Vice-President Namadi Sambo
By James Sowole
The tempo of electioneering activities for the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State would be scaled up this week, as the two leading opposition parties-the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will Tuesday play host to their national leaders, who are coming to the state to give backings to their candidates.
To lead the presidential delegation for the rally for the PDP governorship candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, is Vice-President Namadi Sambo, who would lead other PDP leaders, including former president Olusegun Obasanjo; the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and others to Akure, the state capital.
While Sambo would be swelling the camp of Oke for the election, the ACN national leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would also lead governors elected on the party’s platform and other leaders of the party to Ikare, the headquarters of the Akoko North East Local Government Area to campaign for the party’s candidate, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
The PDP’s campaign, according to the Director General of Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation, Dr. Dare Bada, is to display the seriousness of the party in wining the forthcoming election in the state.
Bada said the rally will also be used to clear the air on speculations that the national leadership of PDP would be supporting another party’s candidate against its governorship standard bearer in the state.
He said: “It is important to underscore the fact that virile atmosphere to the effect that a particular party is an appendage of the PDP and enjoys Abuja’s support is all ruse and un-clever manner to hoodwink and confuse the good people of the state.”
On its part, the ACN stated that the senatorial campaign rally tagged: “Redemption Rally”, would be used to assure the electorate on why they should vote for Akeredolu in order for the state to join other South-west states in enjoying the dividends of democracy.
From ACN’s programme of event, the Redemption Rally, is expected to move to Ore in Odigbo local government area for Ondo South, while the Ondo Central rally would take place at Ondo town on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
However, the state Commissioner for Finance, Chief Yele Ogundipe, has expressed optimism that the unprecedented performance of the Dr. Olusegun Mimiko-led administration would definitely ensure his re-election in the October 20 election.
Ogundipe, who stated this in Ondo town, while presenting empowerment items to 105 less-privileged persons, including an 83-year-old disabled, Pa Joseph Adenugba, said the gesture was part of his contributions towards the success of the caring-heart programme of Mimiko-led administration in Ondo State, adding that the distribution of the items to the beneficiaries was aimed at contributing his quota towards poverty alleviation in the area in order to make people independent and self-reliant.
The materials presented include 10 deep freezers, grinding machines, dryers and hairdressing equipment, clippers and barbing equipment, Kerosene storage tank with dispenser as well as cash of N25, 000, which was given to 35 persons.
In addition, the wife of the donor, Mrs. Taiwo Ogundipe, also pledged to supply 1,000 litres of kerosene to beneficiaries of the kerosene storage tanks.
Describing Mimiko as a leader and a motivator, Ogundipe urged the people to vote for Mimiko so that the good works he had embarked upon can continue.
In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), at the weekend, warned politicians and the electorate against any act contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The electoral body warned that it would not hesitate to wield its big stick against any untoward activities, stressing that any politician or electorate caught engaging in any shady deals concerning voters’ cards would be dealt with accordingly.
Speaking at the Grassroots Voter-Education sensitisation forum in Akure, Akure South Local Government Area Electoral Officer, Mr. Surajudeen Rahman, said the commission was determined to conduct a free and fair poll in the state by ensuring that the people’s votes count.
He urged the electorate to, “avoid election-rigging, fraud and causing confusion. Do not bribe or accept bribe during polling. It is a crime. Do not vote more than once. It is an offence. Do not sells your voter’s card. Do not sell your vote. Do not sell your right.”
Rahman, who advised politicians to embrace peace during and after the election, stressed that INEC could only conduct a credible poll when politicians were ready to abide with the rules.
“Let us work for the peace of the state at all times. Let us walk the path of peace. Let us talk peace. Let us promote a peaceful election. INEC is putting all its cards face up on the table. We will continue to keep our affairs open and transparent.
“Election day is not a day to settle old or fresh scores. Election is about choosing a candidate of our choice. So, we appeal to you, allow our staff to set up their work at the identified and designated polling units, and we must let the peace that prevails on the day of the election prevail after the announcement of results,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was homecoming for Oke at Ilaje and Ese Odo local government areas of the state, at the weekend, as his supporters trooped out enmasse to assure him that they would vote for their own.
Oke, who stormed the two local government areas, alongside his running mate, Mr. Saka Lawal, in continuation of his campaign, promised to use the fund meant for the state Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC) for the development of the area.
Particularly, Oke who is an indigene of Ilaje local government area of the state, said the Olokola Free Trade Zone and OKLNG, which was meant to provide jobs for many residents of the area and people of the state would come on stream if given the opportunity to rule the state.
“By the grace of God and the support of the good people of Ondo State, I am the next governor of Ondo State. The people of Ondo State know me and my running mate, Hon. Saka Lawal. We have a unique economic agenda that is genuinely designed to give to the people of Ondo State solution to economic problems confronting the state due to improper management of the state resources. We must salvage this state together because of the younger generation.