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From The State Assembly To House Of Reps: How Akingbaso Dared The Odds To Create A Political Upset In Ondo

If there is one major offset that would not be easily forgotten at the just concluded National Assembly elections conducted on Saturday February 25, it is the election of Festus Olanrewaju Akingbaso, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party to represent the people of Idanre Ifedore Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives.

Until the announcement of his victory, not many political observers in Ondo State foresaw his emergence especially when he had a sitting House of Representatives member, Tajudeen Adefisoye to deal with.

Adefisoye, fondly regarded as Small Alhaji, is the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Army. He is not only an incumbent Federal Lawmaker, he was the candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress who was believed to have all Federal and state apparatus at his beck and call to win his re-election.

This partly explains why many people in Idanre did not see Akingbaso’s  dream of becoming a federal lawmaker coming to fruition. Several odds noticably stood against him. He had barely spent four years in the state assembly. As far as many were concerned, Akingbaso was practically on his way to commit a political suicide with his decision to lock horns with Small Alhaji.

As a matter of fact, he was compared to his immediate predecessor, Tuyi Akintimehin, who represented the constituency at the state Assembly between 2015 and 2019.

Akintimehin fondly known as ‘Sosoliso’ had contested the House of Reps ticket of the All Progressive Congress in 2019 while rounding off his first term in the state assembly. He was a PDP lawmaker before decamping to the APC on an agreement he would be given the ticket to contest for the House of Reps and represent his Constituency.

But after he decamped and became a full-fledged member of the ruling party, the narrative changed and the real politics came to play. Rather than securing the ticket by endorsement or through an overwhelming votes by delegates from his constituency, he was left to wander in the wilderness of primary election. 

At the end of the primary, Tuyi lost the ticket to a more experienced and well grounded aspirant from the Ifedore Local government, Baderinwa Bamidele White who was an incumbent MHR. The decision to defect to APC and contest the election marked the beginning of his  journey to political oblivion in the state and his constituency. He consequently fizzled out of politics without trace.

After committing such a political somersault, many had expected Akingbaso to take a cue from Tuyi, remain in the state assembly and strategize for a better deal either at the state or federal level in the future. But he chose to dare the odds and be different. He took the bold step and was ready to damn the consequences. In the end, it paid off. Akingbaso created an unprecedented political upset that can never be forgotten in a hurry in the politics of Idanre/Ifedore and Ondo State at large.

In the build up to the election, Honorable Adefisoye had alleged that Festus Akingbaso attempted to assassinate him. Posting the pictures of his bullet ridden vehicle on social media, Small Alhaji claimed that he was attacked by loyalists of the state lawmaker.

The allegation triggered a major brickbat and spate of violence among followers of both politicians in Idanre local government. Akingbaso filed a lawsuit for Libel and damages. In the heat of the tension, the two political leaders were invited to Owa’s palace for amicable resolution.

Presided over by Oba Fredrick Adegunle Aroloye, the Owa of Idanre Land, the peace committee urged Akingbaso and Adefisoye to eschew bitterness and allow peace to reign before, during and after the polls. The case was later withdrawn from the court and the matter died a natural death.

One thing that stood out in the wake of the controversy according to those familiar with the development, is the uncommon composure and maturity of Akingbaso. At the time Adefisoye appeared to be blunt in marshalling his points, Akingbaso was subtle and diplomatic. This rang a bell to the people with a loud but clear message that differentiates a man from a boy.

An unassuming politician, Akingbaso is relatively young in the politics of Ondo State but his giant strides and gallant steps especially in Idanre local government has endured a lifetime. He is one politician who has remained a trending figure among his people four years after his rousing rise as a lawmaker in the state Assembly.

A thoroughbred business tycoon, “Fessywest” as fondly called delved into the murky water of politics when he contested and won his election in 2019 to represent the people of Idanre constituency at the Ondo state House of Assembly. His emergence as the state lawmaker redefined the face of politics in Idanre local government.

As a state lawmaker, Akingbaso embarked on series of developmental projects that benefitted the downtrodden and brought hope to the hopeless.

He is generally described as a selfless politician who places premium on human development and service to the people. 

Hence, his emergence as a Federal Lawmaker did not come to his people as a surprise. It was a victory that is well deserved following his antecedents in his Constituency and impact on people’s lives.

Akingbaso’s victory in the election that was keenly contested by an incumbent Federal Lawmaker who posseses both the state and federal might is a proof that People’s voices cannot be suppressed when they are ready to make the right changes in the society. It is indeed, a resounding lesson for all politicians.

Seun Akinnawonu, a Lagos-based Journalist and content creator can be reached via seunjohnson@gmail.com

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Seun Akin

Seun Johnson is a professional journalist and proficient media strategist with over 10 years of consistent work experience. He is Verse in content creation and versatile in editorial administration with a deep knowledge in digital, print and broadcast journalism.

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