…As stakeholders scramble to control Ondo APC
By Dayo Johnson Akure
Last Wednesday’s Supreme Court verdict that affirmed the election of the Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu has inadvertently kick started the rat race for elective positions in the next general elections.
This aside, the scramble for Akeredolu’s possible successor in 2024 has also commenced in the state.
This development came to the fore over the weekend as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted its ward congresses across the country.
The ward congresses were held across the country despite conflicting legal opinions over the propriety or otherwise of the exercise following the apex court’s verdict which dismissed the petition of the PDP governorship candidate in the October 10, 2020 election, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN.
Vanguards findings showed that various aspirants to the National and State Assembly positions who have been oiling their political machineries prior to the Supreme Court verdict deployed such to test during the weekend ward Congresses, thereby creating tension in some parts of the state.
Vanguard gathered that the struggle to control the soul of the APC ahead of 2023 manifested across the three senatorial districts of the State.
In the North, where the governor hails from, the battle for the Senatorial ticket of the party seemed to have pitched the incumbent, Ajayi Borofice, Alex Ajipe and Rear Admiral Samuel Alade against one another.
Although there is another underdog and businessman, Jide Ipinsagba, his structures across Akokoland are strategic in aligning with the Governor’s.
Ajipe hails from Owo just like the governor. Already, there musings that it would be insensitive to again have the Senate in Owo.
Vanguard could however not confirmed if Ajipe has been prevailed upon to jettison the idea of contesting, it was gathered that Governor Akeredolu may not likely support him because of the obvious.
A party stalwart told vanguard that “It will be too obvious for the governor not to support an Akoko man; the governor we know is a man of justice and fairness and that is his strength.
For Admiral Alade, his greatest albatross might be the incumbent chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta, Hon. Bunmi Tunji Ojo who is from same Akoko north west local government area like Alade.
It appears unlikely for the same local government to produce both the senate and the House of Representatives to the existing of the other, Akoko north east.
It is battle royale in Akoko South West and South East as former member of the House of Representatives, Babatunde Kolawole, immediate past commissioner for agriculture, Gboyega Adefarati as well as the current member representing the federal constituency, Ade Adeogun battle one another.
Already, signs of struggle for hegemony over the lists of consensus ward executives has polarised the federal constituency.
In the central senatorial district, the friction is less pronounced than the south which has the potential of producing Governor Akeredolu’s successor in 2024.
For instance in Irele, the duo of immediate past Commissioner for budget and planning, Emmanuel Igbasan and former member of the House of Representatives are in battle against young businessman, Jimi Odumayo for the soul of the APC in the local council. Interestingly, the trio has eues on the 2023 House of Representatives ticket.
For Okitipupa local government, the parade of big names within the APC has made it more contentious. As at the last count, no fewer than four big names are touted to be nursing senatorial ambition.
They include business mongol, Jimoh Ibrahim, executive director, Engineering of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Ife Oyedele, secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu and Dr Paul Akintelure.
In Ilaje local government, home of the current deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the squabble is beyond 2023. It is about positioning to succeed Governor Akeredolu. While Aiyedatiwa sees himself as the Governor’s anointed successor, the political influence of Olusola Oke, SAN has posed a great threat with an ensuing balance of power. A cold war is imminent between the duo.
For instance, sources informed vanguard that ” a quiet move by the deputy governor to displace the old order of collegiate leadership in Ilaje with a new one through the instrumentality of the Ilaje League of Professionals is generating tension.
It was gathered that in most of the wards, conflicting and divergent lists of ward executives have been compiled.
On ground to effect the change of guard which is being resisted are immediate past Special Adviser on education, Dr Wunmi Ilawole, Mr Raphael Danilola, the Press Secretary and Chief of Staff to the deputy governor Kenneth Odusola Stevenson and Segun Omojuwa.
But the favourable Supreme Court verdict that came the way of Governor Akeredolu may have altered some political calculations in some areas across the state.
Recall that the immediate past senator who represented Ondo South, Yele Omogunwa, alongside Julius Olatunji Fender, an ally of the immediate past deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi defected from the ruling party to the PDP last week.
It was gathered that their defection was perfected because of the strong belief that Jegede was to be declared governor last week. Omogunwa, who hopes to take another shot at the senate in 2023 would have had Ajayi to contend with as plans were already afoot for the former deputy governor to return to the PDP to run for the senate, according to vanguard’s checks.
Also, a former member of the House of Representatives, Abayomi Sheba was waiting in the wings to join PDP if the verdict went Jegede’s way. His calculation was that Jegede’s running mate, Hon. Ikengbolu Gboluga, who is incumbent House of Representatives member representing Irele/Okitipupa would have vacated the seat after being sworn in as deputy governor. Sheba, who had hoped to grab the PDP ticket for the subsequent bus election, has to beat a retreat and remain in the APC, for now.
Vanguard findings showed that the scenario to play out in Akure Federal constituency would have been different. Incumbent Reps member, Ifedayo Omolafe who has been having a suppressed running battle with Jegede as well as seeking a second term would have been replaced by Dayo Awude. The calculation played up was that both Jegede and Omolafe are from Akure South. Awude is from Akure North.
A careful analysis showed that by and large, the Supreme Court verdict appears to have brightened the chances of the ruling APC in Ondo.
The current solid status of the parry that came shortly after the verdict is especially given further bite by the integrity and courage of Governor Akeredolu in his fight against Fulani herdsmen. Many believed in some quarters that his effrontery to tackle insecurity, using Amotekun was being used by his political traducers to blackmail him before the Presidency in order to prepare ground for his exit.
As it stands now, the battle for elective positions is most likely to be narrowed to the APC in the sense that winning the APC ticket may mean an automatic victory at the polls in 2023.
Vanguard News Nigeria