Ondo: Factors that gave Akeredolu victory
By UBAKA OKOFU
Following on the heels of his declared victory in the governorship polls in Ondo State, Saturday, it is important to periscope the success factors that made it possible for incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to be re-elected.
Though the atmosphere in the state was clearly not as pulsating as that of the Edo election where the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) coasted home to victory, it was still an acid test. For a plethora of reasons, the victory of the Peoples’ Democratic Party at the Edo polls would be in the news for a long time to come. It was the first time, the electorate that hitherto were indifferent to voting in the state suddenly became enthusiastic and keen on voting out of sheer sympathy rather than reason and political conviction which ought to be the ideal.
Clearly in Ondo, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples’ Democratic Party and 11 other parties in alliance against Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu did not have the political muscles to cause an upset by pulling the rug off the feet of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
It should be noted that discerning voices within and outside the shores of the country had mounted pressure on the ruling APC to conduct free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria after the Kogi state governorship election which many believed was a rape on democracy. It’s not as if President Muhammadu Buhari was just waking up to the averment he made in his first inaugural speech in 2015 that he was for everybody and for nobody in particular. Also, the near free and fair Edo election did not stand President Buhari out as a democrat. Rather credit should go to the people of the state that took their destiny in their own hands and brought the vilified godfatherism and political rascality of the bourgeoisie to an end in the state.
It’s imperative to admit that the pronouncement of a visa ban by the United States of America (USA) and Britain to a large extent discouraged rigging with impunity which was rampant before the Edo election. It’s needless overemphasizing the heated build up to Edo election considering the feud between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole a former National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and his former godson, Godwin Obaseki. The feud led to the disqualification of the incumbent from contesting the election under the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
Political pundits did not give Obaseki any chance of winning the election. Reason being that the Peoples’ Democratic Party had left behind a trail of bad governance before Adams Oshiomhole rescued the state from Professor Oserheimen Osunbor who was barely 12 months old in office by 2008 when the Governorship election tribunal declared his election invalid.
Between 2008 and 2020 when Obaseki had to seek a reelection as governor of the state, Edo state had witnessed massive transformations in the area of infrastructural development, so much that the people of the state wished the Peoples’ Democratic Party was never in power in the state . It was on the premise of the above that crossing over to the PDP by Obaseki was seen as singing his own political nunc dimittis.
Unlike the Edo election, the Ondo APC was more organised, and the impunity and political arrogance which cost the party the Edo election had been jettisoned. Instead, the Akeredolu team had adopted and intensified a door to door, community to community and town to town campaign strategy.
What also counted for the incumbent was the fact that his development strides had endeared him to the hearts of very many in the state. Under him, a handful of inaccessible communities were opened up and connected to towns with markets for their agricultural produce. Also, agriculture had received a boost under the administration of Akeredolu. He may have however had a little problem with the hike in fees in the state owned tertiary institutions. That again is understandable given the near collapse of tertiary education in the state before he came on board.