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Ondo Elections: One Office, Three Candidates

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Few months ago, precisely July, I wrote a piece titled "Thoughts on Edo Polls". In it, I gave my view on the keenly contested July 14 gubernatorial election in Edo state. It was published a week before the date.

Three months later, I am doing same but this time taking a closer look at the major contenders.

I am not an indigene of the "sunshine state" but I enjoy the politics playing out. Over the past few weeks, the major contending parties have been at their best, doing outlandish propaganda quite nicely. It is not unexpected; same is trending even in the US elections build-up.

The Ondo election to a certain degree is similar to Edo's. One, both Mimiko and Oshiomole got to office thanks to rule of law. They secured landmark victories at the courts after successfully arguing that they were in actual fact the candidates who got highest number of votes casted. Two, against all odds, both defeated sitting governors of the ruling Peoples' Democratic Party. Three, both were at one time or the other involved in activism, although one was at the vanguard becoming President of the Nigeria Labour Congress.

For benefit of those who do not have background knowledge of the top contestants in the race to Ondo State Government House, below are profiles of the top three – in no particular order.

Olusegun Mimiko
The incumbent governor of the state and flagbearer of the Labour Party is no doubt the man to beat. A medical doctor by profession, Mimiko is a grassroot coordinator and experienced politician. He is from Ondo central and enjoys tremendous support from the people of the zone.

He began his politics career with the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In 1983, he served as the Publicity Secretary of the Ondo local government chapter of the UPN before acting as an ex-officio member of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).

In 1992, Mimiko under Governor Bamidele Olumila of the SDP served as a Health Commissioner. He returned to the position less than a decade later when he joined the administration of late Governor Adebayo Adefarati between 1999 and 2002.

He sought to rule the state in 2003 but unable to realize his ambition. For this reason, he defected to the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). Upon his new party's victory at the polls, Mimiko was appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG), a position he occupied till July 2005, when he was appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo as Minister of Housing and Urban Development.

To fulfill his dream, he desired to succeed the then Governor, Olusegun Agagu, but when it was clear he wouldn't get the ticket, he resigned on December 8, 2006 and contested the 2007 governorship election on the platform of Labour Party.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returned Agagu winner of that election but Mimiko triumphed by the judgment of the court after he was declared the duly elected governor of the state.

Olurotimi Akeredolu
The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) who was known to be vocal while in office, hails from Owo in Ondo North Senatorial District. He read law in the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and graduated in 1977. He was to bar in 1978.

Akeredolu was the Attorney General of Ondo State from 1997-1999, the only major post he has held in the state. It was during that period he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

He served the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at various levels, starting as the Secretary General of the Ibadan branch in 1985. He has been a member of National Executive Council of the Association since then.

He was also a member of Legal Aid Council of Nigeria from 1989 to 1991 and became its Chairman in 2005. He was a member of the Governing Council, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies between 2008 and 2010, a member of Council of Legal Education, a member of Council, International Bar Association and Pan African Lawyers Union during the same period. He currently serves as NBA representative in the National Judicial Council (NJC).

During his tenure as NBA president, he was critical of policies considered to be anti-people. He openly chided late President Yar' adua, that despite his illness, he refused to hand over reins of power to the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.

He was on July 28, 2012, he was selected as ACN candidate for the election during the congress in Akure. He promised to create 30,000 jobs in his first 100 days in office and that his priorities are agricultural development, fish farming for export, free education and healthcare and also jobs for the youths.

Olusola Oke
He too graduated from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1986 was called to the Nigeria Bar the following year. He later enrolled at the Supreme Court as Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

He got elected into the lower chamber of the National Assembly as a representative of Ilaje/Ese-Odo Constituency in 1992 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In 1999, became a board member of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) representing Ondo State.

A member of the newly constituted Technical committee on Niger Delta, Oke is from Ilowo, a coastal town in Ilaje Local government Area of Ondo State, in South Senatorial District.

Oke served as a member, Ondo State Internal Revenue Board before he was appointed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a commissioner representing Ondo State on the Governing Board of NDDC in 2000. He was a former Chairman of Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), a position he held before he resigned in October, 2006 to vie for PDP ticket for Ondo South Senatorial District.

After losing out due to internal wrangling, he went on to contest the party's election of the National Legal Adviser. He won and held the position until his tenure elapsed a few months back.

As the day draws nearer, it remains to be seen if the incumbency factor and efforts will work for Governor Mimiko. His fate lies in the hands of the electorates; they will decide whether he should carry on or pave way for someone else.

However, the people must come out and exercise their rights. They should be peaceful in their conduct but ensure their votes count.

Electoral body, INEC, should give us a free, fair and credible election. We do not wish to see all inadequacies observed during the Edo Polls repeat itself. 'Abeg, we no wan hear story'.

Tick tock the time signals, we truly can't wait…October 20, 2012.

By Wale Odunsi
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Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Wale Odunsi and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Wale Odunsi