From Jimoh Ahmed, Ikare- Akoko
With less than 24 days to the general elections, the battle for who occupies the Ondo North Senatorial seat in the Upper Chambers of the National Assembly remains a tough one. From all indications, it promises to be a herculian task for the main contenders. With an array of not less than seven eminently qualified citizens of the area coming out to say, ‘yes I am the one, send me’, it is going to be battle royale.
The emergence of more political parties has made it more complicated for the people in choosing their beloved one as the race has been thrown to the wild cards. The result: the number of contestants surpassed what obtained in the past. The plurality of parties has given candidates who failed to clinch the ticket on the platform of popular parties to try their luck in new parties while some young candidates are also picking up the ticket of less popular parties to realise their ambitions.
Be that as it may, the race has thrown up ‘big guns and ‘minows’ against themselves.
The incumbent, Professor Ajayi Borrofice will be slugging it out with other contestants like Dr Tunji Abayomi, the Okeagbe Akoko born constitutional lawyer, Chief (Mrs) Olasinmi Akindele Odumbaku and Pastor Jide Ipinsagba. Others are Dr Foluso Mayowa Adefemi, Dr Dolapo Fatogun and Dr Phillips Olu-Alonge.
While the first set of contestants are known to be political heavy weights who have made their marks in the political history of Ondo State, that may not be said of the second group. Although, it will not be fair to say the new entrants are political neophytes, the truth remains that they cannot be said to be in the same shoes with Senator Borrofice who is currently serving his second term as a senator. Chief (Mrs) Olasinmi was a commissioner in the state while Dr Tunji Abayomi has traversed the political terrain of the Sunshine state like a colossus.
However, it will be hard to controvert that the race is strictly between the senior boys. Borrofice, Dr Tunji Abayomi, Pastor Jide Ipinsagba, Chief (Mrs) Olasinmi Akindele and Dr Phillips Alonge for obvious reasons.
While it is true that the power to chose rest with the people of the district as empowered by their PVCs, other factors that will decide the fate of who the cap fits are the political party, popularity, personal achievements and lately, ‘ethnic agenda’ which has become the rave of the moment in Ondo politics.
What then are the chances of these contestants?
Professor Ajayi Borrofice will be contesting on the platform of the APC. He is currently a serving senator and of course in his second term and seeking to go back to the red chambers for record third term.
Borrifice who is no doubt a chieftain of his party is not new to the politics of Ondo State and of course the Ondo North Senatorial District. The one time Chief Executive Officer of NASRDA has also tried to take shot at the Ondo Governorship ticket but that did not materialise.
His greatest weapons in the Senatorial race are his past achievements. He has been able to put in place some facilities, including small scale factories across the zone. He will equally rely on his foot soldiers to take his campaigns to the people.
There is no doubt that he is loved by his people of Akoko Southwest and it will be easy for him getting the bulk of their votes. However he will be relying on his rapor, with the people of the remaining five local governments to achieve a winning streak.
However , a feud has separated him from his political son, Babatunde Kolawole popularly known as Amaechi of Ondo State. Kolawole , a House of Representatives member from Akoko South East/SouthWest. It is a fact that he , Kolawole rode on the back of the popularity of Borrofice and his support to win the seat. However there appeared to be a diconcordant tune between the two following the inability of Kolawole to secure a return ticket to the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
His (Kolawole) grouse with his political father and boss is that he failed to support him in his request to earn a return ticket.
Bamidele has since aligned with the PDP House of Representatives candidate in the constituency, a pointer to the fact that he is no longer in the camp of his former boss.
However the senator seemed to have found favour in his party’s House of Representatives candidate, Adegun Adeogun who is vigorously campaigning for the party.
Another set back for the APC candidate is the effect of the rancorous last governorship primaries in the state. Boroffice took part in the primaries and has since not in good terms with the state governor. As a matter of fact he has to rely on his “Abuja connection’ to be given the Senatorial ticket, a decision which did not go down well with the APC in the state.
To boost his chances, Boroffice need to seek a truce with the leadership of his party in the state.
APC remains the most popular in the state today and this could be an advantage over other parties, including the PDP.
Pastor Jide Ipinsagba, the clergy who has for long remain in the political terrestrial of Ondo North is no doubt a popular candidate among the people.
Ipinsagba, an oil magnate will be relying on his riches to prosecute a successful campaign. Ipinsagba who has also traversed the political arena of the state like others who is who in the state has been nurturing the ambition to go to the senate for some time now.
He was one of the aspirants on the platform of the APC before the national headquarters of the party gave the ticket to Boroffice.
His greatest strength lies in what people call ‘ ethnic agenda’ which is fast becoming the order of the day in the political scene in the Sunshine state.
Going by the trend, Ipinsagba will surely secure the votes of his Ikare Akoko country home and that of Akoko Northeast local government. The feeling in Ikare today is that they want one of them to become a senator.
However, Ipinsagba will have to rely on the people of other local governmets if he must win.
His party, the ADC is new to the state and he may have to pursue his campaigns vigorously and make it issue based to achieve any meaningful feat.
Dr Tunji Abayomi, the constitutional lawyer from Afa in Okeagbe was also a chieftain of the APC and indeed one of the contestants in the last APC governorship primary in Ondo State.
He was consistent about the result of the primaries, saying it was the true position. He was elected the APC Senatorial candidate only to be rejected by the Oshiomhole led executive. As a result, he dumped the party to pick the ticket of the Action Alliance, (AA) to realise his ambition.
His greatest asset in the coming election is that he is loved by his people. This may translate into his getting the bulk of the votes of the people of Akoko Northwest local government, his base. However this is being threatened by the candidature of Dr Phillips Olu Alonge, the PDP candidate. Alonge popularly known as Opa is from Arigidi Akoko, a town in the same local government with Abayomi. In fact, Arigidi is only some few minutes drive to Okeagbe the headquarters of the council area.
However, if Abayomi is able to attract favour from his former party members and followers in APC, he may spring a surprise.
Dr Phillips Olu Alonge who defeated Tokunbo Modupe popularly called TPT and a former ally of Dr Olusegun Mimiko in the PDP Senatorial primary in the district may be relying on the increasing popularity of the party to win the election.
However his greatest disadvantage is that he has Dr Tunji Abayomi of the AA to share the bulk of the votes of his local government with.
His chances are however brightened by the fact that the PDP in the district is working with one voice and want to use the election to bounce back to limelight in the state.
In the same vein, he needs to step up his game by campaigning with all it takes to win in all the local governments in the district.
Chief (Mrs) Olasinmi Akindele Odunmbaku is not new in Ondo State politics. She has been a commissioner under Dr Olusegun Mimiko and will be contesting on the platform of the Zenith Labour Party, ZLP.
Her forray into the Senatorial election has long been envisaged. She is a complete grassroots person who is loved by her people. The Akunnu Akoko born farmer, business woman and politician is a household name in Isowopo area of Akoko Northeast local government and beyond.
Her greatest asset lies in the fact that she is the only woman among the contenders and may get sympathy votes from the women of the district.
She is also banking on the support of the people of the Iroko family in the area but may have to do more if she want to achieve her desire in the elections.
Dr Dolapo Fatogun, a medical doctor and also an indigene of Emure Uli in Owo local government is the candidate of the Mega Party of Nigeria.
Fatogun is relatively known in the political landscape of the district but may be favoured by the fact that he is the only one in the race from Owo local government area.
However his party of choice is less popular with the people and this may play a role in his chances at the poll.
In the same vein, Foluso Mayowa Adeyemi of the African Democratic Party, ADP, is not well known to the people and may have to go an extra mile to achieve his aim. More so, his party is not synonymous with the people in the district.
His chances may be dwarfed by this. Having gone through the file of the candidates, it is good to say that the result of the elections will definitely toe the line of community agenda, the urge to see ‘our son’ winning. It is the belief of the people that with one of them winning, their chances of reaping bountifully from the dividends of democracy is brightened.
However with the current permutations, the result of the election will no doubt be uneasy to predict.
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