Indications emerged on Monday that the winner of the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), may not enjoy the support of other aspirants.
Jegede, who was at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja to collect his certificate of return, was accompanied by only Mr. Godday Erewa, one of the eight defeated aspirants.
Similarly, many of the members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), including the Deputy National Chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, did not attend the event, which is usually marked with fanfare.
Akinwonmi is the highest ranking party official from Jegede’s Southwest geopolitical zone. No reason was given for their absence.
The drab ceremony was presided over by the PDP National Secretary, Senator Umar Tsauri, who presented Jegede with the return certificate.
Although Erewa was touted as Jegede’s running mate, party officials were silent on the matter.
Sources confided in our correspondent yesterday that the lukewarm attitude toward Jegede’s emergence might not be unconnected with the fact that he hailed from the Ondo Central Senatorial District.
It was gathered that part of the reasons Jegede lost the election in 2016 was the fact that he emerged from the same district with the former governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, who governed the state for eight years.
Expectations had favoured a candidate from the south senatorial district days before the primary election, in line with unwritten zoning arrangements and convention. Six of the aspirants were from the south zone.
This may have informed the decision of politicians from the central zone not to contest the primaries. The sentiments Jegede did not share.
Speaking after the presentation of the certificate, Jegede said he won the ticket on behalf of the PDP and the people of Ondo State.
He said there was consensus among the aspirants to support whoever emerged winner shortly before the primary election.
The candidate, however, said he had initiated consultations with the defeated aspirants and hoped that there would be unity of purpose before commencement of the campaign.
He noted that at a meeting before the primaries, the aspirants agreed to support whoever that wins, adding that there was no victor and no vanquished “because we need all hands to be on deck to defeat Rotimi Akeredolu.
“Our people are tired of the poverty inflicted on them by the current administration and the positive change we are looking at will be coming our way soon.”
Jegede expressed gratitude to the NWC for the opportunity given him to participate in the primary election, saying he would emerge victorious and would be sworn as the governor next February 23.
He said he had, on behalf of the party, gone round to hold discussions and consultations with the defeated aspirants.