NEVER in the 40-year history of Ondo state had an election elicited so much anxiety and uncertainty to the extent that the electorate are totally confused about who to vote for in tomorrow’s vote. It’s unprecedented. What the people of Ondo will decide tomorrow is unclear. Over 1.6 million eligible voters across the 18 council areas of the state will elect a successor to incumbent governor Olusegun Mimiko, whose tenure expires February 23 next year.
The people of the Sunshine state will be exercising their franchise tomorrow and that will go down in the history of the state as an election that parades three senior lawyers and a technocrat as contestants yet the road was full of legal land mines. Internal squabbles in all the major political parties except the Social Democratic party, SDP, had factionalised them, leading to division right up to the eve of the election.
The primaries of the APC and PDP had been dogged by controversies and the candidates that emerged have court cases hanging on their necks. Twenty eight political parties will be fielding candidates for the election and they include Peoples Democratic Party, Accord Party, Action Alliance, Alliance for Democracy, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, All Progressives Congress and Citizens Popular Party.
Others are Labour Party, Social Democratic Party, Peoples Party of Nigeria, National Conscience Party, Unity Party of Nigeria, New Nigeria Peoples Party and All Progressives Grand Alliance.
But only about four parties are presenting candidates who are seen as strong contenders. They are candidates of the Alliance for Democracy AD, Peoples Democratic Party PDP, All Progressive Congress. APC, and Social Democratic Party. The candidates of both the APC, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN and the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN are still at each others’ throats at the Federal High Court and Supreme Court over disputes having to do with their governorship candidate while the candidates of the AD Olusola Oke was cleared barely two weeks ago by the National Executive Committee NEC of the party and was given a waiver. Only the candidate of the SDP, Dr Olu Agunloye of the four is free of internal crisis since he threw his hat into the ring.
Jimoh Ibrahim, was, until Tuesday the PDP candidate, but the courts axed his ambition. While Oke who is from the southern senatorial district will coast home with the majority of votes from that area of the state, Akeredolu will equally do same in the Northern Senatorial area of the state where he hails from. Jegede will equally garner majority of the votes in the central senatorial area where he hails from.
Their choice of deputy governors will allow them to poach in each other’s areas of strength but that may be insignificant. Oke has picked his deputy from the North to corner some votes from Akeredolu’s domain. He has also pulled a stunt by picking a Muslim thereby making his party the only one with a Christian/ Muslim ticket. Akeredolu also has travelled to the South to pick Agboola Ajayi, another House of Representatives member to battle Oke in his “oil rich kingdom”.
The choice of Ajayi from the in Ese-Odo area in the South according to analysts won’t go far as Oke is solidly on ground in the area. Jegede’s choice of deputy in the person of a former Information Commissioner, Prince John Mafo is seen by many as a master stroke that hit Oke hard. Mafo is also from the oil rich Ilaje area in the southern area of the state. It is believed that the choice of Mafo rattled Oke’s camp and when the substitution saga came, Oke camp threw a party.
Observers submitted that some power cabals are jittery about Jegede’s popularity and acceptably hence the alleged witch-hunting through the unending court processes. Aside hailing from the central, the entire votes in Akure metropolis, the state capital, his home town will be in his kitty while the other councils in the central will vote along same line.
He will also win in some councils in the south which is predominantly PDP stronghold since the days of the former late governor Olusegun Agagu. His deputy, John Mafo will also pull some votes for Jegede in the south where he hails from. It is also believed that Jegede will equally get some pockets of votes from the North but this will be minimal because the people of the area will queue behind their son Akeredolu of the APC.
Oke, Jimoh, Jegede Agunloye and Akeredolu Akeredolu will have his basket full of votes from the Northern area because that is the stronghold of the APC and where he hails from. He will however make inroads in the south and central but his chances of getting any substantial votes is unsure despite his choice of deputy. His albatross in the north is the non-support of his candidature by two strong leaders from the area, Prof Ajayi Boroffice and Olusegun Abraham, the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu “boys”who contested the primaries with him.
Akeredolu alleged imposition has made them to distance themselves form him throughout his campaign. Akeredolu was quoted as saying; “I don’t really need the Asiwaju Tinubu support to win tomorrow’s election’’ which is said to be suicidal according to political observers in the state. If the party leadership can still move to placate Tinubu, Akeredolu may get some sympathy votes from Tinubu’s foot soldiers who have moved en mass to Oke’s Alliance for Democracy on the alleged directive of the Asiwaju.
Members of the ruling PDP may give their protest votes to either Agunloye or Oke because they can decipher the hands of the ruling APC in the move to stop Jegede. Oke will garner the majority of votes in the south and scramble for more in both the North and central senatorial district.
If Jegede is lucky to contest, Oke should forget the votes from the central but if not the protest votes would definitely go to his kitty his deputy though not popular will struggle to bring pockets of votes for the party. Agunloye may spring surprises; his leadership qualities and outstanding integrity speak for him.
The preponderance of opinion that the state doesn’t need a full fledged politician but a technocrat as the next governor is an advantage for him. He will make waves in the North where he hails from and garner votes in both the central and southern areas of the state. However, if the ethnic card allegedly being played by the people of Akoko-land to support any Akoko indigene running for the governorship position is anything to go by, Agunloye who is from Irusu Akoko, can clear the votes in the four councils in Akokoland namely Akoko North-East, Akoko North-West, Akoko South-East and Akoko South-West.
Agunloye who is the only candidate that picked a female deputy, Princess Modupe Akindele may have appealed to the sensibilities of the female gender across the state and this may earn him some votes. While Jegede is said to have a deep pocket to finance the campaign, he equally has the support of the incumbent governor Mimiko.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is Jegede’s personal friend and influential and rich men of the legal profession, especially Senior Advocates of Nigeria SAN are his backers asides Mimiko who prefers Jegede. Reports have it that Aare Afe Babalola is one of Jegede’s backers. His albatross, according to observers is that he would be allegedly tied to the apron string of Iroko for the next four years if he wins.
Oke is a man of means but he draws his financial strength from Asiwaju Tinubu who is said to have “blindly “bankrolled his ambition to slight the leadership of the APC over the imposition of Akeredolu and not his choice of candidate Olusegun Abraham. Osun state governor Rauf Aregbesola and some state governors who have the ears of Tinubu and some business gurus who are Tinubu business partners are said to have been instructed to “invest” in the Oke project. His weakness and complain about him is that he is an itinerant politician.
Akeredolu also has a deep pocket, coupled with support from power cabals. Governors of the APC, led by their chairman who is Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha are said to be mobilizing funds for him even from the ministers. The likes of Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi, Ibikunle Amosun, Babatunde Fashola and El-Rufia are the backers of Akeredolu.
Past Govs of Ondo
NAME YEAR ITA DAVID IKPEME 1976 – 1978
SUNDAY TUOYO 1978 – 1979
ADEKUNLE AJASIN 1979 – 1983
BAMIDELE OTIKO 1984 – 1985
MICHAEL AKHIGBE 1985 – 1986
EKUNDAYO OPALEYE 1986 – 1987
RAJI ALAGBE RASAKI 1987 – 1988
BODE GEORGE 1988 – 1990
ABIODUN OLUKOYA 1990 – 1992
BAMIDELE OLUMILUA 1992 – 1993
MIKE TOREY 1993 – 1994
AHMED USMAN 1994 – 1996
ANTHONY ONYEARUGBULEM 1996 – 1998
MOSES FASANYA 1998 – 1999
ADEBAYO ADEFARATI 1999 – 2003
OLUSEGUN AGAGU 2003 – 2009
OLUSEGUN MIMIKO 2009 – TILL DATE