Inasmuch as the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are not the only parties that would participate in the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State, the two parties could be said to be the main main players in the election, hence the next governor of the Sunshine state would most likely emerge from either of the parties.
The parties have just finished their respective primary elections. The results produced the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, as the APC candidate and Mr Eyitayo Jegede as the PDP flagbearer of the 2016 governorship election in Ondo State.
The flagbearers are both SANs. Eyitayo Jegede is young with eight good years in government, under a democratically elected governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) was appointed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice under Dr. Olusegun Mimiko’s administration where he served in the first four years of the administration, and following the re-election of Governor Mimiko for the second term in 2013, Mimiko again appointed Jegede as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, a position he still holds till date.
The brilliance of Jegede made the Mimiko led-administration to give him numerous assignments in the administration, which made him one of the key members of the cabinet, carrying out critical duties for the administration on the authorization of his boss, Dr. Mimiko, a man not given to pettiness but driven by the passion to serve his people and humanity.
Mr. Jegede held the forte as the Head, Ministry of Justice, Ondo State, where he ensured the review of the Laws of Ondo State for the first time since the creation of the State in 1976, and actively supported and midwifed the provision of facilities for the establishment of the Court of Appeal, the National Industrial Court and the Zonal Offices of the Federal Ministry of Justice, all in Ondo State.
Realising also that there is need to improve on the administration of Criminal Justice in the State, Eyitayo Jegede as the Attorney General of the state also worked closely with the office of the Chief Judge of the State to establish the first High Court within the precincts of the prison to fasttrack prosecution of criminal cases, especially those that have to do with capital offences, which remains the first in the Country.
Recently, with the cooperation of some Non-Governmental Associations and other prominent legal practitioners and judges, the new Criminal Justice Administration Law was enacted and signed into Law. The whole idea is to improve the Criminal Justice System.
Jegede has since 2010 been entrusted by his colleagues, the Attorneys General of 36 States in the federation, with the responsibility of coordinating the activities of the Body of Attorneys General in the states of the Federation as the Chairman.
He is also a member of the Council of Legal Education in Nigeria, the body responsible for setting standards for legal education in Nigeria. Besides, by the virtue of his office as Attorney General of Ondo State, he had been a member of the Body of Benchers for seven years. This body is responsible for the call to bar of successful law students.
The PDP flag-bearer served twice as the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association in Yola before coming to Akure to serve.
His deep interest in the education sector is deep. He was a member of the 5-man implementation Committee that was saddled with the responsibility of establishing the American University of Nigeria, an American-styled university, based in Yola, Adamawa State.
Jegede served as the pioneer Secretary of the Board of Trustees working with prominent Nigerians and foreigners alike in the Governing Board of the University, and providing the policy guidelines and regulations for the University.
He was a member of the Governing Board of Abti Academy and subsequently became the Chairman of the same Governing Board. Abti Academy, is a British-styled Secondary School, located in Yola, Adamawa State which has created a niche and standard for itself.
A sports man, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, represented Ondo State as a member of the Volleyball team at the intermediate level during the various National Sports Festivals at Kaduna in 1977, Ibadan in 1979 where he won laurels for the state.
He is a passionate philanthropist and community-friendly public officer who identifies with all member of the society. Many acknowledge that he is accessible and affable.
A deeply religious man, Eyitayo Jegede is of the Anglican Communion. He had served as the Chancellor of two Dioceses in the North, the Diocese of Jalingo, Taraba State and the Diocese of Yola, Adamawa State.
Mr. Jegede is a team player with a strong sense of character, propelled by the vision to improve on the life of the common man.
He is a very patriotic, loyal and dedicated public officer with friends cutting across all political, ethnic and religious divides. A man in complete harmony with his people and the environment Mr. Eyitayo Jegede has a wide and extensive legal practice, both in the Private and Public Bar having attained the highest distinction in his legal practice. He is a widely traveled man who over the years has acquired extensive working experience within the country.
Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, is a man of impeccable character, a humane and humble technocrat who has selflessly and passionately served his State and affected humanity with a positive difference.
His record of community service is both commendable and enduring. Mr Jegede SAN had periodically sponsored Moot Court trials amongst Universities in the South West, and those from Edo and Kogi State.
This modest support in the Legal Education sector has become a yearly event.
As an active sportsman himself, Mr Eyitayo Jegede SAN had consistently sponsored sporting events in Ondo State; the latest of which is the National Interclub Volleyball competition that held in Akure, Ondo State in December 2015.
Mr Eyitayo Jegede SAN had silently assisted various communities in the state in provision of water and electricity. His support for the less privilege, physically challenged, widows and the elderly had been consistent and impactful.
The APC flag-bearer, a genial and highly urbane personality, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN), served the Nigerian Bar Association in various capacities at both the branch and national levels meritoriously.
His record of service spans almost three decades. Aketi was the Secretary General of Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan branch, 1985 to 1986. He has been a member of National Executive Council of the Association from 1985 till date. He served as the Publicity Secretary during the regime of the late Alao Aka Bashorun, a period considered as the golden era of the Bar, 1988-1989.
He was also a member of Legal Aid Council of Nigeria from 1989 to 1991. He became the Vice Chairman of the Ibadan branch in 1991 and subsequently the Chairman between 1992 and 1994. His thirst for service compelled him to accept to serve the Old Boys’ Association of one of his secondary schools, Loyola College, Ibadan, as the Secretary General from 1995-1999.
Rotimi, fondly called Aketi by his colleagues, friends and admirers, became the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State between 1997 and 1999 serving at the same time as a member of the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission. He embarked on far reaching reforms as the AG of the state. Some of his achievements are still visible in the state judiciary today.
He was also a member of the Council of Legal Education during this period by virtue of his position as the AG. He first became a member of Body of Benchers at the same time, 1997-1999, and was subsequently re-appointed in 2006. He remains a member till date. He was the Chairman of the Legal Aid Council from 2005 to 2006. He was conferred with the prestigious title of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1998.
Perhaps what stands out as his highest point of achievement at the Bar was his election unopposed as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association. Aketi forced himself into the consciousness of the whole country and beyond through what has become his trade mark, unyielding opposition to bad governance.
Aketi became a brand for principled resistance to all manner of obnoxious practices, including brazen thievery, in the polity. It took the bold challenge of Aketi as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, and a few other Nigerians to rein in the excesses of some members of the government of the late President, Umar Yar Adua.
He was a member of the Governing Council, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies between 2008 and 2010, a member of Council of Legal Education, a member of Council, International Bar Association and Pan African Lawyers Union during the same period. He currently serves as NBA representative in the National Judicial Council. A devout Christian, he is the Chancellor of the Anglican Church, Owo Diocese.
Akeredolu and Jegede, are both intellectually sound and progressive-minded, with the motive of practically moving the Sunshine state further from where Dr Mimiko has been able to achieve in the state.
The flag-bearer of the two popular political parties in the state have so many good things in common: they share the same profession, religion (even from the same denomination), enviable leadership records and good experience of governance, among other things.
The 2016 Ondo State governorship election will, no doubt, be a fight between two elephants!