By Sunday Ani

Ahead of the governorship elections slated to be held in Ondo State later in November, a group, the Ondo South Citizens’ Forum (OSCF), Lagos branch, has insisted that the next governor of the state, who as a matter of political arrangement and understanding must come from the south senatorial zone, must govern the state for eight years as his counterparts from the North and Central senatorial zones of the state had earlier done.

This was made known in Lagos yesterday at a press conference by the chairman of the Forum, Otunba Sola Olatunji.

Otunba Olatunji was speaking against the backdrop of the fact that the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) would conduct its primary election on Saturday, April 20, to pick the party’s flag bearer in the November governorship election.

Reading the text of the press parley, titled, “Ondo 2024: Ondo South Citizens’ Forum, Lagos branch, says no to four years, eight years not negotiable,” he noted that the Ondo South senatorial zone, which turn it is to produce the next governor of the state, was not ready to trade off its constitutionally guaranteed eight years for four years as the current governor is proposing.

He stated that in Ondo State, there is a political arrangement and understanding by the past leaders in the state that power must rotate among the three senatorial zones – Central, North and South; to ensure equity, inclusion, and political balancing. He stressed that Ondo Central and North have both had eight and seven years respectively, and that it is now the turn of the South senatorial zone to also have its eight years.

Otunba said the Forum was disturbed that out of 15 aspirants from the Ondo South who had been cleared by the APC to contest the party’s primary, every other aspirant was clamouring for eight years for the senatorial zone, except Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who has been preaching four years, probably because he has already been limited by law as he cannot be sworn in more than twice.

He described Aiyedatiwa’s position as selfish, absurd, and an attempt to shortchange and scam the people of Ondo South.

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“To us in Ondo South, where we have people with impeccable characters, capacity and credible credentials to function effectively for eight years among the aspirants, we are affirming that only aspirants eligible for eight years will be supported in Ondo South. We are not going to support any aspirant, who is limited to only four years by law. As such, any aspirant pursuing such aspiration is driven by personal ego and not in the interest of the public.

“We are not against the governor, but his personal interest should not override that of the people of Ondo South. We are in Lagos, but our hearts are at home in Ondo State. So, what we are saying is that we the people of Ondo South must utilize the eight years that we have like the other zones instead of taking four years as the governor is preaching. In fact eight years for Ondo South is non-negotiable,” he stated.

He noted that some politicians from the Central senatorial zones have thrown their weight behind the governor because they know that after the governor’s four years, it would be their turn. He described such support as stomach infrastructure-induced endorsement, warning that there would be protest votes if the APC goes ahead to give the ticket to the Governor.

He cautioned the APC against taking action that does not align with what the majority of the people of Ondo South desire, saying, “We are saying that this conspiracy will produce nothing but political upheaval, and it will be too unbearable to the conspirators. A stitch in time saves nine, as often said. That is why we are making this clarion call to the leadership of the APC and political gladiators in Ondo State to weigh the consequences of hurting the Southern citizens and their capacity to revolt through their votes in November.”

Ondo South senatorial zone comprises six local government areas, including Odigbo, Okitipupa, Irele, Ile Oluji/Okeigbo, Ilaje, and Ese Odo.