The race to occupy Government Office, Alagbaka next year February 2025 has already commenced and for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the marathon is entering into its next lap of the track as the competitors look ahead to the party primaries set to hold on the 25th April 2024.
The speculation about who will be part of the contest is reducing as some of those hitherto tipped to be active participants have either withdrawn their interest or otherwise failed to pick up the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms. For those who have purchased the relevant forms and go on to complete and submit them at the party headquarters in Abuja, the next hurdle will be the Screening Exercise that has been scheduled to hold later this week. We take a close look at each of the aspirants and x-ray their capacities, antecedents and what they may bring to the table.
This is particularly important as a necessary quotient of the democratic exercise geared at producing a suitable party flag-bearer who will ultimately anchor the party’s quest to unseat the incumbent APC government, regardless whoever emerges as their own party candidate. The good people of Ondo State are counting on the opposition party to present a viable alternative from which an informed choice can be made over the destiny of the state from 2025 to 2029.
So what do we know about each of these governorship hopefuls?
Otunba Bamidele Akingboye (OBA):-
The foremost Governorship aspirant is a seasoned business leader and a compassionate advocate determined to defend the plight of the ordinary Ondo State resident;
A man with a vision of resilience; revitalization and redemption expounded and encompassed in an Agenda that has evolved over several attempts for the position;
He offers a combination of bold leadership, innovative solutions and unwavering dedication in providing an answer to prioritize the welfare of the people by targeting the rampant poverty and making Ondo State sane and safe for all residents;
With a mind ablaze with ideas and a heart full of compassion, he seeks to create a new vista and broaden the state’s economic base and cut the cost of governance.
Criticism against him is that he is clearer a perennial Aspirant having ventured down this route several times in the last twenty years.
Chief Sola Ebiseni (ONE):
His extensive experience as a former commissioner is overshadowed by concerns that his nomination could harm the PDP.  
His role as the Southwest Coordinator for the Obi/Datti campaign and criticism of the PDP’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar are viewed as undermining the party’s election chances.
He is seen as someone who readily abandons the party when circumstances don’t favor him, as evidenced by his actions in 2016, 2020, and 2023 when he left and worked against the PDP after not being selected as the candidate.
His emergence as a candidate is potentially polarizing and signals the party’s decline in the state.
Criticisms against him include inconsistencies, a narrow rather than broad support base, and extremely poor financial strength.
Hailing from the underperforming Ilaje LGA, doubts exist about his ability to expand the party’s statewide fortunes.
He is labeled a serial decampee with a sense of entitlement, raising loyalty concerns.
Accusations suggest he is sponsored by the opposition to destabilize the PDP from within.
Kolade Akinjo:
Despite holding office since 1999, he lacks a broad followership across Ondo’s 18 LGAs, casting doubt on his statewide appeal.
He is perceived as overly tribal, focusing on representing his native Ilaje LGA over the entire state.  
Described as stingy, which could severely hinder his ability to fund a competitive campaign.
Viewed as lacking strategic vision, seeking the nomination through adoption over a robust primary process.
His candidacy is seen as fitting an “Ilaje candidate” rather than a unifying, statewide PDP nominee.
Perceived as indecisive and may not have contested out of personal conviction, except for external sponsorship, allegedly from Interior Minister Bunmi Tunji-Ojo and Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila.
Considered not mature enough for the gubernatorial office.
John Mafo:  
While experienced in government, he is criticized for an absolute lack of finances to adequately fund a gubernatorial bid.
His support base and followership are seen as poor, concerning party leaders about his wider viability.
Also hailing from the underperforming Ilaje LGA, doubts remain about his ability to boost the party’s performance there.
Though seen as having no overt party enemies, skeptics question whether he can unite all factions.
His ties to Ilaje, coupled with the area’s poor 2023 turnout, undermine the perceived competitiveness of his statewide candidacy.
He often relies on miraculous external funding, knowing fully well that he may not be too sure of its financial viability.
Agboola Ajayi:
His Ondo South senatorial loss to the APC in 2023 damages confidence in his electoral strength.
He was majorly responsible for the PDP’s losses in 2016 and 2020, abruptly leaving the PDP to work for the APC, including after losing the 2020 primary to Eyitayo Jegede.
Widely seen as driven by vendettas over party interests, with fears his nomination could further divide the PDP.
His history of abandoning parties when circumstances sour paints him as lacking loyalty.
Viewed as having more political enemies than allies within and outside the PDP, hindering coalition-building.
Doubts persist that he would remain in the PDP long if elected governor on that platform.
Seen as extremely desperate for power and capable of anything to get it, as evidenced by his contesting in every election.
Has certification forgery and litigation issues to contend with.
Adeolu Akinwunmi:
While young, bold, and brilliant, he is largely unknown to key party stakeholders, hindering unified support.
His “aluta” activist brand could disaffect party leaders who are not open to confrontational approaches.
Criticized as being financially unprepared for the costs of a statewide gubernatorial campaign.
He has been heavily faulted for previously opposing zoning, by campaigning against the southern agenda for the governorship.
His newness raises questions about his ability to navigate complex internal party dynamics and power blocs.
As a youth candidate, he may face perceptions of lacking the desired seasoned political experience.
His outsider status could make it difficult for him to unite diverse party factions and interests.
Bosun Arebuwa:
A founding member of the party, but relatively unknown amongst the familiar participants for the governorship tussles in the state;
He is a charted accountant with a desire to turnaround the fortunes of the state’s economy;
As the Founder of Bosun Arebuwa Foundation which has trained youths in his locality, he has a vision to replicate the same across the whole state.
CONCLUSION: In the final analysis PDP will choose their candidate, but it is the Ondo State people who will decide.

Written and compiled by Tosin Oluwaseun.

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