It is an anxious three-way horse race now as party elders of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, are in a tense all-day meeting in Lagos trying to decide the candidate that will bear their gubernatorial flag in the October 20th election against incumbent Olusegun Mimiko, a medical doctor and former minister for Housing, who is seeking a second term as governor on the platform of the labour party.
The three candidates are Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, a former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, and one time attorney General of the state; Saka Lawal a policy expert with about two decades experience at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, and one time state electoral commissioner in the state. Mr. Lawal was credited as the organizing spirit of the labour party that brought Mr. Mimiko to power but later split with the governor to join the ACN. The last candidate is Dr. Segun Abraham, a water engineer and businessman.
The decision of the party elders effectively shut out a former minister of power and steel, Olu Agunloye; Jumoke Anifowose, daughter of the late patriarch and first civilian governor of the state, Michael Ajasin, and over 20 other aspirants from the race. Mrs. Anifowoshe was the most recent chairman of the ACN.
Inside sources at the meeting told PREMIUM TIMES in the early hours of Monday that the challenge facing party elders now is how to settle for one of three key candidates who made the final list of the 26 aspirants who began the race. All the three are representing the North senatorial district of the state where the party has zoned the governorship position.
Mr. Akeredolu is from Owo while Mr. Lawal and Abraham are from the Akoko district of the North senatorial constituency. Party insiders say that Mr. Lawal’s grassroot penetration, and the fact that his district has never produced a governor puts him in good stead while Mr. Akeredolu is credited with experience and charisma. Mr. Abraham is reputed to be the richest of the three.
Late governor Adekunle Ajasin, the first civilian governor of the state was from Owo, Mr. Akeredolu’s district, while late governor Adebayo Adefarati a one time governor of the state was from Akoko south, the same district that Dr. Abraham comes from. Mr. Lawal is from Akoko North.
The party elders are members of a 50-man guidance and counseling group set up last May and drawn from the three senatorial districts in the state. Mr. Wumi Adegbomire, considered a father of the party, is head of the group.