By Dayo Johnson, Akure
THE decision by stakeholders operating under Akoko Elders Assembly, an umbrella body representing the interest of the Akoko people in the All Progressives Congress, APC, to zone Ondo State governorship ticket to Akoko North Federal Constituency is generating heat. The heat is sequel to the belief by other aspirants from Akoko that they have tactically being shut out of the race.
With the development, the elders have pruned the number of aspirants to four. The four aspirants are Dr Olusegun Abraham, from Ikare-Akoko; Tunji Abayomi, from Oke-Agbe Akoko; Foluso Adefemi, from Afin Akoko; and Hon Gani Dauda, from Irun-Akoko.
It was learnt that the stakeholders had held consultations with the aspirants †from Akoko with a view to making them see reason they needed to present “ a common candidate that their delegates would vote for during the August governorship primary to avoid losing out”.
The decision, Sunday Vanguard learnt was hinged on presenting a strong candidate, who is competent, loyal, and popular enough to confront the ruling PDP candidate in the Ondo November 26 election.
In an interview, the Chairman of the Akoko Elders Assembly, Chief Felix Aiyegbusi, told Sunday Vanguard that †the decision to zone the APC ticket to Akoko North Federal Constituency was based purely on “the order of equity and fairness to the Akoko-North East/ Akoko North West Federal Constituency”. Aiyegbusi hinged this on the fact that “ the constituency has not been given the opportunity to take up any public position of substance in the past years as compared to the other federal constituency in Akokoland and, by extension, the entire Ondo North.
“ We in the APC Akoko Elders Assembly have reached a decision at this stage of the campaign towards the governorship election in Ondo to zone the candidacy to Akoko North Federal. Constituency,”he stated. “ The decision made to maintain peace, unity, progress and statesmanship in Akokoland as there is no reason to create confusion within ourselves when we can amicably come together, agree and take a position.
“ The decision is unanimous and we have thrown the challenges back to the Akoko North people and the governorship aspirants that hail from there to further consult within themselves and present one viable candidate of their own and present him to us. That one candidate should be sure of our backing “.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that one critical factor that guided the elders was that Akoko has two federal constituencies: Akoko South and Akoko North.
At the moment, the senator representing Ondo North, Ajayi Boroffice is from the Akoko South while the late Governor Adebayo Adefarati, who served between 1999 and 2003, was also from Akoko South. Thus, in the natural order of fairness, the elders mooted that Akoko North deserves the opportunity to produce the governor at this time.
Expectedly, many of the governorship aspirants from the area have kicked against the zoning, describing it as unacceptable. Also, the leaders have been knocked for their decision to act “ unconstitutionally”.
Reacting on behalf of the other aspirants, a body, Ondo State Concerned Group called on the people of Akoko to “ totally disregard the action of the elders and the purported decision on aspirants as it is against the spirit and constitution of the APC”.
It argued that the party’s constitution only recognizes two ways through which a candidate can emerge: primary election or consensus. Out of the array of aspirants who hail from Akoko, three are seen as strong contenders to flag the APC ticket: Abraham, Boroffice and Olabimtan.
Some analysts say the adds favour Abraham.
By this same natural default of fairness and equity, not mere ‘zoning’ as the political observers said, it is quite agreeable that the district to produce the next governor in the state is Ondo North. This is considering the fact that the incumbent governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, is from Ondo Central and his predecessor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, from Ondo South. The elite within the state, especially in APC embrace this fact and actually working by it.
This fact also informed the decision of the Akoko elders to endorse a process to present a singular gubernatorial aspirant from the area, who will enjoy uniform support from the entire Akokoland. Despite this, the elders, it was learnt, have not overlooked the aspiration of Boroffice but sources said that the elders had concerns that Boroffice’s aspiration could jeopardize the chances of the zone because he is still a member of the Red Chamber.
Leaders in the areas are also said to be miffed that the senator having spent six years in the Red Chamber hasn’t brought adequate development to the constituency. Besides, Boroffice was said to have told the people of Owo during his senatorial campaign that he won’t run for governorship come 2016.
This, according to sources, made the Akoko elders to advise him to simply focus on remaining in the Senate instead of eyeing the governorship seat. They pleaded with him to allow another Akoko aspirant to be supported uniformly so that the opportunity would not elude Akoko. Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, Abraham said his “mission is not a political ambition but a godly mission to transform Ondo to a first class state”.