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July 12, 2024
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Ondo 2024: Aiyedatiwa may not be lucky with power of incumbency —PDP


Written By: Kennedy Ikantu Peretei (Ondo State PDP Spokesman)

It is no longer news that, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has set aside 16th November, 2024 for the Governorship election in Ondo State. In an election that has been code-named “Battle of the former Deputy Governors”, Ondo State Governor Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alfred Agboola Ajayi, the standard bearer for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will trade tackles.

Both men served as Deputy Governors under the former Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN of blessed memory. They are both from the same Federal Constituency in riverine local governments of Ilaje and Ese-Odo.

Interestingly, they both survived impeachment plots to oust them as Deputy Governors. While Aiyedatiwa did not only survive his impeachment by whiskers, he was sworn in as Governor on 27th December, 2023 when his former boss, Akeredolu surrendered to the cold hands of death after a protracted illness.

In the build-up to his assuming the reins of government, many prominent campaigners for Aiyedatiwa’s impeachment, shamelessly turned around to become his loyalists overnight, the day he was sworn in as Governor.

Several faceless groups started pledging loyalty and trying to outdo themselves as Aiyedatiwa sought his party’s ticket for the election. Political scavengers and opportunists fell over themselves proclaiming to the high heavens that, Lucky by sheer luck would be elected as Governor come November.

I have always been amused by the argument that, because he was lucky to become Governor by virtue of his name, he will leverage on his power of incumbency to be elected. This argument is not only hollow and flat, it is not supported by recent political history and facts. I will return to this shortly.

In the first place, Aiyedatiwa was specially shopped for as a lame duck Deputy Governor to replace a “troublesome” Agboola Ajayi in 2020. In fielding APC candidates for the 2023 general elections, even in his local government that has two State Constituencies, he did not know how the candidates emerged. Compared to an Ajayi, who almost single-handedly fielded all the State House of Assembly candidates in the entire South Senatorial District in 2019. Nine of them. The same reason for which it was difficult for Akeredolu to secure the 2/3 majority required to impeach him when both men fell out.

Akeredolu’s illness that lasted more than six months actually exposed Aiyedatiwa as the toothless bulldog he really was. He commanded very little respect within the APC leadership and structure. It was the eventual death of Akeredolu and his emergence as Governor that gave him some semblance of grip and authority over the party and the government.

This was the mood of the APC before the party primary held on Saturday, 20th April, 2024. 15 other aspirants believed that, APC should not field Aiyedatiwa in the November election. That alone was a loud statement, for a sitting Governor.

To make matters worse, Kogi State Governor, Ahmed Ododo presided over a party primary that has been lampooned by almost all his party people, Observers and aspirants who parted with huge sums of money. The National Chairman of APC, Dr Umar Ganduje, pleaded with aggrieved aspirants to wait for another time, not because Ododo conducted a transparent primary election. INEC made available a very damaging report at the weekend that, their officers who went to monitor the exercise reported back that no election held.

Where was Lucky’s luck, at the primary? If he could not win Nomination freely and squarely in the party that he holds the proverbial yam and knife, how far can his luck carry him in a general election? Aiyedatiwa is in the mould of those Chinua Achebe in his award-winning novel Things Fall Apart, described as men whose palm kernels were cracked by benevolent spirits.

Nobody has ever become Governor of Ondo State since 1979 relying on his birth name as the magic wand. From Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Fourah Bay College graduate, who wrote the Free Education Document adopted as one of the four cardinal programs of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria(UPN), to Chief Adebayo Adefarati, former school principal and Commissioner for Works under Ajasin’s government, to Dr. Olusegun Agagu, a University of Ibadan trained, Geologist, former Deputy Governor, and Federal Minister, to Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, a University of Ife trained Medical Doctor, Commissioner for Health in two previous administrations, Secretary to State Government and Federal Minister. These men came into office with a lot of swagger, not some kind of luck. Even the courageous and combative Akeredolu was President of the Nigerian Bar Association and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the highest rank any lawyer can attain. Where does luck come in all of these?

Then the question of incumbency. As recently as 2023, Bello Matawalle, an APC Governor seeking second term was mercilessly defeated in Zamfara State. Behind our backyard here in Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola another APC Governor was roundly defeated by Gov Ademola Adeleke in 2022. In Adamawa State Bindow Jibrilla could not secure his second term in office in 2019. Mohammed Abubakar suffered similar fate in Bauchi State in 2019. How about the Alliance for Democracy (AD) Governors, all of whom could not secure a second term apart from the Lagos boy ( Asiwaju Bola Ahmed)? The list is endless. There were others like Ambode Akinwunmi of Lagos State and Chinwoke Mbadinuju of Anambra State who could not secure the ticket of their parties to re-contest due to local politics They all had power of incumbency. Therefore, anybody who wishes to rely on Lucky’s incumbent status to win in November is not a student of contemporary political history.

This series will be concluded shortly.

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