According to reports from different accounts, many voters in Ondo State are beginning to lose confidence and hope on Rotimi Akeredolu who is interested in a return contest to government house in Akure as a governor.
But the governor’s desperate desire a second term ticket is contending with two major hurdles to cross, his party and the Ondo people. The people, who see him as being too elitist and had reduced governance to a family affair, are already shopping for a more indigenous alternative among the crop of aspirants in other parties.
This has orchestrated a wedge on Akeredolu’s political highway so much so that plans are under way to employ the services of reputable public relations experts to polish his image ahead of the October 10 governorship contest.
The loss of confidence has been long in coming with its ominous signs. But his handlers and advisers may have described the signs as insignificant until it blew into a behemoth with all its attendant complexity and difficulty to manage.
First was and still the fall out with his deputy, Agboola Ajayi which took fresh twist when a campaign video jingle announced Ajayi’s governorship ambition on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The campaign video showed the deputy governor exchanging banters with leaders of the party. It was powered by Agboola Ajayi Grassroot Network, AAGN and with the title “ ONDO 2020: Hon Agboola Ajayi for Governor.”
Promptly, Agboola denied it through a statement by his media aide, Babatope Okeowo
That necessitated a move by some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, loyal to Akeredolu, to begin a process of impeachment against the deputy governor but the state party chairman, Ade Adetimehin quickly fell on his administrative machinery to make peace, telling the aggrieved members to apply the brakes in the overall interest of the APC in the state. The irreconcilable differences have defied solution even with the intervention of Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi and other party chieftains within and outside the state.
The deputy, who does not forget so easily, is waiting in the wing to pull the rug off Akeredolu’s feet.
More so, it has been gathered that indegenes across the state have chosen another governorship aspirant to replace the governor even as information further has it that voters in the State have begun to lose interests in Akeredolu claiming disappointed in his biasness in infrastructural distribution.
They accused him of being too distant and detached in his governance approach, the indigenes are especially piqued that the governor seems to have ceded the powers of his office to his wife, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu. A native of Imo State, the strong-willed First Lady has reportedly immersed and entrenched herself in her husband’s government that her word is the law and carries as much or even more weight than the governor’s; while many contractors prefer to go through her for mega contracts.
She is described as brusque and condescending; looking and talking down on government officials while channelling the state’s resources to fulfilling her vanities.
What has also worsened the case of the governor is his recent appointment of Miss Ngozi Ugochi-Igbo, also an Imo State native, as his Special Assistant on Gender, Research and Documentation. The 26-year-old lady who recently completed her one year mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, was described as the First Lady’s makeup artist.
Party chieftains and faithful are riled and raging, describing the move as a deliberate slap on their faces because while they were yet to be compensated for their unquantifiable role towards ensuring Akeredolu’s electoral victory, he had yet to fully compensate them.
Yet, it was not the first time this would happen. A similar scenario played out last November when the governor approved the appointment of his wife’s relative, Miss Peace Joy Odili as the Special Assistant (Public Procurement).
The appointment was controversially backdated to November 2018 to allow her to get allowances and salaries she did not work for. Ondo people have been biding their time, waiting for the best time to strike. And the time is nigh.
Now, he is acutely aware of recent happenings in his party where incumbent governors do not get automatic return tickets as was the practice in the past. Former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos was the first major casualty of this new practice while the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki has been told in plain terms that he is also not entitled to one.
Akeredolu has declared that he is not scared what system is adopted – whether direct or indirect – for the primary election, saying that he is popular and has performed well hence he would win any mode of primary election conducted by the party.
It will be recalled that recently, they started this process by peddling a misleading information that President Buhari has endorsed the duo of Akeredolu and Obaseki.
The days ahead seem tough.