Political Parties Calculations: This is a preemptive analysis of the voting pattern in Ondo State as the Sunshine people head to the poll in the next 48 hours.
Many felt the Ondo State governorship election would be a fierce battle between the Alliance for Democracy and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But, yesterday’s reinstatement of Eyitayo Jegede as the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) candidate by the Appeal Court ruling has changed such perception. The contest will be a three-horse race with the AD, APC and PDP battling for the mandate to occupy the Alagbaka Government House. Group Political Editor Emmanuel Oladesu examines the changes in geo-political calculations.
Yesterday’s Appeal Court judgment may have altered the geo-political calculations in Ondo State. Twenty four hours, as it is often said, is a long time in politics. Two days ago, analysts posited that only two parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) – as the major players in the governorship election billed for Saturday.
But, as Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), resurfaced as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, the poll has become a three-horse race. The appellate court ruling sent the parties, their candidates, supporters and other stakeholders, back to the drawing board to adjust to the ‘eleventh hour’ reality.
Following the judgment, the antics of PDP’s controversial former flag bearer, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, hit the rocks. Prior to the verdict, the eminent trader and lawyer, was not perceived as a threat or a serious contender. Popular attitude to his bid is that of an astute political comedian, who is estranged from the legitimate pursuit of power in the Sunshine State by the mainstream faction of his party, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi. The PDP national secretariat has decried his activities, saying that he was a spoiler and willing tool in the hand of a bitter factional leader, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The disputed candidate was conscious of his limitations. He has restricted his campaigns to his home town, Igbotako, and its environs. His engagement with the larger electorate has been limited to the pages of newspapers through advertorials. He never made known his blue-print. According to analysts, some of his manifestos are laughable.
The live television governorship debate organised by Channels Television revealed that Ibrahim was not ready for the challenge of governance. Observers have suggested that he was merely in the race to boost ego and settle personal scores with Governor Olusegun Mimiko, his arch foe.
Implication of Jegede’s return
The lucky man is Jegede, who has just received his own baptism of fire. Until his entry into the race, he was the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. His triumph at the Court of Appeal has implications. His party, which was on edge, has been instantly revived, energised and motivated to fight an electoral battle.
There was jubilation by party members across the state as the verdict rekindled their hope and relevance. Party chieftains who have been hobnobbing with other parties, with a view to forging an alliance, have started retracing their steps.
Also, the ‘Akure Agenda’ is on the front burner again. It would have died with the eclipse of Jegede’s ambition. Even, Akure indigenes in the APC and the AD cannot publicly object to the collective aspiration of the capital town to produce the next governor. The old Akure Division comprise of Akure, Iju, Ita-Ogbolu, Oba-Ile, Ijare, Isarun, Ilara-Mokin, Igbara-Odo, Oda and Ogbese. The push for power shift is being rationalized by patriots who believe that, since the state capital has not produced an elected governor since the Third Republic, the agenda should be supported in the spirit of fair play and justice.
Agenda versus zoning
The ‘Akure Agenda’ is in conflict with the rotational principle of the ruling party. If zoning is adhered to strictly, the slot should have gone to either the North or the South senatorial zone. Akure is in the Central District. Incumbent Governor Mimiko, whose two terms will expire in January, next year, is from Ondo kingdom, which is also in the central district. But, the district is a potent electoral constituency. Its numerical strength is always the deciding factor. The bloc votes from Akure and Ondo, usually, are the game changer.
There were a lot of permutations in that period of anxiety and tension. PDP followers, thinking that hope was lost, beckoned on the governor to give directive on the way forward. Two options were open to him, but they were not politically viable. Although Mimiko had the option of seizing the opportunity for alignment with the APC, there were fears that the terms of agreement may not be honoured in post-election period. It was insinuated that an APC/PDP pact would have given the governor a soft-landing after leaving office.
But, it paled into a narrow, selfish and egocentric view. Also, the option of a deal between Mimiko and Olusola Oke, the AD candidate, was a no-go area. The move would have been frustrated by pre-existing feud and bitterness. Since the days of former Governor Agagu, the two politicians have parted ways. Many believed that Oke called it quit with the PDP, shortly after last year’s polls, following disagreement with the governor after he defected from the Labour Party.