From the campaign rallies held in the week by the two main opposition parties in Ondo State - the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), towards the October 20 governorship election, eventual winner of that exercise will have to earn it, writes
The scope of governorship race in Ondo State was broadened this week when Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), organised mega rallies towards the October 20 poll. Both parties defied heavy downpour as they proceeded to showcase both their candidates and parties’ programmes.
While ACN held three strategic rallies tagged: “Redemption Rallies,” for three consecutive days in the three senatorial districts of the state; Vice President Namadi Sambo, led prominent leaders of his party to a PDP rally in Akure, the state capital, where he expressed President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to the principle of one man, one vote. Sambo said if the principle of one-man, one vote is strictly adhered, the party’s candidate, Mr. Olusola Oke, would win the election convincingly.
While the Ondo North rally organised by ACN was held in Ikare, the headquarters of Akoko North East Local Government, the Ondo Central rally was held at the hometown of the incumbent governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, of the Labour Party (LP), who also kicked off his re-election campaign in Owo, the hometown of the ACN candidate, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu. The last segment of ACN rallies was however held in Ore, headquarter of Odigbo Local Government in Ondo South senatorial district. Akeredolu’s running mate, Dr. Paul Akintelure, hails from this district.
Indications that the Ore rally would differ from the previous ones were demonstrated on Monday, October 1, when Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, arrived Akure, the state capital, in helicopter which landed on the playground of Oyemekun Grammar School, adjacent to Akeredolu’s campaign office.
Fashola, who addressed the crowd gathered at the party’s campaign office on Oyemekun-Adesida Road and who had earlier participated in a road show which took off from the party secretariat to Akeredolu’s campaign office, said a vote for Akeredolu would amount to a vote for progress and development of the state.
The crowd which gathered in each of the towns where the rallies were held was tumultuous as market men and women, youths and various categories of party supporters stormed the venues in their thousands clad in traditional blue T-shirts with Akeredolu’s boldly embossed photograph. Each of the supporters held the party’s logo and a bunch of brooms.
Former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Chairman of ACN, Chief Bisi Akande, led other national leaders of the party including former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba, as well as National Vice Chairman, South-west of the party, Senator James Kolawole, to the rallies.
At the Ikare Akoko rally, ACN supporters as well as the people of the commercial town, who had started arriving at the state’s cenotaph venue of the rally, as early as 8,00am, defied the heavy downpour of the day as they moved from one area of the town to another, brandishing their brooms in demonstration of their support for the party and its candidate.
While awaiting the party’s national leaders, ACN’s official musician, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde, thrilled the audience with his special songs composed for the promotion of party’s campaigns. Ayinde’s songs charged the atmosphere. However, there was wild jubilation at about 1.35 pm when the crowd sighted the helicopter conveying the party’s national leaders hovering in the sky.
After alighting from the helicopter, Osun State governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, who was born in Ikare Akoko and lived his early life in the town, set the tempo for real campaign in his characteristic manner with a number of songs, praising the ACN and running down the ruling Labour Party and its candidate, Mimiko. He highlighting why the people must vote for ACN. Aregbosola, who educated the people on how to cast their votes, urged them to wait at the polling station after casting their votes until they are counted.
Osoba, who narrated how ACN won Ogun State elections in 2011 without having any hitherto elected officer in the state, urged the people to stand firm and remain committed to the course of winning Ondo State. He said the Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, recorded a landslide victory at the 2012 governorship election through relentless commitment.
While Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, urged the people to come out en masse and use their votes to install Akeredolu in Alagbaka Government House through the forthcoming poll, Senator Ajayi Borofice, who represents Ondo North in the Senate and a former governorship aspirant in the party, commended the people of Akoko for turning out en-masse for the rally and urged them to double their efforts on the day of election by returning Akeredolu as winner.
Worthy of note at the rally was the appearance of two of the aggrieved aspirants, Dr. Tunji Abayomi and the Mrs. Jumoke Anifowose, who were rumoured to have dumped ACN, as they excited the crowd who hailed them by waiving their brooms.
In an emotion laden tone, Tinubu expressed disappointment over what he described as betrayal of trust by Mimiko. The ACN leader said if Ondo State joins other South-west states in installing an ACN government, the states would collaborate with others to establish a refinery, build railway line, industries and do many other things for common interests as the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, did.
Presenting the party’s flag to Akeredolu, ACN National Chairman, Akande, said the people of Ondo State should join other states in the South-west and stop being a lone ranger.
Speaking, an excited Akeredolu promised to fix the bad roads in the state, establish more hospitals, provide them with potable water and rehabilitate more schools in the area. He also promised to create 10,000 jobs in his 100 days to curb the rate of unemployment in the state.
However at the PDP rally, Sambo led other leaders of the party, including the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, South-west Vice Chairman of the party, Mr. Segun Oni, National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu and members of National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
The PDP crowd defied the downpour in Akure on Tuesday, to witness the rally which saw the return of Senator Hosea Ehinlanwo, whose son is also contesting the governorship election on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), to the PDP. Also, the immediate past Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in the state, Mr. Akin Akingbesote, also defected to the PDP during the rally.
Sambo who emphasised Jonathan’s commitment to free and fair election in every part of the country, told PDP supporters in the state not to fret but ensure that they cast their votes for the ruling PDP.
Tukur implored the Ondo people to vote overwhelmingly for their candidate, saying PDP is the only party that has blueprint for the development of the state.
On his part, Oyinlola who said since the people of the state knew the value of good jobs done during the tenure of PDP administration led by Agagu, they should endeavour to return the state to the mainstream politics of the country again.
While the Director General of Oke Campaign Organisation, Dr. Dare Bada, said the presence of national leaders of the PDP and the Presidency at the rally had shown that the party in the state was not an “orphan” as erroneously assumed in some quarters, Agagu told the party supporters not to clash with members of other opposition parties but preach to them the need to vote for good governance.