The governorship election in Ondo State will be held on Saturday November 26, 2016. On that day, the people of the Sunshine state will go to the polls to elect a successor for outgoing Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who is rounding off his second term in office. Expectedly, the stakes are high as the state, known for the volatile nature of its politics, has started experiencing severe political heat as political parties and candidates for the election have embarked on efforts to woo voters ahead of the election.
To set the stage for the grand political contest, the electoral umpire recently released a schedule of activities for the governorship election in concert with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Sunday, the 28th of August 2016, has been scheduled for commencement of campaigns in the state.
Also, the conduct of party primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries, was slated for between Thursday, 18th August to Monday 19th September, 2016, while publication of the official register of voters for the election will be done on Tuesday, 27th of October 2016, while publication of list of nominated candidates will be done on the same day. Similarly, Thursday, the 24th of November 2016 has been fixed by the Commission as the last day of Campaigns by all political parties.
In line with the released time table, political parties participating in the election have all conducted primary elections that have led to the emergence of candidates, though issues continue to trail the primary elections conducted by some of the parties, especially the APC and the ruling PDP. Many political analysts are of the opinion that the last has not been heard of the many objections raised in some quarters, to the candidature of both Rotimi Akeredolu and Eyitayo Jegede, of the APC and PDP respectively.
A PDP governorship candidate in the State, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, has filed a suit against the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee of the party. The suit, which was filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja, is challenging the emergence of Jegede as the party’s candidate and the conduct of the primary for the party’s governorship candidate for the November 26 election by the Makarfi faction.
Ibrahim joined as defendants, Senators Ben Obi, Odion Ugbesia, and Abdul Ningi. Others are Karibu Usman, Dayo Adeyeye, Aisha Aliyu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Hearing in the matter is still ongoing and not a few persons, within and outside the party, are worried that its outcome will significantly affect the parties chances and preparation for the November poll.
Similarly, three other top aspirants of the APC insist they will not accept Akeredolu’s nomination by the party’s national chairman as its governorhsip candidate. This is just as the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) remained polarized over the submission of Akeredolu’s name to INEC by the national chairman, Odigie Oyegun.
The three aspirants, Chief Olusola Oke, Dr. Olusegun Abraham and a ranking Senator, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice, had earlier filed petitions against the results of the September 3 primary election of the party, insisting Akeredolu’s emergence was unacceptable. Addressing a joint news conference in Akure recently, the spokesman of the aggrieved group, Boroffice, strongly condemned Oyegun for overruling the position of the majority members of NWC on their petitions.
“We are widely consulting and would make public the next line of action that will liberate our people from the present state of hopelessness and despair,” Boroffice said, creating a very strong impression that Akeredolu’s candidacy may create further problems for the party in its quest to wrestle the governance of the state from the grip of the PDP.
But it appears INEC, with Friday’s announcement that thirty people will be contesting the governorship election of Ondo State, on November the 26th, has found a way of laying the matters to rest for now. In the list released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Eyitayo Jegede is the candidate of the PDP, and Rotimi Akeredolu is that of the APC.
Zoning still a factor
With the two frontline political parties having settled for their candidates so to speak, many pundits say the earlier clamor for the tickets to be zoned to certain parts of the state will still play very significant roles in the coming election. As it is, both the APC and the ruling PDP will have many questions to answer over the zoning issue when they eventually hit the streets to campaign.
While the APC may have satisfied the yearnings of the people of the northern senatorial district for the coveted governorship seat, the PDP, following its decision to pick its candidate from the same Central senatorial district as the outgoing governor, may find it difficult to get the support of voters in Akokoland and other parts of the northern zone of the state.
Even within the ruling party, there has been strong agitation for the ticket to be given to the northern senatorial district. Governorship aspirants and some leaders of the party from the northern senatorial district of the state had rejected alleged plots for the party’s candidate to emerge from the Central senatorial district.
In a communique issued and assigned by the aspirants, Senator Remi Okunrinboye, Rt. Hon. Dr. Bakkita Bello, Bamiduro Dada, Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi, Dare Emiola, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, Dayo Fadahunsi, Yekini Olanipekun among others, revealed that there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached by the state leadership of the party towards the October 20, 2012 governorship election. They noted that the agreement is to rotate the picking of the party candidate among the north, central senatorial district, adding that it is the turn of the north to produce the party candidate since the last governorship election in 2012.
The communique read, “consequent upon the recent development in our great party, in Ondo State, where the Governor Mimiko at a meeting with the state and local government official and delegates of the party across the state, declared his endorsement of an aspirant from the central senatorial district as the PDP gubernatorial candidate for the November 26, 2016 election.
“This position of Mr. Governor is considered a miscalculation that will further put Ondo North Senatorial District at a serious political disadvantage, putting the state PDP at a loss and laying bad precedence in the state. That all the undersigned leader align their position with the rotational/zoning principle of our party. This is in accordance with the MOU reached by the state leadership of the party towards the October 20, 2012 election, that the governorship of the state be rotated amongst the three senatorial districts.”
But the APC will have its fair share of trouble over zoning in the southern senatorial district where agitation was also very strong for the party to cede its ticket to its son, Olusola Oke. Pundits say Oke’s loss of the ticket may affect APC in the zone during the general election, considering the fact that the former PDP National Legal Adviser remains APC’s strongest mobiliser in the senatorial district.
“Unless they find a way of pacifying Oke and ensuring that he still go all out to work for the party during the general election, I don’t see how APC will perform well here come November. Our people were so optimistic of the ticket, especially with Oke’s defection to the APC from the PDP where Mimiko had stunted his political growth for years,” a chieftain of the party told The Nation.
Speaking through his Director-General of his campaign, Bola Fisayo, shortly after the election, Oke said the election was not a true reflection of the delegates that participated in the primary last Saturday. His supporters, especially from the southern senatorial district, allege that the party deliberately prevented their son from emerging as the candidate.
They alleged further that about 110 names belonging to Oke’s camp were removed from both Ondo East and West Local Governments while their names were replaced with non-executive members of the party. “The election did not represent the true position of the delegates, the accreditation gave room for manipulation and the whole process was laced with fraud and the result released did not represent the true reflection of the delegates as non-delegates were allowed to participate in the election”
Oke was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2012 governorship election. He specifically alleged that some names of the delegates were removed from the delegates’ list while non-delegates were allegedly allowed to vote. He explained that the list of delegates handed over to the aspirants at a meeting with the Presidency was different from the list of delegates brought by the Chairman of the Election Committee, who is also the Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar.
APC vs PDP
Although the state today is a stronghold of the ruling PDP under Mmiko who has been in charge for almost eight years, there is no doubting the fact that the opposition APC has over the years, endeared itself to the people o0f the state. Consequently, pundits and politicians alike agree that the election will be a tough one between the two leading parties.
While Mimiko and his party are of the opinion that his performance in office will swing the votes in favor of their candidate, the opposition insist the current administration has not done much for the people to warrant re-election of the PDP for another four year term. To many political observers, the claims of the two camps are highly debatable.
According to Mimiko himself, “Given the vicissitude of fortunes that Ondo State has witnessed in its 40-year existence so far, I believe, like many indigenes of the state, that we have done well”. We have not only bench marked programmes and projects for other states in the health sector, urban renewal, education, wealth creation and other sectors, we have succeeded in making Ondo State an unfolding destination of choice for entertainment and medical tourism,” he said.
“In this era of serious economy crisis, the governor just inaugurated today a 27-kilometre road in Ajagba in the Irele Local Government Area. In the next two weeks, the governor will also inaugurate a reconstructed school and a mega school in that area. Again, he will inaugurate a township road in Ore. And Akeredolu is from Owo and he cannot deny that there is a dual carriage road constructed by Mimiko’s government in his town” he said.
“If the current PDP government in Ondo state has been able to do this much and take the state to enviable height, our people should expect more and more developmental projects across the state when the PDP government assume power in 2017. We in Ondo PDP can vouch that our people are enlightened enough not to fall victims for the tricks of the APC that has no structure and root in the state. The party does not have the interest of the masses at heart,” the PDP said.
But Victor Adekanye Olabimtan, a former Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly, disagrees with the Governor’s claims. Instead, he said the last seven years under Mimiko have been a harrowing experience for the people of the state, adding that the state has been impoverished by Mimiko and now worse off than Mimiko met it in 2009.
“Well, this is my personal view, and I also think it is the view of the greater majority of the people of Ondo state. The incumbent came into power with much popularity. The people of Ondo State believed their messiah who will liberate them from whatever they think was their problem because the then government of now late Agagu was providing good governance. Let me say expressly that the past seven years have been harrowing for the good people of Ondo State. I think the people of the state now know better that they have either by error of commission or omission allowed the mistake of 2007 to destroy Ondo State”.
“The Ondo State of today is far worse than the Ondo State we had before the February 2009. It is a state that is wallowing in abject poverty. This government inherited a buoyant economy but today, the economy of the state is hemorrhaging and bleeding satanically. Mimiko inherited a civil service that is second to none. He inherited a teaching service that had successfully ended the age-long dearth of teachers in Ondo State. He inherited an Ondo State where most of the roads are in a good condition”.
“Iroko, as Mimiko is fondly called inherited an Ondo State where water scarcity has been religiously fought to standstill. However, seven years after, we have an Ondo State that is deeply indebted. We now have an Ondo state that is the worst hit among the 36 states as far as the federation is concerned. We now have an Ondo State where no single teacher has been employed in the last seven years. The last time we employed teachers in Ondo State was in 2008/2009”.
“As I am talking to you, many teachers have retired. Many have died in service. Many have resigned and till date, they have not been replaced. Forget the propaganda of mega school that you read online, please pay a visit to our schools, you will be marveled by the condition under which the leaders of tomorrow are receiving lectures. The entire AUD Primary School at Itaogbolu has just four teachers. Just of recent, because of acute shortage of teachers in primary schools, what Mimiko did was to draft those who have NCE in local government to teaching. Imagine sending someone who has not taught for the past twenty years to classroom to teach, “he said.
With the decision of INEC to recognize Jegede and Akeredolu as candidates in spite of happenings in their various parties following the primary elections that produced them both, the stage in Ondo state is set for a political battle between two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) come November 26.
Akeredolu, a former President of the NBA would be ump in political arms and wits against Jegede, who until a few months ago, was Governor Mimiko’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. Similarly, while the PDP candidate became the state’s Attorney-General in 2009, Akeredolu held the same office between 1997-1999.
The November election will be Jegede’s first shot at the governorshipm of his home state but for Akeredolu, it will be a second attempt as he was the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2012. He contested against, and lost to the incumbent, Segun Mimiko, at the time in a highly competitive election.
Many pundits say the fact that Akeredolu contested the 2012 election is a big plus for him as he is better known that the new entrant, Jegede. It is also believed that Akeredolu’s emergence as his party’s candidate for a second time against many odds, is a sign that he has come to stay as one of the big political figures of the state.
“He (Akeredolu) is not in the same league with the starter being presented by the PDP. Akeredolu is known, tested and trusted by the good people of Ondo state. He contested agains t Mimiko and we all know how he was stopped by the ruling party. The people are glad APC gave him another chance and you will attest to this during the election,” Pius Agboriren, a chieftain of the party in Irele, said.
But a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, Larry Ogunmusire, has said that the party would win the November 26 governorship election. Ogunmusire, who is the Chairman of Okitipupa Local Government Area, said the PDP, which is the most popular and masses-oriented party in the state, made the best choice by fielding Jegede.
He added that the emergence of former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state as PDP’s governorship candidate for the election was a testimony that the party would win. He said Jegede would defeat any candidate presented by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), in the November election.
“The current administration has performed beyond expectation with masses-oriented programmes, which will pave the way for the party’s victory at the forthcoming governorship election. We also have the best candidate in person of Jegede, who has worked for the state and indeed accepted by the masses; so, I am bold to tell you that continuity is the game,” Ogunmusire said.
The two candidates may also be judge by the electorate on the strength of what they have in stock for the people of the state. Both have given reasons why they feel the state needs their services as governor after Mimiko’s term in office. While Jegede has left no one in doubt that he intends to build on the legacies of his predecessor, Akeredolu insists the state needs a fresh start.
“Mimiko as far as I am concerned has done so well. Nobody can beat his record in the health sector, not in this country. So if anybody says Mimiko has not performed, take health sector and tell me any state in the 36 states which has done half of what Mimiko has done and I say so with all pride.
I say it with all sense of humility that these indeed are challenging times and they need some extraordinary measures. Somebody who is a little bit bold and might look gentle or mere in his face but he does not think that political considerations should be for everything. We must learn to live and get things done the proper way so that we can get advantage in future,’ Jegede said.
On his part, Akeredolu said, “Mimiko’s time has come and gone. There is nothing like Mimiko again in Ondo State. That is why he was bruised and battered in the last presidential election.It is necessary to have a change in the leadership of Ondo State. Governance in the state has in the last seven years, which will now culminate into eight years before the election, been a waste of resources and one is convinced that the time has come for us to make meaningful impacts in the lives of our people and for them to at least have the impact of meaningful governance. To give the people the benefit of good governance so that they can derive the most which you can get from any government. PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>