Ondo poll: Akeredolu, Jegede battle post-primary crises - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER

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Ondo poll: Akeredolu, Jegede battle post-primary crises

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PETER DADA takes a look at the just concluded governorship primaries in Ondo State and posits the two major political parties and their candidates have the onerous challenge of uniting their respective members as well as leaders ahead of the October 10 poll

Barely a week ago, all the political parties contesting in the Ondo State governorship election, scheduled for October 10, concluded their primaries where standard bearers emerged.

While the All Progressives Congress retained the incumbent Governor, Rotimi Akerodolu, as its candidate, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party picked its candidate in the 2016 governorship polls, Eyitayo Jegede, as the standard-bearer.

Other parties including the Zenith Labour Party and the Social Democratic Party also elected their candidates. For the APC and the PDP, pre-primary acrimony which almost marred the process has snowballed into a huge challenge.

This is even more so in the ruling APC where two of the 12 aspirants have approached the Appeal Panel.

Eleven of the aspirants had taken issue with the indirect primary mode the party leadership settled for instead of the direct mode which they argued was more transparent.

On his part, Akerodolu, aware of the tension within the party, heeded the advice of party leaders and began reaching out to those he defeated at the primary.

Some of those he has visited include: Chief Olusola Oke, Mr Isaac Kekemeke and Ambassador Sola Iji, who have all agreed to work with him in the interest of the party.

One of the aspirants who approached the APC Appeal Panel to lodge a complaint, Dr Nathaniel Adetelegun, said his decision to challenge the conduct of the APC primary was in the interest of justice.

He said, “What we witnessed during the primary was not an election. People were intimidated, we have videos of people thumb-printing and using their phones to snap to go and collect whatever.”

Also, a group of party supporters under the aegis of the APC Unity Forum led by a former deputy governor of Ondo State, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, has yet to come to terms with the Akerodolu’s emergence after its consensus aspirant, Olusola Oke, lost to the incumbent governor.

A member of the forum, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of intimidation, said the forum had given the governor its terms and conditions for peace.

He said, “The conditions were stringent and the governor may not be able to meet all of them and that will further complicate the ongoing reconciliation process, but we want to see how it will go.”

The governor who is aware of the need to unite the party ahead of the polls has apart from reaching out to his co-aspirants also embarked on a series of consultations with party stakeholders on the choice of a running mate.

One of the names being mentioned is Dr Paul Akintelure who was Akeredolu’s running mate in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria during his first attempt to become governor in 2012. Others include Jimi Odimayo and Iji.

Reacting to this, the Ondo State APC Chairman, Ade Adetimehin, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, said, “Those people agitating to become the running mate of Akeredolu have the right to do so, they have not done anything wrong but the party is already working on it and the governor would announce the person when it is time. Such an issue can’t cause any problem for our party.”

However, all these permutations took a dramatic turn on Wednesday when Akeredolu named a former Commissioner of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa, as his running mate.

He explained that the decision was taken after “due and wise” consultation with the party leadership.

It was leant that the governor’s action was informed by his desire to get a party loyalist who is also passionate about his agenda for the state.

As was expected, this decision which took many lobbyists by surprise has also thrown up new challenges.

Those who contested against him thought he would pick one of them or at least concede the slot to party leaders to pick for him as part of the reconciliation efforts.

They have all been forced to return to the drawing table.

The situation is not any different in the opposition PDP where its candidate is struggling to work with the party to unite ahead of the polls.

His closest rival who is also the Ondo State deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, has also dumped the party to pursue his dream on the platform of Zenith Labour Party. He made his decision public on Wednesday.

His exit will no doubt have an effect on the PDPs chances during the poll. Ajayi enjoys a large following in the Southern Senatorial District. A district considered a PDP stronghold.

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