The Ondo 2020 election gubernatorial election has been decided and results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave the victory to the incumbent Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He defeated 17 candidates, including the Peoples Democratic Party and the Zenith Labour Party(ZLP), Eyitayo Jegede and Agboola Ajayi, who were the two other top contenders in the election.
A summation of the total votes of Messrs Jegede and Ajayi would still have not matched the total votes Mr Akeredolu polled.
According to INEC, Mr Akeredolu, a lawyer from Owo Local Council Area, in Ondo North Senatorial District, won the election having polled the highest valid votes cast – 292, 830 and was, therefore, returned re-elected.
The runner-up, Mr Jegede, from Akure South LGA, polled 195, 791 while Mr Ajayi candidate of the ZLP came a distant third in the election with 69, 127 votes.
Mr Akeredolu’s victory, with little adjustments here and there, followed significantly the projections made by the PREMIUM TIMES in its pre-election analysis of who could win the election.
This newspaper had predicted that he could win 11 to 12 out of the 18 LGAs in the state.
He eventually won in 15 leaving Akure North, Akure South and Ifedore to Mr Jegede. Mr Ajayi did not win in any of the LGAs. In 2016, when he was first elected governor, he won in 14 local government areas.
Just like how the candidate of the APC in the Edo gubernatorial election lost in his own local government to the eventual winner of the election, Mr Ajayi also lost in his local government- Ese Odo- to the winner, Mr Akeredolu. Interestingly, Mr Akeredolu’s mother is from the same LGA with Mr Ajayi.
As it is usual with an election of this nature, there will always be losers and winners.
The major winner is Mr Akeredolu who has been reelected to govern the state for the next four years, which is going to be the end of his constitutionally allowable term in office as governor.
His party, the APC, is also a winner as the party now has another mandate of four years, other things being equal, to be the ruling party in the state. The party’s supporters, chieftains and Mr Akeredolu’s fans are also winners.
Of the losers in the election such as Messrs Jegede and Ajayi; PDP, ex-presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar; Oyo governor, Seyi Makinde; ZLP, their supporters and fans alike, the one whose loss in the election will continue to reverberate and dominate political discourse for a while is Olusegun Mimiko, immediate past Governor of the state.
Although Mr Mimiko was not a candidate in the election, he was, however, the major backer and promoter of the ZLP candidate, Mr Ajayi, the embattled, deputy governor of the state.
Mr Mimiko’s involvement in Mr Ajayi’s campaign throughout the entire duration of the Ondo electioneering process reminds one of the recently held Edo gubernatoroal poll where an ex-APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was more visible than the candidate of the APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who eventually lost the election.
Some analysts have said that Mr Ize-Iyamu’s loss in the election was caused by Mr Oshiomhole.
While Mr Ajayi’s loss cannot be entirely heaped on Mr Mimiko, it is obvious that the former two-term Governor of the state has lost part of his political influence.
Dying political warhorse?
Just like he failed to install his preferred candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, in the 2016 gubernatorial election in the state, Mr Mimiko has, again, failed to reactivate his political machinery through the ZLP
For Mr Mimiko, it is now a string of losses within a space of four years after exiting office as Governor of the state in 2016.
As some observers have said, with the latest political development, Mr Mimiko, a former political king and kingmaker, is now without a kingdom.
First of the losses was when he could not install Mr Jegede, who served as his attorney general and commissioner for justice, as his successor.
Mr Mimiko had insisted on fielding Mr Jegede as the candidate of the PDP in the 2016 election. This was against better counsel that the party might lose the election for the simple reason that Mr Jegede, from Ondo Central, cannot succeed Mr Mimiko, who is also from the district. The PDP eventually lost the election to the APC, the then major opposition party in the state.
The second loss was when he failed to actualise his own senatorial ambition on the platform of the ZLP in the 2019 National Assembly elections. He came a distant third in the election which was won by the candidate of the PDP, Ayo Akinyelure, senator representing Ondo Central in the 9th senate.
The loss of Mr Ajayi in the just concluded Ondo 2020 election is Mr Mimiko’s third loss, which some analysts and observers have described as the end of his political relevance in the state and perhaps the nation at large.
From all indications, it appears an end is near for his political career that has spanned over three decades during which he became a commissioner for health, secretary to the Ondo State government, federal minister and then Governor for eight years.
Will Mimiko, Akeredolu ever reconcile?
In the heat of the campaign, Mr Akeredolu had declared that Mr Mimiko remains his enemy for life having supported his estranged Ddputy, Mr Ajayi, in the election.
Mr Akeredolu called Mr Mimiko a ‘bogus enemy’ of his while appearing on a Channels TV programme, saying Mr Mimiko “stabbed him in the back” and that the national leader of the ZLP “will regret his actions.”
Prior to the emergence of Mr Ajayi as the candidate of the ZLP, Messrs Akeredolu and Mimiko were friends right from their university days at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU).
Mr Akeredolu felt Mr Mimiko betrayed him by throwing his support for his deputy with whom he had parted over political differences.
Mr Ajayi was in the APC with Mr Akeredolu for three and half years before defecting to the PDP to vie for the party’s gubernatorial ticket. He came second in the primaries before finally taking a detour to the ZLP where Mr Mimiko did not hesitate a second to hand him the gubernatorial ticket of the party.
Perhaps Mr Akeredolu might use the frosty relationship he has with Mr Mimiko to probe the administration of the latter now.
Some activists and party supporters had called on Mr Akeredolu as soon as he was sworn in as governor in 2017 to probe the government of Mr Mimiko over allegations of financial malpractice but he refused, a development many termed as being predicated on the cordial relationship they had then.
So what’s next for Mimiko?
The future is unpredictable. It’s the same way with Mr Mimiko’s political future, for now. No one knows what his next political moves will be.
But if there is anything to go by with his badly deflated political fortunes and capital especially in his Ondo community, it appears he may yet be in ‘political wilderness’ for a while to come.
It would be recalled that he failed to deliver both Ondo West, his LGA, and Ondo East LGA to the ZLP in the just concluded election, against all pre-election permutations that projected him to deliver the two LGAs to the party. The APC trounced him in the two LGAs which were considered his fortress in the past.
The implication of the loss of the ZLP in the two LGAs points to one fact: Mr Mimiko has lost home support, that’s political support.
Going forward, politicians who may be interested in contesting future elections in the state may begin to distance themselves from Mr Mimiko, who was considered the political generalissimo of the state especially between 2009 up till 2016.
Considering the way Nigerian politicians switch parties and allegiance with reckless abandon, Mr Mimiko’s thinning political camp will suffer further losses in weeks and months to come as some of his supporters will desert him for either the ruling APC or the PDP
These two seem to still be very active in the state given the results they posted across the 18 LGAs in the October 10 election.
Will Mr Mimiko abandon the ZLP like he did to the Labor Party on whose platform he became governor in 2009 and move into either the APC or PDP or choose to stay back in the ZLP and nurse into a party of reckoning?
In the meantime, everything is still fuzzyy around the medical doctor-turned politician.