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2023: Zoning headlines battle for Ese-Odo/Ilaje NASS seat

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Political titans in both the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Ese-Odo and Ilaje local government areas are locked in battle of wits over who gets the parties’ ticket for election to the House of Representatives to represent Ese-Odo/Ilaje Federal Constituency. Politicians in Ese-Odo are insisting that it is their turn to produce the House of Representatives member in 2023 but the incumbent member representing the constituency, Hon Kolade Akinjo, who hails from Ilaje, is set to run for another term in office.

The push by Ese-Odo politicians to produce the next federal lawmaker is based on an unwritten political understanding between both local governments to produce the House of Representatives member in turn, after every eight years. But the insistence of Hon. Akinjo, who was elected on the platform of the PDP, to run for another term in office, is testing the political understanding between Ese Odo and Ilaje.

There are however other persons poised to contest the PDP primary election against Akinjo. They are Samuel Tuwatimi, Bekewei Ajuwa and Barr. Festus Dabo.

However, the ambition of former Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, to gun for the Ondo South senate seat under the PDP might be the leeway for Hon. Akinjo to secure the PDP’s ticket to contest for another term of four years. Agboola hails from Kiribo in Ese-Odo local government. He was a former member of the House of Representatives for eight years. Agboola, according to some PDP chieftains, would back Akinjo to enable him secure the PDP’s ticket for the Senate.

What might work against Akinjo is the allegation of non-performance being peddled against him. Akinjo did not pick calls made to his cell phone. One of his aides who picked the call said he would contact our reporter but he was yet to do so as at press time.

In the ruling All Progressives Congress, it is being speculated that the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, is interested in the House of Representatives seat. He contested in the 2019 general elections but lost due to division within the ranks of APC leaders. Ojogo has since resigned his appointment and formally declared intention to contest the election even as leaders of the APC recently met and endorsed his candidacy.

Leaders of the APC at the meeting held in Arogbo, headquarters of Ese-Odo local government were Hon Doye Olajide, Hon. Corporal Nanaopiri, Executive Director, Rural Electrification Agency, Chief Niyi Netufo; Special Adviser to the Governor on Gender Matters, Chief (Mrs) Olamide Falana; Hon. Agabra Ikoto Atili, State Deputy Chairman of APC; Hon. J. E Feku, Former Chairman Ese-odo LG; Hon. Corporal Nanaopiri, Former Chairman Ese-odo LG, Former Chairman,Christian Welfare Board; Hon. Akin Sowore, Former Chairman Ese-odo LG; Hon. Iji Iwarere, Former Chairman Ese-odo LG and Hon Bayo Anifowose.

The APC who agreed to begin immediate mobilization of members across the federal constituency for Ojogo said their endorsement of Ojogo does not stop any aspirant from declaring interest. Hon Anifowose who moved the motion for the adoption of Ojogo as their preferred aspirant saluted the contributions of Ojogo to the sustenance and development of the party in the locality.

In his remark, Hon Joseph Feku said, “What we are doing here is to tell the world that those of us here are behind Donald Ojogo, that he should run. It doesn’t mean that we have stopped others, anyone can aspire. But for us, the leaders here, this is the man we going with”. There are, however, fears that the aspiration of two princes of Ugbo kingdom in Ilaje local government might cause ripples within the APC ranks ahead of the election.

The two princes, Prince Abayomi Akinruntan, a son of the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, and Prince Idowu Mafimisebi, a younger brother of the deposed Olugbo, Prince Adebanjo Mafimisebi, are said to have reached out to APC leaders in both local government areas. Prince Abayomi, is the current lawmaker, representing Ilaje constituency 1 in the Ondo State House of Assembly. He has the backing of his father and the entire Ugbo Kingdom while Prince Mafimisebi, is to be a counterforce to confront the Akinruntan dynasty.

The ambition of both princes has caused division within the APC in Ilaje and the entire Ugbo Kingdom over fears of renewed violent conflicts between the families of the Olugbo of Ugbo and the deposed Olugbo. An APC leader in Ilaje who pleaded anonymity said, “The leaders of Ilaje APC are worried about the involvement of the former deputy governor of the state in who emerges as the APC candidate for Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency.

“So many of us understand the frosty relationship between the former deputy governor and Oba Akinruntan’s family. In fact, when he was still the Deputy Governor and was in charge of Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs ministry, he attempted to remove Oba Akinruntan and return his in-law. We were told that it was Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu who warned him not to set the community on fire.

“His intention to sponsor his in-law in APC, not in his party (PDP) is to spite Oba Akinruntan and cause a political crisis in the Ilaje and APC. He is one of the leaders of PDP in Ondo. He has the political party power to impose his in-law Mafimisebi as the candidate of his party but financing him in APC is simply to cause confusion and war in Ilaje.”

Besides the family rivalry in Ilaje over the APC ticket, some chieftains of the party said it was the turn of Ese-Odo to produce the next federal lawmaker. They stated that the incumbent Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, hails from Ilaje, Chairman of the Ondo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Commission, Mr. Sam Erejuwa, also hails from Ilaje. They argued that the thinking of Governor Akeredolu in giving those appointments to Ilaje was to make room for the APC to pick the House of Representatives candidate from Aruogbo in Ese-Odo local government.

Meanwhile, President of the Ilaje Patriotic Youths Vanguard (IPYV) President, Comrade Edamisan Agbudeloye, in a statement, urged Governor Akeredolu and other leaders of the Ondo APC, to prevail on the two princes, Abayomi and Idowu to withdraw from the race to avert war in Ilajeland as well as doused tension already generated. Comrade Agbudeloye said, “These princes intend to lead us back to Eygpt but we won’t go back to Eygpt and the only way to stop this setback is by prevailing on these people to bury their ambitions so that we can have peace in Ugboland.

“The rivalry between these two royal family camps, Akinruntan and Mafimisebi, has caused a lot of retrogression in the oil-rich community. Enough is enough, we are not ready to bury our wives, kids, siblings and lose our properties again due to animosity between these royal families. Whichever way both parties played their cards ahead of the primaries, the PDP, it was gathered, hoped to rely on the huge voting population in Ilaje to ensure victory while the APC would for the purpose of equity and fairness looked the way of Ese-Odo.

Ojogo, on his part, has kept critics guessing. At the meeting where he was endorsed, he said he was nothing but a political tool in the hands of Governor Akeredolu. “I appreciate this meeting. I am overwhelmed with your show of love and support. I don’t even have the right words to thank you. I am deeply grateful.

“Please note, my political journey is still subjected to the nod of my principal and benefactor, Mr. Governor, a man who has shown me love and support. I can’t take this decision without him. Whatever he says is the final. I want to also thank our leaders, not just in Ese-Odo but also in Ilaje. The support is encouraging. But like I said, I have a Principal whose direction I must follow politically.”

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