The search for Mimiko’s successor in Ondo
THERE will be another gubernatorial election in Ondo State next year but in the race to pick the successor of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the factor of zoning cannot be underemphasized.
Since the military relinquished power to civilians in 1999, a gentlemanly consensus to enhance fair share of power and even rotation among the 3 Senatorial Districts has been in practice in the state.
That year, the North clinched the governorship ticket and it shifted to the South in 2003 when late Dr. Olusegun Agagu succeeded late Chief Adebayo Adefarati but eventually yielded it after 22 months of litigation to the Central in 2009.
But the arrangement in the 2016 election might not hold any political water as speculated by Babatunde Fagbemi, one of the aides to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Jumoke Akindele, who argued that the result of the last elections would truncate the zoning consensus.
Contrary to the expected power shift to the North, he affirmed that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would go for the best bet, among the zones, that can offer the party an easy ride at the polls rather than flogging a dead horse in the name of zoning arrangement.
The result of the last elections still portrayed the South as the strongest base of PDP in the state as all the 9 seats in the zone were delivered for the PDP in the State Assembly poll while 4 out of 5 seats won by the opposition, were from the North and the Central Districts.
Besides, some analysts opined that the prolonged internal crises within the PDP might dampen the chances of the party next year but the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Banji Okunomo dispelled the insinuation and affirmed that the party is now well-structured to win next elections hence only the bad eggs left the party for the opposition.
From the North, there are over six prospective formidable forces in the searchlight for the 2016 governorship election, namely: Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, Dr Olu Agunloye, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Tunji Abayomi, Rotimi Akeredolu, Senator Bode Olajumoke and others.In the South, Chief Olusola Oke, Kingsley Kuku, and Jimoh Ibrahim are the only prominent figures that can be mentioned when it comes to profiling for the governorship race but in the central, the only likely ticket reserved for the district is that of the Deputy Governor because of Mimiko’s terms in office.
Elegbeleye, a PDP stalwart and former Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC) who has spread his tentacles politically and is already making waves among his people, will be a match for Abayomi, another kinsman in the APC, a renowned lawyer and a consistent aspirant for the governorship race who has maintained unmitigated pedigree with the APC.
Former Speaker of the State Assembly and erstwhile Commissioner of the Federal Civil Service, Victor Olabintan, another Akoko man from the same Constituency with the impeached Deputy-Governor, Alhaji Alli Olanusi is another contender so is Olajumoke, a PDP veteran and member of the 6th National Assembly from Ose local government. Olajumoke took another shot for the 8th Assembly but lost to Boroffice.
Akerodolu, a renowned Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and the gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the October 20, 2012 election in the state, but came third with 143, 512 votes while Mimiko coasted for a re-election with 260, 199 votes, is also expected to join the race.
Senator Boroffice, an APC chieftain and a serving senator who was elected under the platform of Labour Party (LP) but defected to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to contest for the 2012 gubernatorial ticket is also a top contender for the number one job.
The emergence of Boroffice in the fold of ACN in December 2011 brought a new lease of life to the party, and like the golden hair of Cicero in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser, the people’s sympathy and affection rose astronomically for ACN. But he was short-changed for Akerodolu by the national leadership of the party.
As Cicero, whose golden hair commands admiration from the district, he won a second term in the March 28 National Assembly election and also delivered his political aide, Kolawole Babatunde who contested for Akoko South West/East Federal Constituency under APC.
Agunloye who himself was short-changed for Senator Boroffice by Mimiko who held all the aces in the then LP, left the party for the ACN, in grievance against the governor, to contest for the 2012 gubernatorial election.
Unfortunately for him, when the political luck tilted towards the Akoko people with their four predominant local governments over Owo and Ose in the North, and the Akoko Agenda seemed to be gaining momentum, Senator Boroffice surfaced again to threaten his chance.
Although the tide of event did not favour Agunloye and his ambition in the PDP for the Senate in the last election, like the patience of Pastor Yele Omogunwa was rewarded by Mimiko with a ticket he denied him in 2011 for the outgoing Senator, Boluwaji Kunlere, Agunloye’s strange patience in PDP might be the bait for the biggest spoil in 2016.
As clearly spelt out in the zoning arrangement, the North is the next zone that will present the succeeding governor in 2017 and Agunloye could be favoured by the incumbent governor to check the popularity of Senator Boroffice and APC in the North and Ondo State in general.
After he decamped to the ACN for the 2012 bid, Ayeye Allen, a stalwart of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Okitipupa, observed that Agunloye was not patient enough.
He stated further that Mimiko empowered some of Agunloye’s loyalists across the 18 local government areas of the state under his Omoluabi Platform, a political group that clamours for the emergence of the Erusu Akoko born politician as governor.
There were insinuations that Agunloye was being prepared to take over from Olanusi whose impeachment was allegedly being planned.
Eventually, Olanusi finally gave way for another Akoko man, though the impeachment process became stillbirth for months, even after Jumoke Akindele emerged as the first female speaker, in May last year.
In the South, Oke, a former Senatorial candidate in 2007 and governorship candidate in 2012 who came second with155, 961 votes, ditched the party for the opposition without an iota of pretence for the 2016 governorship race.
According to him, he could not resist the waves of change that was blowing nationwide, and decided to join the opposition party because he saw the party as a viable platform to actualize his political ambition, in the miscalculated anticipation of Mimiko’s waterloo in the last poll.
“That rescue mission that was not accomplished, today, the APC has provided a platform for that rescue for Ondo State, and nothing, no power of darkness, no individual, no machination will stop change from coming to Ondo State,” Oke said, referring to his candidature tagged “Rescue Mission” in 2012.
While the PDP faction described as “PDP-Konigba,” that stiffly resisted Mimiko’s political dominance after he joined them last year was solely sponsored by the rich business tycoon from the south, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, someone from his district, who pleaded anonymity, remarked that Jimoh was doing all that because of his governorship ambition in the 2016 election. Several of his posters and glimpses of his campaign strategies affirm the speculation though zoning arrangement didn’t favour his bid.
But if the consensus is altered and the PDP jostles for a successor in the South because of the APC’s 108, 062 votes against its party’s 71, 878 loss at the Presidential elections, the 3 Federal House of Representatives and Senate in the North to the APC, Oke would have been the best magic wand politically from the South.
Would the APC ever agree to a consensus arrangement that will give Oke the ticket so as to defeat the ruling party in the state? Would the likes of Boroffice and Abayomi agree to such arrangement? Can the opposition manage the implosion of ambitions that is likely to infest its rank and file?
The 3-3 share of the Assembly seats in the last Assembly poll in the four LGAs in Akoko, the total 5 against 4 lead in the Northern district by the PDP lawmakers and the entire 21won out of 26 in the legislative arm, is an indication that Mimiko and his party still enjoys grassroots support.
If the Deputy Governor comes from the South, coupled with the Central base of Governor Mimiko, could Agunloye not emerge the next candidate to beat by other aspirants across the 18 local government areas, where his Omoluabi Platform is well grounded with supporters clamouring for his emergence as the next governor?
These are some of the questions begging for answers as the race for the Alagbaka Government House gathers momentum.