By Dapo Akinrefon
RACE for the governorship election in Ondo State is already gaining momentum.
The aspirants have thrown their hats in the ring to contest the elections.
Political pundits are of the view that the election is expected to make or mar the political dynasty of Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
Both the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, are not leaving any stone unturned to outwit each other at the polls.
With the electioneering campaign entering full gear, the focus is now on the primaries where the parties are expected to throw up their respective governorship candidates, who would fly their party’s flag.
Perhaps, this apprehension is not unfounded in the APC, considering that more than 50 aspirants, including one female, are jostling for the party’s ticket–even though not all have picked up the nomination forms. And the need to effectively harmonise and manage these diverse interests is key to the party’s success in the next race.
The array of political gladiators jostling for delegates’ votes remains, perhaps, the biggest hurdle for the APC in the state.
This is because many party loyalists share the view that the November 26, 2016 election could be won or lost majorly based on who eventually would be the standard bearer of the party eventually.
Observers of political events in the state convey diverse opinion on the various aspirants contesting on the platform of the APC. There are perhaps five leading aspirants at the moment, including the Mr Rotimi Akeredolu and Dr Segun Abraham. The three others are Senator Ajayi Boroffice and Sen. Tayo Alasoadura, the senators representing Ondo North and Central senatorial districts respectively.
There is also a former legal adviser of the PDP, Olusola Oke, a frontline politician whose defection to the APC was forced by the incumbent Governor Mimiko’s defection to the PDP.
A range of views from pundits, posit that the APC should go for a technocrat rather than a typical politician.
Some party loyalists believe it would be more honourable for Mr. Akeredolu to reciprocate Mr. Abraham’s gesture in 2012 by “stepping down” for him.
Mr. Abraham was one of the three final aspirants considered for the party’s candidacy in 2012 but opted to step down for the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Akeredolu.
Others called for support for the only female candidate among them, Jumoke Anifowoshe, the daughter of first civilian governor of the state, Chief Michael Ajasin. But apart from the gender factor, there is little else that Anifowoshe has going for her. Having served as a commissioner and party chairperson in the state, opinions favoured Abraham who has always sacrificed personal ambition for the overall interest of the party.
Indeed, a recount Mr. Abraham’s politics in Ondo State reveals a narrative of a disciplined life “propelled by a heart to serve.” These two combinations are currently hot on the lips of many residents of the state who are eagerly weighing in on the next governor of the state among many aspirants.
Many politicians in the state still refer to the 1999 episode when he opted not to serve in an administration that he helped to establish. Former Governor of Ondo State, late Chief Adebayo Adefarati considered him for appointment as commissioner in his administration between 1999 and 2003. Such was Abraham’s contribution to the campaign of the Alliance for Democracy’s candidate that he was deservingly offered the appointment.
For all of his active partisan political experience, his activities have always been geared towards building the common good, against the dictates of modern day politicians’ proclivity for feathering personal nest.
Whether zoning is a factor or not, Abraham is perceived to have an edge over other aspirants in emerging the party’s primary scheduled to hold on August 27.
Even though Akeredolu, Alasoadura, Boroffice and Oke appear formidable, Abraham is considered to have a clear advantage considering his wide contacts with political leaders in the state and vast grassroots support that he has been able to garner through his social intervention programmes.