Ondo 2020 and likely emergence of a third force


As political gladiators brace up for the governorship election in Ondo State in October, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there may be need for uncommon political
realignment.

Political analysts said this might come as a result of the twists, turns and surprises, which will happen at the party primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Interestingly, history may repeat itself, like it happened 13 years ago, when the immediate past Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, launched the Labour Party (LP) as a third force to dislodge PDP and the defunct Action Congress (AC) few days to election.

Clearly, APC and PDP are fraught with varying degrees of internal crises, which if not properly managed, may lead to bountiful electoral harvest for any well-positioned opposition party.

Two opposition parties— Action Alliance (AA) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP)— shine so bright in the political firmament ahead of the guber race, that many believe either of them may emerge as the third force to be reckoned with in the October poll.

Political analysts in the state are speculating that there is likelihood for the incumbent Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to ditch APC and pitch tent with either AA or ZLP, after APC’s direct primary option.

This is due to the gang-up against the Governor by APC bigwigs in the
state, who accused him of grossly marginalising party members in his cabinet and anti-party activities in the 2019 general elections.

Besides, Akeredolu had brashly ruffled the feathers of the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, though they were recently reconciled, as well as some Abuja power brokers, who have reportedly vowed to work against his second term bid.

Not only that, he is renowned for taking daring steps to the chagrin of party members. For instance, his position on elongation for former APC chairman’s tenure, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and his strong support for the Southwest Security Network, Amotekun have presented him as his own man, fearless and outspoken.

Moreover, on several occasions, he allegedly worked against the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. He was seen to be among the governors clamouring for Oshiomhole’s removal.

It is believed that since Oshiomhole remains the party’s National Chairman, the realisation of a second term under the ruling party could be an uphill task for the Governor, as there is a conspiracy in Abuja to deprive him of APC ticket.

Though the Governor absolved ahimself of the anti-party allegations and also denied the suspension clamped on him, his opponents put it to him that President Buhari won Ondo State with landslide margin as an opposition in 2015, but lost as a ruling party’s candidate last year.

Not unexpectedly, a few weeks back in Abuja, Akeredolu warned that APC would only win the next governorship election, if he was picked as the party flag-bearer for a second term.

Before the suspension was lifted last year by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), it was a public discourse that Akeredolu would leave the party to get his reelection bid in another party, possibly
AA, where he allegedly sponsored candidates against APC in 2019.

The Governor’s faction only secured three Federal House of Representatives tickets out of nine and only one Senate ticket. The other two were given to other factions by the NWC. He reportedly raised candidates in AA against some and abandoned the campaigns of others.

In the 2019 general elections, it was believed that Akeredolu sponsored Dr. Tunji Abayomi as AA candidate to contest the North Senatorial District ticket. While in Akoko South West/East Federal Constituency, Victor Ategbole, another Akeredolu ally, after leaving the ruling party in circumstances indicating full support of the Governor; picked AA ticket.

In the South District, Senator Yele Omogunwa got a second term ticket to the discomfort of the Governor’s faction. Julius Felder was raised in AA to slug it out with him. Akeredolu’s faction lost the three senatorial seats and won only one House of Representatives seat.

Several indications pointed to the fact that the Governor is preparing for a second term on the platform of AA, though nothing has been heard of the party since it lost woefully in the last general elections.

A former Deputy Governor and APC Board of Trustees (BoT) member, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, however, noted that the alliance would not
save him.

Olanusi, who is the Leader of APC Unity Group, a forum within the party that has all the bigwigs planning to pick a consensus candidate against the Governor, said, “The day of reckoning is just around the corner.”

He boasted that Akeredolu would not get APC ticket, noting, “the party he struggled to kill is hale and hearty through the efforts of other credible party leaders, who toil day and night to minimise the negative effects of his actions on the party.

Olanusi said his exit would constitute a reprieve to the party in Ondo State, should he find it necessary to go to another party.

Also, there are rumours that Akeredolu is in a deep political romance with the immediate past Governor and ZLP Leader, Dr.
Mimiko, and is scheming to use his party as an alternative, if APC denies him the ticket.

After last year’s election, some ZLP candidates and loyalists to Dr. Mimiko were given appointments by Akeredolu, who is an age-long friend of the former since their university days.

An APC chieftain, Mr. Olujimi Adekanle, raised alarm that the upcoming April local government election is the brainchild of the former Governor, who, according to him, is helping Akeredolu to remain in power till 2025.

Adekanle affirmed that ZLP is an alternative platform for Akeredolu to contest this year’s governorship election, saying “a high political game is about to take place in Ondo State, as Akeredolu is in a plan B secret plan with ZLP. And watch out for the coming local government election, as the planned agreement is to cede some local governments to ZLP as a back-up base, should Mr. Akeredolu not clinch the APC party ticket…”

PDP, the major opposition party in the state, seems to be losing political steam by the day, due to infighting between the Central District and South District on the rightful party flag-bearer for the October polls.

It is believed that the South District has been the party’s strength since 1999, when democracy returned, while the Central District enjoyed a two-term stint by Dr. Mimiko.

The huge flaw made by PDP in the 2016 election, according to political
analysts, is the presentation of Eyitayo Jegede, the party’s candidate from the same Central District with Mimiko.

To the displeasure of many PDP stalwarts, Mimiko imposed Jegede to succeed him, after breaking the two-term jinx in the state. So, now that Mimiko deserted the party, many PDP members schemed to stop him from getting the ticket a second time.

There is a conspiracy against Jegede by aspirants from the South
District, who said they should be considered for the party’s ticket. Aside that, they also hinged their arguments on the strength of the party in the district.

Besides, many PDP bigwigs are allegedly hobnobbing with the ruling party in the state, thereby whittling down the party’s strength as a virile
opposition. Little wonder then that Akeredolu publicly declared that there was no PDP in Ondo State.

An APC chieftain, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Some PDP leaders are in the payroll of government appointees. You cannot talk while eating. Many of them depend on our government; so, they have lost their voices.

It is likely that Governor Akeredolu has little or no problem with the opposition parties. The crux of his problems emanates within APC: the Unity Group, Abuja mafia and the party’s national leadership.

So, his chances of getting a second term ticket from APC get slimmer as October draws near, leaving him with an option to align and realign politically with other persons. He has government machinery, power of incumbency and state coffers at his disposal.

As an analyst noted, “it is possible for the Governor to pull out of APC by harnessing his interest in AA with Mimiko’s goodwill in ZLP. The party may emerge the third force to watch out for in October. Now that he has Mimiko’s presence in his government and written all over the wall, he can spring huge surprises, because with Mimiko in Ondo State politics, all things are possible…”

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