Since he won the primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo state in 2015, he has been galloping from one crisis to the other which has greatly affected the fortunes of the party, including during the last general elections.
Second term politics: Can Akeredolu make it in Ondo State? By Ayodele Oni
Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has, indeed, found himself in an unfamiliar terrain. Aside his law profession where he has soared and towered, his foray into the terrain of partisan politics has clearly, really, taught him some lessons and added to his life’s experiences.
Governor Akeredolu, who rode on the back of the powerful Abuja mafia and dared the Bourdillion power bloc, headed by the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is by now realising, that governance is not by chains of degrees or educational attainment.
He is still currently battling with the legal challenge arising from the primary election which produced him, instituted by one of the aspirants who participated in the primary election, Mr Segun Abraham. He is also grappling with the crisis orchestrated by the removal of the party executive he inherited at the state level as well as the endless criticisms coming from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The results of the last general election in the state clearly indicate that things have greatly turned sour within the rank and file of the ruling APC in Ondo state. The party won only one out of three senate seats and five out of the nine seats in the House of Representatives. The situation would have been worse in the House of Assembly election if not for the conscription of former Governor Olusegun Mimiko into the arrangement to make the ruling party get a convenient majority in the sunshine state assembly and it worked.
Now that scheming towards another governorship election has started in the state, as the tenure of the present administration will terminate next year, there are indications that Governor Akeredolu may not find it easy to secure a second term ticket from his party. He will, for instance, need to resolve some outstanding issues with party leaders like Prof Ajayi Borofice, former deputy governor, Alhaji Alli Olanusi and others in his quest for the second term ticket.
Apart from the domestic battles confronting him, there are also regional and national hurdles for him to scale. To get the ticket, for instance, he will have to contend with Asiwaju Tinubu, who apart from his profile that has risen as a result of the role he is seen to have played in the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, is still seen as the godfather of APC in the South West geo-political zone. He single-handedly stopped the sitting Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode from getting a second term ticket. Akeredolu was seen as having bypassed him to get the ticket that saw him winning the governorship seat in the first place. Can he do that again? Or is he now going to go, cap in hand, to Bourdillon to beg for the ticket?
Besides Tinubu, can Akeredolu still count on the full support of now Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State in his battle for re-election? Fayemi played a major role in his successful governorship campaign and Akeredolu reciprocated the gesture during Fayemi’s battle to return to the Ekiti State Government House. What will be the level of commitment of Fayemi to Akeredolu this time around?
Another factor that would affect how the Akeredolu’s campaign will be the fate that has befallen the APC in Oyo State and how the Osun State governorship saga will end. Oyo State is now PDP and will, almost certainly, work for the success of the PDP candidate in the state and if Osun also falls into the hands of the PDP the odds will be further pilled higher against Akeredolu.
If, somehow, he is able to get through the stakeholders at home, maneuver through the obstacles posed by the disposition of the neighbouring states and secure the endorsement of Tinubu and his foot soldiers, the next question will be, how will he fare with APC national party chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) who were able to stop Governor Rochas Okorocha from imposing his son-in-law as governor of Imo State and the Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari from presenting his preferred candidates for the party in the state in the last election?
Even if he manages to beat all these daunting odds and secures the ticket, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, turned politician will still have sleepless nights contending with the opposition PDP which won two senate seats and three House of Representatives seats during the last election as the party is working round the clock to get back Ondo state and their successes in Oyo and Osun and the close race in Ekiti will boost their morale.
Rough as the road seems, however, Governor Akeredolu is leaving no stone unturned, especially with his administration embarking on noticeable infrastructural development of the state as well as regular payment of workers’ salaries. He has succeeded in clearing the seven months arrears of salaries owed by the previous administration after the workers union threatened his administration with strike.
As the count down begins in earnest, it is left to be seen, how he can manage to navigate the many crises he has to contend with within his party and how he will then be able to rally all his party members, both within and from outside the state, to help him secure the ticket of the party for the election and to help him beat all opposition from rival parties to retain his seat for a second term.