The political theatrics ahead of Ondo State governorship election, slated for October 10, 2020, have become intense within the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as it shops for a consensus candidate.
Many of are the belief that if PDP can put its house together and harness its strength it can reap from the myriads of internal wrangling besetting the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and wrestle power from Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who is seeking a second term.
However, many analysts have ascribed the internal crisis within PDP to ‘too many cooks that spoiling the broth.’ This is against the backdrop of the latest development likely to destroy the chances and credibility of the party to emerge as a formidable force in the state. They also noted that it be easy to run for Akeredolu to coast home to victory since the ailment that is affecting the ‘eyes’ of APC’s Unity Forum faction against him is also affecting the ‘nostril’ of PDP.
More than nine months ago, the opposition party had over 17 aspirants across the three senatorial districts, with the highest gladiators coming from the South District, which has been the stronghold of the party since 1999. Okitipupa and Ilaje Local Government Areas in the South District have been the political headquarters of the party in the state with eight governorship aspirants jostling to dislodge ruling APC.
From Okitipupa, which had produced late Dr. Olusegun Agagu as governor from 2003-2009, are PDP South-West Chairman, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, Senator Boluwaji Kunlere, Otunba Bamidele Akingboye, Engr. Ogunwa Oboli and Barr. Bimpe Olatemiju seeking to clinch the party’s ticket. Ilaje, the riverine and oil hub of the state whose indigenes hinge the expediency for the race on the fact that they have never produced a governor, has two former council chairmen: Banji Okunomo and Chief Sola Ebiseni, and Chief Ola Mafo in the race.
The central only had the former Attorney General of the state and PDP governorship candidate in the 2016 election, Eyitayo Jegede, with others also from the North District, particularly from Owo Council, the hometown of Akeredolu. The North District, which validly lays claim to be allowed to finish its second term ticket, has the former Commissioner for Culture, Tourism and Special Duties, Femi Adekanbi and former Special Adviser to Governor Mimiko on Labour Matters, Dayo Fadahunsi.
Though the party leadership under the chairmanship of Engr. Clement Faboyede, who disclosed that there were 17 guber aspirants but only eight active contenders, had foreseen the imminent crisis and put in place machinery to forestall it. Faboyede explained that the party had set up an Elders Screening and Advisory Council to reduce the number to seven or eight, revealing that the council was headed by Senator Bode Olajumoke, who had since begun work.
According to Faboyede, “By the time we are going for primary, it will either be affirmation or contest between two or three aspirants, because this is a disciplined party; it is not a party that is being divided among interest groups. We are focused on our determination to reclaim Ondo State.”
But the first cymbal of discord rang from Okitipupa about two weeks ago, when Olafeso, who was also a Commissioner for Information and Orientation during Agagu’s regime, was announced as the consensus candidate for Okitipupa LGA. Political watchers warned that it was a bad omen for PDP ahead of the October poll since the South District, on several occasions, had proven to be the major determinant on how well the party would perform in any election in the state.
It will be recalled that PDP failed the last guber election after the immediate past governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, who hails from the Central Senatorial District and spent eight years, picked a successor from the same district, Jegede, to the chagrin of the south and north districts.