By Adedeji Samuel.

The question of who becomes the next governor of Ondo State is one gradually making its way into political discourse as 2024 gubernatorial election beckons. The new year is one that is critical for the Sunshine state as residents go to the polls to elect the governor who will pilot the affairs of the state for another four years. As the two term tenure of eight years of the current administration gradually winds down, numerous names of interested aspirants who wish to occupy Alagbaka government house are flying around in the political space, though it may be too early for permutations. Despite being early to make a call, there is a high possibility that power might return to the Southern Senatorial District of the state.

From the start of the Fourth Republic in 1999 up till this time, the three senatorial districts in the state have rotated governorship among themselves. Chief Adebayo Adefarati from Ondo North Senatorial District ruled the state between 1999 and 2003 when power shifted to Ondo South, which saw Dr Olusegun Agagu hold sway between 2003 and 2009. The administration of Agagu ended after the Appeal Court, the highest court that could entertain litigation over governorship election petition at the time, declared Dr Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour party winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election in the state. Mimiko, an indigene of Ondo, from the Central Senatorial District, served out his two terms of eight years, the first to achieve the feat in the Fourth Republic.

Sadly, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN of the All Progressives Congress, who took over from Mimiko in the state, recently died in office while on his final lap of his constitutional term. Akeredolu’s seven years in office combined with Chief Adefarati’s four year term will make it eleven years Ondo North Senatorial District has governed the state in this political dispensation while Ondo Central and Southern district have served for eight and six years respectively. Having Akeredolu’s deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa from the Southern part, serve out the remaining one year of the administration will make the cumulative years enjoyed by the zone seven.

Having had other districts take their turns, it would not be surprising if the next governor of the state emerges from the Southern part. By this political calculation, the race to emerge as the standard bearer of major political parties has been gaining momentum in the zone. The question now is who fits the bill? Many observers may believe the pendulum is gradually swinging to the side of the incumbent governor, Aiyedatiwa, but the ticket in the APC is still up for grabs.

In the build-up to a very important election at a period of transition, many aspiring figures with different interests will populate the scene. As Aiyedatiwa is concluding the final lap of the current administration, it is important that the next man to be in charge must be a man of vision who is ready to continue in the areas Akeredolu has done well and also in others yearning for better improvement. He must be a man who loves the people genuinely and knows the challenges facing the state with practicable solutions. The state is currently at a critical point where it must make a careful choice of its next leader.

One of the very important qualities the next governor of Ondo State must possess is the tact on how to bolster security in the state, taking cognisance of the need to galvanise the existing synergy among all security agencies in the state in order to enhance its economic development.

Over the years, the state has been bedevilled with insecurity, leading to a sharp drop in agricultural activities, which is the economic mainstay of the state. The initiative and the success story of the South West Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, which has received commendations in Nigeria and beyond under the able Akeredolu administration is indeed a success venture. This laudable and successful initiative of Aketi must be strengthened while fresh ideas are introduced. He or she must also be a charismatic leader who in the eyes of all and sundry would be a neutral rallying point for the people of the state as well as the current political gladiators. Irrespective of his or her deep pocket, such candidate must be appealing to the people of the state and must not be “alien” to the challenges, potential and the needs of the people.

No doubt, Ondo State is blessed with numerous sons and daughters whose educational and professional backgrounds position them as worthy of the exalted office. However, one name from the progressive family has stood out by ticking all the boxes. According to fillers from the state, this aspirant has embarked on massive consultation across the state to share his aspirations and vision with the strategic elders and leaders of thought within the state and the progressive family. Armed with an intimidating résumé, the spotlight is being beamed on this aspirant as APC faithful gradually set in motion the process to shop for a candidate to fly the party’s flag in November. Who is this aspirant?

Certainly, he’s no other person than the amiable retired Brigadier General Olamide Felix Ohunyeye, PhD, who has become a candidate to beat, having put his credentials and antecedents into scrutiny.

This seasoned administrator is an indigene of Ilutitun in Okitipupa Local Government Area of the southern senatorial district of the state. Dr Ohunyeye was born in November 1966 and was commissioned as a Regular Combatant officer from the famous Nigerian Defence Academy in 1992. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General and was decorated with several military honours, including the prestigious Grand Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Forces Service Star and the United Nations Medal, among others in his years of unblemished career.

He also held strategic level decision-making appointments, including Reserch Fellow at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Commandant at the Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration, Director of Finance and Accounts at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and National Defence College, Abuja. He was also at the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone as the Contingent Finance Officer as well as the pioneer Finance Officer of the Post Service Housing Directorate Army, which is one of the post retirement welfare schemes for retired Nigerian Army personnel.

In the course of his career, Dr Ohunyeye strived and acquired many academic laurels. This quest for knowledge earned him a BSc (Hons) Economics from Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and further took him to Oxford Brookes University, London where he bagged BSc (Hons) Applied Accounting.
Additionally, his penchant for academic prowess extended to the acquisition of MBA (Finance), Master of Strategy and Development Studies. To cap it all, he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Management at the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

He is a finance and management expert and a fellow of numerous professional bodies in finance and management which include Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, (ICAN) Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, (ACCA) the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (FCTI), Institute of Cost Management of Nigeria (ICMN), Institute of Chartered Economist of Nigeria (ICEN), and Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM) among others. Who else fits the bill?

His academic profile and successful career in the military have towered him above other contestants because his wealth of experience in management and security fields is, at the moment, invaluable to the state he seeks to govern. The state currently needs a visionary, pragmatic, and resourceful individual who is tested and trusted to help foster peace and economic stability amid the socioeconomic challenges bedevilling the country. His stellar performance in handling finances at different levels in the military and human management skills as well as his vast experience in security management present him as one with integrity and other values that define an “Omoluabi” in the Yoruba value system. Hearkening to the call for him to come and serve his state, following his retirement from the military, is indeed a selfless decision that defines his love for his people and service to humanity.

As the political vehicle in Ondo gradually changes gear to the top side, Dr Ohunyeye is to be watched out for; all indices are in his favour, and, he is, undoubtedly, the one who fits the bill as the next governor of the Sunshine State.

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