As the 2024 governorship election in Ondo State draws near, a former Ondo North Senatorial aspirant, Chief (Dr) Alex Oluremi Ajipe, has appealed to the national and state leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to offer the incumbent Governor Lucky Orimisan Ayedatiwa the offer of first refusal for the party’s governorship ticket.
Ajipe, the convener of IBI GIGA Ambassadors, made the plea in a special letter he delivered to the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and copied to the Ondo State chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin.
According to the APC chieftain, Ondo State has a rich political history, and it was imperative to recognise that no political party has succeeded by denying its incumbent governor the party’s ticket at the primary election.
He argued that offering Aiyedatiwa the right of first refusal has a lot of advantages for the APC.
Ajipe said, “As we approach the upcoming election season, I believe it is crucial for the party to give the incumbent Governor Lucky Ayedatiwa the offer of first refusal for the party’s ticket.
“Ondo State has a rich history, and it is imperative to recognize that no political party has succeeded in winning an election in Nigeria by denying its incumbent the ticket at the primary, the only unprecedented time it happened in Lagos was understood to be at the instance of the majority of the party stakeholders unlike in ondo state where we are all carrying our new leader like egg and have all decided to make Ondo state works.
“The people of our state have a strong sense of unity and solidarity, particularly when it comes to standing against oppressors. This unity has been a driving force behind our successes in the past, as it was clearly demonstrated during the aborted unpopular impeachment saga. it is essential that we uphold this tradition.
“Offering a first refusal to an incumbent governor, especially when multiple aspirants have shown interest in contesting an election, can be beneficial for several reasons.
“Party Unity: By offering the incumbent governor the first refusal, the party demonstrates a commitment to unity and stability. It can help avoid internal divisions and conflicts that often arise during competitive primary elections, thereby presenting a more cohesive and united front to the electorate.
“Public Perception: The public often values continuity and stability in governance. By offering the incumbent governor the first refusal, the party can present itself as a party that values effective leadership and is committed to building on past achievements, which can resonate positively with voters.
“Electoral Advantage: Incumbent governors often have established networks, name recognition, and support bases within their party and the broader electorate. By offering them the first refusal, the party can benefit from their existing political infrastructure and potentially improve its electoral prospects.
“Focus on Opposition: Avoiding a contentious primary election allows the party to direct its resources and energy towards preparing for the general election and focusing on the opposition, rather than engaging in internal conflicts that could weaken the party’s overall standing.
“Party Stability: Providing the incumbent governor with the first refusal can help maintain stability within the party and prevent potential defections or disillusionment among party members who support the incumbent.
“Conclusively; the Fragility of the Party: I will like to emphasize the fragility of our party in the wake of the fierce political battles surrounding the aborted impeachment against the deputy governor, culminating in his accession to the governorship following the tragic passing of the late governor.
“As we stand just a few months away from the primary election of the party in our state, it is crucial to consider the ramifications of allowing the party to go into a primary contest against an incumbent governor who has only recently taken over the structure of government and the party in the state.
“The recent political turmoil and transition of power have left our party in a delicate and precarious position. The wounds and divisions resulting from the aborted impeachment and the subsequent change in leadership are still fresh, and the party is grappling with the challenge of uniting its members and rebuilding trust and cohesion within its ranks.
“Allowing the party to proceed to a primary contest against an incumbent governor who has just assumed the reins of government and the party in the state poses significant risks. The potential for further internal strife, polarization, and disunity within the party could undermine our collective strength and jeopardize our chances of victory in the upcoming election.
“The circumstances demand that we carefully consider the implications of subjecting the party to a contentious primary election at this critical juncture. It is evident that a competitive primary, particularly against an incumbent governor who is in the process of consolidating his leadership and support base, could exacerbate the existing fragility within our party and weaken our position in the broader political landscape.
“In light of these considerations, offering the incumbent governor the first refusal for the party’s ticket is not only a strategic decision but also a crucial step in safeguarding the unity, stability, and electoral prospects of our party. By providing the incumbent governor with the opportunity to lead the party into the upcoming election, we can mitigate the risks of internal discord, rally behind a leader who has recently assumed the mantle of governance, and present a more cohesive and formidable front to the electorate.
“I urge the leadership of our party to carefully weigh the delicate state of our party and the potential consequences of a contested primary against the incumbent governor. It is imperative that we prioritize unity, stability, and the collective interest of the party as we navigate the road to the upcoming election.
“By offering Governor Ayedatiwa the first refusal, the APC will demonstrate its commitment to continuity, stability, and progress. This decision will not only honor the principles of democracy but also ensure that the party presents a united front as we head into the upcoming elections.
“I urge the national leadership of the APC to consider the history and unity of our state when making this critical decision. By offering Governor Ayedatiwa the first refusal, the party will send a strong message of solidarity and purpose to the people of Ondo State. This decision will undoubtedly strengthen our position and bolster our chances of success in the upcoming elections,” said Ajipe.