Ondo South: How 2024 governorship aspirants are eyeing Tofowomo’s seat in disguise for Senate

May 9, 2022

6.3 min readCategories: News

The crop of personalities gunning for Ondo South Senatorial District has currently turned the seat to the most sought after in the state.

What gives most political observers concern is the fact that all the aspirants are well experienced in the game of numbers.

On the platform of All Progressives Congress(APC), the aspirants are Morayo Lebi, Boye Oyewumi, Matthew Oyerinmade and Jimoh Ibrahim.

Likewise, on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the incumbent Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, Agboola Ajayi, immediate past deputy governor of the state, and Ogundeji Ajayi, the estranged deputy speaker of the state House of Assembly.

Political observers have noted that parties delegates would be on the edge to choose who would be the candidates of their parties. Each would be careful to elect a candidate that would be acceptable to the people of the district and popular enough to win the general elections.

The incumbent Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, to some extent, has made some unprecedented impact in the district.

His training and empowerment programmes, which cut across all classes including farmers, market women and youths, are still fresh in the memories of the peoples of the district which observers noted could have great influence on how the electorate would cast their vote.

According to observers, the infrastructure facilities facilitated by the senator to virtually all the communities in the senatorial district are tell-tale and the people could see the election as a payback time.

The acclaimed cordial relationship between Jimoh Ibrahim and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has been one of the reasons political pundits tipped him as the person APC would settle for.

But the influence of other APC aspirants could not be underrated as they have political influence in the district as well.

Observers swiftly noted that it might be difficult for Governor Akeredolu to railroad Ibrahim as the candidate of the party bearing in mind the new Electoral Act which states that all aspirants to a particular position must agree to a consensus candidate before such candidate could be accepted. At the instance that one of the aspirants disagrees to the arrangement, the party must conduct a primary for all the aspirants for a candidate to emerge.

This clause has been described by pundits as a clip on the wings of state governors who are fond of imposing candidates on their parties with impunity.

Governor Akeredolu last week told all political officeholders in his party to do self-assessment before obtaining the party’s nomination forms, declaring that there would be no imposition of candidates on the people.

Ibrahim had expressed interest in the governorship seat of the state twice, but twice he didn’t get the ticket.

Now that he has decided to go to the Senate, the political calculation, according to observers, might not favour him as he has not contested and won any election in his ward. His electoral value could not be assessed by pundits.

The antecedent of the immediate past deputy governor gave analysts a great challenge in predicting how he would fare in PDP’s primary.

As a sitting deputy governor in 2020, Agboola Ajayi defected from APC to PDP to contest for the governorship ticket of the party, but was defeated by Eyitayo Jegede. Shortly after, he dumped PDP and defected to Zenith Labour Party(ZLP) through the influence of the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. He was handed the governorship ticket of the party on a silver platter, but he lost in the election.

Ajayi had contested and won the Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency election in 2011 on the platform of PDP before he defected to APC where he was chosen as the running mate of Akeredolu.

Pundits ascribed his poor performance in the last governorship election to disaffection of the people of Southern senatorial district to the leader of ZLP, Dr. Mimiko.

Besides, his defection from PDP when he lost in the primary made him appear too desperate to be the governor of the state.

The main obstacle seen before the former deputy governor by the observers is the incumbent Senator Tofowomo whose performance has endeared him and his party to the people of the district more than before.

PDP leadership and the delegates who would decide the fate of the aspirants to the seat, according to pundits, might prefer to retain Tofowomo who defeated the APC candidate, Yele Omogunwa in 2019.

Omogunwa won the 2015 election on the platform of PDP having been allegedly imposed by Mimiko when he defected from Labour Party(LP) to PDP and took over the leadership mantle of the party. But Omogunwa later defected to APC and was handed the ticket of the party.

Agboola Ajayi’s return to PDP the second time within two years, observers noted, could have smacked inconsistency and created distrust. They said the deputy governor could defect after winning the general election on the platform of PDP if handed the ticket of the party.

But his popularity and competence were not under questioning as he’s pronounced accepted by his people in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of the state.

Observers also noted that now that Mimiko has returned with his men to PDP and with the existing relationship between him and Ajayi, it would have great impact on the chances of Ajayi at the party’s primary.

They said if Mimiko could muster support for the former deputy governor, clinching the ticket might not be as difficult as perceived.

Agboola Ajayi indeed put up great performance at the PDP’s governorship primary despite the short time he spent in the party before the primary.

Politics is a game of projection and pundits raised a critical question if Jegede would be comfortable seeing Ajayi winning the ticket and going to the Senate.

They noted that since Jegede is aware that Ajayi’s senatorial ambition is a mere diversionary strategy, he(Jegede) would not want his governorship ambition truncated since Ajayi’s major target is the governor’s seat.

It is the belief of observers that if Ajayi goes to the Senate, it would avail him the opportunity of making more money and new friends who would rally round him in 2024 when Akeredolu’s tenure would expire.

PDP’s leadership could be prevailed upon to cede the party’s ticket to the Southern Senatorial District which would increase the chances of Ajayi to achieve his governorship ambition.

The results of the last governorship election in the state, according to pundits, could not be used as a yardstick for the popularity of APC in the southern senatorial district.

They noted that the people of the district would elect whoever they are sure would give them adequate representation in the Senate irrespective of the party in power in the state.

Senator Tofowomo’s current record, according to political observers, appears to give him brighter chance than other contestants. Formerr deputy governor Ajayi has been described as the major obstacle between him and PDP’s ticket.

Jimoh Ibrahim may need to work hard to find favour before the electorate in the district as there’s no conspicuous evidence that he has impacted on the life of the underprivileged in the district.

Some of the observers expressed concern that sudden philanthropic gesture in this season by any politician could be seen by the people as a bait to hoodwink them to get their mandate.

Nevertheless, the two prominent political parties in the state would have to convince the people of the district that the candidate they are presenting would be able to deliver on their electioneering promises to get their mandate in 2023 general elections.

Culled from Daily Independent

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