Dayo Johnson, Akure
Though peaceful, last weekend’s governorship election in Ondo State was seen by many observers as a ‘bazaar’ in which the highest bidder got the lion share of the votes.
But, whereas all the major political parties allegedly took part in the undemocratic game, the way the All Progressives Congress (APC) allegedly went on spending spree put to question the anti-corruption crusade of the ruling government at the federal level.
No fewer than six governors of the APC whose states’ civil servants are owed salaries for several months were said to be part of the ‘bazaar’ staged in the name of election.
They were allegedly led to Ondo by the Chairman of the party’s Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha, who is the Imo State governor and a former governor of Ekiti State but now Solid Minerals Minister, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
Oyegun, Tinubu and Buhari
Security operatives and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were believed to be part of the alleged voters inducement as they pretended that nothing of such was going on. They looked the other way after they had allegedly been taken care off.
It was an inducement allegedly done with impunity by all the political parties.
Meanwhile, the alleged voters’ inducement was done in flagrant disobedience of the police authorities threat before the election that nobody should come to the polling units with more than N5,000 as such people would be arrested.
But supporters of the various parties allegedly stormed polling units across the state with millions of naira to trade in “ see and buy”, otherwise known as cash-for-vote.
It was learnt that between N500,000 and N1m was sent to each of the 3,009units across Ondo by one of the major parties to induce voters while other parties sent far less. This was aside the distribution of clothing materials- Ankara- rice, salt, noodles, sugar and other consumable goods to voters by political parties.
The desperation of one of the major parties to “capture” the state became so evident in the moves by some top government officials to frustrate the chances of two of the leading governorship candidates in the poll: PDP’s Eyitayo Jegede and AD’s Olusoke Oke, who was believed to have been schemed out of the primary of the APC which produced Mr Rotimi Akeredolu as the candidate.
Oke moved to Alliance for Democracy (AD) allegedly with the backing of a National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, but the top government officials still pursued him and tried to frustrate him because of his backer who reportedly wanted to use him to slight them for allegedly imposing Akeredolu as the APC candidate in the Ondo poll against his preferred candidate, Dr Olusegun Abraham.
Oke survived the moves after the National Executive Committee (NEC) of AD cleared him and gave him a waiver to contest the poll.
The top government officials were said to have worked on the premises that with Oke and Akeredolu in the race, the federal might would be deployed to muscle the AD candidate, hence they let him go but with the popularity and acceptance of Jegede, they knew that allowing the PDP candidate to contest could spell doom for Akeredolu following which they shut him out until 24 hours to the election and all appeal, by stakeholders for a shift in the date of the poll to allow Jegede a level-playing ground, as provided by the Electoral Act were rebuffed by INEC which the
PDP and Governor Olusegun Mimiko alleged had compromised the election even before it was conducted.
While Oke left the APC over the alleged injustice done to him by the party leadership which allegedly imposed Akeredolu despite the criticism that trailed the party’s primary election, Jegede was made to abandon his campaign for weeks to run after an impostor, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, who laid claim to his mandate. It was later alleged that Jimoh Ibrahim was an instrument being used by some top government officials at the federal level to level the hurdles.