Akure, the Ondo State capital, and some other parts of the state were yesterday thrown in wild jubilation following the re-election of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as governor of the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Akeredolu winner of Saturday’s governorship election after collated results showed that the governor polled a total of 292, 830 votes to beat his closest rival, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who garnered 195,780 votes.
The Returning Officer, Prof Abel Idowu Olayinka, also said the candidate of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and deputy governor of the state, Hon Agboola Ajayi, scored 69,127 to come a distant third.
Olayinka noted that the total valid votes cast was 572,745, while the rejected votes and cancelled votes were 18,448 and 16,709 respectively.
He said, “I hereby certify that I am the returning officer of the Ondo State election and that the election was conducted and the candidates received the following votes – Oluwarotimi Akeredolu got 292,830, Eyitayo Jegede got 195,791 and Agboola Ajayi got 69,127.
“That Oluwarotimi Akeredolu secured the highest number of votes among the 17 contestants. Moreover, he was expected to score 25 percent in two-thirds of the state but he scored it across the 18 LGAs.
“Consequently, having satisfied the requirements of the law, I hereby declare Akeredolu as the winner and he is hereby returned elected.”
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Akeredolu’s re-election however sparked jubilation in some parts of the state as APC faithful and his supporters rejoiced over his victory at the polls.
In the governor’s hometown of Owo, the governor’s supporters were seen dancing to songs of victory in celebration of his reelection at the Saturday’s governorship poll
In his victory message, Governor Akeredolu said the renewal of his mandate in the just concluded election was an eloquent testimony to the degree of his acceptance by the people of the state.
He said, “It affirms that the confidence reposed in our administration remains unshaken. It is a statement on your assessment of our performance in the last three and a half years. It is unequivocal, direct, inspiring, and soul lifting. It is awesome.
“It is a reward for hard work, dedication, focus, honesty, and patriotism. It is also a challenge to us for rededication to service in the interest of our people. On this, we shall not relent.
“We set out on the first leg of this political adventure with the determination to make the whole State our constituency. We have not relented on our mission to bridge the huge infrastructural deficit inherited on the assumption of office.
“We hold the axiom as evidence that the welfare of the people should be the only justification for the existence of government. We have allowed this admonition to be the guiding principle of governance. We are elated to receive a scorecard through this state-wide plebiscite”.
Noting that the victory of his party, APC, has thrown an open challenge to all stakeholders not to choose the path of complacency, Akeredolu said he has noted few dissenting voices of protest in the referendum.
He said, “We heard them loud and clear. We intend to address genuine grievances. We shall continue to focus on the development of our God-given space, the Sunshine State.
“This administration will not be distracted in the discharge of our sacred mandate. The people will continue to be at the centre of all decisions. We will proceed with our administrative style which promotes transparency and accountability.
“We are determined to set our state, on the path of real development. Self-reliance is attainable. Our state has no business with poverty. Sincere, purposeful, and focused leadership should have little difficulty in harnessing the vast resources, both human and natural. We will put in everything to justify the trust reposed in us”.
The governor who also congratulated the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), for participating in the electoral process noted that his patriotism is not in doubt.
He said, “His love for the people is unassailable. He is indeed a worthy adversary. Our state is indeed blessed for having people of his quality.”
However, the Eyitayo Jegede Campaign Organisation, in its reaction, thanked the people of the state for voting for the PDP candidate.
Speaking through its spokesman, Gbenga Akinmoyo, the campaign organisation said, “Thanks to the loyal members of PDP at local, state and national levels who took ownership of this project and executed it. This is God’s project and since it remains so, “We Wait, Eye ni is Oluwa.”
Also, the director-general of Agboola Ajayi Campaign Organization, Dr. Kola Ademujimi, said despite the naked intimidation, harassment, threat, and blatant abuse of state powers before and during the election, people still came out to support the party.
He said, “The party, after the collation of reports from our various field officers, may take an official position on this election in the coming days.”
He however commended the national leader of the ZLP party, Olusegun Mimiko for their support.
But the National Campaign Council of APC for the election said the party secured a well-deserved victory at the poll.
The organization also debunked media reports that the ruling party monetized the election by buying votes from the voters across the state.
Speaking with journalists yesterday in Akure, the secretary of the APC National Campaign Council, Ondo 2020, Mr Mustapha Saliu, said the candidate of the party won the election because of his performance in his first term in office.
Saliu alleged that PDP members came up with the allegation of vote-buying as an excuse for their defeat at the poll.
“The problem is that we have bad losers. We just finished concluding the election in Edo State and the party congratulated the governor.
That is the spirit of sportsmanship and that is a responsibility to the populace. But they are looking for flimsy excuses to just explain their poor performance.”
Be Magnanimous In Victory, PMB, Lawan, Govs Urge Gov-elect
President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and some state governors have congratulated Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) on his reelection as governor of Ondo State for another four-year term, saying he should be magnanimous in victory.
The president in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, lauded the resounding victory of the governor at the election, noting that the votes garnered “show that one good turn surely deserves another.”
Buhari thanked the people of Ondo State for keeping faith with their governor and the APC, noting that “the people know the person and party that truly serve them, and have spoken in clear voice and unmistakable terms.”
On his part, president of the Senate, Lawan, while congratulating Akeredolu and APC on the victory at the election, said the triumph was well-deserved and heartwarming.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, in his congratulatory message on Akeredolu’s re-election said it was an attestation to the fact that the electorate would always reward a performing leader and administration with their votes.
He added that the Ondo State experience should be a wake-up call for the party that effective coordination and sincerity of purpose are necessary for electoral victory.
Fayemi in a statement by his chief press secretary, Yinka Oyebode in Ado Ekiti, yesterday also commended the people of Ondo State for their peaceful conduct at the poll, a situation which he said greatly reduced the pre-election tension in the state in addition to crippling the antics of purveyors of violence.
Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for creating a level playing ground for conduct of free and fair elections in the country.
He said the president is deepening democracy and electoral process in Nigeria, considering the success recorded in the Ondo governorship election as well as last month’s gubernatorial poll in Edo State.
Sanwo-Olu who is the chairman of APC National Campaign Council for Ondo State governorship election congratulated his Ondo State counterpart on his victory, describing it as well deserved.
He said, “I appreciate the leader of our party, President Muhammadu Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the caretaker chairman of our party, the Governor of Yobe State, my colleagues and other APC leaders, especially members of the National Campaign Council for working tirelessly for the victory of our party in the Ondo State governorship poll.”
On his part, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State described Akeredolu and APC’s victory as a validation of people’s trust and confidence in the party and the governor’s leadership.
Governor Yahaya who is also a member of the APC Campaign Council for Ondo State Governorship Election, expressed confidence that Akeredolu will use the second mandate to consolidate on the laudable achievements he recorded in his first term.
The APC, on its part, stated that Akeredolu’s victory at the polls is a vote for good governance, industrialisation, security, empowerment and general welfare of the state.
The party further stated that APC’s victory was a testament to the inclusiveness, genuine reconciliation and peace the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker Committee has ensured among party ranks in Ondo and the party in general.
A statement by the party’s deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, thanked Ondo residents for coming out en masse to vote for its candidate on Saturday.
Also, a civil society organization, Yiaga Africa, urged Governor Akeredolu and his supporters to be magnanimous in victory.
Addressing newsmen in Akure, the state capital, the co-chair of Yiaga Africa WTV Working Group, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi and Ezenwa Nwagwu, urged the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, and the ZLP flagbearer, Hon Agboola Ajayi to accept the results because the outcome of the poll reflects voters’ wishes.
Yiaga Africa called on the winning candidate and his supporters to be magnanimous in victory. “For those candidates who did not win, we urge them to accept the results because they reflect the votes cast.”
By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, ANDREW ESSIEN, BODE GBADEBO, Abuja, GEORGE OKOJIE, Lagos and TOPE FAYEHUN, Akure, ALO ABIOLA, Ado Ekiti