The race to Ondo Government House scheduled for October 10 this year, promises to be hot and unpredictable. Many seasoned and desperate politicians are already positioned on their marks to challenge the incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu who is seeking a second term in office.
Incidentally, what observers see as the greatest obstacle to the governor’s reelection bid is the fact that his political structure is fast crumbling. His quality ‘henchmen’ and big supporters in All Progressives Congress(APC) are bent on frustrating his chances. This has played out significantly in the last couple of weeks.
First, the Ondo deputy governor, Alfred Agboola Ajayi, resigned membership of APC and defected to People’s Democratic Party(PDP), while still holding on to his deputy governorship position. He proceeded to give the governor, who was then in self-isolation for COVID-19 treatment, a 21-day ultimatum to announce him as the substantive acting governor. This created an unhealthy political atmosphere in the state until Akeredolu returned from isolation.
The dust raised by
Ajayi’s political subterfuge had hardly settled before the Secretary to the
Government (SSG), Mr Ifedayo Abegunde tendered his own resignation with immediate effect. Are the two cases interrelated or premeditated? Why would two utility allies of the governor walk away from him, just like that. These and more are some of the questions agitating the minds of political observers in the state.
An obviously aggrieved Abegunde tried to give an insight. He said, ‘I will ensure that Akeredolu does not get a second term. He didn’t win election in the first place, but we rallied round to make him governor. He has since sidelined us and deliberately starved my office of deserved funding.’
Looking around at the governor’s circle of personal and political friends, the story is virtually the same. He does not seem to have a flexible personality particularly cut out for making and keeping friends. Barely three months to his reelection, Akeredolu is virtually standing alone, with little or no support from those that matter. Two of his erstwhile friends and outstanding APC stalwarts in Ondo, Olusola Oke (SAN) and Segun Abraham, have already submitted their nomination forms to contest against him, instead of supporting him. They claim Akeredolu has exhausted his ideas, and so should step down honourably. Many others friends: Bukola Adetule, Senator Ajayi Borofice, Jomi Odumayo, Ife Oyedele, have long deserted him. Members of his 2012 bid are also all gone.
Strangely, Akeredolu has reportedly boasted that APC would lose Ondo if he was not given the party ticket. Party stakeholders see that as an empty arrogation of popularity at a time the governor has no shoulder to lean on. ‘Where is his political structure with which to deliver Ondo state? Where are his prophets and mouthpieces, they ask. No politician worth his salt takes his opponents for granted.
By John Daniel Obioma