• Olusola Oke campaign organization describes poll as charade
• Intrigues, politics that trailed exercise


From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure                                             

Barring any last minute change, Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa will cruise to victory in the Ondo State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election held across the state yesterday.

Aiyedatiwa slugged the election out with 15 other aspirants, including Chief Olusola Oke, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, Hon. Wale Akinterinwa, Hon. Jimi Odimayo, Hon. Gbenga Edema and Dr Wahab-Adekojo, among others.

The election conducted through direct primary was held in all the 18 local government areas of the state, with officials of the party led by the Kogi State governor, Mr Ahmed Usman Ododo superintending over the exercise.

No fewer than 171,922 members of the party spread across the 203 wards of the 18 local government areas of the state participated in the exercise.

The election, which started at 9:00a.m was still ongoing in some parts of the state, particularly the riverine areas  as at press time.

However, the results released so far were favourable to Governor Aiyedatiwa, an indication that he may likely be declared winner of the election.

Meanwhile, the Olusola Oke Campaign Organization has described the primary election as a charade, alleging that the exercise was not free and fair and thereby called for the outright cancellation of the exercise.

The Director of Media of the campaign organization, Mr Ojo Oyewamide, in a statement alleged that the primary election was characterized by manipulation and irregularities.

But Governor Aiyedatiwa rated the election as a credible, stressing that the poll went well in his own polling unit and information he received from across the state indicated that the election was credible.

Observers noted that although intrigues are part of politics, the ones that played out towards who wins the governorship primaries held yesterday is unusual as different interests were played up.

Many party bigwigs from the state and those at the federal level showed interest in who would emerge as the governorship candidate of the party, thereby throwing up different kinds of interests.

Although President Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not announce the choice of his candidate, just like the National Chairman of the party, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, but speculation was rife that the president had a preferred candidate.

These intrigues brought about the birth of many groups within the party championing the cause of different aspirants.
One of the popular groups is the Ondo APC Aborigine made up of some founding fathers of the APC in the state among whom are Ambassador Sola Iji, Senator Ajayi Borrofice and Hon. Bola Ilori, among other top leaders of the party in the state.

The Ondo APC Aborigine was quick to declare its support for the incumbent governor of the state, Hon. Aiyedatiwa.
The spokesperson of the group, Hon. Ilori claimed that the decision to support Aiyedatiwa was based on his innovations in government within the few months that he took over the helms of affairs of the state, saying that his choice would bring about victory for the APC in the next governorship election.

However, the party has declared that the conduct of the primary poll would be through direct election, thereby giving all members of the party in the state the opportunity to vote.
The decision by the national secretariat of the party was said to have been arrived after due consultation with stakeholders within the party.

By this arrangement, all the contestants were made to campaign vigorously as they all toured all the wards and local government areas in the state, soliciting the support of all members of the party.

While some are seen as real contestants among the aspirants, others are seen as pretenders who are only looking for opportunity to get political appointments from whoever emerges as the governor of the state after the election.

However, one thing that is common to all the aspirants is that they are all from Ondo South senatorial district.
This is because the leadership of the party has zoned the next governorship position to the zone in line with the existing rotational system in the state.

The former governor, Rotimi Akeredolu was from Ondo North Senatorial District, while his predecessor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko hails from Ondo Central Senatorial District, hence the turn of the Ondo South Senatorial District of the state.

But among the aspirants, Aiyedatiwa, Ibrahim, Akinterinwa, Oke and Kekemeke are seen as real contenders considering their antecedents and pedigree in politics, including their current political positions.

Aiyedatiwa is the current governor of the state and has served as deputy to former Governor Akeredolu. He became the governor following the death of Governor Akeredolu.

The circumstances through which he became the governor was not too pleasing to those loyal to Governor Akeredolu as he was alleged to be over-ambitious, believing that he was keen at becoming the governor right from the time Akeredolu was incarcerated. To this end, those loyal to Akeredolu, his family members, especially his widow, Betty, as we’ll as his political associates were against the choice of Aiyedatiwa.

The widow of the late Akeredolu did not hide her feeling as she openly campaigned against Aiyedatiwa, calling on all the supporters of her late husband to work against him in the primary election.

But Aiyedatiwa enjoys the support of the former governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, who was said to be working for him, despite being a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Also, it was speculated that the former governor of Osun State who was also a former Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, is working for Aiyedatiwa.

For Olusola Oke, it is believed that he is a green horn in the politics of the state, having contested for the governorship election twice and failed in all the attempts.

In the last governorship election, he contested under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and it was rumoured that Tinubu was in support of his ambition at that time. It’s, however, not clear whether or not he has the support of Tinubu in this present contest.

Senator Jimoh Ibrahim on his side had devoted the last two months to rigorous campaigns and visited all the wards and units in the state, seeking for the support of all the members of the party

He paraded a good number of political gladiators in his camp, who include Senator Tayo Alasoadura, a former Minister of State during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

On the part of Akinterinwa, a good number of Akeredolu’s supporters are with him and it was speculated that he was the preferred choice of the Akeredolus.
Akinterinwa served as the Commissioner for Finance during the tenure of Akeredolu and he was a close ally of the former governor.
A former Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Odu who had earlier signified intention to contest the governorship election stepped down for him and this further strengthened the belief that he’s the choice of the Akeredolus.

Commenting on the primary election, Hon. Ilori said that the choice of Aiyedatiwa was for the good of the state, saying that most of the stakeholders in the party are in full support of the governor.

But Hon. Odimayo who is a member of the House of Representatives noted that the South Senatorial District needs a governor that will spend eight years in office, saying that if Aiyedatiwa wins the governorship, he will only spend a single term of four years having been sworn in as governor to complete the tenure of the late Akeredolu.

He said there is the need for a fresh hand to represent Ondo South as the governor so that the tenure of the zone can be eight years like others that had served as governor from other senatorial districts of the state.