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By: Ade Adeleke
……Endorsement and Political Permutation that can Collapse PDP Fortress.
As political gladiators in Ondo state prepare for 10 October 2020 governorship election, major internal wrangling is threatening the peace of the opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) over who pick the party’s ticket from Ondo south senatorial district, SUNSHINETRUTH can authoritatively report.
It is a well-known fact that Ondo south is the stronghold of the PDP especially Okitipupa, Ilaje, Ese-odo, Irele and Ileoluji/Okeigbo local government areas where the party usually recorded impressive outings in major elections since 1999 till date.
SUNSHINETRUTH reports that the crisis that is now shaking the stronghold of the major opposition party in the state, started when the National Vice Chairman of the party in the southwest, Dr Eddy Olafeso who is also an governorship aspirant was allegedly endorsed by all the PDP aspirants from Okitipupa council area which is the political headquarters of Ondo south.
Few hours after Olafeso’s alleged endorsement as a consensus Aspirant from the ondo south zone to slug it out with aspirants from Ondo North and Ondo Central, some aspirants who are also his kinsmen from Okitipupa local government area kicked against the decision, describing it as unacceptable.
This development has however created political tension, misgivings and distrust in the party’s structures especially in Ondo south senatorial district as many of the aspirants’ supporters are now using social media and political gatherings to attack one another and calling themselves unprintable names.
This is not a good time for genuine PDP supporters in the area moreso that they wish their party unseat Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) during this year’s polls.
In a Press Statement allegedly signed by governorship aspirants from Okitipupa council area namely; Dr. Eddy Olafeso,
Senator Boluwaji Kunlere, Otunba Bamidele Akingboye, Engr. Ogunwa Omoniyi Oboli and Barr. Bimpe Olatemiju, Olafeso was picked as the consensus Aspirant from Ondo south senatorial district.
In a communiqué dated 30th April, 2020 after a meeting at Ode Aye reconvened as a follow-up to the initial meeting held on March 26th, 2020 also at Ode Aye, the Aspirants allegedly resolved, “we resolved to conduct a gentleman shadow election amongst ourselves. At the end of the historic exercise, Olorogun Eddy Olafeso emerged to represent the other aspirants to contest the primary election.
“The aspirants have agreed to appeal to their supporters to see the decision as sacrifice to create better life for our people.
“We further appeal to our teeming supporters to comply with government directives as regards COVID-19 preventative measures.
“We thank all the well meaning Nigerians and organisations as well as religious leaders for the generous donations towards making life meaningful to our people in Ondo State during this period,” the PDP aspirants concluded.
Few hours later on April 30th, 2020, Akigboye issued a contrary Press release to declare that the acclaimed emergence of Olafeso as the sole aspirant from Okitipupa local government area is undemocratic, fraudulent and an effort in futility.
A PDP Chieftain from the area, Mr. Babatunde Akindele a.k.a Labuta, said, “it’s a disgusting news that five aspirants could gather to decide the faith of eminent sons and daughters of Okitipupa LG home and abroad on the choice of who grabs the gubernatorial ticket in PDP comes July, 2020.
“Otunba Bamidele Akingboye was invited for a meeting in Engineer Niyi Ogunwa’shouse but it became dramatic when the duo of Engineer Niyi Ogunwa and Barrister Bimpe Olatemiju who are the least among the aspirants and have no supporters in their LG nonetheless the entire state now arrogate themselves as decision making force having being compromised.”
Labuta said, “however, i’m not unaware of the capacity, integrity and financial muscle of each of these five aspirants. Furthermore, our findings have unfolded outright disagreement of Otunba Bamidele Akingboye and Senator Boluwaji Kunlere with the unscrupulously undemocratic process in question.
“To all the supporters of Otunba Bamidele Akingboye in ikale nation, south senatorial district and the entire state at large, such arrangement has been described as a political aberration and pure revelation of how desperate Dr Eddy Olafeso is to lord himself on pdp with the instrumentality and resident powers at his disposal as the Chairman PDP south west,” Labuta said.
Akingboye popularly known as OBA, in a press statement signed by his Press Secretary,Oyeniyi Iwakun, said “What happened at Engr. Omoniyi Ogunwa’s house in Ode Aye today was a meeting of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirants from Okitipupa LGA to discuss how the party would win the forthcoming gubernatorial elections. For the records, it must be emphatically stated that no election was held at the meeting.
“I wish to inform all our supporters and followers to disregard any information of Akingboye’s withdrawal from the contest. Otunba Bamidele Akingboye is still very much in the race; will participate in the party’s primary election and will surely win.
“Consequent upon rumour being peddled on the social and conventional media since Thursday 30th April, 2020 including a recent statement credited to Barrister Bimpe Olatemiju and Engineer Ogunwa Oboli that all gubernatorial aspirants of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from Okitipupa LGA have stepped down for Dr. Eddy Olafeso who is the current South West Chairman of the PDP, Otunba Bamidele Akingboye (OBA) has urged Campaign team members, supporters and the general public to disregard this concocted propaganda aimed at covering the tracks of some weaklings in the race.
“Otunba Akingboye wishes to make it clear that he holds nothing against his brothers who have decided to sheath the sword of their ambition for another person due to incapacitation or other reasons best known to them but will advise them to leave his name and reputation out of their desperate attempt to cover their tracks,” Iwakun said
Akingboye charged his followers to remain steadfast and intensify more efforts towards ensuring that he wins at the primary election and further implored everyone who is capable to obtain the nomination form to do so while others who cannot should queue behind.
“Conclusively, Akingboye urges every well meaning members of the PDP and the general public to join his campaign train as the journey towards a transformed Ondo State of our dream is accomplished,” Iwakun opined in the OBA Press statement.
SUNSHINETRUTH gathered further that, in justifying the endorsement of Olafeso as sole aspirant from the area, two of the gubernatorial aspirants, Barr. Bimpe Olatemiju and Engr. Omoniyi Ogunwa Oboli insisted four “former” aspirants on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) actually prayed for and pledged their support for governorship aspiration of Olafeso.
The duo said that despite the current controversies which greeted shadow primaries held amongst aspirants from Okitipupa local government on the platform of the PDP, the four of them unanimously resolved that Olafeso should be the sole aspirant from the local government.
Both Oboli and Olatemiju insisted, that “the aspirants who resolved to support Dr. Olafeso at the occasion were Sen. Boluwaji Kunlere, Otunba Bamidele, Akingboye, Engr. Ogunwa Omoniyi Oboli and Barr. Bimpe Olatemiju all of whom agreed to appeal to their supporters to see the decision as sacrifice to create better life for our people.
Olatemiju, a lawyer said he was, therefore shocked when he read the rebuttals from Sen. Kunlere and Otunba Akingboye.
He said on March 26 this year, Engr. Ogunwa Oboli and himself met Olorogun Olafeso, Otunba Akingboye and Sen. Kunlere at the Ode Aye home of Oboli and they agreed to work with one another and asked their supporters to sheathe their sword on social media.
“As a follow up, we met again last Thursday and after lengthy deliberations, we decided to cast our votes. The process was that we wrote the name of whom you want as the sole aspirant of the party, then wrote the date and signed below. The ballot papers are still with me.”
Buttressing this position, Ogunwa who hosted the meeting said “After we cast our ballots, Olafeso had three votes, while Kunlere and Akingboye had a vote apiece. Sen. Kunlere prayed for Olafeso and even cursed those who will betray the agreement. Akingboye offered his Akure campaign office and even urged us to buy the form for Dr. Eddy in solidarity.
“They both promised to collapse their structures, that informed the plea in the resolution paper to our supporters who we know might not be comfortable with the outcome of the historic exercise.
“It’s sad politics is now without honour, dignity and integrity. We started this alliance to ‘retire’ Dr. Olafeso but now that he won, we have no option than to support him.”
SUNSHINETRUTH learnt that a former speaker of the Ondo state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Jumoke Akindele who is also from Okitipupa local government area, expressed disappointment about the refusal of some aspirants not to honour their collective decision.
“When you subject yourself to an election, you should know that you’re bound by the outcome,” Akindele said.
Olafeso who however broke his silence over the controversial political arrangements when he spoke at a stakeholder’s meeting held in Okitipupa at the weekend, thanked the leaders of the party and asked them to intensify efforts towards uniting the chapter of the party.
“We are all one. We know for sure that a house divided against itself is going to fall. I will keep talking to my brothers,” Olafeso said.
The situation will be more compounded as aspirants from Ilaje local government area like Banji Okunomo and a federal lawmaker, Hon Kolade Akinjo were not part of the Okitipupa arrangement and they will surely take a position on the purported endorsement.
Some Political Analysts are of the opinion that the issue of endorsement and denial if not well managed could cause disharmony among supporters of the state chapter of the PDP at its stronghold.
One of the political analysts, Mr Ojo Ayelofe told SUNSHINETRUTH that, “we all know that Ondo South is the stronghold of the PDP in our state and any internal crisis in Okitipupa local government area or other parts of the district can lead to another downfall of the party.
“The party’s leadership needs to handle the issue with care moreso that Olafeso who is the PDP Chairman in the southwest is in the centre of the political miscalculation.
“I think they should allow everybody to obtain nomination form for primaries before talking about endorsement or stepping down. I don’t know what they want from Ondo south that they have such high number of aspirants, they must take the process serious if they want to wrestle power from the APC people who are also in their own crisis,” Ayelofe said.
Political events in the next two month before the party’s primaries in June or July this year will surely be brought to you by SUNSHINETRUTH.