Oluwafemi Ajanaku, Akure
THE internal wrangling in Ondo State All Progressives Congress, APC, is evident in the results of the Presidential and National Assembly polls. The ruling party, expected to win comfortably has witnessed depleted political fortunes, losing vital grounds to opposition parties.
To everyone’s surprise, the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, sprang mouth-gaping surprises and political comeback, alongside minority parties like Social Democratic Party,SDP, and African Democratic Congress,ADC, which deprived incumbent APC lawmakers return tickets.
APC lost the state to the PDP at the Presidential poll, conceding defeat in 11 out of 18 local government areas of the state; five out of nine House of Representatives seats and two senatorial slots to the opposition.
The results have set the governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, on his toes. He is said to be running helter and skelter for political survival ahead of the House of Assembly election; and unavoidably, to mitigate the sanction from the National leadership of the party, which had received myriads of reports accusing the governor of anti-party activities. He escaped the hammer of suspension slammed on two other governors – Ibukunle Amosun in Ogun and Rochas Okorocha in Imo.
His offence is rooted in his opposition to the decision of the National Working Committee of the party to give some lawmakers automatic tickets to return to the Ninth Assembly. Governor Akeredolu was accused of sponsoring some candidates of Action Alliance to contest against APC candidates, thus igniting fighting a war of attrition with some party leaders across the state. His aides are quick to deny the allegation that the governor asked council chieftains to ensure the victory of AA candidates in the contest for national legislative seats.
Most prominent among the AA candidates is the Pro Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, who deserted APC after a return ticket had been given to the Senator representing the North Senatorial District, Prof Ajayi Boroffice. He lost the election but won the governor’s unit in Ijebu II to defeat APC. The result of the senatorial poll at Ijebu II, Ward 5, Unit 6, Owo, the headquarters of Owo LGA, where the governor votes, has been a reference point of contention among APC leaders who are accusing the governor of anti-party activities and divisive efforts as Abayomi scored 125 votes to defeat the governor and his party which polled 33 votes.
Though the governor delivered his council for the presidency with 18,322 votes to beat PDP that scored 13,375 votes; he lost 11 councils to PDP namely: Okitipupa, Ose, Akure South, Akure North, Ese-odo, Ifedore, Idanre, Irele, Ondo West, Ondo East and Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo with 241,769 to 275,901.
Delivering Akoko South East, Akoko South West, Akoko North East, Akoko North West, Ilaje and Odigbo for Buhari, he also won Owo/Ose Federal Constituency for his candidate, Timilehin Adelegbe, with 24,733 votes to defeat PDP that polled 20,135 votes. His allies who left APC to contest in AA lost the other two Federal Constituency seats and Senate in the North District.
It is on record that the two APC candidates for the Federal Constituencies among the four Akoko council teamed up with Boroffice, the political arch enemy of the governor, who is from Akoko South West to floor the AA candidates allegedly sponsored by the governor.
In Akoko North East/North West Constituency, the incumbent member, Stephen Olemija who is the AA candidate loyal to the governor, scored 10,979 votes but was jointly trounced by APC candidate, Mr Bunmi Tunji-Ojo and PDP candidate, Wale Ogunleye, who had 20,988 and 12,969 votes respectively.
The governor’s friend in Akoko South West/South East, Victor Ategbole who contested under AA scored 14,694 votes, APC’s Adeogun won with 19,047 votes to also defeat PDP’s candidate, Martins Abiloye, who polled 12,907 votes. Boroffice, the only APC senator polled 53, 199 to defeat Abayomi and PDP candidate, who polled 43,100 and 34,490 votes respectively.
In the Central Senatorial contest, the incumbent APC Senator, Tayo Alasoadura, was defeated by PDP; and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Ifedayo Abegunde, lost at his polling unit; while the three Federal Constituency seats were lost to the opposition.
The incumbent APC rep members seeking return tickets for Ifedore/Idanre and Akure South/North Constituencies, Bamidele Bolarinwa and Afe Olowookere, lost the tickets to a 34 year old candidate of the Social Democratic Party,SDP, Tajudeen Adefisoye and PDP’s Adedayo Omolafe respectively. The governor’s candidate vying for Ondo West/Ondo East Constituency, Dr Dayo Adeyeye was trashed by African Democratic Congress, ADC, candidate, Abiola Makinde.
Similarly, the AA candidate for the Senate in the South Senatorial District, Dr Julius Felder and the incumbent, Senator Yele Omogunwa of the APC, were defeated by the PDP candidate, Nicholas Tofowomo, who polled 79,029 votes, though INEC declared the result inconclusive.
Two out of three House of Representatives seats were won by PDP as the governor’s favourite in APC candidate, Albert Akintoye lost the ticket to Kengboju Gboluga in Irele/Okitipupa Constituency, while his beloved candidate for Ilaje/Ese-Odo Constituency conceded a return ticket to Victor Akinjo.
Only the incumbent lawmaker and ally to the governor, Mayowa Akinfolarin, won Odigbo/Ileoluji-Okeigbo Constituency for APC, making the second lawmaker out of 12 which Akeredolu can claim their loyalty in the National Assembly. The other two are loyal to the Boroffice camp.
Appraising the outcome of the last election, Boroffice said: “APC lost Saturday election in Ondo State to PDP because APC has dysfunctional party structure in the state which is not effective. Then, we have a bipolar party which is one side AA and another is authentic APC.
“It is like the house divided against itself and that really affected the party in the election. I have mixed feelings in sense that we lost to PDP and it is unfortunate. However, the good side is that, I won the election and three members of House of Representatives in my district and our presidential candidate also won.
“But the fact that we lost two senatorial seats to PDP is bad. I won because people are behind me and if you go there, you will see projects I did and brought there. People know that I am committed to their welfare and they decided to give their votes to me despite all odds.”
And now that Assembly election is around the corner, political analysts said the Presidential and National Assembly results portend bad political omen for the governor. Akeredolu has begun fence mending meetings with his party men and opposition leaders to assist him, not without handsome financial rewards, so that he can win majority of the 26 seats in the state assembly.