This South-west Governor Doesn't Need Tinubu For Re-election

 

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a prime factor in the Ondo State gubernatorial election, approximately four years ago. In 2020, his name is being propped up as a paramount factor again. This might not be far from the bid of the former governor of Lagos State to become a regional and national powerhouse in the game of Nigerian politics. This could also be possibly linked to foundational blocks being set for his rumoured 2023 presidential ambition.

When rumours emerged that one of the gubernatorial aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Ondo - Segun Abraham, was disqualified by the APC screening committee, reports followed that the camp of Tinubu was disappointed and left in disarray. Most reports also indicated that the Presidency was backing the incumbent governor of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu's second term bid.

The political events spurred an array of analytical political editorials which have prompted Tinubu to release a press statement, denying any interest in the forthcoming governorship election. Over the years, I have learned to ignore the lips of politicians and rather pay more attention to their footsteps. With due respect, politicians all over the world are mostly cunning and evasive. Studying their foot movement will never mislead you, as it points to where their heart lies. It will be foolhardy to believe Tinubu who has been a factor in major elections in South-western states including Ondo, has finally decided to adopt the principle of a level-playing field for all politicians. Well, in the spirit of political correctness, he was never expected to name a favourite candidate at this stage of primary elections, so his press statement is in order.

Akeredolu doesn't need Tinubu. He purportedly attempted to get his endorsement alongside Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State before he defected to the main opposition party - Peoples Democratic Party. Akeredolu is a technocrat who learnt the game of politics so quickly, despite his limited experience. He was handpicked by Tinubu to contest for the number one seat in Ondo in 2012 under the Action Congress of Nigeria, but he failed. The bearded legal luminary developed an interest in politics since then and learnt from his mistakes. He spread his tentacles and endeared himself to APC bigwigs like President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Kayode Fayemi and other influential names who call the shots. In 2016, he showed interest in the race again and sought the blessings of Tinubu which he reportedly failed to get. Jagaban wasn't ready to walk that same road twice. He assumed the election loss of 2012 was going to be replicated. Like he just did, he denied interest in the 2016 election and surreptitiously pitched his tent with Segun Abraham, and then later Olusola Oke, who finally ran under the umbrella of the Alliance for Democracy, AD.

Against the run of play, Akeredolu who lacks requisite political antics and tricks won the election. The crisis of the PDP as at then during the days of Ali Modu Sheriff and Jimoh Ibrahim contributed immensely to the fate of the PDP. Akeredolu benefitted and cruised to victory with the presidency also backing him. Akeredolu is a very intelligent man of few words. His resume as a senior lawyer and later the president of the Nigeria Bar Association reeks of his high IQ. He has learned a lot in the last four years as the governor of Ondo State. He has also gathered influence by gaining more political contacts and reinforcing political alliance and alignments. In 2012 and 2016, the major criticism he suffered was that he had no political history. He was also never engaged in philanthropic acts that endear public figures to the general public. Asides from his Wikipedia page and a few media activities, Akeredolu was nowhere to be founded on the political landscape. But things have changed in the last four years. He has been able to record some fantastic achievements and has made a name for himself.

In January 2020, he boldly beat his chest publicly, saying that he did not need to fret about re-election as his achievements were going to speak for him. He made the statement while commissioning a major road network in Akure, the Ondo State capital. In the following month, President Muhammadu Buhari described Akeredolu's achievements in the state as 'remarkable' to show how pleased he was with what he saw. Buhari was physically present at the commissioning of the Ondo Linyi Industrial Hub and Ore flyover interchange projects. Akeredolu has won the hearts of the people in the area of capital projects undertaken around the state. At least, as at June 2020, his administration had done the over 25 major rehabilitation and construction works, majorly roads. We all know that capital projects will also translate into a boost in the local economy and a better life for the people.

In the area of integrity and transparency, Akeredolu has also performed fairly. Apart from the drama that emanated from the N4.3bn discovered in a secret account belonging to Ondo Government, and claims that most state projects were undertaken by his family members, his administration hasn't been rocked by massive corruption scandals. Akeredolu has also improved food security in Ondo by investing in agriculture and supporting local farmers. He has provided employment, reduced the debt profile of the state, boosted the Internally Generated Revenue, invested in education and healthcare as well as numerous fantastic achievements. It wasn't surprising when the Convener of Ibi Giga Ambassadors, Alex Ajipe, - a leading industrialist, endorsed Akeredolu's second term bid which he attributed to the socio-economic advancement in Ondo. When the time comes, all these will speak for him. 

Being in the good books of Buhari will also count as 'federal might' plays a huge role in Nigerian politics. Additionally, the power of incumbency will work in favour of Akeredolu and his possession of a large war chest as governor will count.

Lastly, Ondo indigenes don't fancy Tinubu and this isn't hard to explain. They regard him as an interloper. Once the name of the APC national leader is attached to an aspirant or candidate, it is assumed that the person will end up being a stooge that will work in the interest of a political cabal and not the masses. Akeredolu soared in popularity in 2020 when we dissociated himself from Tinubu and technically went to war with him. 

10th of October, 2020 - the governorship election date will be similar to the one of 28 September, 2016 which Akeredolu won. He will become the flagbearer of the APC and some of the APC aspirants will jump ship to pursue their ambitions in lesser parties. He will collide with the candidate of the PDP as usual and beat him based on the advantages I have listed here. He doesn't need the endorsement of Tinubu. He did it in 2016 without Tinubu, and now, he will do it again emphatically, especially now that he is better positioned. 

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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