Asks Ibidapo Balogun
Akeredolu, Ondo APC Candidate
In the build-up to the primaries of the All Progressives Congress for the November 26 Ondo governorship election, most of the aspirants in the race had traded accusations and counter-accusations over alleged plans to impose a particular candidate on the party. The party leadership, however, moves swiftly to douse the fear of the aspirants, assuring them of a level-playing field. Notwithstanding the assurances from the party leadership, some aggrieved parties continued to stoke the crisis. The lowest point of the crisis orchestrated from within and outside the APC was when the gate of the party’s secretariat at Oyemekun Road in Akure, the state capital was dressed with some fetish objects to scare the living daylight out of the party leaders. With that incident, some were convinced outside forces had taken over the battle, fighting more than the aggrieved.
Now the governorship primary election has come and gone and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, aka Aketi, has emerged the party’s flag bearer for the election, polling 669 votes to defeat his closest rival, Chief Segun Abraham, who polled 635 votes. Akeredolu was the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria candidate in the 2012 governorship election in Ondo State. Former Lagos governor and ACN leader, now APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had backed Akeredolu then against all odds. He was called all kind of names and attacked by other aspirants in the race. Akeredolu lost the ensuing election in 2012, coming a distant third behind Governor Olusegun Mimiko and former PDP National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke.
In the extant APC governorship race, however, Tinubu had chosen Abraham, who is reputed to be an international businessman and philantrophist, as opposed to Akeredolu, for reasons best known to him. Rather than taking it calmly, Akeredolu had given Tinubu the full length of his acidic tongue. He had attacked and rebuked Tinubu, calling him unprintable names. Is that the way of politics to abuse and cudgel those who stuck out their necks for one yesterday simply because they took a different path today?
Akeredolu emerged the APC candidate to the chagrin of many political analysts and commentators who did n’t give him a chance in hell to come close to the ticket, talk less grab it. But as it has emerged, it is all a gang up against Tinubu and his candidate, Abraham. And it was well coordinated. In an attempt to “cut Tinubu to size” and reduce his overwhelming influence in the South-west geopolitical zone, as they claimed, some leaders of the party aligned with a few disgruntled elements in the APC in the zone who are in government at the state level and in Abuja to deliver the devastating blow to the APC national leader. The group included a governor in one of the states in the South-west and two ministers in government who earlier ran the affairs of two states in the zone. They were joined in their pull-him-down project by a former founding father of the PDP now in APC. They all allegedly worked for Akeredolu to ensure he defeated Abraham, the candidate of their fabled foe.
There is, however, a surprise hand in the mix! Those in the know feared Governor Mimiko may have also worked behind the scene to ensure Akeredolu won the APC ticket. Mimiko and Akeredolu are known to be childhood friends. Notwithstanding the fact that Mimiko defeated Akeredolu in the 2012 election, their friendship was not damaged in any way. They remain friends. They both hail from the same Ondo Central Senatorial District. While Akeredolu is from Owo, Mimiko is from Ondo town. The main faction of the PDP headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, to which Mimiko belongs, has picked former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, who served in Mimiko’s administration, as its candidate.
Akeredolu and Jegede
Akeredolu and Jegede are both Senior Advocates of Nigeria. With both main contenders in the November 26 election coming from the same flank, many have said the election either way is a Mimiko affair. “The election, to all intents and purposes, seems a Mimiko affair. Whether its PDP or APC that holds sway at the poll, it’s a Mimiko ally all the way. Where will the change the Ondo people are yearning for,” one concerned indigene of the state said last night.