Numerous reports have been given on the just concluded Ondo State governorship election where Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, the incumbent governor swept the polls. National Light’s NKECHI IKENWOKE, in this report, reveals the secret behind the margin at which he won. She writes:
SATURDAY’S governorship election in Ondo State, which was won by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu witnessed large turn out of people and was described as free and fair by the indigenes who considered the fact that there was no fight, rancour, loss of ballot paper or ballot box recorded during the election which witnessed heavy rainfall that caused distractions among voters.
Akeredolu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC),who secured the mandate to govern his people for another four years at the election, won 15 out of the 18 local government areas of the state.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Eyitayo Jegede, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won in the remaining three local governments.
Chairman of Okitipupa Local Government Area, Akinriuwa Igbekele, who spoke to journalists before the final results were announced by INEC, said that from the information gathered as at that time, the ruling party, APC had won in the six local government areas of the Southern Senatorial District, including Akoko Central, noting that he had no doubt that Akeredolu was going to win. He further commended Akeredolu for credible performance within his three and half years in office and thanked the media, INEC and security agents for the peaceful conduct of the election without any security breech regardless of the rainfall.
Also speaking to the press, after the final result was announced, Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, stated that the party is with the people because they have believed in the leadership of President Mohammed Buhari, believed in the leadership of APC, whose the can was declared winner of the election.
He said, ” first all God gave us this victory. The victory for the people of Ondo State, based on their wise choice of choosing and reelecting Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN. Also, all the governors of All Progressive Congress and the leadership of the party gave every support and collectively, we came to give him support that resulted to this particular victory. The victory is for the people because they team up en mass and trusted Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and gave him second chance to lead them for another four years. My advice to him is to continue to do good to all manner of people in Ondo State, continue on the trajectory of uplifting the people, developing the state and serious infrastructural and human capital development that he has engaged in. Let him continue on that and improve more on all other relationships that are important to humanity “.
In a press conference, the APC Secretary, National Campaign Council for Ondo 2020 and the immediate past national vice chairman, Mustapha Salihu, said that he came to ensure a free election,”basically to canvass for our candidate who has performed enormously for the people of Ondo State”, adding that he had gone round as an observer mostly in the south that was peaceful as people were allowed to exercise their franchise without any kind of fear or intimidation.
“It is one of the best elections I’ve witnessed in this country. In a press conference I made in Abuja, before I came here, I said that this election and that of Edo are two different elections. This is as a result of how people were trying to compare it. If you look at Edo election, it was APC election. PDP has lost the ability and capability to win election anywhere because I want to tell you categorically that there is difference between campaign and rally because they don’t have manifesto as an organisation. So they can not convince our people. INEC did wonderfully well. You can see that in some of the pulling units, materials were made available as early as 7am. I am surprised. Even in the rural areas, i saw how fast INEC was able to deliver. I express our gratitude to security agencies, especially the police and military men, as well as the Navy that was supervising the election. This people were professional in the exhibition of this election. I saw there commitment under rain and you can see that the election was visually free…” he concluded.
During the exercise, our reporter who monitored four local government areas – Okitipupa, Ilaje, Ese-odo and Irere, among others, observed that a lot of voters clustered at the pooling units because of the rain which paved way for party agents and the electorate to monitor or see exactly which party a voter actually voted for.
National Light equally observed that majority of the voters were induced by party officials with wrappers, plastic buckets and cash gifts of N7000 each, which most of the beneficiaries were seen carrying about.
One of the voters at Okitipupa Ward 2, Aderechinwo Kayode, explained to the press on how he was able to direct the INEC officials to change the position of the cubicle at the time of the heavy rainfall which he said affected the initial arrangement and brought about cluster among the voters on cue, adding that he observed a lot of vote buying from the leading party during the clustering.
“I was consistently telling the INEC officers to change the position of the cubicle and instructed the voters to face their ballot paper because the rainfall created an opportunity for the leading party to monitor voters at the cubicle. That was the idea that brought the end of vote buying here”, he said.
Jegede Timothy, who accompanied his wife to exercise her franchise at Unit 13 in Irere Ward 1, said that there was no violent recorded but they experienced vote buying from APC. He stressed the need for political enlightenment of the masses, noting that a poor man cannot reason well and that as long as people are perpetually paralysed while the economy is not run to enhance employment, the people will wait for any opportunity to get money and sell their consciences.
According to him, “I saw APC members buying votes with rubber buckets, six pieces of clothes and N3000 or even more. At first, they were giving N500 telling people to go and vote APC and after voting, they will add more money. I was like, what is happening here? Can’t Nigerians vote their choice of candidate? What no body expected in this election, APC members were seen doing it obviously and I was like ‘wow’, this is vote buying and people were seriously collecting the money”
“Someone can not give me money to vote against my candidate. How can a level 10 officer be deceived to cast his vote wrongly because of N7000, when the government is owing workers four months salaries because of the election? That is why Nigerians are suffering today. Nigerians, we have sold our conscience. The future we say is tomorrow and we are youths today, leaders of tomorrow, we are not leading anything. We are the problems of this country. The masses and the poor are the problems of the poor. Until we wake up to our responsibilities, until we wake to challenge them and say no, keep your money, we will follow our conscience. If the former governor, Agagu did not do all these roads, where will they be? Look at the kind of suffering we are going through. When you go there now, you will see some guys. They have finished the money in the expense of another four years. So, my advice to Nigerians is to wake up to responsibility and think of where we are going to be in the future”, he said.
At Okitipupa ward 2, unit 13, the party agents said that the exercise was smooth, peaceful and were satisfied with the conduct of security agents, while INEC officials followed the election guidelines.
At most of the pooling booths in this area, security agents were seen organising the voters who clustered themselves as a result of the rain while card readers were not functional which caused delay in some pulling units.
The Ondo North Senatorial District PDP Women Leader, Ondo State, Omotalami Nassau described her candidate as a humble man.
She said: “He is a man that knows what he needs to do for his state. He has a good ideology for this state. Every local government we went to, we see the enthusiasm that people are ready to vote for him to be our governor. Despite that no body is absolutely perfect but we trust him. It is obvious that men are doing family planning now which has been known only for women. Because of the problem, everybody have been involved”.
Omotalami further said that when he emerges the winner of election, he will run an open government, listen to the voice of the people, particularly in the area of education to accommodate everyone, make the government, government of the people by the people and for the people, adding that men and women are presently facing high cost of school fees for their children in tertiary institutions.
Member, representing Okitipupa Constituency 1, in Ondo State House of Assembly, Akinrogunde Akintomide had during the APC 2020 grand finale campaign, said that the leaders had been canvassing and mobilising support for the incumbent governor.
In his words, “I am very satisfied with what is on ground today that Akeredolu will win very well as planned and that the people of the state have embraced the reasons why he should be given a second term. They have agreed that there will be stability in the system for him to lead eight years and then, south will take eight years. They have also agreed that he is laying a very solid foundation for the economic development of the state, the various conceptions which are all coming through shortly to open up the state, the forest, the sea resources and mineral resources. So, they have all agreed to allow Akeredolu to do second term in office”.
Akinrogunde further said that it took South West decades to get to the main stream of Nigerian politics, noting that there will be no slide out for having seen the benefits. He commended the Yoruba’s for achieving their political careers for doing eight years as president of the country and eight years as vice president.