APC primaries: All eyes on Tinubu’s anointed candidate in Ondo as contesters slug it out

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Uncertainty reigns in the ruling All Progressive Congress in Ondo State, ahead of the April All Progressives Congress APC primaries.

As the APC primaries approaches, no thanks to the “no signal yet” from President Bola Tinubu, who has vested interest in who becomes the governor of the state.

The choice of the next governor of the state, solely rest on President Bola Tinubu, following the sudden demise of governor Rotimi Akeredolu, the leader of the party in the state.

Akeredolu’s death has thrown all those interested in succeeding him into a state of confusion. It has equally robbed the “anointed one” of the public endorsement by the late governor popularly known as ” Aketi.”

Recent and unexpected development in the state, has alter the political calculations ahead of next months APC primaries.

Many of the aspirants in the APC primaries, eyeing the seat, have in a bid to score cheap political points claimed that they’ve been endorsed by the late governor before his demise.

But responses from the late governor’s aides, punctured the claims, and described it as bladerdash.

However, with the absence of the Akeredolu, who was the arrow head of the party in the state, all eyes are on Abuja to ” show them the way to go”.

It’s not an understatement to conclude that the APC in the state has become an orphan following the death of Akeredolu.

No fewer than 11 aspirants have showed interest in the APC primaries.

The aspirants that have showed interest but yet to purchase their nomination forms for the APC primaries, include, the incumbent, Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Chief Olusola Oke, Hon Mayowa Akinfolarin, Hon Isaacs Kekemeke, Wale Akinterinwa, Olugbenga Edema, Jimoh lbrahim, Olumide Ohunyeye, Prof Dayo Faduyile, Jimi Odimayo and Dr Paul Akintelure.

Findings by vanguard showed that all the aspirants have applied the brakes since the death of Akeredolu and because of the uncertainty in the political atmosphere in the state.

They’re said to be waiting for the body language of President Bola Tinubu, whom they believed is the deciding factor.

Reports had it that all efforts by the Frontline aspirants to access the president to discuss their ambitions, have hit brick walls.

Alternatively, they’ve relocated to Abuja to meet with close friends and political associates and immediate family members of the President.

Some of the aspirants have reportedly sent emissaries to the wife of the President, Chief Remi Tinubu, her daughter, the lyaloja General, Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, the inlaws and the likes of the former Osun state governor, Chief Bisi Akande and a prominent politician in ldanre area of the state, Chief Pius Akinyelure.

Reports also had it that efforts by the aspirants to infilterate the Umar Ganduje-led National Working Committee of the party, have been rebuffed. Those approached according to findings, pointedly declined, insisting that they’re awaiting directives from the President on ondo governorship election.

Those privileged to met with the National Chairman of the party, Dr Umar Ganduje, were told that the party was still “awaiting signals” from the President because the state is his zone.

Findings by vanguard showed that only six of the aspirants are real contenders in the APC primaries while others are either pretenders or in the race to negotiate for political relevance in the coming dispensation.

The real contenders in the next months primary election of the ruling party include Aiyedatiwa, Oke, Akinfolarin, Kekemeke, Akinterinwa and Jimoh.

None of the 11 aspirants has obtained the nomination form for the APC primaries. The serious amongst them would be unveiled after the close of the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms on April 3. The sale of the forms would commence on March 27.

Their chances:

Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa

Aside the power of incumbency, the present governor, who stepped into the shoes of his late benefactor, Akeredolu, has nothing to show as his political strenght.

The structure of the ruling party, literally died with Akeredolu. The Frosty relationship between Aiyedatiwa and the late Akeredolu and his alleged desperation before and after Akeredolu’s death, yanked off the party structure from him.

Akeredolu’s aides and die hard loyalists have queued behind the former finance commissioner, Wale Akinterinwa while others have pitched their tent with Aiyedatiwa purposely for political patronage.

What many of Aiyedatiwa’s supporters and loyalists termed his endorsement by political groups the state, since his inauguration on December 27, last year, was seen by political analysts as a political jamboree which was borne out of the fear of the unknown as many of them keyed into the endorsement jamboree to retain their political positions in government.

Their allegiance according to one of the aspirants, would fizzle out after next months governorship primary, if the table turned against Aiyedatiwa.

Also, the controversy surrounding Aiyedatiwa’s certificate could be a stumbling block for him, as the party would not interested in giving it’s ticket to a candidate with certificate issues.

However, Aiyedatiwa’s aides have rubbished the noise over the certificate, describing it as dead on arrival and of no issue.

His opponents, however, according to sources, are waiting to feast on this in the following weeks ahead of the party’s primary.

It’s still dicey if the power that be in Abuja would approve of his candidacy or not.

The incumbent is one of the strong contenders in the race because of the power of incumbency.

However, despite using the power of incumbency to gain support and woo loyalists of the late governor to his camp, his chances are said to still be slim.

Olusola Oke

Oke is a grassroot politician, that’s acceptable across all the political divides. He’s an asset to the ruling party.

He’s an household name in the state. He was a governorship candidate in 2012 and 2016.

Oke who has contested three times and lost, believes that this fourth time is his turn. Will it be his turn?, time will tell.

No doubt Oke is a strong contender, who believes that if given the party’s ticket there won’t be opposition again in the State. Many leaders of the opposition People’s Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party, have not hidden their desires to work for Oke if he wins the party’s ticket.

Mayowa Akinfolarin
Akinfolarin is another strong contender in the coming contest.

The former member of the House of Representatives is the first of the aspirants that has toured the entire 18 council areas ahead of the next month primary election. He has contested election seven times and won in five. Akinfolarin is a unifier, a name he was given when he was the deputy speaker in the state House of Assembly and the House of Representatives.

He has the support of some former members of the National Assembly, including the former Speaker and now the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila and the minister of the Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.

Gbajabiamila, Akinfolarin, and Tunji-Ojo were all members of the Ninth Assembly in the House of Representatives.

His political friends in the seat of power are rooting for him to emerge as the party’s flagbearear. He’s a silent achiever.

Jimoh Ibrahim

Senator, Jimoh lbrahim, is no doubt a serious contender. The business mogul has invested heavily in the contest. He has visited almost all the wards across the state. He believes that once he gets the support of the people in the grassroot, his case is settled.

Ibrahim has good plan and programmes to move the state forward if given the chance.

His performance in the Senate has been exceptional. He promised to turn around the fortune of the state if he wins the primary election and the November election.

Many believes that Jimoh lbrahim is an asset if given the ticket but they’re equally expressing fear that he may be too difficult to control because of his alleged “intellectual arrogance”.

Rumour has it that Jimoh has plan B to realise his ambition in another party if he fails to secure the party’s ticket. But his close aides have dismissed such plan, describing him as a loyal party member who is not desperate to get power.

Hon lsaacs Kekemeke

Kekemeke was the pioneer chairman of the party in the state. He’s an household name and loved across the state. He was a former commissioner under the late governor Olusegun Agagu and a former Secretary to the state government. He’s a grassroot politician from the riverine area of the state.

The astute politician is a strong loyalists of the late governor Olusegun Agagu.

A careful perusal of his programmes and plans for the state,remained unmatched if he wins the ticket. He’s another aspirant that will woo party leaders from the opposition parties to the ruling party if given the party’s ticket.

He participated in the primary election that produced the late governor Rotimi Akeredolu. Kekemeke is a strong believer in God. He says his candidacy is God’s project, sealed and waiting for manifestation. He’s presently the National Vice Chairman of the APC, South West.

Wale Akinterinwa

Akinterinwa is a three time finance commissioner in the state. He’s a financial expert. He’s one of the trusted loyalists of the late Akeredolu. He’s a serious contender in the next months primary election. He optimistic of winning the ticket.

Akinterinwa, has inherited the political structure of the late Akeredolu. Many of the die hard loyalists of Akeredolu, have queued behind him and have abandoned the incumbent governor.

They believe Akinterinwa would continue where Akeredolu stopped if he wins the ticket. Akinterinwa pulls some powerful strings in Abuja, the seat of power. He’s a force that can’t be ignored.

Olugbenga Edema

Edema, was a former commissioner representing the state in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. He touched many lives while he was in the NDDC and as the state chairman of Oil Producing Area Development Commission, OSOPADEC, an intervention agency for the people of the oil rich communities in the state.

Edema, was also a member of the state House of Assembly. He’s a contender in the race but may likely step down if convinced.

Prof Dayo Faduyile

He was the former NMA President and the Special Adviser to the late governor Akeredolu on Health. He’s a Professor of Pathology. He’s not a serious contender. Faduyile is passionate about his ambition, but he lacks the political structure to drive his dream.

Jimi Odimayo

He’s presently a member of the House of Representatives.

Odimayo is seen by many politicians in the party as a pretender and that he threw his hat in the ring to negotiate for his second term in the national assembly.

He won the national assembly seat following the political arrangement in his federal constituency and with the support of the Akeredolu’s. He may step down before next months governorship primary election.

Matthew Oyerinmade

Although a philanthropist, Oyerinmade is one of the pretenders that have showed interest in the race. Many sees his showing interest in the race as a way to negotiate for political position after the election.

It’s rumoured that he’ll readily step down before the party’s primary.

Morayo Lebi

Lebi is another pretender in the race. His many attempt to go to the national assembly have not yielded result. He lambasted the leadership of his party of not rewarding loyalists of the party. His billboards littered the state.

Meanwhile, all eyes are focus on President Bola Tinubu, as all the aspirants including governor Aiyedatiwa are waiting with bated breath for his anointed candidate.

However, as a source told vanguard that President Tinubu plans to meet with Ondo State stakeholders for a political meetings in the first week of April.

There are however, strong indications that a dark horse is likely to emerge as the party’s candidate if the president decides to sacrifice the bigwigs eyeing the coveted seat.

Will lucky Aiyedatiwa be lucky again this time, or will he be shoved aside for another candidate to fly the flag of the ruling APC in the November governorship election in the state, the answer is in the belly of time.

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