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Ondo guber battle: Meet the top four gladiators

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On the 10th of October, 2020, Ondo people will go out to participate in the gubernatorial election, where no fewer than 17 candidates will be slugging it out.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on August 18, 2020, closed the window for political parties to nominate or substitute their candidates and running mates.

The commission had earlier unveiled the list of 17 candidates, their running mates as well as parties running for the governorship election, but much of the discourse on the impending election centres on four candidates.

Here is the profile top candidates in the election.

Rotimi Akeredolu – All Progressive Congress (APC)

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu

The incumbent Governor Oluwarotimi Aketedolu, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is the 17th governor of Ondo state, and the sixth civilian to attain that position.

In 2012, he ran on the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) but lost to Olusegun Mimiko, who handed over power to him in 2017.

In November, he trounced Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the governorship election.

Dubbed Aketi by his political associates, the legal practitioner went into the primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with so much confidence in the midst of storm.

Born on July 21, 1956, to Ola Akeredolu, a reverend and Grace Akeredolu, a lady evangelist, Aketi started his primary education at Government School, Owo.

He attended three secondary schools: Aquinas College, Akure, Loyola College, Ibadan and Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, where he obtained his Higher School Certificate (HSC).

He later gained admission into the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to study Law, graduating in 1977. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978.

Akeredolu was appointed Attorney General of Ondo State from 1997 to 1999. In 1998, he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Legal Aid Council (2005–2006).

In November 2009 he faced allegations of corruption when the Bar Association’s Third Vice-President, Welfare Secretary, and Assistant Financial Secretary circulated a petition entitled “Complaints against your fraudulent manifestations, violation of the NBA”.

Subsequently, the allegations against him were reviewed and dropped by the National Executive council of the Nigerian Bar Association.

He won the battle to re-contest for the Ondo State 2020 governorship election after beating Olusola Oke, DI Kekemeke, Jimi Odimayo, Segun Abraham and few others in the APC Primary election.

On 29th of July 2020, Rotimi Akeredolu Picked Lucky Aiyedatiwa as his running mate for the Ondo State 2020 governorship election after the controversy between the Governor and his Deputy, Agboola Ajayi.

While Akeredolu and Jegede were their parties’ flag bearers in 2016, Ajayi was the running mate to Akeredolu. Considering circumstance and political history of Ondo State, the people of the state believe that the election would not be a walkover for the incumbent

Eyitayo Jegede – People’s Democratic Party (PDP)

Eyitayo Jegede

Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, became the PDP gubernatorial aspirant.

He served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the state, where he was given numerous assignments in the administration and remained one of the key members of the cabinet, carrying out critical duties for the administration on the authorization of his boss, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.

Jegede held forte as the Head, Ministry of Justice, Ondo State, where he ensured the review of the Laws of Ondo State for the first time since the creation of the State in 1976, and actively supported and midwifed the provision of facilities for the establishment of the Court of Appeal, the National Industrial Court and the zonal Offices of the Federal Ministry of Justice, all in Ondo State.

In 2016, Eyitayo emerged the winner of his party’s PDP primary by polling 760 votes to defeat the Deputy Governorship Candidate of the PDP in the 2012 governorship election, Hon. Saka Lawal. On November 23, 2016, The Appeal Court pronounced Jegede as the gubernatorial flag bearer of his party, PDP, a position previously assumed by the billionaire and business mogul, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, but lost to Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress in the election.

Eyitayo also emerged the flag bearer of PDP Governorship Primary for October 2020 election with a poll of 888 votes, he defeated the Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi who emerged the second runner-up with 657 votes.

He is, again, the major contender against Mr Akeredolu in 2020 and has vowed to defeat other contestants.

Jegede recently visited a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, to seek his support.

“Seeking support of the elders, the next 63 days will no doubt be decisive, we will succeed. God our help!”, he wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, one of obstacles against Akeredolu’s chance is the popular campaign by the people of the state that a second term cannot bring anything better than the first term. To many people, a second term for Akeredolu should not be allowed in the state for any reason.

This campaign against a second term is the major strength of the PDP candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede.

Another major strength of the PDP candidate is the opportunity that Jegede has to claim all the achievements of the administration of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko under whom he served as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.

Alfred Agboola Ajayi – Zenith Labour Party (ZLP)

Agboola Ajayi

Alfred Agboola Ajayi is a Nigerian politician, lawyer, and businessman. He serves as the Deputy Governor of Ondo State and was elected into office on 26 November 2016 as running mate to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu under the All Progressives Congress, APC.

On 21 June 2020, Ajayi resigned his membership from the ruling party, APC and defected to the opposition party People’s Democratic Party (PDP), citing irreconcilable issues between him and his boss. But he did not resign from office.

Less than two months after joining PDP, Ajayi resigned from the party after he lost the bid to secure the PDP governorship ticket during the primary election.

The formal defection of  Ajayi from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which he joined on June 24, 2020, to the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) has increased to the number of major political parties that would fight to win the October 10 election.

Before Ajayi defected to ZLP, which gave birth to the emergence of a Third Force, many people concluded that the race would be between the PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ajayi with less than two months to the election has moved to ZLP to proof his popularity with the support of his new political leader, Mimiko.

Interestingly, the three gladiators in the 2020 Ondo governorship election, the incumbent Governor Oluwarotimi Aketedolu, SAN, of APC, Mr Eyitayo Jegede SAN, of PDP and Mr Agboola Ajayi, participated in the 2016 in one way or the other.

Fasua Peter Oyeleye – Social Democratic Party (SDP)

Fasua Peter Oyeleye

Fasua Tope Oyeleye, an educationist, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is another important figure.

He emerged as the party’s candidate after two other contestants, Mr Festus Owolola and Otunba Bamidele Oduwale, withdrew from the race.

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