The October 10 governorship election has been won and lost, with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaring incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election.
He defeated the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede, and that of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Agboola Ajayi, to emerge winner of the hotly contested election in the Sunshine State.
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Returning Officer for the election and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, declared Akeredolu the winner of the election with 292,830 votes.
Jegede polled 195,791 votes while Ajayi secured 69,127 votes to come third in the election in which 14 other candidates and political parties participated.
Daily Trust reports that 595, 213 voters were accredited for the election representing 31.6 percent turnout.
The total valid votes were 572, 745 with 18,448 votes rejected, while about 16,000 votes were cancelled.
The menace of vote buying played out in the election as confirmed by the civil society organizations that monitored the conduct of the election.
Also, electorate confirmed votes were heavily traded and they willingly surrendered to the highest bidders.
A resident of Akure, Kolawole Jinadu, said he supported Jegede during the election but the ruling party was able to outspend the opposition candidate during the election.
“I supported Jegede wholeheartedly but it is not possible to overthrow a sitting government.
“This is what also happened in Edo. APC shared N10,000 and PDP shared N4,000.
“Look at the difference; who will not collect that money?
Asked why he decided to sell his vote, he blamed the development on poverty. “N10,000 is a lot of money for many people and you would expect that many people would sell their vote for that amount of money.
“The poverty in the land is alarming.
“The people in government are only concerned about members of their family,” he added.
Also speaking on the incident of vote buying, Mr. Olorunfemi Samuel, a carpenter based in Akure, told Daily Trust Saturday that he was offered N7, 000 but he refused it.
“I was later offered N10,000 which I collected due to temptation.”
He said he ended up voting for the candidate of his choice and not that of those that gave him money.
Another voter, Mr. Ojo Mapayi, a taxi driver who is also based in Akure, said he was offered N7,000, collected it and voted for the candidate they said he should vote for.
“Is it not our money? he asked. All the politicians are the same,” he said.
A pro-democracy group Yiaga Africa, which was one of the groups that monitored the election, reported voter inducement across the local government areas.
Specifically, it received reports of vote buying in PU 015 St. Paul Primary School Mosunmola Olowu area, Ondo West LGA; PU 008 Uwayowa Camp, Oke Ose LGAm Obaile 007, ward 9 Akure North LGA Centre, among others.
It also confirmed attempt by both parties to outspend each other to buy votes.
“Massive vote buying made it difficult for voters to cast their votes for candidates of their choice,” said Ezenwa Nwagwu of the Yiaga Africa.
Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said vote buying despite being an electoral offence was being done with impunity because the perpetrators were not being punished for it.
According to her, tackling the challenge of vote buying requires addressing the root cause of it which is poverty and lack of economic empowerment by people.
Another group which also condemned vote buying is KIMPACT Development Initiative which said the issue cuts across the 18 local government areas of the state.
KIMPACT, however, said between N2, 000 and N7, 000 was distributed per head.
Food items like snacks, drinks, gari and noodles, the group said, were also distributed.
Meanwhile, the victory of Akeredolu in the election, though predicted, shocked many political analysts and pundits who had expected a close margin especially between the two leading candidates – Akeredolu and Jegede.
But Akeredolu, as the results showed, made an inroad into the stronghold of the PDP apart from holding tightly to his home base.
Akeredolu won 15 out of the 18 local government areas in the state leaving the PDP candidate with three LGAs including his traditional Akure North and Akure South local government areas as well as Ifedore LGA.
The local government areas won by Akeredolu include Akoko North East, Akoko North-West, Akoko South East, Akoko South-West, Ese-Odo, Idanre, Ilaje, Oluji/Oke Igbo, Irele, Odigbo, Okitipupa, Ondo East, Ondo West, Ose and Owo.
In his local government of Owo, it was a landslide victory he recorded against other candidates.
It was no doubt a pan-state mandate which Akeredolu has renewed performing much more than the November 2016 election when he was elected for the first term with 244,842 votes.
But in 2020, when the contest was largely expected to be tougher, he even scored higher and for him it must be a sweet victory and a triumph over his “political foes.”
Weeks to the election, the tension in the state was palpable.
The campaigns were acrimonious and the personalities of the leading candidates heated up the candidates.
The governor didn’t have to contend with the leading opposition candidate in the person of Jegede, he faced the challenge of his deputy who has since fallen out with him and dumped the APC.
But this later turned to work in his favour during the election. Ajayi, Akeredolu’s estranged deputy, had earlier defected to the PDP after resigning from APC in the heat of his crisis with his boss with the hope of picking the ticket.
Unfortunately for him, he was wrong in his calculation as the PDP ticket slipped away from him and Jegede who also flew the flag of the party in 2016 became once again the choice of the delegates.
While many expected Jegede and Ajayi to team up in fighting the incumbent, the latter dumped the PDP and contested the governorship under a less potent Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), the party championed by the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.
On the day of election, it was clear that Ajayi’s participation in the election had blighted the hope of those pushing for a change of baton in the election.
Though the votes of Jegede and Ajayi combined could not undo the victory of Akeredolu, analysts say the alliance of the duo prior to the election would have made significant impact in changing the course of the election.
And speculations were actually rife about Ajayi stepping down for Jegede but he consistently dismissed chickening out of the race, saying he was poised to win the election.
So, both contested separately garnering 195,791 and 69,127 votes respectively which are not up to the vote of Akeredolu whose candidature was reinvigorated by the infighting in the PDP.
So Akeredolu clearly benefitted from the post-primary discord within the PDP.
In the case of APC, the grievance after the primary won by Akeredolu was glaring.
A great number of the aspirants including Chief Olusola Oke, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, Dr. Segun Abraham, Chief Ifeoluwa Oyedele, Chief Olubukola Adetula, Jimi Odimayo, Prof. Francis Faduyile, among others were aggrieved with the outcome of the primary but they were later pacified and accepted to work for the victory of the party and the incumbent during the election which they did.
Results from their polling units showed they were genuinely committed to the party’s victory.
Unlike the APC, the PDP gubernatorial candidates stood aloof watching Jegede as he moved from place to place campaigning.
They neither collapsed their structures nor invested their money in the project.
He was therefore seen as a one-man army in the election.
National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, made reference to this in his statement congratulating Akeredolu after the election when he noted that the reconciliation contributed to the victory of the party.
“The reconciliation we spearheaded ensured we had a united APC, which worked towards achieving victory in the election,” Tinubu averred.
Besides, the zoning agitation in the state worked in favour of Akeredolu.
A segment of the state believes since Mimiko from the Central Senatorial District completed two terms of eight years, the North where Akeredolu hails from should be allowed to complete its eight years.
This particular agitation is largely prevalent among the political elites from the Southern senatorial district warming up to take over in 2024.
This was also why they decided to ditch their son, Ajayi, who is also from the Southern senatorial district as Akeredolu won big in the six local governments in the district.
Though electorate differed on the performance of Akeredolu in his first term, he still managed to stave off the criticism of his government to secure a second term.
- Election generally peaceful’
Despite the tension that hitherto pervaded the state prior to the election, the poll was generally peaceful.
However, there were pockets of violence and disruption of voting which were not substantial.
The security agencies comprising the police, the Army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) were able to maintain law and order at most of the polling units.
At a particular polling unit, two people were arrested for alleged attempt at disrupting the exercise.
Also, there was an incident of stabbing reported at a polling unit at Ijomu area of Akure South Local Government which also disrupted voting but the police said some suspects were arrested in connection with the violence.
National Consultative Front (NCFront) said the in all the PUs visited, “a minimum of five security personnel was on ground. “
“Also, a good number of them were seen at the check points within the state capital.
“Beyond this, as the voting processes progressed in some of the locations, armed men in security outfits were seen moving from polling units to ensure a violence free election,” it said.
Despite the relative peace during the election, security agencies were however criticized for looking away while political actors perpetrated vote buying with impunity.
But as the election has come and gone, the losers are still counting their losses while the winner and the incumbent governor as well as his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, prepare for a fresh term of four years with vigour and zeal.
The next battle is expected to shift to the Election Petition Tribunal and the court.
The other candidates said they are currently studying the results and they are going to come up with their position in no distant time.
Will they be able to undo the victory of Governor Akeredolu? Only time will tell.