Issues in Ondo’s Governorship Poll

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Perspective

Certain fundamental issues cannot be wished away in this year’s governorship poll in Ondo State, reckons Rotimi James

The governorship election in Ondo State is coming up in October, 2016. The state, being one of the integrals of the volatile and
sophisticated South-west Nigeria has started experiencing heat due to the activities of the aspirants. The contestants and the pretenders as well as the people are being regaled with the chess game and intrigues that are being displayed daily by politicians, whose ultimate goal is to outwit one another on the battle field.

The Justification for Zoning
Ondo State was created in 1976, comprising the present one and Ekiti, which was carved out of it in 1996 by the military administration of the late Sanni Abacha. Putting it succinctly, the first democratic dispensation in the state was in 1979, when the late Chief Adekunle Ajasin was elected governor. He was reelected in 1983 before the military usurpation of December 31, 1983 that abruptly terminated the Second Republic.

Ajasin, a Spartan politician and progressive of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo descent was from Owo, in the North senatorial district of the state. The state had the second dose of democratic experience in 1991, when Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua from Ikere Ekiti was elected on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the pseudo-democratic and diarchical government introduced into the country’s body polity by self-styled military dictator, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

Another opportunity beckoned in 1999, when the late Chief Adebayo Adefarati from the North was elected governor and served for just a term of four years. Chief Olusegun Agagu from the south took up the mantle of leadership after the PDP tsunami of 2003 in the South-west and spent seven and a half years before he was removed through judicial pronouncement via a suit instituted by the incumbent, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, who is from the Central.

By numerical interpretation, Mimiko will be rounding off his eight years in the saddle by February of 2017 as stipulated by the constitution. From the foregoing, therefore, the advocates of zoning of the Ondo governorship to the North, comprising Akoko and Owo have not erred in any form. It was only normal for people of divergent interests to vie for political positions, but it is instructive for the party to do what is right, not minding whose ox is gored for equity, justice and fair play.

APC’s Stand in the Governorship Tussle
As we speak today, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has become a darling party in the state. The results of the last general election, where the party won two senatorial seats out of the three and six out of the nine House of Representatives seats, went a long way to accentuate the preference the people have for the party. President Muhammadu Buhari even won the presidential poll in the state, in spite of the incumbency powers, which were brought to bear at both the state and the national levels.

Segun Abraham

In terms of human materials, the party is well fortified. The likes of Mr. Segun Abraham, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, Chief Sola Oke, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, Hon. Victor Olabimtan and others are well positioned to wreak any havoc on the PDP in any election. This they did in the past and could be repeated again and again.

Ajayi BorofficeAside sovereign supports from the populace, the party is harvesting hordes of defectors from PDP and other parties on a daily basis. Not just mere defectors, but those that can make things happen. The defection of Chief Oke and Senator Akinyelure go a long way to corroborate this assertion that APC is well rooted to dislodge Mimiko’s political machinery in terms of human and material resources.
Even if these are lacking, the power of the people are greater than those in government. Its acceptability among the people is another
factor that would play a pivotal role in who becomes what in the election, because sovereignty belongs to the populace.

The Contestants and the Pretenders
Nigeria’s political hemisphere is full of intrigues. This connotes that every dick and harry thinks he can become anything, even if the moral and intellectual capacities are lacking. This fondly comes to play under the guise of constitutional qualifications, in terms of age, origin and academic posting. The Ondo election won’t be an exemption. It will automatically share a dose of the practice of those contesting and those pretending.

This has even started manifesting with the array of politicians that are eyeing the Alagbaka seat of power. This manifested across party lines, but predominantly in APC and PDP. But those known to have their tentacles deeply connected across the state and with the people are limited. Those that readily come to mind and are being rated in the APC are Senator Boroffice, Mr. Segun Abraham, Victor Olabimtan and Sola Oke.

Victor Olabimtan

Incidentally, some of these politicians are from the North extraction. And this further corroborated the fact that the party leaders won’t be making any blunder if the candidate is picked from that zone. This only naturally aligns with the people’s thinking that politicians from that axis are sine qua non to the party’s success in this election and the principle of natural justice.

A Guide for the Party
Dissecting all the facts available to APC to guide it in making the right choice, the north is indisputably favoured to produce the
candidate for the election. One cannot shy away from the fact that what would make significant difference is the candidate’s sacrifices of now and that of the past for the party; people’s feelings, popularity and spread, as well as consistency. If these are nothing to go by, Segun Abraham and Senator Boroffice towered above others in all respects.
Senator Boroffice started his political career as a PDP man, having a strong tie with the late governor Agagu. He was even appointed the Director-General of a federal agency during that time. He was one of the forces that defected with Mimiko to Labour Party in 2006, where he later contested for the senatorial seat and won in 2011.

He defected to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) due to irreconcilable differences with Mimiko, but was deprived of the governorship slot in 2013 on the ACN platform. The party preferred a lowly rated senior lawyer, Rotimi Akeredolu in lieu. Boroffice had won elections twice and it will be suicidal to treat him like an underdog.
But in terms of sacrifices and consistency, one can conclude that nothing has been offered. I could incontrovertibly inferred that he has made more relevance and profit in the party than he had sacrificed. One cannot even sure of where he would go after the forthcoming battle, having traversed three parties in quick succession.

Conversely, Segun Abraham has not got the opportunity to contest for any political position in Ondo State. But he cut his teeth in
politics in the state, under Adefarati’s government in 1999 and had got the requisite experiences to operate and navigate any political terrain. During that regime, he was appointed the Chairman, Owena Motels, one of the economic and money-spinning hubs of the state’s economy then in terms of revenue generation.
Available facts indicated that Abraham didn’t earn his legitimate salary just for the love of his state and the people. Since, he has remained in the progressive fold.

Not even the tsunami of 2003 could make him waver. He remains consistent with the party and had made so many sacrifices, just for the party to stand united. In terms of spread, his generosity has made him enjoy popularity across the state. If given the mandate, he will serve well and well again, having coasted home success in this unpredictable private sector.
Aside the geographical spread which relatively favours Abraham, he hails from Ikare Akoko, the town perceived as the political and economic nerve centre of the Akoko zone. In terms of population, the town single-handedly accounted for about 25 per cent of the votes that would come from that zone. This is another advantage to this grassroots and master-strategist.

Conclusion
Looking at the aggregate of the scenario painted above, it won’t be wrong or misdirected for me to infer that the APC is well-oiled and well-positioned to rout the PDP. But routing the incumbent would depend on the choice made by the opposition party. The party crashed out of the last governorship despite Mimiko’s vulnerability because of the wrong choice of that time. Akeredolu by any standard is qualified, but not for the type of Nigerian politics, where money and other primordial sentiments take the centre stage.
For this second chance, APC must be calculative, methodical and be meticulous for the same fate not to befall it again.
– James wrote from Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State