Friday 23 February 2024


As per the timetable released by the National Working Committee of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), in a few weeks, the gubernatorial primary of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) for Ondo State will be conducted. A variety of aspirants have trumped up and have been crisscrossing the length and breadth of Ondo State, consulting leaders and Party faithfuls, seeking their support for the topmost job in the State. While we will have to wait till March 7th, when the sale of forms kicks off, to know the pretenders and the serious ones, this piece will aim to give a clear and concise debrief on each of the available aspirants.

Without prejudice to other senatorial districts, it is no longer news that almost the entirety of the party faithfuls in Ondo State have conceded the ticket to the Southern Senatorial District, in consonance with the dictates of the famed Ondo zoning formula. Until recently, the Southern Senatorial District prided itself as the political base and foundation of PDP in Ondo State, so one would expect quality aspirants from all parts of the district throwing their hats into the ring as far as the race is concerned. Sincerely, there has never been a better time for PDP to take over the State with the imminent implosion of the ruling party and the untoward hardship being witnessed across the land as a result of the poor leadership and maladministration that APC have brought to bare on governance in the state.

One of the major reasons for the degrading status of the PDP as a party, in Ondo State, is the refusal to reward loyalty and the encouragement of anti-party activities. It's trite to note that it is possible to decamp into PDP within a month and yet become the candidate of the Party in an election as long as you oil the pockets of some persons within the Party. This singular act has effectively engineered disunity and mistrust in the Party by those who genuinely care about it. The Party has been turned into a dumping ground. 

Young, bold and brilliant Deolu Akinwunmi presents the Party with an opportunity to have an energetic man on the ticket that can be adopted by the youths of Ondo State. Of all the aspirants, he was the first to go all out and start consulting, touring and building a structure within the Party but he's largely unknown to the Party's stakeholders. His Aluta brand of politics will disaffect Party leaders who don't seem open to it. He is not financially ready for the task ahead. He's also being faulted for taking sides with those who said zoning was antithetical to the politics of Ondo State by campaigning against the Southern agitation for the guber ticket during the last election. 

John Ola Mafo, on the other hand is an experienced politician, lawyer and a grassrooted aspirant in the State. A two term commissioner under Governor Olusegun Agagu and Special Adviser/ Executive Chairman ODSFA, under Governor Olusegun Mimiko  he was the deputy Governorship Candidate of the Party in 2016. He has been in the Party since forever, despite numerous entreaties from the ruling Party. Mafo would have been the perfect picture but for his lack of a deep pocket which appears to be a source of concern to the leaders and stakeholders of the party. But of all the aspirants, only he seem to have no enemy within and outside the Party. He could be a rallying point in the Party.

Chief Sola Ebiseni, a former Commissioner under the Labour Party government in Ondo State will cause more harm than good to the Party if he clinches the ticket. He is the other well experienced of the lot contesting. Ebiseni was the South West coordinator for the Obi/Datti campaign. His regular articles on the pages of newspapers, against our candidate and the Party, whittled down our chances in the last general election. As someone fond of decamping at will and abandoning the party when needed most or when he cannot get his wish, it is noteworthy to state that his emergence as candidate will polarise and could signal the final burial ceremony of the Party in the State.

Hon. Sheba Abayomi is an Irele born former federal lawmaker and former Chairman of Federal Character Commission. Like Ebiseni, he has shown to be one other aspirant whose candidature poses more harm than good. The aspiration of HAS, as he's fondly called, stems from a caucus within the Party that are fighting for their political survival. It is generally believed within the Party that he is being sponsored to come and take the ticket for the sole aim of hijacking the Party's structure. He is also accused of being a sore loser who worked against the Party's candidate in Ikale Federal Constituency after he lost the primary. A candidate with so many enemies within the Party will only mean we are going to the election as a joke. But obviously, he will make a good Chief of Staff to any other candidate. It is also on record that he just returned to the party in 2023 in order to contest the House of Representatives election, an ambition that was dead on arrival, as he could not even win the primary. 

None of the aspirants can match the popularity of Hon. Agboola Ajayi, former Deputy Governor and recently the senatorial candidate of the Party in Ondo State. Aside losing Ondo South to APC under his watch, Agboola Ajayi seem to be contesting for vendetta. His candidacy will further plunge the Party into crisis as he's effectively amassed more enemies than friends within and outside the Party. His proclivity for jumping ship whenever things aren't working for him has given him out as someone who is not a Party person. If he's empowered, no one can guarantee he will stay in the Party 3 months after his election.

Otunba Bamidele Akingboye is a popular figure in Ondo State politics and has beenin the party for a long while, but is not really an active member of the party, mostly more visible when in need of something within the system. He contests virtually all elections, lose and yet support the candidates of the Party afterwards. The Okitipupa born businessman, however, doesn't have the charisma and political wit to strongly challenge the ruling Party if given the ticket. Someone said he contests every election as his way of empowering his people. Any serious aspirant should liaise with his deep pocket in exchange for a good position in government.

Conclusively, there is need for the People's Democratic Party to pick a candidate that will not only resonate with the masses but finds a common ground with the various tendencies within the Party. The people are earnestly yearning for the Party to get it right. Ondo is for PDP to win or lose.


Bright Mercy

Coordinator, PDP Youths Advocates