As Ondo State people go to poll on Saturday to elect the governor that will run their affairs in the next four years, latest opinion poll has shown that only three of the contenders are the major figures to watch in the cliff-hanger electoral contest. They are the incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of APC, Eyitayo Jegede of PDP and incumbent Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi of ZLP showing strength in that order.
Of the three, incumbent Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, is favoured to clinch the trophy. Apart from consolidating grounds in the local governments he won in 2016, reactions by likely voters suggest that Akeredolu’s improved showing in those areas is consequent upon the massive support of political leaders in the areas that worked against him in 2016.
According to the survey, out of 18 local governments, Akeredolu maintains a clear lead in eight. They are Ile-Oluji-Oke-Igbo that has 64,219 votes, Odigbo has120,000 votes, Ilaje (114,235) , Owo (110,000), Akoko North West (68,061) and Akoko North East with 62,451. Others are Akoko South East (29,773) and Akoko South West with 86,155 votes.
Jegede has his Akure base, with prospect in Akure North that has 53,935 votes and Akure South with 248,953, while Ajayi holds sway in his native Okitipupa Local Government with 101,044 votes, according to INEC’s figures.
The battleground local governments where the three candidates will struggle for votes are Ondo West, Ondo East, Idanre, Irele, Ese-Odo and Ifedore.
HOW THEY STAND IN THE THREE SENATORIAL ZONES
Akoko North West-LGA
Akeredolu won here in 2016. The principal APC leaders, including Dr Tunji Abayomi, and their supporters are still with Akeredolu. Besides, this is where Olusola Oke’s former deputy governorship candidate in AD, Gani Dauda, comes from. Dauda is leading his supporters to join Oke for victory for APC.
Akoko North East LGA
This is where Dr Segun Abraham hails. Akeredolu still won here in 2016 even though Abrahim worked against him. Combining with Hon Stephen Olemija, Member of the House of Representatives, and other leaders, such as Gbenga Elegbeleye, former Director-General National Sports Commission, Jide Ipinsagba, Muyiwa Ogunyemi and a host of other influential political leaders, Aketi will repeat the 2016 feat on Saturday.
Akoko South West LGA
This looks good for Akeredolu as former foe, Senator Ajayi Borrofice, has since joined his train.
In Supare, APC has absolute control as former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, is combining with Director-General of Akeredolu Campaign Platform, Rt. Hon. Victor Olabimtan, for a decisive win.
Akungba is totally for APC on the strength of the influence of former Governor of the State, Adebayo Adefarati, who brought the University of Akungba to the community. His first son, Gboyega Adefarati, holds sway in the area and working for Aketi.
Akoko South East LGA
APC will win clearly in this APC-dominated local government with Borrofice’s former PA and current Member, House of Representatives, Babatunde Kolawole alias Amechi, working for Aketi who also won there in 2016.
The remnants of PDP here led by Senator Bode Olajumoke of the famous Imeri Group in the days of Military dictatorship of General Abacha, are believed to be working for Aketi. He won there in 2016.
This is the home-boy base as Aketi will sweep about 80 percent of the votes in his native local government.
The Battleground Local Governments:
Against all permutations that former Governor Olusegun Mimiko will win for Ajayi in Ondo West and Ondo East, respondents contended that their votes would make no impact, considering Mimiko’s brand of unstable politicking that has potential to deny Ondo people the benefit of belonging to mainstream politics.
Even though Mimiko saved Jegede in Ondo land from humiliating defeat by Akeredolu in 2016, the story has changed for Mimiko in a little known factionalised ZLP. Besides, residents also contend that Ajayi does not seem to possess the required academic standard acceptable to very learned and cosmopolitan Ondo people.
Records show that what Akeredolu lost in Mimiko’s territory in his native Ondo in 2016, he gained it in Akure where Akeredolu shocked the residents with astounding victory over Jegede.
Except for areas that were contiguous to Jegede’s family houses in Akure, Akeredolu took battle to the territory of the PDP’s candidate in 2016 and took critical votes home in triumph.
In 2016 also, Akeredolu swam in the waters of riverine areas of Irele, Ese-Odo Idogbo, Ilutitun and other areas that were considered no-go areas for the APC candidate.
In Ese-Odo Local Government, Ajayi’s base and where Akeredolu’s mother hails from in Igbo- Otun, most leaders and members of the community expressed doubts in Ajayi to make any impact, citing a weak ZLP structure and poor popularity of the party. Promising young politicians, including Akeredolu’s Information Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, will also count in rallying support for Aketi. Nonetheless, the votes will be shared between Akeredolu and Ajayi based on political reality and primordial sentiment.
In Irele LGA, the impact of a successful business mogul, Jimi Odimayo, who is Agboola Ajayi’s best friend, and who is working with several other top leaders, may have negative impact on the chances of other parties in favour of the APC candidate.
Even though Ajayi is favoured to win in Okitipupa, fact is that this is also Olusola Oke’s stronghold because that is the political base of his godfather, the late Governor Olusegun Agagu. Oke also lives in Okitipupa. Since all the Agagu boys are with Aketi, including Mrs Oladunni Odu and Mimiko’s former Agric Commissioner, Segun Ayeri, who resigned from PDP to join APC, including former Deputy Director General of Aketi Campaign Platform, South, in the 2016 poll, Diran Iyantan, among others, Aketi is predicted to make easy win difficult for Ajayi. The recent defection of Dr Jimoh Ibrahim from PDP to APC will also create a nightmare for Ajayi’s ZLP.
Aketi may have an edge here because APC is the strongest political party on ground and it is the home of APC State Chairman, Ade Adetimehin; and another Commissioner, Yemi Olowolabi. However, it also has the presence of Mimiko’s Commissioner for Information, Chief of Staff and a host of other political appointees. But APC is still likely to win as the people have parted ways with Mimiko a long time ago. Other parties are also strong here.
This also looks good for Aketi. Even though other parties have strong presence here; barring any major unexpected development, Aketi may win Ifedore.
According to respondents, support for Akeredolu springs from his feats in infrastructure and industrial development, including support for development of human capital, citing regular payment of salary, jobs creation through industrial development and health services to the people.
They also expressed their support for the ruling party, citing recent welfarist schemes by President Muhammadu Buhari to make life comfortable for parents, students and teachers in his new education scheme to increase the years of service and salary of teachers, including bursary and automatic jobs for education graduates.