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AT A GLANCE: Ebiseni, Ajayi, Akinjo… guber hopefuls battling for PDP’s ticket in Ondo

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is ready to hold its governorship primary election in Ondo on Thursday (today).

Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, deputy governor of Bayelsa state, has been named as the chairman of the election committee.

Seven governorship aspirants — Adeolu Akinwumi, Olusola Ebiseni, Bamidele Akingboye, Kolade Akinjo, Bosun Arebuwa, John Mafo and Agboola Ajayi — were screened and cleared by a panel constituted by the national working committee (NWC) of the party in March.

Interestingly, all seven governorship hopefuls are from the Ondo south senatorial district.

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The hopefuls are poised to engage in a fierce contest to secure the PDP nomination for the gubernatorial election that will take place on November 16.

Below are the contenders for the race.

ADEOLU AKINWUMI

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Akinwumi is a UK-trained computer engineer. The politician, who hails from Okitipupa LGA, was a special assistant to Olusegun Mimiko, former governor of the state.

A few months ago, Akinwumi said he has “what it takes to aspire for this exalted office” of the governor.

“I served the government of former Governor Olusegun Mimiko between 2009 and 2011 and I worked very closely with the governor as one of the key staff and this also gave me an opportunity to come close in terms of what governance is all about in Ondo state. This is because I had a privilege information about the locality of our dear state and all of these I will aggregate together and bring together by the way of my aspiration,” he said.

Last month, Akinwunmi vehemently kicked against the call for the adoption of a consensus candidate by some party leaders in the state.

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OLUSOLA EBISENI 

Ebiseni, a former secretary-general of Afenifere, a Ondo PDP gubernatorial hopeful

Ebiseni, a former secretary-general of Afenifere, Yoruba social political organisation, hails from Ilaje LGA of the state.

He was born on October 1, 1960, the same day Nigeria gained independence.

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Ebiseni is no stranger to the Ondo political arena. He is a three-time former commissioner in the state, and was a delegate at the 2014 national conference.

Ebiseni contested the gubernatorial primary election in 2016 under the PDP.

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Speaking early this year when he declared his intention to vie for the party’s ticket, Ebiseni said if elected governor, he would resuscitate “certain social services which sets our state apart ideologically”.

He promised affordable education and health services to women and children.

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BAMIDELE AKINGBOYE

Akingboye hails from Okitipupa LGA of the state. He is a businessman and member of multiple professional groups, including the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), Texas, USA, and International Financial Reporting (IFR).

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He was the PDP governorship aspirant in 2003. In 2015, Akingboye contested for the PDP Ondo south senatorial ticket.

Addressing party stakeholders at the PDP secretariat in Akure, the capital of Ondo, in March, Akingboye said he doesn’t want to be governor for selfish interest.

“I do not seek political power for the lure of the office, self-aggrandizement or pecuniary gains of myself or family members, but to create a new vista, broaden the state’s economic base, cut the cost of governance, prioritise the welfare of the people, target rampant poverty and make the state safe, sane and secure for all its law-abiding residents and guests,” he said.

KOLADE AKINJO

Akinjo, a lawyer, is from Ilaje LGA, a Ondo PDP gubernatorial hopeful

Akinjo, a lawyer, is from Ilaje LGA. He is a former member of the house of representatives between 2015 and 2023. He represented Ilaje/Ese Odo federal constituency on the PDP platform.

Akinjo was a personal assistant on student and youth affairs to former president Olusegun Obasanjo between 2006 and 2007.

In August 2023, President Bola Tinubu appointed Akinjo as Ondo state representative on the board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

His appointment was met with a pushback from members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo who said he is not a member of the party.

A month later, the president bowed to pressure and replaced the former lawmaker on the NDDC board.

Last month, Akinjo said he wants to occupy the number one seat in the state to correct the “misgovernance currently ravaging the length and breadth” of Ondo.

“I am an alternative to all the things they (APC) are unable to do in Ondo state. The purpose of my aspiration is to bring good governance back to Ondo state, to restore transparency and to ensure that the life of our people is way better than it has been,” he said.

BOSUN AREBUWA

Arebuwa is from Ode-Aye in Okitipupa LGA of Ondo. The entrepreneur believes that to be governor is not a matter of life or death.

In March, Arebuwa said the party must be united to defeat the APC in the governorship election.

“What our own government is going to do is to render light, and when the light comes, all the good things Ondo people have been missing, they will begin to enjoy it,” he said.

JOHN MAFO

Mafo is from Ilaje LGA in Ondo state. He is a former information commissioner and member of PDP elders committee in the state.

In January, Mafo said he considers himself to be “tailor-made, suited, prepared endowed and ordained” to serve the people of the state.

“I am the right man to lead the PDP for the emancipation of the people of Ondo from the penury and stagnancy which the ruling APC government has subjected them to in the last 8 years,” he said.

AGBOOLA AJAYI

Ajayi served as deputy governor from 2017 to 2021 under Rotimi Akeredolu, former governor of the state.

In June 2020, Ajayi resigned from the APC and defected to the PDP, attributing his decision to the “irreconcilable differences” between him and  Akeredolu.

He was replaced by Lucky Aiyedatiwa who is the current governor of the state.

He was later elected as the governorship candidate of the ZLP in 2020 but later rejoined the PDP after the election.

Ajayi is from Ese-Odo LGA. In March, he described himself as the most qualified and experienced among the hopefuls seeking to govern the state.

“I have the capacity, I have the experience, I have what it takes to govern and transform this state and let me tell you, if I become the governor of the state and fail to perform, then, hope has been totally lost. Basically, I understand how Ondo State can be governed, leading to the happiness of all and sundry,” he said.

“I understand what we need to revive the economy of this state, I understand how to run this state without even relying on FG allocation and I can prove it anywhere. I understand where there is money in Ondo State, I understand the plight of all the residents, including the elderly.”

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