Ondo politicians jostle to replace Adedayo at N’Assembly
Barely two months after the death of the immediate past lawmaker Omolafe Adedayo, who represented Akure North/Akure South in the Federal House of Representatives, contest on who to succeed him has begun among politicians from different political parties.
Adedayo, whose death was announced on Monday August 16, 2021, barely two years after he was sworn in as lawmaker, was interred in Akure. Indeed, his death was a huge loss to Akure people spread across Akure South, Akure North, Ifedore and Idanre councils of the state. The Paramount ruler, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo, declared a day to mourn the lawmaker in the town.
Portraying the calibre of man that was committed to mother earth two weeks ago, the late Adedayo, fondly called “Expensive”, by his admirers, business and commercial activities were halted in Akure metropolis as the dust-to-dust ritual was done on October 1, the Independence Day.
Ondo State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kennedy Peretei, described Adebayo’s death as a colossal loss, saying, “The exit of ‘Expensive’ is a colossal and irreparable loss to our party in Akure Federal Constituency and the entire PDP in the state.
“Omolafe Adedayo is a household name in Akure. His footprints on the sands of time are indelible. Everyone will die one day or another, but some departures are too much to bear.”
Adedayo rose to political stardom when he became the chairman of Akure South Local Government Area in 2004, played a prominent role in the PDP-Konigba and PDP-Gbasibe saga, when he lost the House of Reps ticket to Dare Aliu in the 2015 election.
The departed lawmaker played stiff opposition against the immediate past governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, who joined PDP from Labour Party (LP) to control the whole party structure and imposed his candidates across the state.
Consequently, many of the PDP candidates from the PDP-Gbasibe caucus belonging to Mimiko lost the election, based on roles played by Adedayo, whose teeming supporters embarked on protest voting against Aliu for APC’s candidate, Afe Olowookere to win the poll.
In the 2019 poll, the emergence of Adedayo as PDP candidate, against his APC beneficiary, Olowookere, who sought a second term ticket, gave a landslide victory to the former and this helped the PDP Central Senatorial candidate, Ayo Akinyelure, for a political comeback.
MEANWHILE in 2015, Akinyelure lost a second term bid as an incumbent senator of a ruling party to APC candidate, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, whom he later defeated four years after due to Adedayo’s popularity in the district.
Until his death, many Akure indigenes and political watchers in the state described Adedayo as a “Political Game Changer,” believing that the future holds prospects for him in the realisation of Akure governorship aspiration.
As it is currently, political observers mentioned that the bid to replace the office would be a serious contest between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP in the state.
PDP members are confident that they would win the by-election due to the sympathy, which the sudden death of the lawmaker has brought to their camp, believing it would be solidarity votes for victory.
Counting on the performance of the party in the last governorship election, they believed people would always vote for PDP in Akure South, Akure North and Ifedore councils, the only three local councils the party won in the October 10, 2020 governorship election out of 18.
To the APC, it is an opportunity to gain what they lost in the 2019 elections, relying solely on the arrays of aspirants within the party and political bigwigs in the Federal constituency.
The hope of the ruling party, as said by public commentators, is hinged on the calibre of leaders in Akure North and Akure South, including a serving Minister and other appointees in Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s cabinet.
Amongst the APC contenders are former commissioner in Ondo State, Mrs Omowunmi Ohwovoriole; Femi Fadairo and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Sunday Abegunde.
While a former two-time state lawmaker, Kemi Adesanya, a former commissioner, Mr. Dayo Awude; and Mr. Babtunde Faro are jostling and working tirelessly to also grab the PDP ticket.
Since the demise of Adedayo became public knowledge, many of the aspirants across board have begun horse-trading and lobbying amongst the leaders to be the party’s candidate for the by-election that will hold within three months.
Sources within the party hinted that a former PDP chairman, Engr. Clement Faboyede and a former Deputy Governor, Omolade Oluwateru, were strongly canvassing support for Adesanya, the only female in the race.
They mentioned that the two-time governorship candidate of the party, Eyitayo Jegede, is lobbying some PDP leaders to galvanise support for the choice of Awude as the party’s flag-bearer in the forthcoming poll.
While the former SSG, Abegunde, popularly called “Abena” was said to be enjoying the nod of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was said to have contacted Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to give him the ticket.
The only woman aspirant in APC, Ohwovoriole, who has been in the forefront for 35 percent Affirmative Action in the state, is said to be relying tremendously on the support from Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, whom Akeredolu gives a listening ears always.
These two aspirants in APC tend to have clash of interest with the preference of the three-time Senator and Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Prof Ajayi Borrofice and the Acting State Chairman of the party, Engr Ade Adetimehin, who are allegedly working for Fadairo.
But the sudden emergence of the deceased lawmaker’s wife, seeking to complete the two years her husband didn’t complete two years to complete his term. Taye Omolafe has changed the political calculation in the state as Akure South/Akure North Coalition of Democrats has pasted her posters in Akure metropolis.
Political analysts said the development may not be unconnected to a condolence visit to her shortly after her husband’s demise by a group of Akure sons and daughters at home and in the Diaspora, led by Alhaja Adenike Tawakalitu Ogbera.
It was also being rumoured that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and other Reps members are encouraging Adebayo’s wife to complete her husband’s tenure in the Green Chamber.
But some PDP chieftains in the state are said to be against her nomination on the ground that she is not a card-carrying member of the party, let alone being a financial member.
The former Legal Adviser of Political Parties Coalition, Ondo State and Divisional Coordinator, Akure Division Forum, Prophet Foluso Oguntuase, decried the rat race at which political parties are moving to get a successor for Adedayo.
According to him, “A by-election will soon be conducted by INEC to fill the vacant seat at the Akure North/South Federal Constituency of Ondo State, but the election processes must be respected.”
Listing criteria for the by-election, he said, “INEC must receive a communication/letter from the National Assembly in which the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall declare to INEC, vacancy for the seat of late Hon. Omolafe Adedayo following his death.
“INEC shall meet and approve the conduct of the by-election and shall fix a date. INEC shall meet with the 18 political parties in Ondo State and shall officially notify them of the timetable and guidelines of the by-election.
“All interested political parties shall conduct their primary elections and forward the names of their candidates to INEC for publication and balloting. INEC shall make available access code for the nomination forms to be processed and submitted online to INEC Headquarters, Abuja.”
He added that, “Political parties shall submit the names of their polling agents for the election to INEC after the commission would have resolved with the political parties whether to use the Old Polling Units and Voting Points or the new. INEC shall also make clarifications on the Voter Register to be used.
“Campaign by political parties and their candidates shall be held and stopped in consonance with INEC timeline. Until INEC has released by-election timetable, it is an electoral offence to campaign or paste posters ahead of time.
“All participating political parties shall be given level playing field in all ramifications. By-election may be conducted by INEC between 30 days and 90 days,” he said.