Ahead of the November 26 gubernatorial poll in Ondo State, indications have emerged that a dark horse may emerge the next governor of the Sunshine State, in what may be termed the political tsunami of the century, in the fashion late Sir Michael Otedola, who emerged Lagos State governor in 1992, against the expectations of all and sundry.
Investigations by The Point revealed that the current resurgence of the Alliance for Democracy, which has picked former National legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olusola Oke, as its gubernatorial candidate may be the surprise that would daze the ruling PDP in the state and the All Progressives Congress in the November 26 election.
Oke, who was until recently an aspirant on the platform of the APC, defected to the AD, after Rotimi Akeredolu emerged the gubernatorial candidate of the APC, despite protestations from other aspirants who kicked against the emergence of the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association.
Oke was allegedly handed the ticket of the AD after its former candidate, Mr Akin Olowookere, was said to have stepped down.
Although, there were controversies over Oke’s candidature in the AD, as different factions of the national leadership of the party had been issuing releases either affirming or rejecting Oke’s candidature, the controversies have been laid to rest and youths in the state have come to identify with Oke as the face of AD in Ondo State.
This was just as the two main parties expected to slug it out at the election, the APC and the PDP, have continued to be enmeshed in internal wrangling over their candidates.
Recall that against all odds, Akeredolu emerged the winner of the APC primary election, allegedly backed by the duo of Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in an attempt to whittle down the political influence of APC National Leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in the South-West.
The move, according to sources, was to prepare a soft landing for the duo’s ambition for the Presidency in 2019 and make inroad into the South-West, after reducing Tinubu’s glaring political influence in the region. The APC ticket was alleged to have been secured for Akeredolu with over N700 million.
And despite the recommendation of the APC Election Appeal Committee, that a new primary election be conducted, following the avalanche of petition against the first exercise, APC National Chairman was said to have singlehandedly overruled the appeal panel and submitted Akeredolu’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
This development led to Tinubu calling for Odigie-Oyegun’s resignation, signifying that the crack in the ruling party has continued to widen.
While many of other APC aspirants remained in the party, many of them have vowed to work against the interest of the party in the forthcoming election; but a few others, like Oke sought greener pastures to other parties.
The PDP, which seemed to have lost the trust of the people of the state due to what they termed the incumbent governor, Olusegun Mimiko’s betrayal of their trust, is also embattled as INEC had not only accepted Ibrahim as PDP candidate, but had gone ahead to publish his name as one.
with the rate at which Oke’s political popularity has soared in recent times, and continues to soar, barring any unforeseen political miscalculations, he may as well be on his way to the Alagbaka Government House
As it stands, it is not clear which of the two candidates who emerged candidates of the two factions of the party is the authentic candidate and which of the duo supporters of the party would vote for. Eyitayo Jegede, a former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General in the Mimiko administration, had emerged candidate of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee while businessman Jimoh Ibrahim had emerged the candidate of the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff’s faction. Sheriff is the party’s former acting National Chairman.
And to create more trouble for the embattled opposition party, an Abuja Federal High Court, on October 13, declared Ibrahim as the authentic candidate of the PDP for the Ondo gubernatorial election. The court also ordered INEC to so recognise the publisher of National Mirror newspapers, a directive INEC had complied with by publishing Ibrahim’s name as PDP candidate last week.
Apart from the internal wrangling bedeviling the PDP in Ondo State, like so many other state chapters, political watchers in the Sunshine State faulted the emergence of Jegede, which they said was against the gentleman agreement among the three senatorial districts in the state, which should have tilted the gubernatorial slot to Ondo North. Jegede is from Ondo Central, where the outgoing governor, who will be completing a second term in February 2017 hails from.
They argued that in the event of Jegede winning the election, the Central district would have had a 16-year run in the Alagbaka Government House, at the expense of both the North and South, which had been in Government House for four years apiece.
Akeredolu is from the North zone, while Oke hails from the South senatorial district. Olu Agunloye, the Social Democratic Party candidate is from Ondo North.
Recall that in 1992, while it was a foregone conclusion that the Social Democratic Party was coasting home to victory in Lagos State gubernatorial election, internal bickering between the two gladiators angling for the party’s ticket then, the late Dapo Sarumi and Femi Agbalajobi, both of who were not ready to step down for each other, cost the party the Lagos gubernatorial seat as Lagosians voted enmasse for Otedola of the National Republican Convention, who was not in the race then. The rest, as they say is history.
This scenario may play out in the Ondo gubernatorial election, on November 26, especially against the background that the AD’s resurgence came about due to the alleged support from APC National leader, Tinubu, who is said to be hell-bent on determining who the next occupant of the Alagbaka Government House is, perhaps to prove that his hold on the South-West geo-political zone is not under threat.
And with the rate at which Oke’s political popularity has soared in recent times, and continues to soar, barring any unforeseen political miscalculations, he may as well be on his way to the Alagbaka Government House.
This is just as the chances of the APC and PDP keep dwindling by the day due to unresolved internal bickering over who the candidates of the two major parties really are. In the PDP, Jegede’s candidature is in abeyance, as a Federal high court has given him the PDP mandate for the poll.
Meanwhile, there are indications that Ondo electorate may look the other way should as Ibrahim has finally emerged the PDP candidate, courtesy of the court. This is as a result of the fact that many voters in the Sunshine State are not comfortable with his candidature against the background of how he has ran his businesses in the last few years. It is on record that he is owing staff of his businesses across board several months’ salary arrears. It is also on record that despite deductions of tax and pensions from source, these deductions have not been remitted to the appropriate quarters. Many members of staff who left his employment, especially in the National Mirror and who were being owed salary arrears, ranging from five to seven months, have yet to be paid their emoluments.
Political pundits wondered how a man who could not successfully manage his businesses would manage the affairs of a state as complex as Ondo State.
there are indications that Ondo electorate may look the other way should as Ibrahim has finally emerged the PDP candidate, courtesy of the court
As all of these were playing out, it is also no secret that many of Tinubu’s political enemies in the South-West have now rallied round him, following the way he was allegedly treated by the Muhammadu Buhari administration after being instrumental to the emergence of Buhari as APC presidential candidate as well as APC victory in the 2015 general election.
Prominent among these political enemies are Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose and elder statesman and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo, both of who had condemned the way Asiwaju has been treated by the ruling party so far.
Adebanjo had said, “People are expecting me to mock Tinubu and say God has dealt with him over the manner he treated me and other Yoruba leaders; but I won’t do that, because what is after six is more than seven…Tinubu may have his faults, but he has not been treated well by his party.”
To Fayose, Tinubu is the foremost Yoruba leader today. He said, “I want to tell you again, there are many leaders in Yoruba land. But there is no gainsaying that Asiwaju Tinubu is the foremost leader in the Yoruba nation today. Somebody will take the lead to let us know that leadership goes beyond party. That is exactly why I took the lead to establish the fact that the Yoruba nation will be losing if Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu is humiliated.
“We must promote our leaders.
When we get to party matters we can struggle for anything, but not to destroy our leaders.
With the PDP in disarray and the APC not getting its acts together, just few days to the gubernatorial election, there is no doubt that Ondo electorate may look outside of these two major parties for a ‘messiah’ in another party, who may turn out to be Oke.