FORMER Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president Rotimi Akeredolu has emerged as the All Progressives Congress (APC) Ondo State governorship candidate after beating his closest rival Olusegun Abraham in yesterday’s primaries.
In what some political analysts are describing as a major setback for party leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu because he backed Mr Abraham, Mr Akeredolu scored 669 votes, while his closest rival got 635. Mr Akeredolu will now be the APC’s official candidate for the November 26 gubernatorial elections in the state.
About 3,000 delegates voted in the election that had 24 aspirants, with Jigawa State governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, chairing proceedings. As is usually, the case, the build-up to yesterday’s primary was characterised by tension within the party following allegations that Asiwaju Tinubu had endorsed Mr Abraham and also directed the party leadership in the state to ensure his victory.
Although Asiwaju Tinubu admitted that he endorsed Mr Abraham, he denied directing the party leadership to work for his emergence and assured all the aspirants of a level playing field. In a clear indication of a gang up against Mr Abraham, even before Mr Akeredolu was officially pronounced winner, the main hall of the event centre was agog as other aspirants who had been campaigning against the endorsement of Asiwaju Tinubu’s man started embracing the eventual winner as officials announced his votes.
Although some aspirants announced their withdrawal from the race and endorsed one aspirant or the other, Governor Abubakar said the national secretariat could not recognise such last minute withdrawals as it had already printed ballot papers with 24 aspirants on each one. He added that only Paul Akintelure wrote to the national secretariat signalling his withdrawal.
Despite the initial controversy over alleged imposition of Mr Abraham on the party, the results showed that the election was keenly contested with all the major aspirants showing political strength. Although 24 persons vied for the ticket, the contest was strictly Between Messrs Abraham, Olusola Oke, Robert Boroffice and Akeredolu.
Mr Oke pulled some surprises with his performance despite being a new figure in the party, who recently joined from the Peoples Democratic Party. He scored 576 votes to come third, beating Ajayi Boroffice who was initially well favoured to pick the ticket.
Mr. Boroffice garnered 471 votes, while Tayo Alasoadura, the senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District, recorded 206 votes. Another serving lawmaker, a member of the House of Representatives Bode Ayorinde, polled 67 votes.
Jumoke Ajasin Anifowose, the only female aspirant, scored only a vote, while Tunji Ariyomo recorded two votes. Controversial Tunji Abayomi polled five votes, Adefemi Mayowa 13 votes, Adegbomire Adebiyi, eight votes, former Senator Ayo Akinyelure three votes and Jamiu Afolabi 44 votes, while Olabitan Victor scored 18 votes and Oyewumi Taiwo seven votes.