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Ondo 2020: The Battle of Two SANs

By Eric Elezuo

Things may not once again go the way it went on November 26, 2016 when Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) stepped into the ring, contesting and defeating his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, Eyitayo Jegede with an accumulated 244, 842 votes as against the PDP candidate’s 150, 380 votes. This may be so because of the governor’s dwindling profile as well as reported under performance over the years; a notion the governor’s team has since rebutted.

Howbeit, stakeholders are predicting a tough contest as the two legal luminaries test their strengths one more time, four years after, on October 10, 2020 even as the race for who occupies the highest office in the state gets underway.

Prior to the APC primary election, discordant tunes played from the camps of the contestants and party stalwarts, with many deriding the governor bringing his supposed inability to govern the state to the fore. Akeredolu’s ordeal reached a crescendo when his deputy, Mr. Ajayi decamped to the opposition PDP, creating a political vacuum in his administration. To add salt to injury, the governor and Party’s attempt to impeach met a brick wall in the state’s house of Assembly as members became divided, pledging their loyalties to different camps. As at the present, Akeredolu is running the government of Ondo with an opposition deputy.

As if the torments are not enough, one of the aspirants who contested primary election, Nathaniel Adojutelegan, has challenged Akeredolu’s victory as the party’s flag bearer.

Only yesterday, Adojutelegan appeared before the nine-member Chris Ibe-led Appeal Committee at the party’s National Secretariat, Abuja, brandishing a two-page petition dated July 22, challenging the outcome of the primary election that produced Akeredolu. He said the primary election fell short of the party’s constitution, guidelines, rules and regulations and electoral laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Toeing Adojutelegan’s line, another aspirant, Olusola Oke, issued Akeredolu a seven days ultimatum to conclude all reconciliation efforts with a view to uniting all aggrieved members of the party if he needs his support.

Mr Oke, who came second in the election, said the exercise was predetermined and organised to favour the governor.

“Whatever negotiations should be done timely, we are expecting that within the next seven days all reconciliation efforts, all terms and conditions would have been agreed upon,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Southwest caucus of the party led by Osun State governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, is working round the clock to see that aggrieved members are reconciled with as the October 10 draws closer.

A former President of Nigerian Bar  Association (2008), Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, better known as Rotimi Akeredolu, was born on July 21, 1956. He is at twilight of completing his first tenure as governor of Ondo, and hopeful of winning a second term.

A product of Reverend J. Ola Akeredolu of the Akeredolu family and Lady Evangelist Grace B. Akeredolu of Aderoyiju family of Igbotu, Ese Odo, in Ondo State, Akeredolu started his primary education at Government School, Owo. He proceeded to Aquinas College, Akure, Loyola College, Ibadan and Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, for his secondary school education and Higher School Certificate, respectively. He went on to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to study Law, graduating in 1977. He was called to the Nigerian Bar 1978.

Akeredolu was also a Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Olujinmi & Akeredolu, a Law Firm he co-founded with Chief Akin Olujinmi, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice in Nigeria.

Akeredolu became the Attorney General of Ondo State from 1997–1999. In 1998 he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and was Chairman of the Legal Aid Council between 2005 and 2006. 

In 2012, the Nigerian Bar Association named its new secretariat in Abuja after him with its president citing the reason being the need for “generational identification and recognition of those who had contributed immensely to the development of the association.”

Leveraging on his rising profile and popularity, he contested in November 2011, for Governor of Ondo State in the 2013 elections. He however, lost to the incumbent, Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party.

Against all odds including snubbing the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Nola Tinubu, Akeredolu picked the party’s ticket for the 2016 Governorship Election, and went ahead to win the election.

But the candidate of the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, has raised his hopes of defeating Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

Jegede, who won the PDP primary with 888 votes to defeat seven other contestants including the state’s deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, believe that the stage today is different from 2016 when he was cleared as the governorship of the part just days to the election. He had been embroiled in a tussle with billionaire businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, who for something was the Party’s recognised candidate.

Like Akeredolu, Jegede is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state. But unlike Akeredolu, Jegede is enjoying the support of his co-aspirants, who had pledged to work with him.

“By this victory, we serve a notice on the APC that for them, the end has come. By the grace of God, with the assistance of the people and with the support of all the co-aspirants, we will take over the government of Ondo State come October 2020.”

Eyitayo Jegede, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, was born to the family of late Chief Johnson Bosede, the Odopetu of Isinkan, Akure, and Mrs C.O Jegede (née Asokeji) from Ipele town, near Owo.

He attended St. Stephen’s “SA” Primary School, Modakeke, Ile-Ife and was at Aquinas College, Akure between 1973 and 1978 for his secondary education where he served as Senior Prefect and participated actively in sports. He obtained his Higher School Certificate Education at Christ’s School Ado Ekiti.  He studied Law at the University of Lagos between 1980 and 1983, and was posted to Yola, Adamawa State for his National Youth service Corps scheme.

He graduated from Law School in 1984, and over the years metamorphosed into a dynamic and seasoned lawyer. In 1992, he was appointed a Notary Public by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and in the space of less than 10 years was elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was deeply and actively involved in political cases and election petition matters, an area of law where his industry and practice is noted and respected.

He worked in the law firm of Murtala Aminu & Co. Yola. After twelve years practice in the law firm, six years of which he was the Head of Chambers, he established his own law firm, Tayo Jegede & Co in 1996. He was heading his law firm of Tayo Jegede & Co in Abuja and Yola before he took his previous appointment as Chief Law Officer in Ondo State.

In May 2009, he was appointed the Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. The ministry reportedly witnessed an unprecedented positive change in all ramifications during his days in office.

He is also very religious, and was a former Chancellor of Anglican Communion of Jalingo, Taraba State, as well as a former Chancellor of Anglican Dioceses of Yola and a member of Implementation Committee of American University, Yola, Adamawa State, as well as a member, Chairman Board of Governors, ABTI Academy International School and member, Board of Trustees, Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo-State.

As the October 10 date draws dangerously close, observers, analysts, bookmakers, theorists, political followers and stakeholders can easily tell on whose table the governorship ticket will drop.

 

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