Ondo Governorship: Meet Those Contesting For APC Ticket Today

The contestants for the governorship ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State will today know their fate as the 171,922 certified delegates decide who will fly the flag of the party in the November 16 governorship election.

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Drawn from the 203 wards in the 18 local government areas of the state, the delegates have to decide whether the current governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has done enough to earn their franchise to contest for the election or a new face among the 15 other aspirants should be given the opportunity to compete for the state’s top job.

Inaugurating the seven-member governorship primary election committee headed by the Kogi State governor, Usman Ododo on Thursday, the party’s embattled national chairman, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, appealed to them to collaborate and be focused to ensure a hitch-free process.

The aspirants are Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the incumbent governor; Wale Akinterinwa; Senator Jimoh Ibrahim; Olusola Oke; Prof Francis Faduyile; Dr Funmi Waheed-Adekojo and Mayowa Akinfolarin.

Others are Olusoji Ehinlanwo; Okunjimi Odimayo; Isaac Kekemeke; Olugbenga Edema; Gen Ohunyeye Olamide (retd); Morayo Lebi; Garvey Oladiran Iyantan and Ifeoluwa Oyedele.

Political observers have attributed the large number of APC aspirants to the preponderance of the opinion that it is the turn of the southern part of the state to produce the next governor of the state although there was no written agreement or rotational arrangement in the party.

They also hinged their strong belief on the widespread talk in the town that whoever emerges as the APC candidate in today’s primary will most likely be the candidate to beat in the November governorship election.

Daily Trust Saturday highlights a few things to know about the gladiators in the arena and what might work for or against each of them.

Lucky Aiyedatiwa

He is the incumbent governor, who took over the reign of power after the demise of his principal, Rotimi Akeredolu, whom he deputised. With a gale of endorsements from different political and influential groups, both within and outside the party in the state, many see him as the candidate to beat.

Like a cat with nine lives, Aiyedatiwa has survived different political traps, including the impeachment plot set to stop him from contesting the election, but political pundits believe that he enjoys the support of the national leadership of the APC.

However, the albatross against Aiyedatiwa is the agitation by leaders from the southern zone where he comes from, demanding eight years or two for whoever emerges, but the governor can only spend four years if he emerges.

Wale Akinterinwa

He is the immediate past commissioner for finance in the state, the same position he held for three terms under former Governor Olusegun Mimiko and the late Akeredolu.

Akinterinwa, a native of Ile Oluji/Okeigbo Local Government Area, is one of the prominent contestants for the APC governorship ticket. He is said to have secured the endorsement of the late Akeredolu before his demise and has since been enjoying the support of the foot soldiers and political family of the former governor. Some pundits also insinuated that he is a member of the Bourdillion political family of President Bola Tinubu, from where he was purportedly ‘donated’ to the state.

However, a major challenge for him, according to observers, is that he comes from a town that people consider not to be the core of the southern part of the state that has been agitating for the governorship slot.

Olusola Oke

He is the oldest and foremost contender among the crop of aspirants for the APC governorship ticket, considering his political experience and long years of contesting for the seat.

Oke, who has a solid support base in the party, was a governorship candidate in 2012 and 2016. He contested the same with the former governor, Mimiko, and also with the late Akeredolu. He was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and later, Alliance for Democracy (AD) at different times

Oke’s several failed attempts at leading the state, notwithstanding his credentials and contributions to politics, have also consolidated his soaring popularity. The lanky politician, who hails from the small fishing settlement of Ilowo on the coast of Ilaje Local Government Area, has for years been the face of political leadership in the southern district, which has been agitating for the governorship seat.

Despite his rich political background, observers said he may need the endorsement of the Abuja power bloc to fulfill his political aspiration of becoming a governor.

Senator Jimoh Ibrahim

He is a business mogul and current senator representing Ondo South in the National Assembly. Ibrahim, who hails from Igbotako in Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state, is not a newbie in the politics of the state. He is considered one of the strongest contenders for the ticket, judging from his aggressive campaign and mobilisation and his perceived closeness with the president. He had visited President Tinubu to inform him of his governorship ambition, and people believe he has the endorsement of the Villa.

His several legal battles as they relate to his business interests are considered an albatross to his ambition. Pundits also said the role he played during the 2012 governorship election when he contested the PDP governorship ticket with Eyitayo Jegede in the opposition party still lingers in the memory of the people of the state.

Mayowa Akinfolarin

He is a former House of Representatives member from the state who used the position to secure employment opportunities for indigenes of the state.

Akinfolarin hails from Odigbo and is believed to enjoy the backing of National Assembly members and the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Political pundits also said he would likely be using his closeness to the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, to get to Abuja’s powerful politicians and party members in order to get the governorship ticket. But many believe that compared to some of the major contenders, his chances are slim.

Gbenga Edema

He is a former chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Commission (OSOPADEC) and member of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), representing the state.

Edema hails from Ogogoro in Ilaje Local Government Area.

He has consistently taken up fight against Governor Aiyedatiwa, challenging his academic record.

Funmilayo Waheed-Adekojo

She is a certified mechanical engineer from the Arigidi Akoko area of the state. She falls into the category of unsung accomplished young Nigerian female professionals who are doing extraordinary things to succeed.

Waheed-Adekojo is new to the politics of the state, but political observers believe she is one of the pretenders being sponsored to test the ground and get compensated for a state or federal job, especially considering her age. Also, the zone she hails from, Akoko, is in the northern zone of the state, so she might not get the ticket as the game seems to have shifted to the southern zone of the party.

Olusoji Ehinlanwo

He is a strong information communication technology (ICT) consultant who has been an active participant in the politics of Nigeria, culminating in his nomination as the governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2012. He challenged the results of that election at the tribunal and Court of Appeal. He also led the CPC in the state for the APC merger, but political pundits believe he is not popular enough and has no financial muscle to compete for the ticket with other contenders.

Okunjimi Odimayo

Odimayo is a member of the House of Representatives for Okitipupa/Irele constituency. He was born in Ode-Irele, Irele Local Government Area of the state and is among the aspirants warning the party against fielding the wrong candidate who would not be able to spend two of eight years in the forthcoming governorship election.

Political observers believe he is in the race to work for a serious contender and might step down from the race to negotiate and retain his seat in the National Assembly.

Isaac Kekemeke

He is the current APC national vice chairman (South West). Kekemeke, who is from Agadagba-Obon in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of the state, has a political career spanning over 28 years. He is a founding chairman of the APC in the state between 2014 and 2018. But pundits believe he might be contesting the election with little to no chance of defeating the more popular gladiators.

Garvey Oladiran Iyantan

He was a federal commissioner in the National Population Commission (NPC). Iyantan is one of the aspirants who clamoured for a direct mode primary for the forthcoming exercise. He believes he is the contender to beat in the primary election, but pundits consider him one of the pretenders for the ticket when considering his war-chest with the top gladiators.

Others

Ifeoluwa Oyedele is the executive director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and a very close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari. He previously contested the governorship ticket and later stepped down for the late Akeredolu.

Prof. Francis Faduyile is a former president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

Little is, however, known about the two other aspirants, Gen Ohunyeye Olamide and Morayo Lebi, with many considering them as pretenders for the ticket.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that because of the unprecedented interest the party’s governorship ticket has generated, both at local and national turfs, its National Working Committee, led by Ganduje, has settled for a “direct primary.” However, political analysts believe that today’s primary election, which has raised more dust than similar exercises, may turn out to be a four-horse race among Aiyedatiwa, Akinterinwa, Ibrahim and Oke.

A political analyst, Yekini Odebowale, told Daily Trust Saturday that today’s exercise would be the major determinant of the main governorship election fixed for November 16. However, there is uncertainty in some quarters about how the current controversy surrounding the party’s national chairman may affect the outcome of the exercise.

 

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