mimiko who is not new in the political game of the state, the table immediately   changed and his influence is now going to count on who govern the state in this coming election. This is the reason why Jegede had to run to him, being his former boss and the man who single handedly picked him in 2016 and campaigned for him despite strong oppositions against  Jegede by other party leaders and interested persons.

Perhaps Jegede had before Agboola came in, banked on the support of his former boss under whom he   served as commissioner for Justice. Just as it happened in 2016 it was argued that his visit to Mimiko last week was too late and belated after Ajayi had joined the Mimiko’s party.

It was further  argued that may be Jegede could not have gone to Mimiko if not for Ajayi because since Mimiko left the PDP and floated ZLP some of his political allies who refused to go with him, including Jegede, have not been consulting him on political issue based on the fact that they believed  that he is no longer relevant.

 But sources hinted that Ajayi who had calculated well, and knew that his mission may not be achieved  in either of the two parties, had been consulting with Mimiko right from the beginning of his crisis with the  APC. The source further hinted “Agboola Ajayi with the backing of his people in the South Senatorial    District of the state who wanted to put an end to the marginalisation by the North and the Central, had before now consulted widely on how to rule the state and Mimiko was one of the people consulted having realised that some of the people he helped had abandoned him. So, Jegede coming to Mimiko for help could not work because Mimiko right now would want to use everything at his disposal to back Ajayi”.

As it was earlier predicted by the BusinessHallmark, Ajayi may be heading towards what Mimiko did in 2011 when he joined Action Congress from the PDP and at the last minutes left the party for the unpopular Labour Party to win the election to become the governor of Ondo State.

Ajayi is now equally  with that determination like Mimiko and luckily for him, he is now with Mimiko who sources said would be willing to adopt the tactics he used then, to help Ajayi  knowing fully well that with Ajayi winning with ZLP platform would mean that he is back to the state and still become politically strong.

Of all the three candidates of the ZLP, PDP, and APC, Jegede is the only  one now carrying his cross alone probably without  an help. Both Akeredolu and Ajayi now have where to run to.

Akeredolu and Tinubu’s Ambition

 Baring all odds, now that Governor Akeredolu has comfortably won the ticket of the APC to contest for a second term, he has realised that if he wants to win the election, he has to carry all the stakeholders in the party along. He knew that if not,  it may not be as easy as the first term when he got the full backing of the federal might in deviance of  of some of the leaders of the party in his home base the  South West to win the governorship.

Also he needs these people now because throughout his four years in office he has stepped on many toes in the region and even  in his state,  Ondo. That was why he had to battle hard to win the ticket of the party because if Adam Oshiomhole was not removed as the Chairman of the party it may not have been very easy for him.

Even at that, he had to succumb to some terms to win the ticket. That was when the influence of the National leader of the party Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu was explored to his advantage in the primary and it has since then been a factor that could guarantee him victory in the October election.

Akeredolu has also realised that with the situation of things, even with the ticket of the party, it could be difficult for him to win, if he fails to reconcile with those in the Unity forum who were all Tinubu’s  loyalists. That was why he had to embark on reconciliation with all the aggrieved in the primary, especially Chief Olusola Oke who came second and the rest in the Unity Forum.

He also had to go to Lagos to seek Tinubu’s support to appeal to his men in the Unity forum. The visit informed the recent visit of Tinubu and some notable South West leaders to Akure, the Ondo State capital to hold a crucial meeting of reconciliation with members of the party.

Although it was called a reconciliation meeting, it achieved more than that. As the BusinessHallmark learnt, it was an avenue used to discuss the Presidential election in 2023 as it affects the South West and the ambition of Tinubu to that effect.

Even, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was rumored to be at loggerheads with Tinubu because of his presidential ambition too, was at the meeting along with Chief Bisi Akande, former governor of Osun State, and the interim Chairman of APC, former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, ,former Governor of Ekiti State, who is now the Minister, Trade Commerce and Investment,  Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, and some other leaders, in the South West.

It was learnt that at the  meeting Tinubu did not only appealed  to Chief Oke and others to team up with Akeredolu to win the governorship again, he also briefed them on the need to come together in the South West, ahead of the 2023 Presidential election, arguing that was the only way that would  help the region to have a say because  the issues in the APC has become that of the North and the South  and that was the more reason why they in the region should not approach both the Ondo governorship election and the presidency in 2023 divided..

At a pre-conference meeting he held with Akeredolu, Fayemi and some party leaders, Tinubu was said to have told those present at the meeting to sheathe their swords and let peace reign in the state chapter. He reportedly pleaded with all aggrieved leaders of the party to support Akeredolu for another term in office.

“The whole thing is about the 2023 presidency. We have all seen that with the way things are going, the southwest can only survive the struggle if we put our house in order ahead of that crucial election,” he said.

“Within our party, it is almost becoming a North-versus-South battle. And with the seeming intention of our leader to have a shot at the presidency, we can only survive if we all swallow our pride and give concessions where necessary.

“So, the meeting analysed the whole scenarios around the 2023 politics and concluded that we must be one to be able to confront other contenders from outside. For one, unless we get the ticket of our party, the people of the southwest will stone us. They will say we sold out.”

“If on the other hand we go into the battle divided, we will end up not achieving anything. So, in looking at the Ondo scenario, various questions are begging for answers. Who is running first? The governor of course! It sounds bitter but that is the truth and we understand the feelings of all those who the tide does not support.”

“Therefore, it will be better for us to forgive ourselves and still have our party in place than forcing a sitting governor out for him to do damage to the party at the governorship poll because he has nothing to lose then. The implication will be that the opposition PDP will carry the day,” Tinubu reportedly told party leaders at the meeting.

Meanwhile one major factor that will play out in the election  is that all the three Senatorial  zones of the state are now in the race.

Akeredolu is from the North, Jegede from the Central and Ajayi from the South. This, it was argued, became the reason why all of them are worried and looking for supports from where they can get them. When contacted, Media Aide to Mimiko Paul Akinduro, said that Jegede actually came to his boss for support in October election but could not give details of their meeting because he was not part of it.

Also the Media Aide to Oke, Rotimi Ogunleye said that the meeting between Chief Oke and the party leader with Governor  Akeredolu was successful.