- The Inside Story
The announcement of the result of the Ondo State Governorship election was followed by celebration in most parts of the state, especially Ondo Town and where the Governor hails from and Akure, the state capital. Our correspondent just back from Ondo brings the inside story of how the election was won and lost as well as some of the contributory factors.
Heavy Security Presence
The peaceful atmosphere witnessed during the conduct of the election was largely due to the heavy presence of soldiers, armed policemen and other security agents all over the state. Right from Owena, on Ondo’s boundary with Osun State, to the Akoko axis which is the border with Edo State, fierce-looking, battle ready soldiers were on stand by. They made it a point of duty to stop every vehicle, ask questions and check the vehicles.
Most of the road blocks mounted by soldiers were about 5 minutes drive apart. That made it imperative for anyone planning to foment trouble to have a rethink. Apart from rifles and extra magazines and bayonets carried by all the soldiers, they had big machine guns mounted in strategic locations across the state.
Men of the Nigerian Police Force too were on hand. They had armoured vehicles and patrol vans with which they moved round. Army helicopters were also seen doing aerial surveillance and ready to provide air cover if need be. One of the choppers was carrying two air to surface missiles.
Level of Preparedness
In most parts of the state, it was agreed that the result of the election reflects the level of preparedness of the parties for the polls. From all indications, the election was won by the political party that was most prepared.
Apart from being the ruling party in the state, the Labour Party structure has been intact for more than four years. Though some members left, their departure did not affect the overall running of the party.
The same cannot however be said of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state as it witnessed a slump after it was sacked from power by the Appeal Court in 2008. While some members remained with Dr. Olusegun Agagu, acclaimed to be the party’s leader in Ondo State, other factions sprang up and internal wrangling started. The crisis rocked the party so much and even members knew that to achieve victory at the polls, much work needed to be done.
The Action Congress of Nigeria too had a major crisis after the 2007 elections. The party’s flag bearer suddenly moved on and pitched his tent with Dr Olusegun Agagu, a move that told most members of the party then that it was time to move on.
What led to the 2007 crisis also repeated itself in 2012 with the emergence of many aspirants who jostled for the governorship ticket. At the end of the day, Akeredolu’s emergence caused bad blood among the aspirants forcing a number of them to leave the party which had just started picking up. Some of the aspirants promised to deliver their constituencies to their new political parties and they did.
Why Akure Voted For Mimiko
The belief that Labour Party is enjoying goodwill in most parts of Ondo State was evident in the result of the election in Akure. The state capital showed tremendous love for Dr .Mimiko as the Labour Party’s candidate got more than 60,000 votes from the two local governments that make up Akure.
While moving round Akure, Street Journal’s report gathered that the projects the Governor instituted in Akure worked for him during the election. For instance, market women considered the new market, parents looked at the new schools as well as well as the new hospital systems. A resident, Omololu said “Akure merely reciprocated the Governor’s good gesture. He developed Akure, even at the detriment of his hometown”, Omololu submitted.
The Tinubu Factor
One of the factors believed to have been responsible for the loss of the Action Congress of Nigeria at the Ondo polls is the involvement of the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Not a few people have opined that if the polls had gone Akeredolu’s way, he would be a puppet whose strings would be pulled at will by the former Governor of Lagos State.
Moreover, the decision to make Akeredolu the ACN candidate was reportedly taken in Tinubu’s private residence in Lagos, so where his loyalty would be has always been a major cause of debate across Ondo State.
Meanings were also read to a statement Tinubu made at a political gathering that “Ondo State does not need Mega Schools”. It was termed in some quarters to mean that Ondo State indigenes don’t deserve good things.
The Systems That Produced The Candidates
Out of the three main contenders for the Governorship position, the only one who’s candidature did not generate any argument was Dr. Mimiko. His party unanimously adopted him for a second term.
The ACN had more than twelve aspirants who had been expecting a shadow election through which the most popular candidate would emerge. When “Aketi” was however “chosen”, some of the aspirants, including Dr. Olu Agunloye left. Some did not leave but remained disgruntled because they saw their party’s internal system as being “undemocratic”.
The emergence of Chief Oke too left some PDP members dissatisfied and that ended up affecting the PDP and ACN at the general election.
Chieftains Worked Against Their Parties!
Chief Olu Agbi, Chief Segun Adegoke, Dr Akin Olowookere, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and Hon Kunle Agunbiade, all known to be active PDP members were expelled days before the election. Their offence? They were said to be fraternising with the Labour Party’s candidate and openly working for him. The expelled members of course urged their followers to vote for Labour Party.
Within the ACN too, there were protest votes. Former State Chairman of the ACN, Sola Iji who also aspired for the party’s governorship ticket as well as some other aspirants moved at the last minute and instructed their followers to vote for Labour Party. It is believed in some quarters that the protest votes were mainly responsible for the ACN’s third position as the party would have fared better if those votes had been cast for ACN.
Some Big Names Lost At Home
There were a few upsets recorded in the elections, for instance, in the Iju/Itaogbolu axis (the main towns in Akure North LG) where Chief Tayo Alasoadura, a former Finance Commissioner holds sway, it was a surprise that the PDP lost. Back in the Agagu days when Alasoadura was Commissioner, he determined who got what in Akure North. His word was law.
Money for money, those who could match him could be counted on fingertips and the mere mention of his name made men cringe with fear. He is believed to be capable of doing anything in the area with the brute force at his disposal. A clash with him years ago made the Oba of his town relocate, Kabiyesi only returned earlier this year. Surprisingly, in Akure North, PDP recorded 4, 916 votes while ACN had 5,671 against Labour Party’s 10, 857 votes.
The story was the same in Irowo Ward where Hon Ifedayo Abegunde, the member representing Akure North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Reps lost in the polling unit in front of his house. “Abena”, as Abegunde is fondly called had decamped from Labour Party to ACN not too long ago and he was one of those relied upon to boost the party’s chances in Akure.
Street Journal gathered that Abena spent so much, his spending however failed to translate into votes. He was seen at the collation centre in the Mega School on Hospital Road, Akure after the election looking downcast. He was in no mood to talk.
What Happened In Aketi’s Ward?
As expected, ACN won in Owo, the hometown of Chief Akeredolu, the party’s flagbearer. But in unit 6 of Ward 5, Ijebu 2 in Owo where the ACN candidate voted, his party lost. Labpour Party had 144 votes, ACN followed with 139 while PDP had 35.
While many have been wondering why the candidate failed to deliver his polling unit, one of those around pointed out that it is a reflection of how popular he is. A story was also told of how he chose to bury his father in Ibadan, over a trivial issue with some elders in the town. That was believed to have been responsible for the loss of his polling unit to LP.
In Ondo State, when former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae speaks, people listen. Just before the elections, he had stated it publicly that “Ondo State does not want an ajele (an imposed administrator).”
The usage of the term “ajele” according to Akure indigenes, made them cast their minds back into Yoruba history of what “ajeles” who were appointed by Ibadans who were reigning as overlords then did all around Ekiti territory up till the 18th century. An ajele had rights to everything the subjects owned, their wives inclusive and no one had the authority to question him. An ajele would only report to the one who appointed him. The yoke was not broken until Fabunmi, the Oke Mesi champion slew the Ajele in his town and led a revolt against oppressive rule.
In the opinion of many Ondo indigenes, Chief Olu Falae made it clear that voting a candidate being sponsored from outside would be like putting a yoke on the necks of the state and the people therein.