Wednesday, May 22, 2024




By Bolaji O. Akinyemi.

The off-season election in Ondo State come 14th November, 2024, had precipitated a flurry of political activities in the State since the beginning of this year. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier set the month of April, 2024, as period for political parties in the State to conduct their primary elections to choose candidates for their different political platforms. So far, the two major political parties in the state, the APC and the PDP have dominated the space since the beginning of the month. There are 3 constitutional provisions for political parties to choose from for the credible emergence of party candidates; direct, indirect and consensus options. The APC held its primary election on Sunday 20th April, 2024, using the direct mode of party members voting for candidates of their choice in their different wards as opposed to the indirect modality where delegates are used to elect party candidates. This option, though is the most direct way to enshrine democracy as a government of the people by the people and for the people. It is the easiest way to manipulate the wishes of the people because of the multiple voting centres; 203 in the case of Ondo State. Media reports and past experience attested to lack of capacity on the part of APC to conduct a seamless party primary. It is always their option when ‘Baba So pe'(baba said) is the option. It disposed Ambode of his second term ticket as Baba wanted… if you know what I mean. The testimony of a party faithful in my Abule Egba Area on the primary that ousted Ambode out of power was, “we arrived at the ward centre for election determined to make it Ambode, we were accorded respect as senior citizens under a canopy to have our verification done, the verification was ongoing when noise erupted. Some thugs shouting, “It is Sanwo! We asked what happened to Sanwo? Only to be told Sanwo has won the election for which we were still been screened to vote.

Like Lagos like Ondo, media reports are in sync with public opinion. Its indicated that the election was marred with irregularities which culminated into widespread protests by other contestants who lost to the declared winner; Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa.

The said protests carried out by a group called Ondo APC Youths, had marched to the national headquarters of the APC in Abuja insisting on a re-run of the election to ensure fairness and equity which they said eluded the last outing on Saturday ending on Sunday 20th April, 2024. The reaction of both the APC national leadership and Governor Aiyedatiwa himself showed that they have not taken the allegations and agitations against the flawed primary seriously enough. In his reaction, he simply called on the aggrieved aspirants to join forces with him to win the guber battle ahead of the party, not minding how they feel about it. The headquarters itself does not help matters by describing the protests as a storm in a tea cup. This is the summation of the APC journey towards the November election so far.

On the other side of the divide is the main opposition party in the State, the PDP. It must be noted that since the onset of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, Ondo State had always been a PDP State until former Governor Olusegun Mimiko decided to handover the State to his bossom friend and best man for his wedding ceremony, the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in APC. Although money has been used to sustain the party in the state in subsequent elections since Akeredolu’s first appearance with the APC flag, PDP from every from indications remains the party of the average Ondo man. Consequently Mimiko and the PDP family in Ondo State seem determined to have the state back. This is proven by the penchant excellence and organisational ability that supervised the PDP Primary. Leaving the public with the fact that the people of Ondo State can be more organized and do better elections than the ruling APC in their State. The date was Thursday 25th April, 2024. The time was 9am at the popular Dome international conference centre Akure. Delegates of the party came in from the 18 Local Government Areas of the State. The mission at hand was to choose one out of 7 people contesting for the party ticket towards the November 2024 gubernatorial election. The use of delegates constitutes what is called indirect primary election according to Nigeria’s electoral Act 2023 as amended. Many people did not give the party any chance of a successful primary election considering the can of worms emanating from the ruling party’s outing.

Both the security and the physical arrangements at the venue of the party indicated a sign of good tidings to come for the party. Proper sitting arrangements were made for 621 expected delegates to sit according to their LGAs. Each booth carries the name of the LGA. When all delegates were fully seated, accreditation commenced during which each delegate was screened to establish their true identity and that they were carrying the requisite documents which included party membership card and permanent voter’s card. Then such delegate was ushered into the large hall adjoining the main bowl of the conference centre. When all the delegates were ushered into the hall, the stage was set for actual voting to commence. By this time there were apprehensions as to the fact that the election might spiral into the night which might not be convenient for most people and which usually lead to problems of manipulations because the people’s alertness will wane. But the electoral committee which was headed by the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen. Lawrence Ewhjudkpo had something up their sleeves. The overly confident Chairman suddenly relieved the tensions building up when he announced that the voting was to be LGA by LGA. At first some people who did not process the information properly reacted on mere impulse by trying to question why that was so and particularly when the Chairman said there would second level accreditation. He then took the time to explain to delegates that the modality adopted was to save time. He went further to explain that head count would be taken according to LGA. This was done for all the LGAs and the committee used the figures from the head count to invite delegate according to LGA to move into the main hall to cast their votes simultaneously as a group and according to the head count figures. Voting finally began with Akoko north east LGA by 5pm and ended with Owo LGA by 6pm. The votes cast were immediately counted under the prying eyes of the agents of the aspirants. At the end of the counting, the chairman formally announced the results and declared Mr. Ajayi Agboola the winner with 264 votes to clinch the ticket. Whilst Mr. Akinjo Kolade came second with 159 votes and Mr. Olusola Ebiseni took the third position with 99 votes.

After the declaration of the results, there was pin silence in the huge conference hall. Stakeholders were lost for words in describing the seamlessness and the peacefulness that prevailed over the primary election. Nay sayers have been put to shame. It was a flawless process that brought out the beauty of democracy. It can be this smooth and sweet if all political actors can choose to do the right thing. To seal this victory of the PDP over it’s detractors, the Chairman of the event boasted to newsmen that as his track record, anywhere he conducted primary election, PDP always win the Governorship election in those places. He said he was confident that PDP will reclaim Ondo State in the coming guber elections in November, 2024.

Arising from this two primary elections in Ondo State is the challenge of leadership and commitment to due process and adherence to democratic ethos. They both represent the choices Nigerians have to make going forward in our democratic journey to nationhood.

In courtesy, I say to the lucky man named Lucky Ayedatiwa, congratulations. We all can not but celebrate the civility that the conduct of PDP primarily represents of us to the global democratic family and a big congratulations to the political gladiator Mr. Ajayi Agboola whose ambition on the ticket of Zenith Labour Party; a party new and unknown produced 69,127 votes which 12.1% of the total vote cast that placed him in number 3, behind Eyitayo Jegede and Rotimi Akeredolu as the winner in the 2020 Governorship election.

The die has been cast. The battle line has been drawn between Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of the ruling APC and Mr. Ajayi Agboola of the opposition PDP. The two will clash in a battle of the titans for the soul of Government House, Alagbaka and hopefully; the people’s choice shall prevail!

Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi, Apostle and Nation Builder, is President Voice of His Word Ministries and Convener Apostolic Round Table. Initiator of Community Ambassador for Peaceful Election in Edo & Ondo 2020, a project very well received by the electorate.

Facebook: Bolaji Akinyemi.

X: Bolaji O Akinyemi.

Instagram: bolajioakinyemi.

Phone: +2348033041236

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