Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, may have reached the crossroads in his search for the right political platform to actualize his ambition to govern the Sunshine state.
His desire to succeed his principal, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who is also seeking a re-election, had culminated in his recent defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Realizing that the heat was becoming intolerable under the umbrella of the APC, he decided to tender his resignation letter to the Chairman, Apoi Ward 2, Samuel Ajayi and the ward Chairman of his hometown of Kiribo in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo, David Turo on June 21 and subsequently moved on with his political adventurism.
Fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, he did not test the waters before he took a plunge into another political journey. With an over-rated self-confidence, the embattled deputy governor entered into the race for the governorship ticket of the PDP with other aspirants and lost out woefully. Perhaps, he had thought that the contest would be an easy walkover, but he got it all wrong. Rather, Eyitayo Jegede, an old warhorse, emerged the winner with a total of 888 votes as against 667 votes he pulled out of 2,111 delegates that voted during the primaries.
The dilemma now is how to strike a delicate balance between the desire to retain his position as deputy governor on one hand and the aspiration to wrest power from his boss on the other hand. Either way, the task is full of uncertainties.
Borne out of this desperation, the media have been awash with his alleged move to jump the ship again in preference for the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) where he hopes to slug it out with both Akeredolu and Jegede in the October governorship election.
With this development, Ajayi may have reached the nadir of his political ambition. Reports say he has secured the endorsement of the National Leader of the party, who is also a former governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko. That’s surely a plus for him. But how far can the platform carry him? Yes, Mimiko, a grassroots mobilizer, is politically savvy. He alone had the record of defeating an incumbent governor on the platform of a relatively unknown party: the defunct Labour Party.
But time flies. Certainly, between the period he left office and now, political equations must have dramatically changed in favour of the new actors. Even, given the potency of his political machinery, it would be much easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the hole of a needle than Ajayi sailing through the turbulent waters that lie ahead of him on the ticket of the Zenith Labour Party.
Other than the power of incumbency, Ajayi also has the threat of impeachment to grapple with in the days ahead. And it would require no less than shrewd political maneuvering to really stave off the threat of his imminent removal in the face of the present political miscalculation. What seems to be working for him as he continues to hold sway in the government house is partly lack of consensus among the lawmakers in the state House of Assembly, as well as the court restraint order. Even at that, it is not over until it is over. In politics, no one can predict what can happen between now and October. He may succeed in holding on to the office latching on to the subsisting court order, but he can very rarely wade through the vicissitude of time.
As they say, “you cannot have your cake and eat it.” In Nigeria’s conventional politics, the relationship between a governor and his deputy is usually a marriage of convenience, which is why there is always a mutual suspicion.
According to Akeredolu, the action of his deputy is a total betrayal of trust, saying “despite the criticism and attack from various quarters that Ajayi is my cousin, l felt that l had made a choice, but a wrong choice.” The height of the crisis of confidence was when Ajayi urged Akeredolu to hand over to him after he had tested positive for the Coronavirus disease.
In a simple interpretation, Ajayi had willfully foiled the distrust with his over ambition to take over the job of his boss by guile and intrigues. And from the tune of his benefactor, he would be made to pay for it in any way possible. Of course, the defiant Ajayi has said: “My people that voted for me did not ask me to resign as Deputy Governor, so I remain the Deputy Governor of this state. I was duly elected as a Deputy Governor.”
Yes, he would continue to be for only as long as he enjoys the sympathy of a good number of the lawmakers. But he must also know that Akeredolu holds the ace. He has the knife and the yam. It is a raging drama. And only time can tell what will eventually happen.
Agboola Ajayi was born in 1968 into Ajayi family in Kiribo, Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo. His political career dates back to 1999 when he was appointed the Supervisor for Works for Ese-Odo Local Government between 2001 and 2003 and later Caretaker Chairman for the council. He was subsequently elected the substantive Chairman in 2004 to 2007. The climax of his political journey came in 2007 when he was elected to the Federal House of Representatives to represent Ilaje / Ese-Odo Federal Constituency.
While in the National Assembly, Agboola Alfred Ajayi served as the Chairman of House Committee on NDDC between 2007 and 2010. He was also member of various committees, including House Committee on Gas, House Committee on Habitat, House Committee on Justice and House Committee on Industry between 2007 and 2001. He is currently serving as the deputy governor to Akeredolu despite his defection to the PDP. He has been described in some quarters as a political prostitute.