The Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, has blamed his exit from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the absence of strong democratic culture in the parties.
By Josiah Oluwole
He also said he was running for the governorship in answer to the yearnings of the aspirations of Ondo citizens.
The deputy governor made the assertions during his official defection to the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in Akure on Friday.
He said the need to meet the yearnings of the masses is at the heart of his quest to be governor of the state.
Mr Ajayi said he joined the ZLP to put a practical effect on the expectations of the people who were already disenchanted with the two major political parties.
“It is obvious that the affirmation of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN as the candidate of the APC coupled with the seeming failure of the PDP to produce a dependable and formidable alternative has dampened the democratic enthusiasm and morale of the people,” Mr Ajayi said at a well-attended ceremony which had strict adherence to the COVID-19 rules.
“To stir hope and rechannel the energy of the progressive electorates, I am teaming up with members of the ZLP, a chunk of most of the other members and my teeming allies from both the PDP and APC.”
Mr Ajayi dumped the APC for the PDP, with the hope of securing the party’s governorship ticket, but failed.
It was thought he would team up with the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, to provide a strong front against the incumbent, but his ambition was overriding and in spite of pressures from highly placed PDP leaders, he still left for the ZLP.
The PDP had described him as a desperate politician who abused his welcome at the party.
The party’s Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Peretei, said the PDP would not miss him, as his exit would not negatively affect the party at the polls.
“Agboola Ajayi has abused the welcome and privilege accorded him by our party supporters during his brief stay in the party,” he said.
“He also proved that he is desperate to become the Governor of Ondo State. In the days to come, it will dawn on him that, he has squandered whatever was remaining in his good will with this decision.”
Mr Ajayi, who hails from Apoi, in Ese-Odo LGA of Ondo State, is said to have a maternal tie with Mr Akeredolu, whose mother is from the area.
He said he was humbled by calls and demands from critical stakeholders and supporters to run.
He described the ZLP as a credible and dependable platform which had afforded him to form a new alliance to provide a desirable leadership for the state.
“Today, I formally join the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), to achieve the noble cause of giving Ondo State a new direction and purposeful leadership,” he said.
“I call on all my teeming supporters, friends, followers and the admirers of good governance to show commitment and dedication by mobilizing and campaigning for the Zenith Labour Party in their various wards across the state.
“The collective wishes and yearnings of the good people of Ondo State remain the impetus for the bid to wrestle the governance of the state from political demagogue.”
He was received by the State Chairman of the ZLP, Joseph Akinlaja, and other leaders drawn from across the state.
The ZLP had cleared the way for him to run as its candidate in the election through substitution of the earlier declared candidate, Rotimi Benjamin.
ZLP Spokesman, Felix Olatunde, told PREMIUM TIMES that the former candidate had voluntarily surrendered his ticket and had since shown support for Mr Ajayi’s candidacy.
He said Mr Benjamin chaired the committee that organised Friday’s declaration of the deputy governor.