Gov-elect declares self winner before INEC’s declaration
Promises to end poverty, starvation in Ondo
PDP blames INEC, ‘powerful interest’ for defeat
Wild jubilation in Akure
Buhari, Saraki, Tinubu, Dogara, others congratulate Akeredolu
The Ondo State governorship election may have been won and lost but one thing is certain, memories of the exercise will linger on for many years in the memories of electorate and loyalists of major contenders in the poll.
Apart from logistical challenges on the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and skirmishes in some areas, the election could be described as a huge success and it was no doubt a three-horse race involving Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
The surprise was not that Akeredolu won but that the race proved less competitive than anticipated, as no one expected the APC candidate to secure 42 per cent of the votes while leaving Oke, Jegede and 26 other aspirants to scramble for the remaining 58 per cent.
So where did it all go wrong for Jegede, the anointed candidate of Governor Olusegun Mimiko and Oke, who was allegedly backed for the top job by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
‘Iroko’ becomes shrub
The outgoing governor, Olusegun Mimiko, widely known as ‘Iroko’ a large hardwood tree that can live up to 500 years with supernatural properties, rode into office on a popular note. He was so loved that the people supported him to break the jinx of one-term limit in the state. He remains the only Ondo governor to have been elected for a second term, since Adekunle Ajasin’s feat in 1983.
However, he lost touch with his people during his second term. Prior to the election, Mimiko’s government owed civil servants six months salary. Unconfirmed reports even had it that he told the workers to vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and get paid on Monday.
Many were grumbling about some of his policies. Though Ondo can be rated among the states with the best road network in the country, some of his opponents claimed he could not be credited for it, as the late Olusegun Agagu constructed most of them.
The aforesaid issues were focal points in the election, by which time ‘the Iroko’ had diminished in popularity to perhaps the status of just a shrub.
Federal financial might
In a similar vein to governorship elections before 2015, where government at the centre bought voters with money and ‘stomach infrastructure, the votes in the Ondo gubernatorial election were ‘purchased by various parties.
“Any party that claims it did not settle voters in the election is being economical with the truth. However, the Ondo people collected money and made their choice.”
Those were the words of a former commissioner of Mimiko, who now belongs to Akeredolu’s camp.
The role of money cannot be ruled out in Nigerian politics. Realising the widespread condemnation that followed inducement of voters in Edo election, the politicians devised a means of not making it obvious.
In one polling station in Akure, the state capital, those who wanted to distribute money changed their minds as soon as they realised the presence of journalists.
The financial backing that Akeredolu enjoyed in the election is incomparable with that of any other candidate, with governors, ministers and top chieftains of the party pumping money into his campaign.
People’s (un) Democratic Party
48 hours to the election, Eyitayo Jegede the PDP’s candidate was unsure he would feature in the election due to crisis at the national level of the party.
Factional candidate of the party, Jimoh Ibrahim, did not show signs of seriousness in the race. Once asked why he did not have enough publicity materials, he said: “My campaign manager is out there”, making reference to Jegede.
Jegede, the man who eventually flew the PDP banner, is well loved that APC supporters spoke well of him. But the time he should have spent campaigning went into running from one court to the other to enforce his candidature.
Gov-elect declares self, winner before INEC declaration
Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Rotimi Akeredolu, had literally declared himself governor-elect before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially declare him winner of the Ondo poll.
With the former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president leading his closest challenger by a landslide after announcement of results in 17 of 18 local governments, he went ahead to thank the people for the victory.
“Ondo has decided and I am humbled that my people chose me. Our time to think anew and act anew has come. Thank you Ondo State.
“You have voted for me as your Governor for the next four years. Today, Change has come,” he wrote on Twitter.
…Promises to end poverty, stagnation in Ondo
Governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu, in his victory statement released yesterday, promised to provide “responsible leadership that would take our people from poverty and stagnation to productivity and prosperity, from pains and lamentation to joy and laughter”.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, John Oyegun, APC National Chairman and other members of the party for their support.
“I wish to express my profound gratitude, first, to the Almighty God whose infinite grace has allowed us to see this day. This victory is of God through the people. It is not for me or the APC alone, it is a victory for the people of Ondo state irrespective of which side of the divide you stood during the election. For me it is a challenge to perform. It is a call to rescue our state and reverse its fortunes,” he said.
“I thank the people of my dear state for their steadfastness. I have heard their messages throughout the campaign to all the nooks and crannies of the state. Today, you have spoken with one voice. You have walked your talk. You have voted for me as your governor for the next four years.
“Today, change has come. I hereby make a solemn pledge that this collective mandate shall address all issues with keen determination. The welfare of our people alone shall be the directive policy of the government.”
Akeredolu said his victory was a confirmation of the willingness and readiness of the people of Ondo state to change and seek a better life.
“I thank you for your faith and confidence in me. I thank all those, whose uncommon sacrifices, contributed in no small measure to the success of the exercise. A special show of gratitude must be extended to our security agents for their patriotic duty,” he said.
While appealing to citizens to embrace peace, he said “the safety of lives and property of the people should be of paramount importance to all.”