The gubernatorial contest for Ondo 2020 local government is, undoubtedly, proving to be a tight one already. So far, it seems to be a two-horse race between Rotimi Akeredolu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Each contender stands a good chance of winning the seat. Nonetheless, this depends on who will move in first to address emerging issues in his camp appropriately.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently held the primaries of two major political parties in the country –APC and PDP. It is now official that Eyitayo Jegede will be facing Rotimi Akeredolu on 10th October 2020.
Will Akeredolu’s track record and manifesto secure his re-election? On the other hand, how bad do you think zoning will affect Jegede’s election after Ajayi's departure for the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP)?
At least, each party had issues with how the primaries elections were held in the two major political camps. For instance, some aspirants believe that the results were predetermined. On the other hand, some faced opposition within their parties.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had a tough time convincing the party to award him with the ticket. The governor has not been in good terms with most members of the cabinet. For example, his deputy accused him of creating a toxic environment in the party, forcing him to resign and join the PDP in June 2020.
The former SSG, Mr Abegunde openly opposed his re-election bid. The former SSG alleged that the governor has been looting resources meant for Ondo people. He also revealed that the governor lost in the 2016 elections. Abegunde assured him that he is set to lose terribly because they would not support him.
The SSG was angered by the governor’s claims that he has been paying him a whopping N5 million monthly salary. The governor came out clean about the allegations by calling for respective agencies to investigate the matter.
He managed to win the ticket after four aspirants stepped down for him, including Mr Abraham, who is the closest ally of Bola Tinibu. However, some aspirants did not approve of the primary elections terming it a sham exercise. To them, the results were predetermined.
Anyway, Rotimi Akeredolu secured the party ticket with 2,458 votes followed by Mr Oke with 262 votes, and finally, Mr Kekemeke garnered 19 votes only.
Loyalty over zoning politics in Jegede’s camp
Eyitayo Jegede has, no doubt, proven his loyalty to the PDP right from the beginning. In 2016, the former Attorney General won in the primary with a humiliating margin. He garnered 760 votes while his closest rival Mr Saka Lawal polled 22 votes. Unlike then, his loyalty to the party was tested this time.
In May 2020, the deputy governor of Ondo joined his camp after having ditched his party. His welcome into the PDP seemed somewhat a threat to the Jegede. Many believed Ajayi stood a better chance than him considering his current position in the state and size of the pocket, of course.
Jegede has always been a believer of the people. For this reason, he comfortably agreed to go head to head with Ajayi in the primary instead of dumping the party. Interestingly, he won the ticket of the party by polling 888 votes against Ajayi who gathered 657 votes. Upon losing in the primary, Ajayi pledged to team up with Jegede to defeat the incumbent governor.
Earlier on, Solomon Bitire and Daisi Mafimisebi wrote to the national party chairman, Uche Secondus. In their argument, Ajayi would have been the best candidate for the party. In the last three elections, each zone has produced a leader, and they believe 2020 was their turn. In other words, the leaders wanted Ajayi to be awarded the ticket.
The possible defection of Ajayi to ZLP
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has allowed parties the opportunity to replace their candidates, if need be, before 18th August. The person who stands to benefit most is Agboola Ajayi.
Over the past days, there have been speculations that he is planning to change sides. It all started when he lost in the primary. Leaders from his region have been persuading him to join the race through the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). Earlier, Bitire and Mafimisebi from Ondo South had threatened not to support Jegede if he became the party flag bearer.
The implication of Ajayi's exit
His exit from the party is, arguably, a big blow to Jegede and his party at large. He will divide the votes that could have been cast for Jegede. Assuming he still commands the masses in his backyard like in 2016, then both Rotimi and Jegede should be worried. They are set to lose votes in the region big time.
Jegede is likely to suffer the most because of the current misunderstandings between him and a section of some South representatives. Vanguard reported on Monday that a party leader had intervened to stop the exit of the deputy governor. The leader said,
We are seriously appealing to the deputy governor not to dump the party at this crucial time and at the same time; the party’s candidate is battling with leaders over the choice of his running mate.
The headache of choosing running mates
Most candidates have already forwarded the names of the deputies to the INEC. However, the process of choosing them was not an easy one for some candidates. Hopefully, their influence will come a long way in helping the candidates to secure a win.
Why did Akeredolu pick Lucky Aiyedatiwa?
Akeredolu chose his running mate ahead of Jegede. The incumbent governor was reportedly careful when making the decision. This is after his former deputy disappointed him before the end of his tenure. As per INEC’s records, the governor settled for Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
Some chieftains partly objected his decision to choose the former representative of state on the board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Many of them argued that he hails from the South Senatorial District, home of the former deputy.
Instead, they wanted him to pick Otunba. Besides, he would have come a long way to repair his frosty relationship with Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the party leader.
Jegede is yet to choose a running mate
Unlike others, Jegede has remained silent about the issue of a running mate. For this reason, some party members have been mounting pressure on him to pick one as soon as possible. The pressure rumours come amidst an ongoing debate of Ajayi’s possible defection to ZLP.
The leader, however, had picked Ikengboju Gboluga who happens to be his close ally. Many party members openly objected his choice. They instead advised him to pick a deputy from the aspirants who contested in the primary.
A section of party members believes Ajayi will make an excellent deputy for Jegede. Others would love him to pick a candidate of his choice, out of will. Besides, Ajayi was the first runner up in the recently concluded primary election with 657 votes. His influence in the political arena is also another aspect one should not take for granted.
Looking at it from another angle, they are mounting pressure on him because they do not want division in the party. There are speculations that some NWC representatives of the PDP may forcefully install him to the position if Jegede fails to do so in due time.
The way forward
Undoubtedly, all eyes are on Eyitayo Jegede of PDP and Rotimi Akeredolu of APC. The two will soon face each other in the ballot, but only one of them will emerge the winner.
The victory of each candidate will largely depend on their abilities and willingness to solve their present political misunderstandings within their political camps. Overall, party unity is all they should struggle to achieve right now.
Ondo 2020 election is around the corner. The candidates are already out selling their manifestos to the voters. They are hopeful that they will secure a win on the 10th of October 2020. However, Jegede and Akeredolu seem to have won the hearts of many already. Do you think the APC will retain the seat this time or the PDP will dethrone them?
READ ALSO: Police take over Edo assembly complex
Legit.ng recently covered the exclusive story of Edo police officers taking over the state's House of Assembly complex after receiving reports of a possible attack in the complex. This comes a day after the impeachment of the deputy speaker.
The officers were led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Ayoola Ajala. The events were primarily caused by the scheduled elections that will take place in September.