Rotimi Akeredolu
Akeredolu celebrates victory with supporters

Olusesan Laoye

The Governorship election in Ondo State may have come and gone, but while the victors continue to celebrate, the vanquished lick their wounds.

Although 17 contestants went to the poll, three of them were prominent.

They are the incumbent Arakunrin  Oluwarotimi Akeeedolu, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Eyitayo  Jegede  of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) and  Agboola Ajayi of the Zenith Labour party (ZLP).

While Rotimi Akeredolu who won the election with a wide magin, is still basking in the euphoria of victory, the other  two hot contenders are counting their loses and still ruminating on why they lost,  despite all they put into the election.

Before the election, and when the campaigns by all the three major contestants were on, it initially became uncertain as to who would carry  the day  on October  10.

But as the day moved closer, the Ajayi campaign lost steam and the contest came basically down to Jegede and Akeredolu.

In the end, however, Akeredolu emerged, winning 15 out of the  18 local governments in the state  while Jegede won three local governments which are mainly his primary constituency, Akure North, South and Ifedore.

Ajayi in his own case never made an impressive outing as he even lost his local government to Akeredolu.

Going by the preparations and conduct of the election, it is partinent  to exray what went wrong for the losers and what eventually went in favour  of the winners.

In that elections there were many factors which came into play and which actually  counted for all the parties  involved.

Why Akerdolu won:

Akerodolu  having realised that , he may not win the election  after the primary  of the party, if he went the way he did in 2016, and having understood that the scenario of 2016 was different from 2020, having been tested and had many  allegations  about  the way he governed,  bagan by immediately reconciling with the heavy weights in the party,  whom he contested the  primary with.

Unlike 2016,  when he shunned them, he embraced them,  took them along in all the preparations and gave them the assurance that they would count in his second coming.

He, it was learnt, signed agreement with them, especially  those in the Unity Forum,  who could have worked against his interests.

Apart from this, he made some  last minutes adjustments in  some of his policies especially in education, by slashing the high rate of fees especially in the tertiary institutions of the State. He appeased the traditional rulers  and made  commitments to infrastructural developments in all the zones  and federal constituencies of the state which he said would be part of his continuity  of his programmes for another four years.

The local politics also helped him, contrary to the notion that his Deputy Ajayi had the control of the State Assembly, it was Akeredolu who had  the  majority who worked in their various constituencies  and local governments to ensure that their principal, Akeredolu won in those places.

Apart from the  legislators, all the political appointees who believed that they could be retained if he wins a second term,  went to their various places to  work for his victory.

The  party at the National level, because, they did not want a repeat of the shame they had in Edo state, put everything  into the Ondo election and adequately  mobilised  both financially and other wise, to ensure that the party  retained  Ondo.

As a matter of fact,  unlike Edo, when the party went into  the election as  a divided house, they came to Ondo with the determination to win and as such they were united.

The issue  of vote buying which went in favour  of the highest bidder  was said to have helped, coupled  with the last minutes house to house campaigns which  all the APC leaders  and Governors engaged in,  to reach out to  community leaders,  were some of the factors that favoured  Akeredolu in that election.

Jegede’ woes:

As for the candidate of the PDP, he gave an impressive showing though, he only won three  out of the 18 local governments. Political analysts  say he ought to have known that  defeating Akeredolu who is the incumbent and has the support of  all the stakeholders in APC whose focus was  in Ondo to avenge their defeat in Edo,  would be  a great task to  accomplish.

There was no doubt too, that the PDP at all levels tried, but their effort could not have marched that of the APC which  controls the state and the Federal.

Before the election, the PDP was already divided both in the  state, the South  West and at the National level.

At the  National level there were  two factions, the Atiku’s faction and the Kwankwanso factions and this played  out in the PDP  campaigns which the factions carried  out  seperately, before the real mega rally of the election.

At the  State level, Jegede did not in anyway reconciled with others that he contested the primary with.

He was accused of not carrying them along in his programnes and as such they folded their arms to watch what was going on.

This means that before  the election the party was already  polarised.

It was even said that the choice of his running mate against the choice of others in the party at the  State level and other stakeholders  was part of his undoing.

The South  West leadership tussle  in which Ayodele Fayose was a victim and got humiliated at the PDP mega  rally where his cap was removed was also responsible because they were already  divided in the zone where they ought to have worked together  with  the leader  of the campaign team and the Governor of Oyo State, whose leadership of the South West  PDP, was  being challenged  by the group led by Fayose.

Two other issues  which had adverse effect on Jegede, was finance and unwritten zoning arrangements.

Jegede was said not to have money of his own but the ones pulled together  for him by the party, some PDP Governors, the former vice President Atiku Abubakar and some of his friends to prosecute the election.

As such,  he did not have enough fund to mobilise the people  as he ought to, that  actually affected him. Even in Akure where he had the highest vote, it was said that they only voted for him because he is their own, without  much giving out for the election there.

Jegede did not take the unwritten zoning arrangement in the state  into consideration in his calculations for the election.

He should have known that the  South which he banked on would not vote for him,  for two obvious reasons.

First, one of their sons Ajayi  is contesting and no matter what, his bulk vote would  definitely be from there which was what eventually happened.

Secondly,  the believe of the politicians who could have helped him mobilise in the Southern  zone,  was that Akeredolu  from the North, should be allowed ro complete the eight years for that zone, since the  Ondo central where Jegede  comes from had already completed its eight years  with the tenure of Dr.Olusegun Mimiko.

There arguement was that if Akeredolu leaves office, it would be easy for the South to come in as governor since they never had  the opportunity after Olusegun Agagagu who only spent  a term.

The next election it was argued would be straight jacket for any candidate from the zone,  as they would have the backing of the Ondo North Senatorial District  even if the Central refused  to support them.

What next for Akeredolu:

Now that he has won, he needs to do a lot to redeem his image. First,  he needs to fulfill agreements and promises he had with the leaders of his party and other stakeholders,  who supported him to have  a second term especially those in the Unity Forum, in terms of sharing of appointments on like 2016 when he  did not carry many of them along.

Secondly, he needs to readjust some of his policies as it affects education, health and revenue  which overburdened  the people in form of heavy taxation.

He should also  ensure that his promises during his campaigns  that he would distribute infrastructure  evenly across the state, are fulfilled,  if he wants to have a pleasant second term deviod of rancors.

Speaking on Akeredolu’s  victory, Governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo-olu who headed  the APC campaign  team for Ondo, said, it was very easy for them to market  Akeredolu based on his performance and achievements in his first  four years

He pointed out that they put everything  to ensure his victory because “he was a good material to market”

“Based on his track record in governance, our candidate was an easier product to sell in the election.

“So, we fought a good fight in the exercise. At the end of the day, Ondo people spoke through the ballot and they have spoken well,” he said.

Mr Sanwo-Olu said the outcome of the election reflected the will of the Ondo people, who were the sole winner that emerged from the election.

He said that APC went into the contest with the intention to unite and not to divide the people of the state, as the party saw the outcome as ”no victor, no vanquished”.