By Dayo Johnson, Akure
AHEAD of the 2013 governorship election in Ondo State, the battle line has been drawn between the former Power and Steel Minister, Dr Olu Agunloye of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and the pioneer Director General of National Space Research Development Agency, NASRDA, Prof Ajayi Boroffice.
“Boroffice, a senator representing Ondo North at the National Assembly, is set to defect from the ruling LP to the ACN any moment from now to vie for the governorship seat which about 20 others aspirants are eyeing.“Before the last 2010 National Assembly elections, Agunloye and Boroffice were chieftains of the ruling LP in the state but the party’s primaries threw a wedge between the two brothers who hail from the same Ondo North.
“Leaders of the LP, including Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s preference for Boroffice to flay the flag of the LP in the last National Assembly election was a hard one to take for Agunloye.“The former minister felt betrayed by the leaders of the party who would have allowed him and Boroffice to test their political weight at the primaries.
“To placate Agunloye, the party offered him the House of Representatives ticket which he initially accepted but later turned down. He was said to have felt pained that his closeness to the governor could not secure him the senatorial ticket.“A private visit to him at his country home in Erusu Akoko by the governor failed to persuade him to remain in the LP.“Agunloye defected to the ACN and he was given the ticket few days to the election. His defection, together with others to the party, however, brought life to the hitherto comatose ACN in the state.
“Before then, the party was without any notable politicians that could win election in Ondo, but, with the arrival of Agunloye and others who failed in the primaries of the LP, the party became a formidable opposition.“Because of the incumbency factor and the acceptance of the party under Mimiko, Boroffice beat Agunloye in the National Assembly elections to become the senator to represent the senatorial area.
Agunloye was bitter believing that if not the “imposition” of Boroffice by the leadership of the LP, led by the then party chairman, Dr Olaiya Oni, who has equally defected to the ACN, he would have been a senator.“Many in the party believed that if primaries had been allowed instead of the consensus agreement, Boroffice would have lost woefully to Agunloye.
“After his defeat, Agunloye was the first to signify his intention to contest for the 2013 governorship poll under the ACN and was said to have been assured by the leaders of the party that he would be compensated with the ticket. His alleged closeness to the governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, was said to have him the assurance that the ticket was for him to grab.
In fact, he was the first ACN governorship aspirant to officially open an office in Akure, the state capital, to show his seriousness. He was said to have been taken to the leader of the party Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu by Aregbesola as the anointed candidate for the party in the Ondo 2013 governorship election.
“But the assurance, according to sources, is being threatened following pressure by some leaders of the ACN to woo Boroffice to the party as part of the scheme to cause disharmony in the ruling LP. His field soldiers have commenced underground campaign for him. “Boroffice was said to have sealed an agreement with the leaders of the ACN and is expected to resign from the party any moment from now.“He was said to have met one on one with Tinubu recently when he was assured of the ticket if he defects to the ACN.
“The senator has equally commenced a campaign, called the Akoko Agenda in which he wants politicians in the four local government councils that make up Akokoland to support him as the next governor. He insists that it is now the turn of the Akokos to produce the next governor in 2013.
“But others eyeing the governorship seat under the ACN in the state have kicked against the imposition of any aspirant by the leaders of the party, vowing to resist such undemocratic action.“Even those who are chorusing the Akoko Agenda,
including human right activist, Dr Tunji Abayomi, to become the next governor are not disposed to the anointing of any aspirant.
“Boroffice has reportedly informed traditional rulers in Akokoland of his ambition but is said to be finding it difficult to convince them to support him in this new venture after they pleaded with Mimiko to support him against the governor’s friend (Agunloye) during the National Assembly elections. Boroffice was said to have been told point blank by one monarch from Akoko not to leave certainty for uncertainty.
But he was to have insisted that he was acting on divine leading to throw his hat into the gubernatorial ring.“However, Agunloye has confided in his political aides and supporters that he would fight for the ticket with his last blood and would not allow this golden opportunity to slip out of his hands.
“He reportedly declared:” This is a battle that l will fight to the end. Prof Boroffice cannot, after being rigged in as a senator come again to deprive me of this golden opportunity. We will resist imposition.
If he is sure of himself, let him step out and stand for a primary that is freely and fairly conducted. If anything is done to the contrary, then the party is heading for the rocks.”“But another story in the state now is that the ACN may sacrifice the governorship aspirants for a former two-term House of Representatives member, Hon-Joseph Jaiyeola Ajata, who represented Oshodi /Isolo Federal Constituency, who is said to be the man after the heart of Tinubu.
“What would be the fate of the 20 aspirants in the race for the ACNgubernatorial ticket is unknown but a leader of the party said that other political positions would be shared across the three senatorial district areas of the state to calm fray nerves. “Many of them, according to their aides, may retrace their steps by returning to their former parties if they failed to realise their ambitions in 2013 or are short changed.
“However, the state commissioner for sports and youths development, Alhaji Yekini Olanipekun, faulted the agitation for the Akoko to produce the next governor.“Olanipekun, from Arigidi-Akoko, said the Akoko Agenda is a creation of selfish politicians.“He urged the people of the areas to shun any form of propaganda on the “so-called Akoko Agenda”.