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June 25, 2024
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2024 Ondo Guber Poll: The Battle of Two Brothers

Compiled By: Oluwatosin Adesola

……Hurdles, Intrigues ahead of Nov. 16 election.

As uncertainty still hangs in the balance over who would wear the gubernatorial crown in Ondo State, the real battle for the coming governorship election billed for 16th November this year is between two brothers from the same area of Ilaje/EseOdo of the Ondo South Senatorial Districts.

As the deadline for candidate submissions set by the Independent National Electoral Commission passed on Monday, May 13, 2024, SUNSHINETRUTH News reports that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) have both put forward candidates for the upcoming race.

Notably, the contenders, Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of the APC and Hon. Agboola Ajayi of the PDP, hail from the same federal constituency, Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government areas and they share a familial tie as brothers in the riverine. Fortunately the two local government areas are yet to produce the state governor since its creation in 1976 until recently when providence promoted Aiyedatiwa to the number seat after the demise of his former principal.

Their political journeys have seen them serve as deputy governors under the late Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, with Ajayi during Akeredolu’s first term and Aiyedatiwa during the second tenure until Akeredolu’s passing.

While other candidates from various parties have emerged, none match the influence and weight of the two brothers, whose political history has deeply impacted the people of Ondo State. Nothing has been heard about other 15 governorship candidates hence the thinking among the people that the battle is a direct one between Ajayi and Aiyedatiwa.

The state is now poised for a heated battle between Ajayi and Aiyedatiwa, with both camps engaging in strategic maneuvers and power plays as the election approaches and SUNSHINETRUTH News examines intrigues of the race seen many as two brothers’ battles.

PERSONALITIES AND ANTECEDENTS

Political analysts have argued that previous political experience is also a factor in a candidate achieving electoral success. Interestingly, both Ajayi and Aiyedatiwa have occupied the office of the deputy governor at different periods under late governor Akeredolu though this election will be the first for Aiyedatiwa.

Ajayi started his political career under the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and became the chairman of SDP in old Opoi Ward 1 from 1988 to 1998. He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998 and was made the Secretary of PDP in Ilaje/Ese Odo LGA between 1998 and 1999.

He later became the caretaker chairman of Ese Odo LGA between 2003 and 2004 before he was elected as the chairman of Ese-Odo LGA from 2004 to 2007. He also served as former member of the Federal House of Representatives who represented Ilaje/Ese Odo federal constituency under the PDP. During his time in the House, Ajayi served as the chairman House Committee on NDDC from 2007 to 2010.

Ajayi decamped from the PDP to APC and contested election as the running mate to Akeredolu in the governorship election of November 2016. The pair won the election and was sworn in as governor and deputy governor of Ondo State on 24 February 2017. He later contested the October 2020 governorship election in Ondo Election with Engr. Gboye Adegbenro as his running mate.

Aiyedatiwa joined active politics in 2011 as a card-carrying member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which later merged with other political parties and became APC. He contested for the federal House of Representative for Ilaje/Ese-Odo Federal Constituency in 2015 but lost at the primary.

Aiyedatiwa served as the federal commissioner who represented Ondo State on the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission from 2018 to 2019. He was selected as the running mate of Akeredolu in the 2020 election and they were elected governor and deputy governor of the state.

Aiyedatiwa became Acting Governor of the state on 13 December 2023, as Akeredolu left for medical vacation in Germany and on 27 December 2023, Aiyedatiwa was sworn in as governor of the sunshine state following Akeredolu’s death.

It is obvious that Ajayi’s experience wins the ticket of the party for him and has participated in many elections. He is regarded as a grassroots politician. Though Aiyedatiwa contested once but lost but his political experience under Akeredolu tutelage cannot be underestimated.

One significant factor that could elevate Aiyedatiwa over Ajayi is his financial backing, particularly supported by the incumbent’s resources and the national APC office. With Aiyedatiwa’s perceived financial strength and APC’s stronghold in the state, the party aims to maintain its dominance in the upcoming election.

Despite Ajayi’s incumbency, his financial resources may not match Aiyedatiwa’s, yet he holds considerable influence in state politics and anticipates support from PDP governors and other stakeholders.

The November election will weigh various factors, including candidates’ political history, governance experience, party strength, geographical considerations, and deputy choices. Aiyedatiwa recently resolved a primary-related dispute with the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, garnering support from previously disgruntled aspirants like Senator Jimoh Ibrahim and others.

As the election approaches, the dynamic interplay of these factors will shape the political landscape and determine the outcome between the PDP and the APC.

POST-PRIMARY DRAMA & JIMOH IBRAHIM’S COURT CASE

Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, representing Ondo South Senatorial District, who is an Aspirant in the APC gubernatorial primary, had approached court to challenge the emergence of Aiyedatiwa at the primary. However, Jimoh who officially withdrew his lawsuit challenging the recent All Progressives Congress (APC) primary in Ondo State, attributed his decision to the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose assurance of commitment to internal party democracy prompted this development.

In a letter addressed to the press, Senator Ibrahim detailed the reasons behind his withdrawal. He noted that President Tinubu personally intervened by meeting with him and assuring improvements in the party’s democratic processes. “The suit is now withdrawn due to the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR. The President called me, had a meeting with me, and assured me that he will, as the leader of the party, improve on the internal democracy within our party,” Ibrahim stated.

Further emphasizing his respect and trust in the President, Ibrahim added, “I cannot disobey the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because the issue I am fighting for is not personal. It is simply to improve internal democracy to which the President has promised improvements. My respect for the President is absolute.”

The senator also expressed gratitude for the President’s guidance and encouragement during their interactions. “Let me use this opportunity to thank Mr President for the words of wisdom and encouragement during my meeting with him which lasted over one hour and his various interactions with me on the telephone during which he emphasized his commitment to internal democracy over and over again.”

Coinciding with President Tinubu’s first anniversary in office, Ibrahim described the withdrawal of the lawsuit as a “gift of the ‘cake’ of the first anniversary.”

Reacting to this development on behalf of the Ondo State Government, Dr. Kayode Ajulo SAN, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State, lauded the legal team defending Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, INEC and APC; said,”With unwavering conviction, the defence team presented an unassailable defence, bolstered by meticulous forensic analysis of facts and figures, which unequivocally established Governor Aiyedatiwa as the party’s unequivocal choice. This masterful presentation left no room for doubt, utterly demolishing the baseless claims of no Direct Primary Election by the APC in Ondo State, and silencing all opposition with the weight of irrefutable evidence.”

Ajulo also commended Senator Ibrahim for his dedication to the party and his touted deference to the President’s leadership. He urged all APC members in Ondo State to unify and support Governor Aiyedatiwa in delivering good governance and securing victory in the upcoming November governorship election.

SUNSHINETRUTH News learnt that Aiyedatiwa would face a serious challenge in picking his running mate for the 2024 election. It was said that both him and Ajayi are banking on picking their deputies from the Central. The popular political thinking in Ondo North is that the current Deputy Governor Dr Olayide Adelami has been very loyal and calm, and the Aiyedatiwa needs to retain such a personality to enable him achieve for the state in the next four years.

Political watchers are of the opinion that since power will return to Ondo Central by 2028, there is no need for the Governor to pick a Deputy from Ondo central who will be a distraction to his administration. Another argument is that Ondo Central should focus on becoming the next Governor if Aiyedatiwa wins for the next four years, rather than agitating over Deputy.

The people in the Senatorial zone, where Aiyedatiwa is from are not on the same page with him for the simple reason, that, the amended constitution says that no person can be sworn in as governor three times and since Aiyedatiwa, has been sworn in as governor, to complete Akeredolu’s term, he could only go for another one term, which the people of his area felt would deprive them of spending two terms in office. Political analysts knocked down the argument as mere selfish one, saying “who says another Ondo South person can’t succeed Aiyedatiwa after 4years. Infact power can go to anywhere.”

Another hurdle ahead of Aiyedatiwa is Akeredolu’s camp, while the position of the law was apparent in acting governorship, the camp allegedly led by the late governor’s wife, Betty Akeredolu, was hell-bent on frustrating Aiyedatiwa’s efforts to become acting governor.

It took President Bola Tinubu’s intervention for the issue to be resolved, which is why Aiyedatiwa was a governor in an acting capacity a few weeks before Akeredolu’s demise.

This camp has since become an opposition force against the Aiyedatiwa administration. One of the aspirants was even believed to be sponsored by this group of Akeredolu’s loyalists.

However, the good news for Aiyedatiwa is that Akeredolu’s camp is still opposed to Agboola Ajayi, whom they labelled a betrayal for contesting against Akeredolu in 2020. It will not be out of the question that with the emergence of Ajayi and Aiyedatiwa as the major contenders in the race, the group is now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Whatever, it would be a great mistake for APC to see Ajayi as a pushover in the race, as he also has many factors working in his favour.

Ajayi is a grassroots politician contesting the stool of the Sunshine State’s number-one citizen for the second time. After he was declared the PDP party primary election winner, he described his election as a ”victory for democracy”. He solicited the support of other aspirants to ensure that the PDP is returned to power in the state.

“Let’s join hands, speak with one voice, and work towards reclaiming Ondo for PDP,” he appealed.

Atiku Abubakar, the former President of Nigeria and the PDP presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, has endorsed Agboola Ajayi as the best choice for the PDP to secure victory in Ondo State. Ajayi’s candidacy aims to unite the party and capture Ondo in the upcoming election.

However, it remains uncertain whether supporters of Aiyedatiwa will reconcile with other aspirants. The governor faces the challenge of resolving internal party disputes before the November election.

Ajayi appears to have garnered support within the PDP, with all competing aspirants pledging allegiance to the party’s cause. Observers noted the absence of key PDP figures during the primary, speculating on motives behind their non-participation.

Despite claims of a peaceful primary, tensions persist within the PDP, notably with the camp of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the state’s former governor, not aligning with Ajayi.

The battle between Ajayi and Aiyedatiwa extends beyond politics, representing differing visions for Ondo State’s future. Ajayi emphasizes change and governance reform, focusing on infrastructure, youth empowerment, and healthcare, while Aiyedatiwa, supported by the APC, advocates for continuity and progress under the incumbent administration.

The issue of eligibility around Ajayi was recently laid to rest by the camp of the PDP candidate, while he recently also met with some PDP bigwigs such as Eyitayo Jegede, SAN; former Deputy Governor, Ambassador Omolade Oluwateru and Eddy Olafeso among others, to consolidate his intention to win the election.

ONDO GUBER: NO QUESTION ABOUT MY QUALIFICATION TO SERVE —AGBOOLA

The Campaign group of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the approaching gubernatorial election in Ondo state, H.E Agboola Ajayi, described as a mere distraction by some clowns, “an attempt too late in time, to question my eligibility to serve my people”.

Reacting in a press statement, the Agboola Campaign Group, said it’s attention has just been drawn “to a reckless but uninformed attempt by an obscure group to create unnecessary drama, where there is no basis for one” adding that Agboola Ajayi, “irrespective of who may have been sulking, is the PDP candidate for the coming election and the next governor of our dear state by the grace of God”.

ONDO 2024: OLUWATERU, DARIO, OLAFESO, JEGEDE SURE OF VICTORY AS PDP UNVEILS AGBOOLA AJAYI AS FLAGBEARER

People’s Democratic Party’s candidate in the November 2024 gubernatorial election in Ondo State, H.E, Agboola Alfred Ajayi, was on Thursday, May 23, 2024 officially unveiled in Akure, the State capital to party members as the flag bearer in the election.

Leaders and Party members in the State trooped out in their numbers to witness the unveiling ceremony which took place at the Party Secretariat in Akure.

The gubernatorial candidate appreciated the leaders and party men for the show of love demonstrated towards him even as he announced his happiness and joy at the unity and show of solidarity that have become a common place in the Party of late.

Announcing that quite a large number of people are already preparing to join the party, Ajayi said he is happy that the party is now more united than ever and thus declared that “we are ready to liberate Ondo State people through PDP” .

Speaking in unison, Olorogun Eddy Olafeso, Eyitayo Jegede and Dr Tayo Dairo all expressed their solid determination to prosecute the campaign and election vigorously with a view to attaining total victory.

Other notable party leaders present at the occasion include former Information Commissioner and governorship aspirant, John Ola Mafo, Chief Mrs Olubitan , Lady Funmilayo Olafunmiloye , all members of the State Working committee, party leaders from across the three senatorial districts of the state.

But, political analysts are of the opinion that absence of Mimiko and his lieutenants like Gboye Adegbenro, Ebenezer Alabi, Clement Faboyede is still a clear message that all is not well with the main opposition, but there is still enough time to mend fences to enable the party achieves his set target of unseating the ruling APC.

2024: WE’RE SURE OF VICTORY BUT — GOV AIYEDATIWA

The Governor of Ondo State, Hon. Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, said on Sunday 26 May, 2024 at a gathering to celebrate his victory at APC governorship primary, organised by a group, ‘Friends of Lucky’, in Akure, the state capital, declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will not underrate any candidate from other political parties at the gubernatorial election scheduled for November 16, 2024.

He said: “Once again, I appreciate all my supporters. You all went a long way for me, initiated things, spreading the message of O’datiwa, O’dirorun across the 18 local government areas of the State.

“However, it is not over yet. This is just the first phase. There’s still more land to conquer; there’s still a great battle ahead. The primary election was just a in-house contest and now we head to the main battle.”

Also during the party’s stakeholders meeting on Saturday 25th May, 2024, attended by leaders of the party from the 18 local government areas of the State, at the International Event Center, The Dome, in Akure, Aiyedatiwa, also expressed confidence that his party in the State remains a united and indivisible family, regardless of individual ambitions and differences.

This came as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, certified the outcome of the APC primary election held on April 20 by publishing the details of Governor Aiyedatiwa as the candidate of the party for the November governorship election.

The electoral body had pasted the details of all the candidates participating in the governorship election at its head office in Akure, and the INEC list also confirmed Dr Olayide Adelami as the running mate of Aiyedatiwa.

Addressing the party leaders, the Governor stressed the need for unity within the party, stressing that a cohesive and united front is essential for achieving common goals and ensuring the party’s success in the November 16 gubernatorial election.

“While we may have disagreements at times, it does not mean we are not part of the same party. Let us work together for our victory on November 16. Our party members need continuous encouragement, not just during election periods. Everything I have promised will come to fruition; they are not just mere words. In this administration, it is action over words.

“Considering our current position, it appears we have already won the battle due to our hard work but there is no room for complacency. I encourage our party leaders to return to their respective local governments, put in even more effort, and unite everyone”, he added.

Earlier, the APC state chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, in his address, emphasized that every political party has its own constitution and rules that all members must follow. He noted that while the primary election has been concluded, it is crucial for party members to unite as one family in preparation for the real election on November 16.

“The primary was merely an in-house affair, now is the time for unity. Together we are strong; divided we are weak. We must pool our strength. One person cannot achieve this alone, which is why unity is essential. We need to be sincere with one another, as that is the essence of politics,” he stated.

Mr. Morayo Lebi, one of the APC gubernatorial aspirants in the April 20 primary election, commended Governor Aiyedatiwa for his efforts to unify all party members and appealed to all aggrieved party members to come together and support the Governor.

Those in attendance included the Deputy Governor, Dr. Olayide Adelami, Members of the Ondo State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Olamide Oladiji, members of the State Executive Council, former Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, former Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Olabimtan, former Ambassador of Nigeria to Togo, Amb. Sola Iji, Hon. Otito Atikase, Barrister Olumuyiwa Adu, among others.

Despite massive turnout of party’s stakeholders at the meeting, the absence of some key governorship Aspirants such as Wale Akinterinwa, Olusola Oke and Jimoh Ibrahim means Aiyedatiwa alongside APC leadership still need to reach out to the Aspirants and their teeming supporters for them to be on the same page as they prepare for the November 16 poll.

As the election approaches, both candidates are expected to intensify campaigns, boost troubleshooting mechanisms and engage in grassroots mobilization. Ondo State’s electorate awaits to hear the candidates’ agenda on critical issues such as education, agriculture, security, and job creation.

…..The feature was written by team of SUNSHINETRUTH NEWS reporters.

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