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9th Assembly: Boroffice takes a shot at DSP

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Now that the National Assembly seats have been won and lost, there is frantic politicking across the geo-political zones, as Senator-elects scramble for principal offices in the 9th Assembly.

The permutations put the South West at a vantage point, should the Deputy Senate be zoned to the region, with three major contending states— Ondo, Oyo and Lagos.

As a rule, the offices of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President are exclusively for ranking senators, which have the likes of Prof. Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo North), Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and Teslim Folarin (Oyo Central) as qualified candidates.

The three are ranking senators re-elected to the Senate for the third time on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). From all indications, the three gladiators are slugging it out among themselves.

Presently, there are 106 seats declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with 64 for APC and 41 for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while the Young Progressive Party (YPP) has a seat. The result of three seats —Plateau, Taraba and Imo States are yet to be announced.

Having a majority of senators-elect, APC has warned its members to be cautious in how they handle the issue of who occupies principal offices. The party leadership said it would intervene to prevent the palace coup and betrayal that characterised the Eighth Assembly.

With a National Assembly that has 43 returnees and over 15 former governors, the onus of leadership must rest on persons with the mien, charisma and intellect of no mean repute to lead the Assembly.

The only qualified candidate from Ondo State, Senator Boroffice, hails from Oka-Akoko, Akoko Southwest Council. He is a Professor of Zoology, with rich dossier in public service as the founding Director General of National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), a position he held till he was elected into the Senate in 2011.

He was conferred with Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 2004 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He also won the Golden Merit Award in Space Science from the World Federation of Science Journalists in March 2011. He was the chairman of Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

Aside his personal qualities, there is an outcry from the people of Ondo State that they have always been marginalised by other parts of the South West, especially Lagos and Ogun States in terms of representation at federal level.

Some political analysts have observed that office of Deputy Senate President is an opportunity to redress that issue, not only because the state was one of the major contributors to the national economy during regional government, but also as one of the nine Niger Delta States.

According to them, the position is suitable for Boroffice as a staunch party leader, who worked hard for the party’s success, despite the internal wrangling that threatened his third term ambition.

Even during the last Presidential and National Assembly poll, in which APC performed woefully in least expected places, he won all the polls in his domain for APC candidates.

Since his sojourn in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now APC from December 2011, he has aligned himself with the party’s national leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, though his governorship aspirations were truncated twice by Bourdillon in 2012 and 2016.

Dangling a bait to whittle down the Bourdillon influence, the Senate leadership in 2015 offered Boroffice the position of Chief Whip, but he
declined, due to his unalloyed support for Tinubu and the party leadership.

It was gathered from reliable sources that the principal officer’s slot may be a payback time for Ondo State and the senator, and that the party’s national leader, Tinubu will no doubt play a critical role in the election of principal officers.

Other observers noted that Tinubu’s presidential ambition in 2023 might be a factor that would work in favour of Boroffice, as the former could sacrifice his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu to retain the loyalty of a worthy supporter like Boroffice, as well as possibly forestall the accusation of making elections a family affair.

The Ondo State governorship election is another factor that may make Tinubu finally settle for Boroffice to enable him manoeuvre a replacement from the Southern district without grudges of the incumbent governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who was reportedly queried for anti-party activities.

Considering the rivalry and supremacy battle between Akeredolu and Bourdillon, as revealed by some APC members, who are nursing grudges against the state chapter of the party, Tinubu may attempt to spite the governor by pushing for Boroffice’s emergence in the principal office.

However, the race for the DSP might strain the cordial relationship between Oluremi Tinubu and Boroffice, who enjoyed his colleague’s unflinching support in the past. They may eventually be at loggerheads, if not well handled.

The Guardian gathered that Oluremi took Boroffice to Bourdillon severally during his bids to become governor, so as to seek her husband’s blessings.
With the new conflict of interests that may draw a political battle line between the two Senators, Tinubu is hinging her suitability for the job on the much-agitated inclusiveness for women and the 35 Percent Affirmative Action campaign.

She said: “The men have to trust the women to do that, especially the APC-led administration in ensuring that women are given their fair share. I am the first woman in Nigeria to be re-elected for a third term as a Senator, and I think they have to consider what they will give to a woman at the 9th Assembly. I believe I have represented the women agenda for over 20 years, and they should trust me. My office will be open to them, and then we can move the agenda of the nation forward.”

A public affairs analyst, Mr. Larry Legacy Tugbi, appealed to Tinubu to give Boroffice a chance, highlighting that people of Ondo State are the most marginalised in terms of executive and legislative positions.

He listed beneficiaries from other South West states to include: Senator Gbenga Aluko (PDP, Ekiti State), Deputy Senate Leader: 1999-2003; Senator ‘Nimbe Mamora (ACN, Lagos State), Minority Leader: 2007-2011; Senator Teslim Folarin (PDP, Oyo State), Senate Majority Leader: 2007-2011.

Others were Ayoola Agboola (PDP, Oyo State), Deputy Chief Whip: 2011-2015; Senator Ganiyu Solomon (APC, Lagos) State Deputy Minority Leader: 2011-2015 and Senator Sola Adeyeye (APC, Osun State) the Chief Whip (incumbent): 2015-2019.

In the House of Representatives, Tugbi noted that there were Dimeji Bankole (PDP, Ogun State), Speaker: 2007-2011; Olubunmi Ete, (PDP, Osun State), Speaker: 2011; Mulikat Adeola (PDP, Oyo State), Majority Leader: 2011-2015; Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN, Lagos State), Minority Leader: 2007-2015; Gbajabiamila, incumbent Majority Leader; Lasun Yusuf (APC, Osun State), Deputy Speaker (incumbent): 2015-2019, among other Federal appointments and parastatals.

CONTRARY to widespread reports that Governor Akeredolu received a query from APC leadership and National Working Committee over anti-party activities in the last elections, suggesting rough days ahead for him, the party is waxing stronger and better.

While speaking to The Guardian on the issue, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, dispelled the reports as mere rumour and figments of imagination from political adversaries.

He said: “There is no query anywhere; it is not true. The Governor is a progressive and has always been committed to promoting the party in the state and beyond. Akeredolu has always been with this school of political thought.

“So, it is ridiculous for anyone to wake up and associate him with any other party than APC. He is committed to the cause of the people and working hard to bring dividends of democracy to the grassroots.”

Though the party lost the presidential election, five Federal House of Representative and two senatorial seats to the opposition in the February 23 polls, it sprang a surprise two weeks after to win 23 out of 26 state House of Assembly seats.

Ajiboye, who noted that the earlier loss at the poll was mainly caused by imposition of unpopular candidates, attributed the resounding victory at the last poll to the acceptability of Akeredolu-led government by the people.


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