The Ondo State governorship election looked a 3-way race involving Rorimi Akeredolu (APC), Eyitayo Jegede (PDP) and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), who defected to AD after losing the APC ticket to Akeredolu.
The surprise was not that Akeredolu finally won but that the race proved less by competitive than anticipated, as no one expected Akeredolu to secure 42 percent of the votes while leaving Oke, Jegede and 26 other aspirants to scramble for the remaining 58 percent.
So where did it all go wrong for Jegede especially, and Oke? Or where did it go right for Akeredolu?
THE ‘IROKO’ BECAME A SHRUB
Olusegun Mimiko, outgoing governor of the state, as ‘Iroko’, didn’t you? Believed to possess supernatural properties, Iroko is a large hardwood tree that can live up to 500 years.
Mimiko 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 did. He remains the only Ondo governor to have been elected for a second term, since Adekunle Ajasin managed the feat back in 1983.
However, he lost touch with his people during his second term. As of the weekend, his government was owing civil servants seven months of 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 built most of them.
The issues raised 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
“The votes were purchased; any party which says it did not settle voters in this election is just deceiving itself. But the 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 the politics of our country. Perhaps 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, top chieftains of the party pumping money into his campaign.
PEOPLES (UN)DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Eyitayo Jegede 2Forty-eight hours to the election, Jegede, PDP’s candidate, was unsure he would feature in the election due to the crisis at the national level of the party.
Jimoh Ibrahim, factional candidate of the party, 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, so much that APC supporters in fact 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.