In the last two weeks, both the ruling PDP and the opposition APC in Ondo State have produced two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) as flag bearers in the November governorship election in the state. Muyiwa Oyinlola writes about their emergence and what this signals for the politics of the state.
After weeks of postponements, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State at the weekend held its governorship primary for the November 26 Governorship poll in the state, leading to the emergence of Rotimi Akeredolu, as its candidate.
Akoredolu’s emergence is coming less than two weeks after the victory of Eyitayo Jegede as the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the November election.
Twenty-four aspirants jostled for the APC governorship ticket won in Akure, by Akeredolu. Other aspirants included Tunji Abayomi, Ademola Adegoroye, Derin Adesida, Akinyinka Akinola, Patrick Akinyelure, Omotayo Alasoadura, Jumoke Anifowoshe-Ajasin, Jamiu Ekungba, and Niran Oladunnni.
Others were: Oke Olusola, Olabimtan Victor, Boye Oyewunmi, Ajayi Borrofice, Olusegun Abraham; Tayo Alasoadura; Bode Ayorinde, Akinwale Akingbade, Akinrinsola Odunayo,Bukola Adetula; Niyi Adegbonmire; Foluso Adefemi, Akinola Olayinka; Tunji Ariyo.
Akeredolu polled a total of 669 votes to defeat his closest rival, Segun Abraham who got 635 votes from the 2,774 delegates. Recall that Akeredolu was the flagbearer of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2012 governorship election in the state.
Chairman, primary election committee that produced Akeredolu, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, described the conduct of the election as fair and credible.
Other members of the election committee included: Dr. Bruce Ugbide, Rep. Hamma Ali, Prince M. Martin, and Mr Mohammed Lawal.
Mr. Abubakar, however, asked the unsuccessful aspirants in the election to pacify their supporters to join hands with Akeredolu in order to win the governorship election. He disclosed that the party was prepared to defeat the ruling peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election.
Mr. Kabiru Omosanya, an administrative secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ondo state, led the electoral team that monitored the primary election.
Meanwhile, the emergence of Akeredolu (SAN) as the flagbearer of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Ondo state has been described as divine, testimony to the democratic qualities of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and his commitment to internal democracy, freedom for people to freely elect the leaders of their choice and victory for democracy.
In a statement by Ondo State Eminent Personalty group signed by its President, Barr. Banji Alabi, the group said the process that produced Akeredolu is not only transparent but a proof that godfatherism no longer has a place in Ondo State politics.
While calling on other co-contestants in the APC gubernatorial primary election to join hands with Akeredolu to ensure the victory of the party at the poll, the group equally enjoined Akeredolu to justify the confidence the party has reposed in him to give the people of Ondo state better governance.
Whereas Akeredolu is a former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Jegede of the PDP is a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State, and they are both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs). Jegede emerged candidate of the PDP in its primary held also in Akure, where he polled 760 votes to defeat his co-contestant, Hon. Saka Lawal who scored 22 votes.
The election which was conducted by the Chairman of the electoral committee and governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson was observed by INEC officials, Security personnel, journalists and various electoral observers.
No fewer than 840 delegates from 203 wards in the state participated in the primary election.
In his acceptance speech, Jegede thanked the delegates for the confidence reposed in him and promised to build on the legacies of governor Olusegun Mimiko.
He stated that “There was no victor, there was no vanquish, we are all winners. This is purely a family matters within the PDP. We will continue to build court of friendship and bridges of friendship between our people”.
“We will open our doors for all those who are interested in genuine reconciliation. PDP is a big party and for those who are in other side is between light and darkness. PDP is the light and we have seen it in the last one year.
“I offer myself to serve and to take the flag of PDP before humility and gradittude to God, I except this nomination and by November 26, we shall lead PDP to victory.
“Gratitude to all our votes, who are ready, willing and waiting because we must consolidate both to found and old games of our previous administration.
“This indeed is challenges to all of us. The economy is dwindling everyday. The price of diesel has gone up from N135 per litre to N200 per litre. So is the price of bread, so is the price of rice. It is now time to talk about economy, economy and economy by that our people will be happy and build prosperity for our state”.
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the electoral committee, Seriake Dickson urged members of the party to remain together so as to be able to win the coming election.
In the same vein, Mimiko, while addressing the gathering after the exercise expressed optimism that PDP would win the November election convincingly.
Interestingly, Ondo State governorship election will be keenly contested for a number of reasons. One, the state is one of the two states under the control of the PDP, out of the six in the South West geo-political zone. As one of the states lost by the progressives since 2003, they have not relented in their efforts to regain its control ever since. The closest they have ever gone to regaining it was in 2012, when Akeredolu gave the incumbent Dr. Olusegun Mimiko a run for his money. The PDP is also struggling to retain it as a PDP state.
However, as both leading political parties continue in their campaigns and other activities ahead of the election in the state, it is evident that as matters stand today, one of the these two lawyers cum-politicians will surely emerge as the next governor of the state.
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