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Ondo Gov Poll: Likely Factors To Determine Winner
BOLA BADMUS writes on the factors that may shape the coming governorship poll in Ondo State.
Come October 20, the electorate in Ondo State, reputed for producing the largest share of cocoa in the defunct Western Region and currently an oil-producer, will elect the governor who will preside over the affairs of the state for another term of four years.
The mood in the state shows that preparations towards holding a successful poll are in a top gear among candidates, political parties, citizens, as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Already, the commission has cleared 12 parties and their candidates to contest the poll. The candidates include the incumbent governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko (Labour Party), Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) (Action Congress of Nigeria), Chief Segun Oke (Peoples Democratic Party), Adeuti Taye (Allied Congress Party), Mr Adeyemi Bolarinwa (All Nigeria Peoples Party) and Mr Ayodele Olusegun (Better Nigeria Progressive Party).
The Change Advocacy Party has Mr. Omoyele Olorunwa as its candidate, while the Congress for Progressive Change parades Mr. Olusoji Ehinlanwo. Mr Oladipo Lawrence will contest on the platform of the National Conscience Party; Mr Abikanlu James Olusola (National Solidarity Democratic Party), Mr Victor Oluwaremi Adetusin (People for Democratic Change) and Mr. Omoregha Olatunji is the candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance.
The stake is high, but so far, it appears that the October contest might just be among the candidates of LP, ACN and PDP, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
The candidates, as is customary of the race in which they are engaged in and as permitted by the provisions of the constitution as well as the country’s electoral law, have opened their campaign offices and also led campaign trains to major towns and communities in the state, selling their programmes to the people.
It is the intention of Governor Mimiko to build and consolidate on the transformation agenda that his government had embarked upon in the last three years. The governor, through available records, has been able to transform the state’s landscape in the areas of education, health, roads and transportation and has launched an investment drive with the commissioning of mega markets in major towns, among others.
His approach to the education sector through the construction and commissioning of modern schools and equipping them with computers and other teaching aids has been applauded by organisations and the Federal Government. The same goes with the transformation he has brought into the health sector with the introduction of the Abiye programme that has ensured that health care spread to the grassroots.
His Commissioner for Information, Mr Kayode Akinmade, in a recent interview, said: “Currently, there are 15 of the mega schools at various stages of completion in Akure, Ondo, Ikare, Okitipupa, Ile-Oluji and Araromi-Obu. Each of the mega schools will accommodate no fewer than 1,000 pupils. They have been designed with provisions for computer room, music room, art gallery, demonstration farm, sports centre among others. The intention of the concept is not for the schools to be elitist, but to provide level-field opportunities for all children. The integrated rural community programme of the government has given new relevance to folks in the rural communities where over 250 life changing programmes have been executed in collaboration with the people in the last two and half years.”
Chief Olusola Oke of PDP also has his own programmes in the areas of education, health, transport, security and others. Oke, while assessing Mimiko’s projects, promised to reverse some of them if elected governor. The PDP candidate claimed many of the projects serve no economic value to the people of the state. He identified some of projects as mega schools, fountains and the dew spinner at the roundabout in Akure, the state capital which, he said, were cosmetic in nature and not sustainable.
According to him, the buildings in the mega schools will be converted to other uses by his government, as the idea of mega schools was not in the interest of pupils and the construction negated the policy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on primary education that made it community-based. Oke said his administration would not engage in the construction of markets as being done by the present administration, stating that it would rather empower local government authorities to perform their duties in that regard.
But on his part, ACN candidate, Akeredolu, said he would not abandon any of the ongoing projects if elected. However, he criticised the urban renewal programme of Mimiko’s administration, which include the construction of roundabouts and fountains, even as he expressed sadness about the alleged neglect of Akoko land by the government.
In the meantime, Mimiko is on a campaign tour of the state and expressing his conviction to beat his opponents at the poll and return to the Government House in order to impart more life-changing projects on the state and its people. Addressing a stakeholders’ parley in Akure, recently, the governor boasted that the support of the grassroots would ensure that LP win the election and send the opposition into a coma for eight years. Mammoth crowds have attended all rallies the governor has addressed, even as organisations and groups have been rallying support for his second term ambition.
Apart from the fact that his party has continued to receive defectors from other parties, including PDP and ACN, LP has not been rocked by any factional crisis. This appears to be a strong factor in its favour.
The PDP and its candidate, Oke, are not leaving anything to chance to win the election. The defeat of the party in Edo State recently in a similar poll by ACN candidate, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, notwithstanding, the party has expressed optimism of being victorious in the October poll and form the next government in Ondo State.
The PDP was the ruling party before LP took over and still points to its record of achievements under former Governor Olusegun Agagu. Also, the party’s candidate is not new to politics in the state, having been an aspirant to a Senate seat before. He is expected to pull his weight, especially if the factionalism in the party in the state, in which the party headquarters has waded, could be resolved in time, as experience has shown that a major cause of defeat for any party is the existence of opposition within.
The ACN has never pretended to like the face of Mimiko, having been unable to come to terms with the idea of Ondo being the only state not under its control in a geo-political zone formerly referred to as Western State. However, the party’s choice of Akeredolu, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), as its candidate has shown some burdens. Some chieftains and members, particularly his co-contestants, have criticised the mode of the primaries that produced him, describing it as a sham. The fallout has been a series of defections by aggrieved members to other parties. A former Minister of State for Defence, Dr. Olu Agunloye with his supporters, is among them. There are also insinuations that Akeredolu is a ‘foreigner’ because some people feel he is better known in Ibadan, Oyo State, than Ondo State. But how that postulation will affect his fortune will be seen in the coming weeks.
Now that all is set for the election, it is hoped that INEC will conduct a credible election as it did recently in Edo State, where even the main opposition party, PDP, could not challenge the outcome of the poll.Share