BY DEJI ADEBAYO
With the Ondo State governorship election fixed for October 10 this year, precisely eight (8) months from now, it is becoming manifestly clear that the race will not depend on how deep your pocket or how easily you can muster financial war chest.
But let me be frank here, money alone will definitely not be the deciding factor without taking cognizance of equally important factors chiefly which is zoning the position rightly by participating political parties.
No matter how much is expended by political moneybags and so-called heavyweight politicians to sway the hearts and minds of the voters, they will ultimately determine who wins this time around and they will go for the man with solutions to the myriad of challenges afflicting the state.
The Ondo state people I know are well regarded for their astute political and leadership consciousness and can not be hoodwinked by perpetual professional politicians who always at any forum and in any given political contest use sweet words for them while the people have always taken the bait not minding the candidates and where they come from.
Now, the people of Ondo State have become wiser and more careful in their quest for good leadership, which is why all political parties participating in the forthcoming governorship election must zone the position rightly to the most deserving senatorial district out of the three zones without jettisoning competence and capacity on the altar of political expediency at the same time.
One of the foundational principles of any great or would-be great political party, is that power must reside with the people in an admissible and transparent democratic tradition. A political party must therefore hold in high esteem and with keen interest the equitable distribution cum geographical spread of political and party offices among the people in such a way that no significant zone or region is in anyway shortchanged in the scheme of power distribution within the party.
Over the years, series of questions have been put to individuals and group of individuals (political party leaders) to elicit their views and educate them more on how sacrosanct and congruent in the way leaders and candidates were emerging in every stratum of the political parties, it is no doubt a huge task where integrity, character, personality and influence play a big role.
Ondo State is one of the States where there are many strong and stable political parties judging from the 2019 general elections. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and others like the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) had their fair share of winning during the National Assembly elections.
All these political parties have become formidable platforms, with Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) waxing stronger with its national leader, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, still very relevant in determining where the pendulum of victory swings particularly in Ondo Central.
Leaders of these political parties have been cropping up, in line with these quintessential ethos, in search for the credible candidates. The political parties would not need to screen and screen to get the best charismatic personality and competence who would be acceptable to the generality of people of Ondo state in our political enclave as they all have more than enough in the race.
The main message from the gesture of all the senatorial districts, laying claim to each party’s ticket that it is their turn to produce the next governor. What this means is that all zones have gotten fair share of the Alagbaka government house and it is now time to reshuffle what started with the Northern senatorial district in 1999. It is my view and considered opinion that Ondo North is the only senatorial district that has not gotten any double inauguration straight. My reasons are:
Firstly, from the beginning of this stable and uninterrupted Democratic dispensation, all the senatorial districts of Ondo State have governed the state. Chief Adebayo Adefarati (Ondo North: 1999 – 2003), Dr. Olusegun Agagu (Ondo South: 2003 – 2009), Dr Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo Central: 2009 – 2016) and now, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN (Ondo North: 2016 to 2021). It should be known that there wasn’t any deliberate zoning arrangement but it exists in sub consciousness of the people. So the Governorship seat has unofficially been zoned to favour each district at a particular time before the emergence of all these governors. Because different political parties have presented candidates from different Senatorial districts at each contest depending on the zoning believe, arrangements and agreement of each political party.
Secondly, as pointed out earlier, the Northern senatorial district is the only district that has never taken oath of office two consecutive times which the other districts have done. The Northern district started this Democratic dispensation with four years (one term) before the seat moved to the Southern district. The South & Central districts had two terms respectively, even though the second term of Ondo South was judicially terminated midway. Also, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a political party has never considered a Northern senatorial district candidate for its ticket in all the five governorship contests since 1999. This is why PDP should look at the Northern senatorial way this time around, while the best option for the All Progressives Congress (APC) is to retain its ticket in the district where the incumbent Governor Akeredolu hails from.
There had been arguments about the various divisions or kingdoms that make up Ondo State, which must be considered for equity and fairness. That argument honestly cannot hold water as we cannot continue to live in the past. The constitution currently applicable for political argument and litigation in Nigeria is the 1999 constitution (as amended). The constitution only recognises wards, Local governments, Senatorial districts and NOT divisions and kingdoms.
As the race draws nearer, it is imperative and expedient to loudly drum into the ears of all political party leaders and members in the State that our success in the coming election is dependent solely on the integrity of the selection process. All the parties must therefore ensure that the primary elections scheduled for July this year is not only free and fair but must be seen to be transparently so. Party elders, leaders and their teeming members should ruminate on these issues and ensure that in all their actions they will ensure that the interest of Ondo State supersedes personal interests. For political stability, equity and fair play, the Northern senatorial district which have many competent and capable sons and daughters, like their Central and Southern counterparts, should be allowed to complete its second term. Political gladiators from the Northern region in various political parties should move round the State, keep talking to their colleagues to see why the new start of another double round should not elude the Northern district. Let it be clear to other districts too that should power be snatched away from the Northern district now, they should be ready to release it back after a single term of four years. What goes round will definitely come round.
Finally, above all considerations, the issues of competence deductible from track records, previous experiences, even development of the State and most importantly job creation for our teeming youths, would be more beneficial to the good people of Ondo State than district affiliations. As the day of reckoning draws near, it is hoped that the numerous Aspirants will not only concentrate on their financial strength but will consider the welfare and development of Ondo State.
I thank you all for your time!