Drawing from the outcome of the Edo governorship election, the leading political parties participating in the October 2020 governorship election in Ondo State have commenced fresh review of their strategies, reports ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor
FOLLOWING the conclusion of the governorship election in Edo State and the emergence of Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner, political parties and their gubernatorial candidates have redirected their efforts towards the governorship election taking place in Ondo State next month. Consequently, political activities are expected to further heat up in the coming days and weeks across the nooks and crannies of the sunshine state.
Not a few pundits are of the opinion that many of the parties, especially the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition PDP will seriously consider the processes and outcomes of the Edo gubernatorial contest as they continue with their electioneering campaigns ahead of the October election. “The two parties will have to return to the drawing board and see how lessons from Edo election will help them next month,” a source said.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 17 of the 18 registered political parties are participating in the Ondo governorship election fixed for 10th October, 2020. Only the Boot Party is not taking part in the election as it neither gave the commission any notification of its intention to conduct primaries for the Ondo governorship election, nor submitted names of candidates to INEC before the closure of nomination of gubernatorial candidates.
The list of parties and candidates on the INEC website has Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as the candidate of the APC, the State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, as the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) with Eyitayo Jegede as the PDP candidate. And in spite of the presence of 14 other parties in the race, most pundits and observers insist the guber election is a three horse race among the three aforementioned candidates and parties.
While Akeredolu of the APC is the incumbent governor and is expected to benefit immensely from the incumbency factor as well as the popularity of his political party in the state, his supporters are insisting that his performance in the last four years will garner the votes for him come October 10. The Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Frederick Obateru Akinruntan, who is also the Chairman, Yoruba Obas Conflict Resolution Committee, once said Akeredolu deserves the support because of his achievements.
“He is setting a good foundation for a solid economic development of the state by providing a good environment for private businesses to thrive. I was happy that his party, APC, has endorsed him for the second term and I have no reservations to support him because he is doing his best to provide good governance in Ondo State and particularly the welfare of the workers. I also plead with all and sundry to join hands with him in his quest to develop the state,” the monarch said.
But supporters of the PDP candidate disagree with claims that the governor has done well. It is for this reason they want Jegede to be given the opportunity to come in as governor on October 10. PDP State Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Ikantu Peretei, accused Akeredolu of arrogance, corruption, clannishness, selfishness, blackmail, poor performance, infrastructural decay and abandonment of the projects of the immediate past PDP administration.
“The people are prepared to vote and also resist rigging. The choice before the people now is between prosperity and poverty. It is between educated children and school drop outs. It is between darkness and light. For those who witnessed the giant strides of the previous PDP government in our state, Akeredolu’s score card has given victory to Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and our party, the PDP, in the October gubernatorial election,” Peretei boasted.
For those who still see Ajayi and his party, the ZLP, as serious contenders in the race, the popularity of both the gubernatorial candidate and the leader of the party, former governor Olusegun Mimiko, across the state, as well as an expected close race between APC and PDP, remain the major reasons. ZLP supporters vow the party will win massively in Ondo South and Ondo Central where Ajayi and Mimiko hail from respectively, come October 10.
The Director-General of the Agbo/Gboyei Campaign Organisation, Kola Adujimi, said “Ajayi is the popular choice of the people. The ZLP is the party to beat on October 10. That is why Akeredolu’s thugs are threatening the lives and property of members of ZLP and those of other parties in various parts of the state. They inflicted injuries on our supporters in Ile-Oluji. They also destroyed Ajayi’s bill boards in Akure and posters in Idanre.”
Echoes from Edo
While reiterating his readiness to unseat Akeredolu during the week, Jegede boasted that the people of Ondo State were ready to repeat what transpired in Edo by rejecting the APC-led administration in the sunshine state. He said the PDP is a political party that institutionalises inclusive democracy, which gives equal opportunities to party members, as against the dominance of a cabal of political godfathers.
Like Jegede, some pundits are of the opinion that the euphoria of PDP’s victory in Edo State, if properly harnessed by the party, can go a long way in tilting the balance in Jegede’s favour. Akin Alabi, lawyer and pro-democracy activist, argued that “we cannot rule out the place of bandwagon effect in politics, especially in a developing democracy like ours where majority of the people allow others to decide how they vote for them.
“If the PDP, especially at the national level, moves in and build enough campaign themes around the development, the possibility that the people of Ondo will be moved to repeat the Edo feat is very high. Don’t forget the proximity between Edo and Ondo as neigbouring states. But for this to happen, it will take a lot of work and the PDP must redesign its entire campaign architecture, refocusing it to sell their propaganda.”
And it appears Jegede and his party may be thinking in that direction already. “What has taken place in Edo thus beckons on our good people of Ondo State, to bear their destiny in their hands, by similarly rejecting these feudal lords posing as democratic leaders, and elect the PDP in the October 10 governorship election. Our people should, in unison, make their choice known through the coming election, that they choose good governance and reject bad leadership,” Jegede hinted during the week.
Also speaking on the October 10 poll, Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, said the PDP is ready to do all that is lawful to secure victory in the forthcoming governorship election in the sunshine state. He said the party would put everything in place to take over Ondo State from the leadership of the APC. “With the level of work being done by the party, victory is assured. We are set to also take Ondo from the APC,” he said.
However, the state Chairman of APC, Ade Adetimehin, insists that PDP does not pose any threat to its victory in the coming elections. He explained that the PDP does not have the capacity to pose any threat to the victory of APC in any election in the state as those who were in the PDP have now moved to the APC. He advised the PDP and its candidate to stop dreaming as Akeredolu will be re-elected on October 10.
Already, the APC Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee has said the party will avoid the mistake of the Edo election in the forthcoming Ondo governorship poll. A member of the APC Caretaker Committee, representing the youth, Ismail Ahmed, said “As we go to Ondo State, we know that APC did not win the Presidential election in Ondo State. So, Ondo is also going to be very dicey, but the governor has done most of the reconciliation that he needed to do. We are not going to take anything for granted anymore; we are not going to be sitting on our oars again, we are going to go out and fight to make sure that we retain that state.”
Similarly, spokesman for the party in Ondo State, Alex Kalejaiye, said “The APC in Edo State is full of hope that the denials at the election would be redressed in court. The Ondo State chapter is full of confidence that the good works of the Akeredolu-led administration would speak in volumes during the election in October. We are confident of victory, and the opposition parties are not unaware of the degree of popularity of the ruling party.”