Ondo: Nice mix, but…


I love the pairing in Ondo State. I mean the two men, one of who would soon be governor for another four years by God’s grace. Tomorrow surely doesn’t belong to us but the current arithmetic in the state’s politics, is very interesting. Babatunde Fashola has made it a thing of pride for Senior Advocates of Nigeria to be in pole position for state top-job. With a tinge of programmed exceptionality, he roamed into history book as one of the most fecund tutored IQ in governance. Being a SAN is thought to have helped his leadership thoughts. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo SAN may be slightly shaded in the current administration but his occasional expressed thoughts aren’t jaded. Millions rallied behind Buhari during the elections because of Yemi’s “learned” head and robed body.

In Ondo, ceteri paribus, a Senior Advocate is certain to succeed the outgoing medical doctor-governor Segun Mimiko. It is either Akure-born Eyitayo Jegede from Mimiko’s PDP or Owo-sired Rotimi Akeredolu of APC. Both are senior lawyers, with Akeredolu being the more experienced and known, having served as the national leader (that title again) of all Nigerian lawyers, elected unopposed!

But there would be no such luxury on November 26. He may not even be second time lucky in the electioneering process. The hurdles this time are higher than 2012’s, when he ran a distant third. It should have been a much easier race for him, considering that the two men who bested him the last time aren’t on the ballot now. He bettered one; Olusola Oke, in the disputed party primary election and his main conqueror; Mimiko isn’t directly involved. But semantics aside, Eyitayo’s battles are Mimiko’s and indirectly, the greyed one would still be squaring with his old nemesis.

Mimiko/Jegede’s combo is however half of Aketi’s political migraine though it would worry his ambition to the extreme. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, if not dexterously-managed, would likely be the beyond-extreme gulf standing between Akeredolu and his Alagbaka ambition. Interestingly, the capacity-defining Lagos politician was the defining factor for Aketi’s involvement four years ago. His attempt at something and someone new this time around as APC’s South-West Sole Distributor has been the defining moment for the much-prized ticket Aketi eventually appropriated to the shock of those who thought their whim a must.

The Ondo APC primary election debacle has gone national, with leaders knocking heads. Resolving it effectively before the November poll has become a must for Aketi to stand any winning chance and the resolution is beyond his simplistic offering of “reasonable adjustment for peace”.

It is easy to point more fingers at Tinubu for his unhidden love for “picking” instead of “electing” party candidates, either in imposition or endorsement guise. A lot of party chieftains in the South-West with the exception of largely-benefitting Osun and Lagos States, can hold legitimate angst against Tinubu and his style, but not Aketi.

His politics began and flourished on imposition, packaged by Tinubu. Bourdillion’s fingers feted his political hunger. He can’t morally kick now. It was the same admonition Fashola largely got when the Ambode’s imposition politics collided with his Alausa-interest. Tinubu’s perceived excesses can’t diminish his excessive political generosity.

If APC is an intricately-woven complexity in Ondo today, Aketi has plenty blame to carry. While his ambition was and still legitimate, he over-talked, in his usual boisterous way, making the crisis to brew over.

Tinubu is surely in a dire situation in Ondo as he is unlikely to do anything that would benefit Mimiko politically, but he has reasons to “fight” and correctly too, by taking the battle straight to those suspected of pumping Aketi’s puffed chest during the primary contest.

But such a fight must be issue-based, fact-grinding and morally-defensible. If the primary election was rigged like all other political contests in the land, it should be challenged. If Oyegun actually manipulated the appeal process, such administrative heist should be contentiously contested. Without doubt, both Aketi and Oyegun have a right to wean themselves of Tinubu’s influence, but while Oyegun has shown more maturity in handling the backlash, Akeredolu’s swashbuckling personality has kept overshadowing whatever genuineness inherent in his unleavened settlement offer.

Tinubu has tactically taken the battle to a higher ground in Abuja, in order not to be seen engaging a trainee, but the truth is that Ondo is the battleground and Akeredolu’s ambition is what would be at stake when the Abuja Bombers take on Bourdillion Boys in what could be the deciding shot before water recedes to its level.

It is one battle Bourdillion may not want to lose having lost nearly all against its bedmate adversaries within APC. Ministerial appointment, Senate presidency, Reps Speakership, Kogi governorship, and now this. Little wonder the outburst. You can keep flogging a man and ask him not to cry.

For a man so viciously criticized for creating and executing an expansionist agenda yet unmatched in Nigerian political history, the Leader of Team Bourdillion may be attracting more of his-own-too-much-sef grin for now, but the moment he positions himself properly as the underdog in this Akeredolu’s battle as he is gradually doing, favourable sentiments won’t be in short supply for him, since Aketi himself hasn’t been much of a public-darling despite being public-oriented all his adult life.

Coming on the heels of Edo election, Ondo presents a different scenario. There is a humiliated godfather, a defiant godson, a biased party leadership, a governor and candidate unlikely to benefit from others’ misfortune and an unyielding “authentic” National Leader in Abuja. When those who should solve problems are problems to be solved themselves, then come can be said to have become. Gibbers gave APC, Edo. The Jimoh Ibrahim distraction is without doubt a worry for Mimiko and Jegede, but both camps are going to pour the votes into the same basket, before resolving who should inherit them. Ondo is strongly looking PDP, whichever way.