Ajayi, Jegede plan alliance for Ondo poll

YEMIE FASH

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Ajayi, Jegede plan alliance for Ondo poll

Plans are on by Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and his Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) counterpart, Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi, for a last minute working alliance to wrest power from Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN).

Jegede defeated Ajayi, a defector from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), during the PDP primary held in Akure.

Although the deputy governor had also bid for running mate, Jegede resisted pressure from top party leaders to allow Ajayi pair with him.

The belief in the camp of Jegede was that Ajayi might exhibit the same tendency that led to a crisis of confidence between him and his boss, Akeredolu.

Following his failure to get the slot, the deputy governor headed for ZLP, which, to many observers, lacks the formidable structure required for a rigorous governorship race.

A source said many associates of Ajayi are uncomfortable with the profile of the weak party, led by former governor Olusegun Mimiko, and its chances at the polls.

Also, prominent PDP leaders, who were pushing for Ajayi as running mate, are unhappy with Jegede for turning them down.

A secret committee set up by the PDP national leadership to firm up details of the arrangement will turn in its interim report before the end of the week, it was learnt.

The development followed the outcome of the PDP governorship campaign launch, which was attended by only two serving PDP governors.

A member of the State Working Committee of the PDP in Ondo State said the party was worried about the attitude of the PDP governors towards the standard-bearer.

He said: “Events of the last five days have been a source of worry to all of us in the party. This worry is not only in PDP, but also in ZLP where it is feared that there are serious financial hiccups.

“For now, Ajayi and Jegede have realised that they have to put ego aside and face the common enemy. They are already talking, having realised that they will fail woefully, if they go into the election divided, against Akeredolu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), without forming an alliance.

“The national leadership of our party, in all honesty, initiated the move because of their assessment of the situation on ground in the state. While Ajayi has popular appeal but is hit by financial crisis, Jegede has the financial muscle, but his platform is depleting by the day.

“So, the plan is to harmonise these varied advantages to form a common front against the APC; but it will all become clearer by the end of the week by the time the secret committee turns in its report. Although Jegede may be the one to benefit eventually, Ajayi is expected to hold the fort in Ondo South because he is strong there.

The source added: “As at today, I don’t know how PDP will win a local government in Ondo North Senatorial District where Akeredolu hails from. The people from that district are so desirous of completing the eight years.

“The southern district is known to be the home of PDP, but since the defection of Ajayi to ZLP, many PDP leaders like former Speaker Jumoke Akindele, Mike Omogbehin and Oboli Ogunwa are now ZLP members. The only way for Jegede to win this election is to accept whatever demands Ajayi may put on the table.”

The source said if the deal is sealed, Ajayi may be allowed to produce the exco members from the six local governments in the South Senatorial District, besides nominating the Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC)

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