GOVERNOR OLUSEGUN MIMIKO
GOING BY THEIR ACTIVITIES SINCE THE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION BLEW THE WHISTLE FOR POLITICAL PARTIES TO COMMENCE CAMPAIGN FOR VOTES FROM THE ELECTORATES, RESIDENTS OF ONDO STATE WOULD NOT NEED POLITICAL ANNALISTS TO TELL THEM THAT TODAY’S GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION WOULD BE A CONTEST AMONG ONLY THREE OUT OF THE 13 POLITICAL PARTIED CLEARED BY THE COMMISSION TO CONTEST THE ELECTION. JAMES SOWOLE IN AKURE EXAMINES THE CHANCES OF THE THREE LEADING CONTENDERS IN CONCRETE TERMS AND CONCLUDES THAT THE ODDS FAVOUR INCUMBENT GOVERNOR OLUSEGUN MIMIKO BARRING ANY LAST MINUTE AND UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES
The three political parties and candidates that are really in today’s race to the Alagbaka Government House in Ondo State are the ruling Labour Party on whose platform the incumbent governor Olusegun Mimiko is seeking re-election; the Action Congress of Nigeria with Mr Rotimi Akeredolu as its candidate, and the Peoples Democratic Party that is fielding the immediate past Legal Adviser of the party, Chief Olusola Oke as its candidate. Interestingly, each of the three top candidates represents a senatorial district of the Sunshine State.
The remaining political parties that INEC had cleared their candidates for the election are Allied Congress Party with Mr Adeoti Taye as its candidate; All Nigeria Peoples Party has Mr Adeyemi Bolarinwa as its flag bearer; Better Nigeria Progressive Party under which Mr Ayodele Olusegun will be contesting and Change Advocacy Party that will field Omoyele Olorunwa.
Others candidates are Olusoji Ehinlanwo of Congress for Progressive Change; National Conscience Party with Oladipo Lawrence as its candidate; National Solidarity Democratic Party with Abikanlu Olusola as its candidate; the Peoples Progressive Change under the platform of which Victor Adetusin will be contesting and Progressive Peoples Alliance that has Omoregba Olatunji as its candidate.
Specifically, Akeredolu, an Owo-born legal practitioner is from Ondo North Senatorial District, the incumbent governor, Mimiko of the ruling LP is from Ondo Town in the Central Senatorial District while the PDP candidate, Oke is a native of the oil-rich riverine Ilaje Local Government in Ondo South Senatorial District.
In the real sense of it, none of the three leading candidates is a push over as far as today’s election is concerned as each of them has his peculiar area of strength over the other and that would definitely be of advantage to them. Also, the profile of each candidate indicates that none of them could be wished away in terms of intelligence given their background, education and achievements.
Though, each of the three candidates is specifically from a particular senatorial district that does not preclude that the entire votes or that the largest chunk of votes in that district would be for the home candidate. This is so because there are other factors that will give certain candidate reasonable additional votes apart from his own district. An analysis of their chances on the senatorial basis testifies to this.
Though, the ACN candidate is from the Ondo North, the two other political parties are equally strong in the district in terms of personalities and influence. For Akeredolu, the bulk of his votes are expected to come from this area because most of the aggrieved aspirants over his choice had been pacified and most of them turned up during the mega rally held at Ikare, the headquarters of the district to show their solidarity. The aspirants are Senator Ajayo Borrofice, Dr Tunji Abayomi, Mrs Jumoke Anifowose, Chief Segun Abraham, Jaiyeola Ajatta, Solagbade Amodeni.
Since neither Akeredolu nor the ACN can boast of any landmark achievements in the area because the candidate and the party had never governed the state, the hope of the party in today’s election lies in the pedigree of the candidate and that the people would believe that he can deliver all that he had promised if he gets to office. Also, the hopes of the candidate and the party lie in the performances of the leaders of the party in the area.
Ondo North naturally ought to be the catchment area of the ACN candidate for obvious reasons but the two other candidates and their parties are equally strong in the area and even if not more than the ACN and its candidate.
While the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP, Saka Lawal is an indigene of Afin in Akoko North West Local Government in the district, Mimiko’s Deputy, who remained his running mate in LP for today’s election is an indigene of Supare Akoko in Akoko South West Local Government.
Lawal is also one of the aggrieved aspirants of the ACN, who dumped the party and later became the running mate of Oke. Also, the former chairman of the LP, Dr Olaiya Oni dumped the ACN after Akeredolu was chosen as the party’s candidate and is now one of the PDP chieftains in Akoko area. Equally on the side of the PDP are the two former Speakers of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Victor Olabimtan and Taofeek Abdulsalam who are strong factors in deciding the vote of the Akoko South West and Akoko North East local governments of the district just as the former Commissioner of National Population Commission, Dr Bode Iwaloye is from the same local government.
Still in the Ondo North, the immediate past senator of the district, Senator Bode Olajumoke, the former Minister of Defence, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode and Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, who is an indigene of Akeredolu’s town are all influential members of the PDP and who had been canvassing that the party must reclaim power in the state.
Though, there are not much landmark projects of the PDP government in the area when compared to those executed in Ondo South, all these chieftains of the party made impact in the lives of the indigenes of the area in terms of employment both at the state and federal levels.
That the LP candidate would get very appreciable votes in the district cannot be over -emphasised for many reasons. The power of incumbency is there for him. Six commissioners are there to work for the party, just as there are six local government chairmen, three House of Representatives members, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants and chairmen and members of the boards and parastatals.
Equally, the chairman of the ruling Labour Party, Chief Olu Ogidan is an indigene of the area. Moreover, one of the strongest aspirants of the ACN, Dr Olu Agunloye, has returned to the LP after he felt cheated by the choice of the ACN candidate.
In the area of performance by the incumbent administration, there are many projects that can be pointed at. Some of these projects are the Mega Primary School at Ikare, Regional Markets also at Ikare, market at Iwaro Oka and many quick-win projects executed by the Ministry of Community Development and Co-operative Services.
Going by the reasons advanced above, the fight for votes in this area is between the PDP and the LP candidates. However, the LP looks good to carry the day.
This is an indisputable major stronghold of the ruling LP not only because the candidate, Mimiko comes from the district but for other reasons that are obvious to residents of the state. Here, in this district, the government can boast of many landmark developmental projects particularly in Akure, the state capital. The Central Senatorial District can boast of many projects such as mega primary schools, road construction, modern markets Mother and Child Hospitals and other modern healthcare facilities. Aside this, there are many quick-win projects requested by the people and which were executed by the Ministry of Community Development and Co-operative Services in both urban and rural communities of the district.
Also in this district, there are not less than seven serving commissioners, six local government caretaker chairmen and their members, House of Assembly members from the state constituencies, Chairmen of Boards and Parastatals, Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistant.
The district equally has on the side of the LP the senator that represents it at the National Assembly, Senator Ayo Akintelure and two out of three House of Representatives members.
All these political appointees and elected officers are expected to deliver their units and wards up to local government level.
Moreover, elder statesmen and respected personalities in the district including Chief Olu Falae, Chief Reuben Fasoranti among others, have expressed their support openly for the incumbent governor to return to office.
Equally, traditional rulers in the district had at different fora openly adopted Mimiko as their candidate.
Also in this district, notable PDP leaders including the three-term Senator, Gbenga Oguniya; the former Nigerian Ambassador to Greece and Australia, Professor Olu Agbi, former member of House of Representatives under the PDP, Tayo Fawehinmi, Dr Akin Olowokere, Chief Segun Adegoke, Chief Alex Akinadeju and many others have declared their support openly for Mimiko and promised to mobilise their supporters for the LP candidate.
For the PDP, this is not the best of the time for it in the Ondo Central. The party only has the few achievements of the PDP-led government of Dr Olusegun Agagu to show in the zone. There are few notable members still supporting the party and its candidate. Others had either moved to the LP or the CAN.
Except the unexpected happens, the LP candidate is expected to win in Ondo Central with a very wide margin.
One of the reasons for the sacrifice made by other PDP aspirants, particularly those from the Northern Senatorial District (whose turn they say it is to produce the party’s candidate for the election) to step down for Oke, was to ensure that the party has its own catchment area in terms of who flies its flag for the election.
So, Ondo South comprising the local governments of Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo, Odigbo, Irele, Okitipupa, Ilaje and Ese-Odo is the catchment area of the PDP candidate and which it would want to hold on to in today’s election. Due to the difficult terrain of the two of the six local governments of the riverine Ilaje and Ese-Odo, votes from these two councils in the past contribute in no small measure to the outcome of elections into the senatorial district in case of senatorial election and largely to the outcome of the past gubernatorial elections. Interestingly, in the past, results of elections from these two councils always arrive the state collation centre late.
Though, INEC had recognised the peculiarities of the environment of these two local governments and according to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Akin Orebiyi, had made special arrangement to face the challenges, the area remains the stronghold of the PDP.
Taken the senatorial district as a whole, the PDP would get substantial votes from there and have upper hand over other two political parties for many reasons.
The immediate past PDP government led by Dr Olusegun Agagu who is from Okitipupa in one of the local government areas, executed many developmental projects ranging from roads, electricity, housing, water and many other projects using fund directly allocated to the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC). Also, the PDP candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, a real grassroot man facilitated many developmental projects to the area when he served as the commissioner that represented the state on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
In the Ese-Odo Local Government, the presence of the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs and Chairman of Presidential Amnesty Committee, Hon Kingsley Kuku, is a plus for the PDP candidate. Under the Amnesty Programme, Kuku had empowered many indigenes of two riverine local governments, particularly disarmed ex-militants just as he said he had facilitated many developmental projects in his local government.
In Okitipupa and Irele Local Government, which made up a Federal Constituency and under the control of the PDP, the influence of Agagu cannot be over-emphasised. The former governor and the party have many developmental projects to point at.
However, this predicted feat of the PDP and its candidate does not mean that the incumbent governor and its party, LP is a pushover in the senatorial district. The current administration has so many projects to its credit in this senatorial district such as mega primary schools, modern markets, agricultural village at Ore, health centres and many more that would definitely encourage electorate to vote for the party. Apart from those projects that had been completed, there are many others that are ongoing.
In terms of personalities, the LP can boast of many prominent people in the current administration who the party believes should deliver votes for its candidate.
The Senator representing the district, who is an indigene of Okitipupa Local Government, Senator Boluwaji Kunlere was elected under the LP platform. Also, Secretary to the State Government, Dr Rotimi Adelola is an indigene of Odigbo Local Government just as the current Speaker of the State House of Assembly is from the same local government with the SSG.
Moreover, each of the local government that made up the district has a serving commissioner while all the caretaker chairmen of the six local governments are appointees of the LP candidates with their supervisors.
Equally, eight out of the nine members of the House of Assembly from the district were elected under the platform of the LP just as there are many political appointees of the incumbent administration from the area.
In addition, the current representative of the state on the NDDC and the immediate past one are nominees of Dr Olusegun Mimiko just as the Chairman of the State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) is an indigene of Oke’s local government.
Also, the leader of the ex-militants in the area, Biribopri Ajube a.ka ‘Shoot At Sight’ had declared that he and many ex-militants in the Ese-Odo Local Government would work for Mimiko’s second term.
Though, Akeredolu’s running mate, Dr Paul Akintelure is an indigene of Okitipupa’s Local Government like Agagu just as Akeredolu’s mother is from Ese-Odo, with the situation on ground, the score of the party cannot match what either LP or PDP would get in the area. This is because unlike the PDP and the LP which can boast of many things they had done at one time or the other in the area, the ACN strength lies in the believe that the candidate and the party would be able to deliver those good things it promised.
Generally, due to the highlighted reasons, the PDP is most favoured to win in the Ondo South while the LP would give the party a good fight to get more than the lawfully required percentage of votes in the area. In actual fact, one of the six local governments of the district, Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo was only in the district by political demarcation while it remains in the Ondo Central by geographical location.
In spite of the highlighted sentimental and probably the environmental factor that had influenced results of previous elections in the Ondo South, the achievements and level of campaigns of political parties, would determine greatly the outcome of the election because INEC had promised to bock all the loopholes that different political parties had been taken advantage of to rig the election.
In general terms and with what is visible on ground, today’s battle is mainly between the PDP candidate and that of LP in the three senatorial districts. However, if the outcome of the election is determined by the level of crowd at the campaign rallies, the number of political appointees, who are suppose to deliver their ward and local governments, the level of live touching projects currently on ground and the personal relationship that Mimiko is noted for, the incumbent is most favoured to win the election though not with ease going by the determination of the two other contestants to send him out of Alagbaka, Akure, Government House.