One of the beautiful features of the democratic form of government is that it affords the people, freedom of choice and political association, even within the perimeter of the political family called a political party. The Nigerian experiment of the Presidential system of government in a Federation dates back to 1979 and was modeled on the American style which itself has been running for centuries. At the sub-national level, every 4 years the system requires us to choose a Governor (and Deputy) who will act as Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of the state to superintend over the affairs of government. So if we chose to copy a system why don’t we copy it properly; hook, line and sinker?

Later this month the prominent political parties APC and PDP have announced that their party primaries in Ondo State will hold on the 20th and 25th respectively and they have both adopted the indirect form of selection, which involves an Electoral College (made up of delegates) choosing the party candidate from a shortlist of qualified aspirants. No disrespect to the less attractive parties, but focus is inevitably concentrated on the big players. The indirect method is probably a sensible option given the huge cost involved if each of the parties were to opt for direct primaries and thereby conduct mini election/selection in each of the 203 wards and over 4,000 units across the state. But the parties cannot be said to have applied pragmatic economic considerations in many other areas of the party primaries exercise.

The Ondo State PDP concluded their sale of forms and screening of aspirants late last month and it was reported that 7 aspirants purchase the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms at a sum total of N41 million. That is no doubt, a healthy payday into the coffers of the party at the Headquarters in Abuja. It is further reported that two of the aspirants did not scale through the screening and are therefore heading to the Appeals Committee later today.

As for the ruling APC, the sum total that each aspirant must pay to compete is N50 million and the sale of forms closes today 3rd April 2024, but we have learnt that about 7 aspirants have already purchased their forms.

Collectively, that makes a total of 14 aspirants in the race across the two major parties, once again no disrespect to the less attractive LP, SDP, ADC ZLP and others who will inevitably have their own say in the matter despite their relatively slim chances.

As you sift through the campaign commentaries from the media desk of each of the aspirants you must have observed a recurring phrase, ”the leading or foremost aspirant” which opens up a real can of worms and a major bone of contention, that is if you not gullible and you are averagely astute in the political theatre. Sadly, the Ondo State voting public has to rely on the professionalism and integrity of the political parties to carry out due diligence and make sure that whoever eventually emerges as their party candidate and presented at the polls in November 2024 is a person that is: qualified; capable; experienced; popular; has a clearly articulated vision, mission, goal(s), programmes and core values; has development strategies; and exhibits sterling leadership – being prominent amongst a host of many others on a non-exhaustive list. But the fear and grave danger is that the political parties are consumed by other considerations, evident in the number of aspirant hopefuls who have successfully purchased forms at exorbitant amounts and the foot soldiers that are presently being cajoled and manipulated ahead of the primaries holding later this month.

How is it possible that every one of these dozen or more aspirants is a “leading aspirants”? If everybody is leading then who on earth is following? Using my local government, Idanre, as a case study, each of these aspirants has an influential political leader and opinion-influencer as their Coordinator. I am yet to conduct surveys in the other 17 LGA’s, but Idanre has always been unique in its political versatility. In my candid opinion, it’s probably not a good location to conduct an accurate opinion poll. This to my mind is what former Governor Ayo Fayose referred to as “Stomach Infrastructure”. How much longer will the political gladiators continue to muddy the waters in the minds of the vulnerable masses and in particular the Delegates who will eventually cast their lots on the 20th and 25th April 2024? All in the name of Freedom of Choice, there are too many options available, because in my opinion, the parties have not taken a hard line and properly sieved the wheat from the chaff. Although some of the aspirants may withdraw before the D-Day; some will collapse their structure and align with another; whilst other head-strong aspirants will ultimately fail miserably at the final hurdle, but at least they will all have satisfied themselves; their over-inflated egos of themselves and their sycophantic supporters who failed rational reasoning.

I conclude this piece by saying, while we must design and practice a system that works for us in Nigeria and in particular in Ondo State, we don’t need to repeat the mistakes that America made over centuries, before they got to where they are today because we have the benefit of history. I know this is the harvest period for political stakeholders, nonetheless ask yourself this critical question, does any of the political parties really need more than two or three aspirants going into this contest, if not for stomach infrastructure?

We watch as events unfold and I invite you to respond to this article, with your comments and views.

This article was written by Gbenga Akinmoyo (Hon GaRo), who is a legal practitioner, political & public affairs analyst, Executive Director of Rebuild Nigeria 360°(Ondo2024) and Co-Founder/CEO of LeadIFollow Limited (+234 803 660 9090 or

3rd April 2024

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