Now that the two leading political parties in Ondo State, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have produced candidates that would slug it out on October 10, 2020 for the governorship seat, the real journey and battle seem to have begun.
The candidate of the APC is the incumbent governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu while that of the PDP is Mr Eyitayo Jegede. The two had also emerged during the last governorship election in 2016 where they slugged it out at that election, but Akeredolu won.
Jegede, who was the state Attorney General and commissioner for Justice under the immediate past governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, was favoured and picked by Dr Mimiko at the time to be his successor.
Unfortunately, many who were not comfortable with Governor Mimiko presenting Jegede as his successor, especially the original PDP members who had been in the party before Dr Mimiko and his supporters crossed from the Labour Party to join them in PDP, did not really support Jegede.
Also, those who were clamouring for a change also did not support Jegede, they believed having him at the seat of power would indirectly mean having a continuation of Mimiko’s government.
During the 2016 campaign, Dr Mimiko was at the forefront. But after the election, Dr Mimiko and some of his supporters left PDP and went to Zenith Labour Party, a party said to belong to Mimiko. Jegede in turn remained in PDP and has remained loyal to the party.
Another factor that also worked against Jegede at the time was that he comes from Akure, Ondo Central senatorial district where Dr Mimiko also comes from. The northern senatorial district believed it was their turn and this worked in favour of the present governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Now that the two SANs are back on the battle field, it may not be that easy for each camp.
For Governor Akeredolu, who is seeking a second term in office, he has the support and backing of the ‘cabal’ and some state governors.
Before the primary election that produced Akeredolu for the second term, some members of the Unity Forum, an opposition group within the APC, had warned Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna and some APC state governors to steer clear of Ondo State, alleging that they would influence the election in favour of Akeredolu against the rest eleven candidates of the APC.
It was also alleged that Governor Akeredolu had the backing of the presidency. This, some analyst said formed why the indirect mode of primary was used for the election, even as the rest eleven clamoured for direct. Also, the choice of Governor Yahaya Bello, who was perceived to be a friend of Akeredolu was said to be another factor that assisted the governor.
As the election draws near, the two candidates are striving hard to make sure they win the October 10 election.
To start with, the two are already reaching out to other aspirants who lost to them at the primaries.
Immediate after the APC primary election, Governor Akeredolu had gone to visit Hon Isaac Kekemeke and Chief Olusola Oke in a bid to reconcile with them and ensure they do not leave the party as advised by the APC leadership. Three of the aspirants had stepped down for him before the election.
One of those who stepped down for him is Engr Ife Oyedele. Governor Akeredolu on Thursday appointed him as one of the directors for the Sunshine food processing concept run by the state.
But as at the time of filling this report, some of the opposition and aggrieved members who lost out in the primary election were still watching. “We may pitch out tent with Jegede just to ensure Aketi (Akeredolu) leaves,” one of them said.
There is also trouble in the PDP camp. Like Governor Akeredolu, Jegede too had reached out to the deputy governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi, Dr Eddy Oyefeso and some aspirants who contested against him.
But the deputy governor was said to be making moves, talking to former Governor Mimiko on how to use his platform – Zenith Labour Party, to contest for governorship.
It is difficult at the moment to predict the effect the movement of Ajayi to ZLP may have on PDP.
Both Governor Akeredolu and Jegede in the past one week have said they will definitely win the election. Jegede had told Akeredolu that he should start packing his load from the Alagbaka State House, while Akeredolu has retorted by saying he will surely get a second term. Events of the coming weeks will help in no small measures to determine where the pendulum would swing.