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Ondo guber primaries: Hurdles aspirants have to cross

By Jubril Bada

Ahead of the November 16, 2024, governorship election in Ondo State, aspirants of the two leading political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other parties  are strategizing on how to emerge as the gubernatorial candidate of their parties before the governorship  primary.

It is no longer news that dates have been scheduled to hold the  primaries on different dates for the emergence of candidates to pick their respective  parties  tickets.

The contest for the primaries in some parties seems to be heating up as crises have  erupted in some of the political parties .

The outcome of the primary elections for the November 16, 2024, governorship election in Ondo State will no doubt place some hurdles before the two major political parties in the state – the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, which they must cross before they can attain    victory at the main poll.

The primaries to be conducted by the two parties may degenerate into a development each of the parties must address quickly or else go into the election as  divided houses.

An interesting development and factor  over who will pick the governorship ticket of the APC is that some of the aspirants will collapse their structures for other aspirants who have better chances of emerging as the   flag bearer of the party in the November governorship election

For the APC, aspirants on the platform of the party are intensifying  campaigning  hoping they could win the heart of the voters.

The integrity of the certificate of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa,   one of the 16 aspirants, whom   one  of the aspirants petitioned has been a public issue but the coast has been cleared for the governor over the certificate saga having successfully scaled through the APC vetting committee along with other 15 aspirants.

Also, the screening of the governor along with the other 15 aspirants by the APC Screening Committee on Friday gave Aiyédatiwa the party’s seal of approval as a qualified aspirant who will participate in the April 20 primary election of the party.

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Professor Abdulkarim Kana, Chairman of the Vetting Committee clarified the  statement that Aiyédatiwa did not forge his WAEC certificate as alleged by an aspirant, cautioning the aspirant to desist from making unfounded allegations that could undermine the credibility of the party primary.

The Committee explained that its recommendations were aimed at ensuring that only qualified and credible aspirants are presented for the party primaries, in line with the party’s commitment to internal democracy and good governance.

The statement read: “The Committee received a petition from Gbenga Omogbemi Edema, one of the aspirants, alleging certificate forgery against Governor Orimisan Lucky Aiyedatiwa.

“The Committee decided to verify the School Certificate allegedly forged by checking online from the website of the West African Examination Council. The Committee found no credible evidence to substantiate the allegation of certificate forgery against Orimisan Lucky Aiyedatiwa.

“The committee verified Governor Aiyedatiwa’s WAEC Result and confirmed it is genuine and in compliance with the party’s guidelines.”

After he emerged from the screening of Ondo State All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirants at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja, the governor said that the issues raised regarding his high school certificate were borne out of ignorance, adding that evidence abounds, indicating that he did not forge any of his certificates.

He said; “Screening is one of the exercises that must be done among the processes that the aspirants have to go through. Mine has just been done  and all documents that were submitted have to be verified . Questions were asked and answered and at the end of the day, I have been cleared that there are no issues. Especially the issue that has to do with the certificate for which a petition was written, which has now been put to rest. My certificates are genuine and authentic. I think it is just a kind of mischief by some other aspirants who find me to be an aspirant to beat trying to look for a way to discredit my person but that has been verified and put to rest.

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“It is on record that the school was established in 1980 and at that time I was already in Form 3 in a private school, New Nation, in Ikosi while Royal Comprehensive High School was in Ajegunle, Ikorudu very close to Ketu.

“So all of us were moved, both New Nation and Royal Comprehensive High School and some other schools that were affected by flood – we were all moved into Ikosi High School, Ketu, that was built by the government and that was how we wrote our WASCE in 1982 because we were in the first set.”

Meanwhile, addressing journalists after his screening, Edema insisted that he did not write the  petition against the governor but sent an advisory to the party to avert impending danger should he emerge as the party’s candidate.

For now, many party faithful of the APC have expressed confidence in the party’s direct primary to produce a credible candidate who will have his or her popularity strongly tested during the governorship election and win the race for the party to rule the state again.

For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party is still struggling to find its bearing after losing the February 25, 2023 general elections to the All Progressives Congress due to internal wranglings which has also degenerated into a war of supremacy among its national leaders. The PDP aspirants are Agboola Ajayi, Olusola Ebiseni, Bamidele Akingboye, Adeola Akinwumi, Kolade Akin jo, Bosun Arebuwa and John Ola Mafo.

On April 8, the PDP held its ward congress to elect three ad-hoc delegates per ward, one of whom must be female.

The ward congress had Abba Maro and Nheoma Ndu as the chairman and secretary of the Ondo State  Ward Congress Electoral Committee.

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The supremacy of war in the PDP by extension led to the loss of the party in the Akoko NorthEast/Akoko NorthWest federal constituency bye-election held in the state early this year to the ruling APC. Critics believe that if the leaders of the PDP fail to put their house in order it will continue to be a replay of the internal battle that caused its 2023 presidential contest’s loss.

Nevertheless, the party has remained polarized with Atiku’s loyalists calling for sanction against the former Rivers governor over alleged anti-party activities. The romance between Wike,  who is currently serving as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) in the APC-led administration, has remained a source of concern for the opposition party.

The issue of who will replace Umar Damagum, as acting chairman of the party is another perceived challenge that if not managed we’ll, may degenerate into what is not expected by the party as members from regional zones in North Central among others are intensifying efforts to replace him.

On their part, the Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) which are expected to be the third and the fourth forces in the political space of the state are not so, as their presence are only in Edo and Kano States respectively.

Ahead of the primary elections of both the Labour Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party expected to be held the same day on April 26, the LP is yet to disclose the  number of its governorship aspirants that showed  interest in contesting.

Already, Prof Ibrahim Ajagunla is the only aspirant that has officially shown interest in contesting the  governorship race under the platform of NNPP, even though the party is expecting more aspirants to participate in its primary.” The state chairman of the party, Pastor Peter Olagookun said.

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