Ondo 2016: Akoko’s quest to secure APC ticket

THE stage appears set for the August 22 governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State. As of the last count, no fewer than 50 aspirants from across the three senatorial districts of the state were angling to fly the party’s flag in the November 26 governorship election.

Although the party has ruled out zoning of its ticket to any part of the state, the body language of the leaders, some stakeholders believe, is in favour of Ondo North senatorial District, a situation, political analysts say is responsible for the large number of aspirants from the zone, which comprises Owo/Ose and Akoko axes.

At least 10 aspirants of the Akoko extraction, including a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Honourable Victor Olabimtan; Chief Olusegun Abraham, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Moyosola Oladunni, Adefemi, Tunji Abayomi, Foluso Adefemi and Ganny Dauda, have thrown their hats in the ring.

Against this background, APC stakeholders in Akoko are said to be advocating a consensus candidate in order to stand the area in a good stead come August 22. Among the stakeholders calling for the zoning of the governorship ticket to Akoko North senatorial district is the Akoko Elders Assembly, a body representing the interest of the Akoko people in the APC.

Noting that the senator representing Ondo North, Ajayi Boroffice, as well as a former governor of the state, the late Adebayo Adefarati, who served between 1999 and 2003, are from Akoko South, the group claims that it behoves Akoko North to produce a worthy consensus aspirant this time. However, some aspirants from the Akoko area are seeing this push as a means of tactically shutting them out of the race.

The Akoko North elders, after consultations with the aspirants, are said to have pruned their number to four, namely Dr Olusegun Abraham (Ikare-Akoko), Tunji Abayomi (Oke-Agbe Akoko), Foluso Adefemi (Afin Akoko) and Honourable Gani Dauda (Irun Akoko). These four are deemed to possess the attributes needed to advance the cause of Akoko through the forthcoming primary.

The chairman of Akoko Elders Assembly, Chief Felix Aiyegbusi, said that the decision to zone the candidacy to Akoko-North-East/Akoko North-West Federal Constituency was based on equity and fairness. “The constituency has not been given the opportunity to take up any public position of responsibility in the past years as compared to the other federal constituency in Akokoland and by extension, the entire Ondo North senatorial district.

“We the APC Akoko Elders Assembly have reached a decision at this stage of the campaign towards the governorship election in Ondo to zone the candidacy to Akoko North West Federal Constituency.

“The decision was made to maintain peace, unity, progress and statesmanship in Akokoland as there is no reason to create confusion among ourselves when we can amicably come together, agree and take a position. The decision is unanimous and we have thrown the challenges back to the Akoko North people and the governorship aspirants that hail from there to further consult within themselves and present one uniform viable candidate of their own and present him to us. That one candidate should be sure of our backing,” Ayegbusi said.

Of the four aspirants, Abraham and Dauda are said to have been favoured for their closeness to the grass roots and the presence of their political structures in every nook and cranny of the state.

Abraham, who contested for the ticket of the defunct Action Congress Nigeria (ACN) in the 2012 election but lost to Rotimi Akeredolu, it is said, is poised to give the ticket his best shot this time around and is leaving no stone unturned in this regard.

The politician, in an interview, described his quest as a “godly mission to transform Ondo State from a third world state to a first world state in a manner that our state will not only be prosperous but will also be led with compassion, integrity and love.”

But a source said that despite the fact that Senator Boroffice hails from Akoko South, the elders see him as a strong contender for the race. Boroffice is currently representing the district in the Senate. Some forces are, however, said to be opposed to his candidacy “for failing to keep to a promise during his senatorial campaign that he won’t run for the post of governor come 2016.” The majority of political leaders of Akoko are reportedly given to the view that the lawmaker should be allowed to serve out his term and focus on the development of the northern senatorial district. It was gathered that the leaders had pleaded with him to support another competent Akoko aspirant so that the opportunity would not elude the Akoko people.

But Olabimtan and Boroffice, while reacting on behalf of other aspirants, dissociated themselves from the purported action of the Akoko elders, saying they paid no attention to the purported decision of the elders regarding governorship aspirants as, according to them, “it is against the spirit and constitution of the APC.”

They argued that the party’s constitution only recognised two manners in which a candidate could emerge – a primary election by delegates and a consensus of the aspirants.

Political analysts, however, see the steps of the Akoko elders as a way of going into the party’s primary with one voice. They also note that the move might lead to crisis among the many aspirants from the area as many of them have shown considerable aversion to the consensus arrangement.

With the party’s primary around the corner and an absence of a common front among the stakeholders, political watchers are waiting, with bated breath, to see what becomes of the Akoko push for the governorship ticket.