The last word has not been heard on the Ondo State governorship election as the Peoples Democratic Party, on Monday, directed its candidate in the election, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), to head for the election tribunal.
The Ahmed Makarfi-led faction, which produced Jegede as the governorship candidate of the party two days to the election, said the poll was marred by irregularities even as it called for its cancellation.
Spokesman for the faction, Dayo Adeyeye, said that the election was manipulated in favour of the APC and its candidate, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
He said, “The election and all actions leading to it fell short of laid down principles guiding the conduct of elections in Nigeria.”
He said the faction had instructed Jegede and the Ondo State chapter of the party to proceed to the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.
Adeyeye described the outcome of the election as declared by INEC’s Chief Returning Officer, Prof. Abdul-Ganiyu Ambali, as a charade, and said it was not the true reflection of the will of the people of Ondo State.
He said, “INEC has, however, graduated from inconclusive elections as seen in Kogi, Bayelsa, FCT, Imo, Nasarawa and some other bye-elections in the country to ‘advanced election rigging’, as in the case of Edo and Ondo states governorship elections.
“It is common knowledge that the APC agents openly bought votes in the full glare of security operatives who did nothing to prevent such dastardly violation of the electoral law.
“It is not surprising that the electorate in Ondo State became so vulnerable to the corruptive influence of the APC because of the hash economic situation in the country inflicted on Nigerians by the APC administration which has, indeed, made all Nigerians virtually beggars in their own country.”
Adeyeye, a former minister of state for works, said the faction had persistently called for the postponement of the election for at least two weeks to enable its faction to campaign and prepare properly as a result of the setback orchestrated by a court order, but regretted that the call was rejected.
But the Senator Modu Sheriff-led faction of the PDP disagreed with the position of the Makarfi-led faction, saying that Governor Olusegun Mimiko paved the way for the party’s loss through acts of impunity.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, on Monday, Sheriff’s deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, traced the crisis in the PDP to what he termed as governors’ highhandedness and their alleged desire to impose candidates on the party.
Speaking on the crisis in Ondo, which eventually led to the PDP losing the state to the APC, Ojougboh traced the crisis to the return of Mimiko to the PDP in 2014.
He said, “All the PDP members led by Mr. Olusola Oke (the candidate of Alliance for Democracy) left the PDP with him.
“In choosing a candidate to succeed him, Mimiko did not allow the PDP members to buy forms. He mainly anointed Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) who was returned unopposed.
“Party members cried to high heavens that Jegede is from the central zone where Mimiko hails from. Their cries fell on deaf ears.”
But Mimiko and the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Isaac Kekemeke, have congratulated the governor-elect.
In a statement issued on Monday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Eni Akinsola, the governor wished Akeredolu success in the office as the governor of the state.
The statement said “It is incumbent upon me as governor to facilitate a smooth transition between my government and the incoming one. I will, to this end, provide the ambience for a smooth and seamless transition process.”
While promising to continue to provide good leadership to the state till the inauguration date, Mimiko expressed his appreciation to the people of the state, saying, “I will not waiver in providing the needed leadership to our dear state till the last day of my term.”
Meanwhile, Oke has accused the APC and the PDP of purchasing votes during the governorship election held on Saturday.
The AD candidate also alleged that the two parties openly bought votes from the people, describing the development as a sad commentary on the nation’s electoral process.
Oke, who came third in the election, in a statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Kola Olabisi, on Monday, however, congratulated the candidate of the APC, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu on his victory.
He also commended both the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agents deployed in the state for being fair in the handling of their duties during the election.
He said, “In the last seven years, the policy direction of the government of the day (in Ondo State) has resulted in the growth and circulation of poverty to our people.
“The resultant effect is the debilitating poverty that had made the people so vulnerable. Therefore, trading away dignity in the face of excruciating hunger during the electioneering requires little or no considerations for the morals and values that defined us as a people.”
However, the Vice-Chairman of the APC in Ondo State, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, denied the allegation of vote buying levelled against his party.
He said Akeredolu won the election due to trust and love the people of the state had for him.
“Nobody bought any vote from anybody and the victory was not a fluke, we worked for it. Everyone saw that the election was free and fair without any report of violence from anywhere.”
Meanwhile, the governors of Oyo, Edo and Zamfara have congratulated Akeredolu on his victory in the election.
Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Abdulaziz Yari-Abubakar (Zamfara), in separate statements on Monday said the victory of Akeredolu was well deserved.
Also, the senator representing Osun-West senatorial district, Isiaka Adeleke, congratulated Akeredolu, describing his victory as a plus for democracy.
A former governorship candidate of the APC in the 2015 governorship election in Delta State, O’tega Emerhor, has congratulated the governor-elect and the people of the state for choosing to join forces with ruling party