James Sowole in Akure
Former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, saturday emerged as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.
Akeredolu scored 669 votes to defeat Olusegun Abraham, backed by the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Abraham scored 635 votes. About 3000 delegates voted in the election that had 24 aspirants.
Jigawa State Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, who chaired the primary election committee of the party that monitored the exercise, announced Akeredolu as the winner of the poll at the international event center, venue of the exercise.
The build up to yesterday’s primary was characterized by tension within the party following allegations that Tinubu had endorsed Abraham and also directed the party leadership in the state to ensure his emergence as candidate.
Though, Tinubu admitted that he endorsed Abraham, a decision he said was within his political rights, he however denied directing the party leadership to work for his emergence and assured all the aspirants of a level playing field.
Incidentally, Akeredolu was the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ANC) in the 2012 governorship election in the state following his endorsement by Tinubu. He however came third in that election trailing behind the incumbent governor and candidate of the Labour Party, Dr. Rahman Mimiko, and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Wale Oke.
In a clear indication of a gang up against Abraham, even before Akeredolu was officially pronounced winner, the main hall of the event centre was agog as other aspirants who had been campaigning against the endorsement of Abraham started embracing Akeredolu as officials announced his votes, which was more than that of Abraham.
With his emergence yesterday, Akeredolu now has another chance to seek the mandate of the People of Ondo State on November 26.
Voting in the primaries commenced at 12:15 pm and ended at 6:00pm while counting started at 6:30pm. The election which was peaceful, was preceded by the accreditation of delegates at three locations in Akure, the state capital.
The accreditation of delegates took place at Ondo State Development and Property Corporation Multi-purpose Event Hall, Ijapo for the delegates from Ondo North.
Delegates from the six local governments that constituted Ondo Central were accredited at the Gani Fawehinmi Memorial Arcade, Igbatoro Road while those from Ondo South were accredited at the SB Hultipurpose Hall, Ondo Road also in Akure.
Rather than waiting till the end of the accreditation before commencing voting, accredited delegates were moved in special buses from accreditation points to the voting centre.
Security in and around the venue of accreditation centre and voting centres was very tight and it involved all the security agencies such as the Nigerian Army, the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence and Directorate of State Services.
Delegates were allowed into the hall on presentation of their delegates card and were directed to leave the hall immediately after casting their votes and submitting their accreditation card.
Though, some aspirants announced their withdrawal from the race and endorsed one aspirant or the other, Governor Abubakar said the National Secretariat could not recognise such last minute withdrawal as the National Secretariat had already printed ballot papers with 24 aspirants on each ballot. He added that only Paul Akintelure wrote to that effect.
However, the Supremacy battle between men of the Nigeria Police and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) almost marred the peaceful atmosphere at the venue as a shootout ensued between operatives of the two security agencies.
The shootout occurred at the entrance of the Ondo State International Centre, The Dome, venue of the APC primary.
Though, no injury was recorded on either side but the situation led to confusion as people at the event centre ran helter skelter.
The incident occurred at about 5:20 pm when some mobile policemen reportedly denied the vehicle of the State Commandant of the NSCDC, Adeyinka Fasiu, access to the venue of the primary.
The mobile policemen at the main entrance were said to have told the commandant to disembark from his official car and walk into the premises of the primary.
THISDAY learnt that the action of the policemen was a retaliatory one occasioned by alleged insurbodination of some NSCDC men to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Joshak Habila, and Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 11, Dan Bature, who came to the primary election venue earlier.
An eyewitness said as the police chiefs walked into the main hall of the event, some NSCDC men refused to give them necessary complement prompting some mobile police officers to walk the two “disobedient” NSCDC officers out.
Crisis however started when NSCDC men resisted the police refusal of entry to their boss. THISDAY gathered that the firing of gunshots and tear-gas was to scare away onlookers.
The situation was, however, brought under control by some military men at the venue of event.