The elections in Ondo state have come and gone and the ultimate winner in the electoral contest is Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Akeredolu, 60, is a former chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and a renowned legal practitioner.
His victory shows his perseverance as he lost the polls the first time he ran for office against outgoing governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko in 2012.
Akeredolu scored 195,605 votes. His closest challenger, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 116,580 votes while Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) scored 85,207 votes.
The Nation lists ten factors that made Akeredolu victorious in the keenly contested polls.
1. PDP crisis
The ruling party was crisis-ridden in the run-up to the poll. Jegede, who eventually flew its ticket at the election, was restored on the ballot two days to the election. He was in the limbo for more than a month after a Federal High Court ruling gave the ticket to Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim of the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the party.
Jegede, a preferred candidate of incumbent Governor Olusegun Mimiko, is of the Ahmed Markafi faction. Since Ibrahim is of the other faction, the governor, who has a hold on the PDP structure and resources in the state stayed away for as long as Ibrahim was on the ballot.
The AD, the platform on which Oke contested, was moribund before its flag bearer defected from the APC in the aftermath of the controversial shadow poll. Although Oke succeeded in reactivating the platform, time was definitely not on his side to establish structures that could have been formidable enough to win a statewide election.
Many lauded Oke’s performance on the AD platform, which they say he borrowed to contest the election. They attribute Oke’s performance to experience.
3. The APC
Despite the controversial governorship primary, the APC has become a formidable party and an alternative to the ruling PDP in the state. Ahead of the poll, the APC was the nest of every aggrieved PDP member.
Former Deputy Governor Alhaji Olanusi Ali joined the APC after he parted ways with Mimiko. It was believed that whoever got the APC ticket would likely dislodge the ruling party from the Alagbaka Government House.
4. The Mimiko factor
Not a few believe that the people voted against Mimiko in protest and to stop what they claim to be the extension of his eight-year administration. The governor, they say, squandered the goodwill freely given to him in 2007 and 2012 on the platform of the Labour Party.
The people, it was learnt, are not happy with the governor in his handling of state affairs. Stakeholders say a victory for Jegede would have been tenure elongation for Mimiko.
5. Jegede not independent
The PDP flag bearer is seen as a politician tied to his godfather’s apron string. Critics see him a man who lacks the right political initiative to lead a state as sophisticated as Ondo. According to investigations, Jegede has no structure outside of Mimiko’s.
He allegedly went to sleep for more than a month only to be pushing for a postponement of the election when his name was restored on the ballot by INEC on the orders of a Court of Appeal.
6. Cash for votes
This factor has been dismissed as a non-issue in the Ondo election as all the parties freely deployed money to woo voters. Besides, elections in the country have always been heavily monetised. So, it is wrong of any party to accuse the other of buying votes. They all used money, a source said.
7. Federal might
This factor cannot be ruled out. An analyst said: “It would be miscalculation for people to think that President Muhammadu Buhari would be indifferent to political developments in any part of the country. You remember he was in Akure personally to campaign. Besides, his aides issued a statement in Abuja a day to the election urging the people to vote the APC.”
Those defending the deployment of federal might, said a loss for Akeredolu in last Saturday’s poll would have been a vote of no confidence on the President and the APC. Besides, it would also have created problem for the 2019 project of the ruling party.
8. Sophistication of the electorate
By pitching their tent with Akeredolu, the voters in Ondo state showed their political sophistication. The people are unhappy that Ondo, an oil-producing state, has been finding it difficult to fulfill its statutory obligations to workers.
According to them, using the dwindling allocations from the Federation Account as reason for not paying worker’s salaries was not enough, more so, when neighbouring Edo state was meeting its obligations under former Governor Adams Oshiohmole.
9. The smart card reader
The use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) for electronic accreditation of voters by INEC frustrated any plan to manipulate the electoral process. Voter turnout was however low when compared with the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) distributed by the electoral umpire.
Ordinarily, the introduction of voting immediately after accreditation should have encouraged voter accreditation. But one thing that the INEC has achieved with the new system is the elimination of multiple voting.
10. A break from the old order
The election of Akeredolu has opened a new chapter in Ondo state. The electorate have shown that they need a break from politicians who have links with the Alagbaka establishment.
Though Akeredolu once served as the attorney-general and commissioner for justice in the state, it was under a military setting. The gate to the Alagbaka Government House has been shot against those with tainted relationship with power since the country returned to participatory democracy 17 years ago.