Leading candidates in next Saturday’s governorship poll in Ondo State, on Sunday, talked tough, as the countdown to the election took a dizzying height.
Each of the candidate expressed confidence about victory and possibility of creating an upset at the poll, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had said its November 26 date remained sacrosanct.
While the standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rotimi Akeredolu, reeled out five key reasons behind his confidence of trouncing other contenders for the coveted seat at Alagbaka House, the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Oluwole Oke, said the will of the people and not federal might would determine the election.
On the other hand, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, said no form of conspiracy could stop him from flying the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election on Saturday.
He asked his supporters and admirers to keep hope alive, as the battle by him to reclaim his mandate was within reach, even as he said the PDP remained the party to beat in any election in the state.
Indeed, he told PDP stakeholders at a meeting in Akure that he was confident of victory, “even if it is going to hold today,” because God and the people were behind his quest to be the next governor of the state.
Meanwhile, the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP is to launch the local government campaign committee today, as part of fresh effort to put Jegede in a good stead for the election.
The committees, which are expected to hit the ground running immediately, will intensify door-to-door campaign throughout the 18 local government areas in the state.
While the candidates made brisk moves to shore up their individual chances ahead the elections, their campaign organisations and sundry groups engaged in a battle of wits, bordering on accusations and counter-accusations of plot to shortchange the electorate.
5 reasons I will win —Akeredolu
Akeredolu has listed five key reasons he is confident of victory.
Fielding questions from newsmen in Akure, the state capital, on Saturday night, he said there was a hand of God in his aspiration, coupled with an overwhelming support from the people.
Other reasons, according to him, included loyalty as a party man, desire of the Ondo people for change, his five-point cardinal programme and his pedigree as a professional.
He said everything pertaining to his ambition was working as planned by him and his party in readiness for the poll, because it had the hand of God, and not because of insinuations that some powerful forces had made his victory a foregone conclusion.
“When they say powerful people behind me, that will not be my basis for saying I would win this election. I am telling you, I would win this election because God is behind me.
“He started this work and I believe He would complete it. Who are the powerful people? The president is almost disconnected from what you are doing because he believes in his reputation. He would never try to influence anything and we have come to accept it in the party. When you talk of powerful; it is the Almighty that is the power behind me,” Akeredolu stressed.
He explained that his first governorship attempt in 2012 was based on a clarion call by the people of his constituency, who, again, had asked him to contest for the position this year.
“So, again, I have yielded to the clarion call of our people. I believe they are not having the best as we would expect of an oil-producing state. The state capital, there is nothing to write home about it.
“You need to get to Imo State and see how developed the state capital is and I don’t believe our people had the best. They have been on the wrong side of everything,” he stated.
He accused APC leaders in the South-West who opposed him after emerging as the party’s candidate through the party primaries, saying that “by the grace of God, they will be washed away, ostensibly by his victory at the poll.
“Almost immediately we won, we met with people. Those who believe in the party remained, but those who do not have left. Some are still here pretending because they are holding offices in the name of the party and they know that if they go out and say they have defected to another party, they would lose their seat, so they are pretending. So, there is nothing we can do about it.
“We have tried our best. We have made efforts to see whether we can bring them back to see reason but since they are being propelled from areas that I least expected; people that you took as leaders of the party are the ones encouraging this; they are the ones sponsoring this and they are encouraging anti-party activities, there is nothing anybody can do,” he said.
The former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president said such party leaders involved in the anti-party activity would be dealt with at the appropriate time by the APC organ after the election, regardless of their individual status.
According to Akeredolu, part of the low side of politics he had observed since he ventured into party politics five years ago was the absence of trust, “as those individuals one holds in high esteem will try to stab you in the back.”
His words: “My experience has been that people love you – people respect you but there are other low sides of politics that I don’t buy.
That is where people get treacherous. Treachery in politics is not one of my ways of life and this is what is happening. And it gets on my nerves as a person that you will see people at the highest level involved in shenanigans and they have no respect for themselves.
“They are treacherous people and cannot be trusted by anybody. It is an unfortunate thing but you see it. Though they will think they are playing politics, they are not playing politics, they are more or less going to destroy themselves at the end of the day and we will watch them.
“Politics, to me, is loyalty. Politics should be like a love affair in which whatever it is you love you hold on to it. Friendship is something that you take dearly. It’s been my life but this is not so in politics. This is what I have experienced,” he said.
The APC candidate said he was not bothered by the clamour by some PDP leaders for the postponement of the election, because of the pending cases surrounding the party’s ticket for the poll.
“If they [INEC] have reasons to postpone it, it is no problem for us. Hold the election today; do it in December; any day, we are going to win. So, we are not bothered. Any day they fix the election, we are going to win,” Akeredolu declared.
On whether the PDP crisis would enhance his chances during the election, he said there was no way the combined forces of Jimoh Ibrahim and Eyitayo Jegede could stop him from winning.
“If Jimoh had been the candidate and Jegede his running mate, you know they are from different zones, I will still defeat them, though it might not be wide. No doubt, with Jegede out of the equation, it is a bit lightened but again, politics is not predictable.
“Who says that other members of PDP will still say that we want PDP to be in government and so let’s support Ibrahim? It can happen overnight. Jegede people can move back to Jimoh as long as it’s their party. So, like I said, it’s not something one can predict, but I believe that yes, Jegede would have been a formidable opponent with Mimiko’s support but I would still have won.”
Decrying the state of affairs in the state over the state of economy, despite being an oil-producing one, Akeredolu said he had endeared himself to the people through his fiv cardinal programmes code named JMPPR.
These include creation of jobs; massive infrastructural development; promotion of functional education and technical growth; the provision of healthcare services, as well as rural development and extension services.
Federal might will not win this election for APC —AD
The Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Ondo State, on Sunday, reaffirmed its assurance that the will of the people and not federal might would prevail in the next Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
Director-General of Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation, Bola Ilori, who stated this in a statement in Akure, Ondo State capital, said the outcome of the election would convey an unequivocal message that the democratic and sovereign powers belonged to the people.
Ilori, who said powers of the people were mightier than those in power, said the ego of the APC would be deflated by the people of the state in the election.
He said relying on federal might by anyone was like living in a fool’s paradise, with the level of democratic awareness and sophistication of the Ondo electorate.
Ilori recalled that the misfortune of the PDP in the 2015 general election was still fresh in the country’s history, explaining that the party relied solely on federal might, rather than the people’s power.
He expressed optimism that a similar fate would befall the APC in the state, adding that the AD had become a darling party ringing bell in the hearts of the Ondo residents.
Ilori said: “APC is gradually toeing a ruinous path by its boast that it will use the federal might to intimidate and overrun the collective will of Ondo people. The same story we heard from the PDP during the countdown to the 2015 general election. Today, the PDP that controlled over 25 states at a time now has 12 states, with Ondo State gradually slipping off its hands.
“The evil plot that manifested during the APC primaries in Ondo State had shown lucidly that both the makers and the product are laced with indelible taint and the APC candidate will be consigned to the electoral trash-bin on Saturday by Ondo electorate.
“In case they don’t know, the South-West people, from time immemorial, had the history of flexing muscles with the federal might and they had always won.
“The Action Group triumphed over the forces of national Congress Party (NCP) during the First Republic. The Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) did same to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1979. The AD trounced the PDP in 1999 and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) overran the PDP before the consummation of APC, which is now becoming a contraption.
“In terms of political trajectory and configuration, federal might has no place in South-West politics and this election will never be an exemption.
“The fact that APC had resolved to capture the people of Ondo like animals had increased their electoral venoms and these they shall unleash against APC on Saturday,” he added.
Ilori implored the people to remain resolute by casting their votes for the candidate of AD and be vigilant to stave off any act of malpractice.
“Our people have resolved to stand by Olusola Oke of the AD and there is no way APC can make in-road even if the Kaduna State governor, Mr Nasir el-Rufai, is appointed the INEC chairman; the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr Kayode Fayemi is made the Inspector-General of Police, and the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, is hurriedly made the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS),” Ilori said.
He, however urged the electorate to troop out on Saturday to perform their civic responsibility towards the socio-economic redemption and restoration of the State.
No conspiracy can stop me —Jegede
The candidate of the Markafi-led faction of the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, on Sunday, said no amount of manipulation and conspiracy would stop him from contesting in the election, saying, the will of God for the people of the state will be fulfilled.
Jegede, who stated this during a stakeholders’ meeting held at the International Event Center (The Dome) in Akure, expressed optimism that his candidacy would be restored, as he was not only having a just course but God and people were on his side as regard the case in court
Jegede, who stated that PDP in the state remained a party to beat in any election assured the party faithfuls that he will win the election “even if it is going to be held today.”
He however, urged members of the party to continue to preach the gospel from ward to ward, unit to unit and house to house to ensure victory for the party at the poll next Saturday
Speaking at the meeting, the state chairman of party, Clement Faboyede, said local government campaign committee for the party would be inaugurated today (Monday) saying the committee would be in charge of the house-to-house campaign
He said the plan of the detractors was to disenfranchise the people of the state but expressed the hope that God would not allow such to happen.
The chairman however charged the people to go out and work, saying that the court would rule in favour of Eyitayo and would be on the ballot on the election day.
In a telephone message to the people, the state governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, charged the them to intensify their efforts to ensure that Jegede won the election
The PDP stakeholders meeting was attended by members of the Ondo State House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Rt Hon Jumoke Akindele,, members of the Ondo State Executive Council, Hon Akintoye Albert, Southwest Chairman of PDP, Chief Eddy Olafeso, Dr Tayo Dairo, Dr Jacob Gbakinro, Mr Saka Lawal, Hon Bamiduro Dada, Prof Olu Agbi among others..
In their speeches, Chief Olafeso, Dr Adewumi Abitoye, Professor Olu Agbi, Chief Segun Adegoke, Rt. Hon. Jumoke Akindele, Hon. Saka Lawal, Hon. Bamiduro Dada and the state women leader, Esther Ebiwonjumi, enjoined the party leaders and members not to relent in their ward to ward and unit to unit campaign for the party.