By Dayo Johnson
•Urges supporters to remain calm amid provocation
•5 APC govs, minister camp in Akure
•Card reader rejects Mimiko
•AD’s Oke kicks
THE candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Rotimi Akerdolu, SAN, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, were locked in a tight race, yesterday, in the Ondo State governorship election.
However, according to unofficial results from the 18 local councils of the state obtained by Sunday Vanguard, which are subject to authentication by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Akeredolu had a slight lead over Jegede in the election that was largely peaceful and witnessed impressive voters’ turnout. Electoral materials and officials arrived on time in most locations. Voting commenced by 8am and ended by 2pm while sor ting and counting of ballots took place almost immediately.
According to the unconfirmed figures, Akeredolu won in 10 councils while Jegede had the upper hand in eight.
The official results are expected to be announced today.
The election was said to have been highly monetised as voters were allegedly induced with money before voting. Sources said between N400,000 and N450,000 were sent to each of the 3,009 units in the state by a particular party .
Security agents, according to the source, looked the other way as voters were given between N3,000 and N6,000 each to vote.
The unconfirmed results showed that Akeredolu cleared the results in Owo and some units in Akure, the state capital, while Jegede cleared the poll in Akure, Ondo and in some units in Akoko .
Surprisingly, Jegede could not win in Akure, his home town, with a large margin as expected even though he won his polling unit with a wide margin. The PDP candidate polled 184 votes at St. Brendan’s Primary School, Akure unit where he voted. Akeredolu got 77 votes while the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, Olusola Oke, scored 32 votes.
Oke came a distant third in the unit results received in Ondo Central and North senatorial districts.
Reports had it that Oke was leading in the units result from Okitipupa council area of the state.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko won in his Unit 020 Ward 7 with 176 votes to APC’s 40 votes and AD’s 25 votes.
Also in Unit 021 Ward 7, the governor’s party PDP, polled 92 votes while APC got 23 and AD 31 votes. Akeredolu in Oke Ijebu Ward 5 won with 413 votes while PDP scored 13 and AD 4 votes.
Jegede polled 184 votes in his Unit 009 ward 2 Isikan/ gbogi to defeat APC which scored 77 and AD 32.
Speaking to journalists, Jegede expressed worries over alleged open inducement by the opposition APC and hoped the people would not sell their conscience for a pot of porridge.
Akeredolu, in his response, solicited for peace among the electorate amidst provocation.
He noted that there might be provocation but said it must be shunned to allow peace and the will of the generality to prevail.
“My advice to the electorate is that, let us be calm in the face of any provocation, especially in last couple of days. Some people may want to cause confusion because we are coasting home to victory”, the APC candidate said.
However, the poll did not come without some logistics hiccups. The card reader rejected the finger print of Mimiko, who had to cast his ballot with an incident form
The governor, accompanied by the wife to his polling centre in Unit 20 Ward 7 in Ondo West council area of the state, expressed concern over the reports of alleged inducement of voters by the opposition APC members across the state, warning that the people would not allow any form of manipulation
Akeredolu, on his own, also lamented the malfunctioning of some smart card readers deployed for the exercise. Speaking at his Owo residence after casting his vote, the APC candidate said INEC ought to have test-run the devices before election day. Nevertheless, he said his major concern was the electoral commission ensuring free, credible and fair election.
Jegede and his AD counterpart, Oke, also complained about the malfunctioning card readers.
Oke specifically complained of cases of pre-loading of card readers before accreditation. He listed areas such as Idi Ogba, Alagbon, Ude Ugbo and some other areas in Ugbo constituency 2 in Ilaje area of Ondo state as places affected.
The AD candidate alleged that many of the card readers started at 150 .
Speaking on the alleged inducement of voters, he alleged that the APC and PDP embarked on intimidation, heavy monetisation and outright manipulation of the ballot materials in the election.
Tackled on the issue of pre-loaded and malfunctioning card readers, the Ondo Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Segun Agbaje, said the problem would be rectified, adding that the problem had to do with the punching of the devices, which he described as a minor problem and not fraud.
Agbaje said the commission had more than 250 spare smart card readers to replace those malfunctioning. “I have called the Head of Department of ICT to get smart cards for areas with smart card challenges and very soon they will them. Card reader is not a major challenge because it can be addressed within 10 to 20 minutes; we have over 250 smart card readers for exchange in case of malfunction,” he said.
Akeredolu’s campaign DG denies arrest
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Akeredolu Campaign Organisation, Hon. Victor Olabimtan, was allegedly arrested with thumb printed ballot papers in 15 Ghana-Must-Go bags at Akungba-Akoko in Akoko South West area of Ondo State
Olabimtan was said to have been arrested along Akungba- Supare Road in Akungba by security operatives, who were acting on tip-off.
But in a reaction, Olabimtan said he was not arrested, adding that the report posted on-line was the figment of the imagination of the writer.
APC governors storm Ondo
At least five APC governors and a serving minister stormed Ondo to rally support for Akeredolu in the election.
Former Ekiti State governor but now Minister for Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi allegedly led the governors to the state.
Reports had it that Fayemi arrived the state days before the election while the governors came on Thursday and Friday.
The governors, according a source, lodged in different hotels where they held meetings with stakeholders on the Akeredolu project.
Sources listed the governors as those of Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun; Imo, Rochas Okorocha; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Kogi, Yahaya Bello and Kaduna, Nasir el- Rufai.
Before the election, Okorocha had visited the state where he met with the Igbo people on the Akeredolu project, Bello met with the Igbira and Lalong met with the Hausa in the state.
The sources said the governors’ visit to Ondo to give support to Akeredolu followed a meeting by the APC Governors Forum that the state should be won into the “APC family.”
Strategic meetings reportedly took place among major stakeholders across Ondo and the visiting governors on how to win the election.
Some promises were said to have been made by the candidate to some stakeholders in order to woo them ahead of the election.
Efforts by Sunday Vanguard to speak with Ondo State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Abayomi Adesanya, proved abortive. However, a leader of the party, who spoke in confidence, said the presence of the governors was to support the “incoming governor” of the party.
Impressive voter turnout, orderly conduct
Contrary to apprehension that there might be voter apathy on account of the violence that broke out in Owo area of the state on Thursday, during which a chieftain of the APC, Afolabi Olaposi, was killed, voter turnout in many polling units, yesterday, was impressive