Ondo 2020: Who gets PDP ticket?

Three chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State – Eyitayo Jegede, Sola Ebiseni and Eddy Olafeso–are struggling for the party’s governorship ticket. Who gets the flag? Deputy Editor (Daily) EMMANUEL OLADESU examines the preparations for the shadow poll.

Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is preparing for next year’s election. It’s performance at the last presidential and National Assembly elections was the elixir of hope. Although the party later performed woefully during the House of Assembly polls, the precious electoral gains were not wiped out.

Many believe that Ondo PDP should put its house in order, if it intends to make an impact in the election. The major challenge confronting the party is zoning. But, in the chapter, there is also a leadership vaccum. Party leaders in the mould of the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Dr. Segun Mimiko, who had left the party, and Chief Ali Olanusi, who also left the fold, are rare.

Chieftains, including Dr. Bode Olajumoke, party chairman Clement Faboyede, Senator Akinyelure and Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, are not perceived as rallying points for the chapter, althouggh they still command influence in their localities.

There is mututal suspicion and distrust in the Ondo PDP. Some aspirants are elevating personal interests over the collective interest.

Odd election:

The election in Ondo does not follow the national electoral timetable. Other states in this category are Bayelsa, Kogi and Edo. While Bayelsa and Kogi elections will hold on November 16, those of Edo and Ondo will hold next year.

The Ondo PDP, led by Faboyede, an engineer and former Commissioner in the Mimiko government, cannot afford to take chances. It is generally believed that the party  lost the 2016 governorship poll to the the post-primary crisis that trailed the choice of its candidate.  During the 2019 elections, PDP won two senatorial districts. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)  won a seat. The state has nine  House of Representatives seats. PDP won three. APC won four. The social Democratic Party (SDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) have one seat each.

Major aspirants:

No fewer than 16 aspirants have indicated their interests in the ticket. Twelve are from the South Senatorial District, which by the political antecedent of the state, is more favoured to produce the governor. Out of these, only a few seem to be visible judging by their antecedents and activities.

Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), was the immediate past Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Mimiko administration. He was also the candidate of the party during the 2016 election and Coordinator of the Atiku 2019 Presidential Campaigns. He is from Akure in the Central Senatorial District. He has commenced consultations  with stakeholders and made a public declaration of his intention.

The lawyer has finally relocated from Yola, Adamawa State capital, where he had practised law for more than three decades. 2016 was his baptism of fire. Although he lost, he has refused to desert the battle.

Jegede, who has the support of Akure, his birthplace and state capital, is flaunting the numerical strength of the city as a vital electoral asset on poll day. His ego will be bruised, if he does not participate in the race. He has been a loyal, dedicated principled chieftain.

Sola Ebiseni, a lawyer, from Ilaje in the South District, is a veteran politician, having served the state in many capacities since 1990. As a youth, he was elected as Chairman of the old Ilaje/Ese Odo Local Government, the oil producing areas of the state. He also served three times as Commissioner in the governments of the late Chief Adebayo Adefarati and Olusegun Mimiko. A delegate at the 2014 National Conference and a prominent member of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, he was also a governorship aspirant during the 2016 election. During the 2019 elections, he was a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, the Chief Collation Officer and Agent of the party. He has intensified his consultations and made a public declaration of his interest.

The most experinced aspirant is Ebiseni. He is a grassroots politician who has seen it all. If political seniority and experience are the main factors, he has no rival.

Dr. Eddy Olafeso, a corporate personality and politician, is the National Vice Chairman (Southwest) of the party. He is a former Commissioner for Information in the Agagu administration. His current position as a member of the National Working Committee of the party, is the reason he is being circumspect in throwing his hat in the ring, in contest with those who ordinarily look forward to him for leadership at this critical time. He has thus not made public declaration of his interest. He is Ikale from Okitipupa in the South District.

Olafeso, having placed his hand on the PDP plough, has not looked back. As a national officer of the party, he seems to have connection at the top.

Others whose names are being mentioned, but have not publicly declared their intentions, include Senator Boluwaji Kunlere, lawyer and former Chairman of Okitipupa Local Government in the South District, and John Ola Mafo, also a lawyer, former Commissioner in  the Agagu administration and former Chairman of Ilaje Local Government. He was deputy governorship candidate to Jegede in 2016.

Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, from Ileoluji in the South District, has been mentioned in the social media as an aspirant. But, this has been denied by his handlers. His interest will however, contradict that of Banji  Okunomo, his political godson and Director-General during his campaigns. Okunomo, who is a staff of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), is a former Caretaker Chairman of Ilaje Local Government during the Mimiko administration. He is the Publicity Secretary of the party. He is yet to make a public declaration apparently because of conflict of interest with his principal.

Others from the South are Otunba Bamidele Akingboye, Lagos based businessman, who is believed to have done more intensive legwork than most aspirants, and Prince Godday Erewa, also a businessman based in Sapele, Delta State. He has the financial wherewithal to push his new entrance into politics. The name of Kingsley Kuku, former Special Adviser to President Jonathan, has also been mentioned. He is Arogbo Ijaw in the Ese-Odo Local Government.

Aspirants from North:

From the North District are Dayo Fadahunsi, a journalist and trade unionist, who was a Special Adviser to Mimiko; Femi Adekambi, a former Commissioner, and Saka Lawal, a former Special Adviser and a contestant during the 2016 exercise.

To analysts, Ondo State politics since 1999 has followed a consistent pattern of rotation among the three districts. It has oscillated from Adebayo Adefarati in the Akoko region of the North District (1999-2003), Dr. Olusegun Agagu from the Ikale region of the South (2003-2009), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo speaking group of the Central District (2009-2017) and to the North where Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) from the Owo axis now holds sway.

Following these precedents, the preponderance of opinion is that Akeredolu’s successor should emerge from the Southern District. Notwithstanding the aspiration of Tofowomo from Ileoluji, the race in the South is between the Ikale of Okitipupa and Irele Local Governments on one hand and the Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Governments on the other. Analysts seem to favour the oil producing Ilaje and Ese Odo axis, considering the fact that the only gubernatorial opportunity so far to the South had gone to Agagu of Ikale.

Access to funding is another important factor which all aspirants claim to have in sufficient measures. Most of them also claim to have the support of many political gladiators outside the state. However, according to observers, Ondo State has always resisted external influence in its politics. All the governors, since 1999 have emerged without visible external influence.

Party sources said Faboyede is not taking things for granted. His Executive Committee has already constituted a Screening Advisory Committee headed by Dr. Olajumoke, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and for whose integrity the stakeholders can vouch. The committee is only to advise the party, probably on the parameters for choosing the candidate, which may include zoning, and prevail on some of the aspirants to reduce their growing number.

Ondo State is made up of sub-ethnic Yoruba groups. The Central District is made up of Akure and Ondo sub-zones. The two are different.

The East is made up of Owo and Akoko. The two zones have their cultural differences.

The South is made up of three groups – Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo, Ikale and Ilaje. They are three district groups.

These realities reinforce the agitation for rotation or zoning.

The ruling APC is studying development in the PDP. The choice of a flag bearer will definitely influence the strategy of the APC for the poll. PDP can only pose a formidable challenge to the APC, if the opposition party is united; if it is not torn apart by post-primary crisis.

A party chieftain said a united PDP in Ondo State can also learn from the relative success of the Oyo State chapter. “After putting its house in order, it can also forge an allegiance with other smaller parties during the election,” he said.

Ondo has been fortunate to have good governors. They are Chief Adekunle Ajasin (1979-1983), Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua (1991-1993), Adefarati (1999-2003), Agagu (2003-2008), Mimiko (2008-2016) and Akeredolu, who is seeking a second term. The question is: Can the PDP candidate displace Akeredolu in next year’s poll?

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*