As the political atmosphere is becoming intense in Ondo state and the party’s primaries draw nearer, the All Progressives Congress (APC) members are busy positioning themselves behind those they think may likely clinch the party’s ticket among the known contestants.
No fewer than 18 persons have so far shown interest in the state’s top job within the APC, but the major gubernatorial gladiators are limited. There are not more than four, namely Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Chief Olusola Oke, Dr Jimoh Ibrahim, and Mr. Wale Akinterinwa. Temitope Adedeji examines the top four contenders.
Lucky Aiyedatiwa, is a man of circumstance. He succeeded his boss, former Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who died recently of prostate cancer. In the beginning, Governor Akeredolu brought in Aiyedatiwa to replace recalcitrant Dr. Agboola Ajayi as deputy governor, saying at every turn that he his anointed successor. But the relationship took a turn for the worse when Aketi took ill and Aiyedatiwa seemed to be too much in a hurry to succeed him. Today, Aiyedatiwa knows that if his boss, Akeredolu, were to be alive, he would stand no chance in hell to succeed him.
Even the alleged treachery apart, the late governor Akeredolu was also alleged to be reconsidering his stand on his deputy, reportedly arguing that Aiyedatiwa as the APC candidate would give the opposition an advantage coming from Ilaje, a local government in Ondo South.
Today, the then-deputy is now the governor. He has dissolved the cabinet and he holds the purse of the state. But most of the former cabinet members are not with him.
They are even said to be ganging up against him to make sure he does not win the party’s primaries, talk less about contesting the election to be returned as governor. He has a lot to do to swing the pendulum his way. Will he succeed in changing the tide and grabbing the party’s ticket?
Chief Olusola Oke
Former National Legal Adviser of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and a veteran governorship aspirant, Chief Olusola Oke, is widely seen today as the most popular among the aspirants. This is due to a number of reasons. Oke’s name is a household name in Ondo. He is the most astute politically and a unifier of sort. Oke is the most experienced among the aspirants having contested the top seat for three times.
Chief Oke hails from Ilowo, a coastal town in Ilaje LGA and he is said to have established himself in most of the local governments in the state long before now, having structures across all the 18 LGs of the state. He is also said to enjoy the support of Mrs. Betty Akeredolu, the late Governor Akeredolu’s wife. But though from the riverine areas of Ondo South Senatorial District, will Oke be acceptable to the powers that be in Abuja?
Mr. Wale Akinterinwa is the immediate past Commissioner for Finance in the state. He is alleged to be the leader of the cabal moving to displace Governor Aiyedatiwa.
Akinterinwa was also said to have spearheaded the impeachment process that raised the political temperature of the state late last year when the then-governor was away on medical leave to Germany. Aiyedatiwa miraculously survived that impeachment move.
The role played by Akinterinwa in that saga will not be forgotten easily in the state. It is no doubt that Akinterinwa is an ally of the late Governor Akeredolu. He enjoyed the confidence of his boss till the end. No wonder the former governor nominated him for a ministerial appointment in President Tinubu’s cabinet. Akinterinwa is also known as a true progressive and shares a political pedigree in AC and ACN with President Tinubu. Akinterinwa claims Governor Akeredolu anointed him as his successor before his death. How that anointing will help him at present is yet unclear.
But coming from Ile-Oluji in Oke-Igbo/ Ile-Oluji LGA of the state alleged to be a fringe part of Ondo South may be his Archilles Hills in the race.
Dr Jimoh Ibrahim
Dr Jimoh Ibrahim is a prominent businessman and serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has huge resources to deploy in the contest and he is already taking the state by storm, buying the front pages of prominent newspapers and distributing to the people what he called ‘Kadi Idera.’. To be fair, Chief Ibrahim from Igbotako in Okitipupa has loads of political razzmatazz. Some fear he may not go far in the race. But those who underrate him may be doing so at their own peril because that was the same way he won the Senatorial seat of Ondo South District.
Hon. Jimi Odimayo
Apart from those four regarded as the leading aspirants in the race. There are also others including a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Jimi Odimayo.
Odimayo is a young and vibrant businessman who is flourishing in his career. As a blue blood and Chairman Population Committee of the House of Representatives, Odimayo is highly influential and capable of creating an upset in the race.