By SESAN LAOYE
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, winner of the Ondo State governorship election held on October 10.
Akeredolu polled a total of 292,830 votes to defeat his closest rival, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 195,791 votes. While Agboola Ajayi, the incumbent deputy governor and candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), came third with 69,217 votes..
The returning officer, Idowu Olayinka, while declaring Akeredolu the winner of the election, said the governor met all the conditions required to be declared the winner.
“I hereby declare Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the APC winner of the election and he is returned elected,” Olayinka said.
The rerurning officer said the governor, popularly called Aketi, and his running mate will be presented with their certificates of return at the INEC office in Akure, on Tuesday.
In what appears to be a repeat of the 2016 governorship election and contrary to predictions that the election would be close, Akeredolu won with a wide margin of almost 100,000 votes. He also won 15 local government areas as against 3 by Jegede.
Like what happened in 2016 when the three senatorial zones in the state went into battle, Saturday’s election was not different as all the three zones participated.
In 2016, Akeredolu represented Ondo North, Jegede Ondo Central and Chief Olusola Oke represented Ondo South Senatorial District.
Just like the just concluded election, Akeredolu from the North won the contest, Jegede from the Central came second, while Ajayi from the South came a distant third.
HOW THE ELECTION WAS WON AND LOST
Inducement of voters
One of the factors that contributed to who emerged the winner and losers at Saturday’s poll was the inducement of voters with monetary gifts. All party agents, particularly those of the three leading parties, APC, PDP and the ZLP, were seen giving out money to card-carrying voters in an attempt to buy their votes. To make the matter worse, voters were openly bribed, with security personnel doing nothing to stop it.
While N2,000 was the benchmark for buying a vote, some visibly elated voters claimed they got as much as N5,000 to vote for who they voted for.
Though, all the parties that participated in the election were guilty of inducing voters with money, those that spend more seem to get more votes.
Another major factor that contributed to the victory of Akeredolu is that of federal assistance from his party. Unlike in the Edo election where the APC candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, was more or less an orphan, the APC at the centre mobilised massively for Akeredolu to ensure victory.
At the grand-finale of the party’s campaign last Wednesday, more than ten state governors were in attendance, including strong party leaders like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others. The APC, it was observed, gave the governor all the needed support to win the election.
More than all other candidates, Akeredolu benefitted from the unity and cohesion that existed in his party prior to the election. Realising that a divided house is a weakened one, both Akeredolu and the APC leadership at the national level enured that all aggrieved party members were beaten into line, or offered the deals they could not resist.
For example, a strong but aggrieved party member, Olusola Oke, who is from Ilaje, in Ondo Waterside, was convinced by the president to stay in the party and work for Akeredolu’s success. In return, BH learnt his political group was offered plum political offices both at the state and national levels.
The governor was also able to strike a deal with the powerful but recalcitrant Unity Group to back his ambition. This worked well for the APC, unlike the PDP where aggrieved members, particularly its national leadership and those from outside Ondo State who felt betrayed with the way Jegede emerged over their preference, Agboola Ajayi, who was ditched and forced out of the PDP by local political gladiators.
Unlike what happened in Edo where most PDP leaders and governors were present to give support to Obaseki, the opposite was the case in Ondo as only a handful of them showed up to give Jegede the necessary support.
Akeredolu also capitalised on the power of incumbency to brush aside opposition from his adversaries. For example, the APC is in control of all the local government councils where its chairmen and councillors reign supreme. The party, apart from filling up all public offices with loyal members, also controls the state house of assembly. Political office holders also at the national level were also loyal party members choosen from the state chapter of the party. And on election day, they all acted as Akeredolu’s foot soldiers and ensured he came out victorius.
Apart from that, the governor also planted several projects in cities and towns where he had hoped to gain political mileage. During his campaigns and rallies, he refered to these projects, promising that more would come if re-elected. The ploy worked as gratified locals came out in large numbers to show their appreciation by voting for him.
With the final result now declared and Akeredolu the winner, APC supporters have been jubilating accross the state and in frenzy mood.
They moved in convoys of motorcade blasting horns all over the streets of the Akure, the state capital, while there was wild jubilation in Owo, the home town of Akeredolu.
Okada riders stormed the streets of major cities, displaying acrobatic stunts.
Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has promised that he would continue his good work in his second term in office.
He made the promise while addressing the people of the state after he was declared the winner of the election.
He said that he was grateful to the people of the state for the confidence reposed in him to have voted for the APC to continue and finish all the laudable jobs he started in his first term.
He said that he has noted genuine grievances by the people and that he would be prepared now that he got their mandate for a second term to address all the griviances.
He pointed out that he would not allow anything to distract his attention from good governance and the deal he had with the people.
“I want to assure you that i will work more harder than before to fulfill the yearnings and aspirations of the people because you have demonstrated your love and good will by electing me for a second term to serve you even more than before”
Reacting to Akeredolu’s victory, the party agent of the PDP said that his party will likely contest the election, saying that it was marred by violence and malpractices.
He argued that the people by selling their votes have demonstrated that they want to continue with poverty. He said that money played a prominent role in the election.
“Money played a major role in the election. There was massive votes buying, violence and allegations from some of our agents in some polling units that elections results were altered.”
He noted that the party would look into what took place during the election to determine what next to be done.
“But indefinitely, we are not pleased with the outcome and the conduct of the election”
In his own reaction at INEC’s office after the result, the APC agent said his party was happy and the result was an indication that the people of Ondo State want continuation
He pointed out that “the people voted integrity, continuation, and due to the confidence they have in Akeredolu and the APC as a party”
The National Conscience Movement, in its reaction, stated that as far as it was concerned, the election was peaceful, free and fair.
“INEC did a wonderful job. The election was free and fair. It was an improvement on the Edo election and we hope that the next election which is Amambra would be better than what we now have in Ondo State”, the organization stated.
What the three leading parties scored across the 18 LGAs: