ONDO 2024: THE BATTLE LINES.
By Kennedy Ikantu Peretei.
It is a known fact that, around October, 2024, Governorship election will hold in Ondo State. While the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to officially release a timetable for the election, political parties and gladiators who have eyes on Alagbaka Government House come February 24, 2025 are not leaving anything to chance.
The health status of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu,SAN shrouded as it were, in secrecy appears to be the launch pad for this epic battle.
The people of Ondo State are completely in the dark as to the exact nature of Mr Governor’s health challenge, or how soon he will resume his official duties. In the letter addressed to the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, the Governor was reported to have proceeded on a 21-day medical vacation, to resume on 6th July, 2023. But on the expected date of resumption, the Commissioner of Information, Bamidele Ademola Olateju issued a statement to the effect that, Governor Akeredolu was in high spirit but will return on a date determined by his doctors in Germany. If another letter has been sent to the State Assembly to extend the tenure of Hon. Lucky Ayedatiwa, as Acting Governor, it is not yet in public domain.
Perhaps, all these would have been normal, if the absence of the Governor had not stagnated government business in the state. The tower of Babel has literally descended on the All Progressives Congress (APC) family and the government, as individuals and groups perch precariously on a balance of probabilities driven by the myth of uncertainty, in what has been famously described by Mrs Betty Akeredolu as “peradventure”.
I do not intend to dwell on the confrontation and altercation between members of the Ondo State cabinet in an attempt to undo and out maneuver themselves in the power play ahead of 2024, because a lot of it is already known by keen watchers of Ondo State politics.
2024 Gubernatorial contest has been beautifully clothed in “per adventure”, to such an extent that hypocrisy, bitterness and stand still await Akeredolu any time he comes back. If it were possible to see through the thoughts of most of those who attend prayer sessions for his quick recovery, most prayers are nothing but their preferences in 2024.
It is not unexpected that, the sudden absence of the enormous powers of a sitting Governor from the arena in a pre-election year will precipitate this level of cacophony within a political family, what is strange is the extent and the drawback that has befallen government activities.
As at the last count, a number of aspirants have indicated their willingness to contest 2024 gubernatorial election on the platform of APC. No doubt, majority of them are pretenders or expecting some godfathers to endorse them or ride on the back of a non-existent power of incumbency to square up with the major opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But at the end of these hostilities occasioned by Akeredolu’s absence, picking up the pieces will be a tall order. The same people who were abandoned in the course of the supremacy battle will have the last say. And this period, wasted in needless show of force and cluelessness will count against the APC government.
In the wake of economic hardship induced by Bola Tinubu led APC federal government, some state governments have taken proactive measures to alleviate the suffering of their citizens. Governor Agbu Kefas of Taraba State, did not only declare free education for primary and secondary schools, he reduced school fees in government owned University by 50%. What has been the response from the Ondo State government to the harsh economic realities in the state? Will the internal battles fought within the government suffice as excuse for this lack lustre performance? Will it be the excuse for insensitivity of the government to suffering of the people ?
More than ever before, parents most of whom have abandoned their cars due to high cost of fuel are yearning for the return of free school shuttle buses. Students trek long distances to and from school because, they cannot afford taxi fares. The tears in the eyes of both parents and students flow everyday accusingly at a regime that is totally lacking in human face
For 2024, what will count is the APC score card. There is a limit to which a people can be taken for a ride. In the words of Bob Marley, the legendary Jamaican musician ” you can fool some people some times, but you cannot fool all the people all the times”. 2024 will not be business as usual. It is a battle for the emancipation of the people from make belief prosperity.