AS the opposition parties mainly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) gird their loins to stop the second term ambition of incumbent Labour Party (LP) administration of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the issues that will dominate the political contest slated for October 20, are gradually coming to the fore.
While the ACN is desirous of bringing Ondo State to its fold to further consolidate its regional integration agenda “especially now that Nigeria is neither here nor there and we need to look inward for sectional protection of interest”, the PDP is laying emphasis on the resuscitation of all the developmental projects it embarked upon when former governor, Dr. Olusegum Agagu was in office between 2003 and 2009 but which were allegedly abandoned by the Mimiko administration.
The LP on its part believes that it has indeed taken the state to a new height of development that can only be consolidated by another term of office “to put the state on an irreversible path of progress.” The positions of the opposition parties became more pronounced in their renewed onslaught last week when they embarked on massive campaign rallies across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Last Tuesday, the PDP held a massive rally in Akure, the state capital, which was attended by the Vice-President, Namadi Sambo and the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. The ACN held a similar one in Ikare-Akoko attended by its national leaders including Chief Bisi Akande and former Lagos governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Despite the heavy rainfall that disrupted activities at the two venues at the Democracy Park in Akure and the Cenotaph Grounds in Ikare-Akoko, thousands of enthusiastic supporters danced in the downfall listening to their leaders.
At the Akure rally, Sambo reiterated the position of President Goodluck Jonathan in ensuring free, fair and credible polls and called on the Ondo voters to eschew violence before and during the election. The Vice-President said Nigeria is now enjoying fresh global recognition because of the way sanctity of elections is being respected and that the Federal Government is desirous of maintaining that legacy of impartiality in the conduct of all elections.
Tukur was accompanied to the rally by the PDP National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the South West Vice-Chairman, Segun Oni as well as Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, who hails from the state. Others in attendance included serving and former senators, former governor Olusegun Agagu, former Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mrs Mobolaji Osomo, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Kingsley Kuku and the party’s national women leader, Kema Chikwe.
In his address, Tukur urged the people of Ondo State to vote the PDP candidate, Olusola Oke, into office saying the whole PDP machinery at the federal level is solidly behind him. The Presidential Adviser on political matters, Barrister Gulag, assured the crowd that the PDP would employ all legal means to retrieve power in Ondo State and that people should be ready to vote for the party and defend their ballots.
Police Affairs Minister, Caleb Olubolade, who also addressed the crowd announced that the number of security personnel that would be deployed to Ondo for the election would surpass that of Edo State. According to him, “this is necessary in order to avoid a situation of crisis and brigandage. We are making sure that every vote counts and I want to appeal to you all to be law-abiding even as you are vigilant enough to protect your votes from being hijacked.” The high point of the event was the presentation of Oke to the people by Tukur who urged them to ensure that the PDP gets back to power in Ondo State to continue the good work where Agagu stopped abruptly in 2009.
Former governor Agagu, apart from Oke, perhaps drew the largest ovation from the crowd when he mounted the rostrum reeling out all the projects he started but which were allegedly abandoned by the Mimiko government. The determination of the PDP crowd who turned the rain-soaked grounds of the rally to a carnival, is however a lesson on the commitment of those who attended the event to the course of their political party.
At the Ikare-Akoko rally, Tinubu stressed the need for Ondo State to come under the regional banner that the ACN is already flying in the South-West saying “Mimiko wanted to separate Ondo from the rest of the South West but we know that the good people of this state will not allow that. He said: “This coming election will be a vindication that Mimiko betrayed us because we know you are going to show him that the generality of Ondo people are not betrayers to the course of the common good.”
Tinubu added; “the wave of development that is currently sweeping over the South West in the areas of welfarism will definitely get to Ondo if the ACN is voted into power. I don’t have a vote in Ondo State but Akeredolu does. I urge you to vote for him so that with our regional integration, we will build a refinery in Ondo to serve the whole of the region. With the blueprint of development that we have for our region, we are going to relive the successes of the First Republic when our region set the pace.”
Also in attendance were the two ACN governors of Ekiti and Osun, Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola. In his address to the crowd, the Osun Governor said; “Nigeria is currently neither here nor there. We cannot say with certainty what will become of this country, therefore we must come home to our regional enclave. When progressive politics was launched in Owo, here in Ondo State, Nigeria was a better country. We cannot say the same thing now. So we must seek regional protection of our interests to survive any eventualities. In this instance, Ondo cannot afford to be left behind.
“Because of the present situation in the country there is the need for the Yoruba states to be in the same party, we should belong to the same thing. There is nothing we have not used to beg him to join us and despite what we did for him when he was in trenches and during the election, he turned us down. Ondo should not be the odd one out, the October 20 vote is Oduduwa vote, it is Yoruba vote, so whoever believes in the progress of Nigeria should support ACN and put the opposition to shame”.
The duo of Akande and Tinubu who also spoke along the line of Aregbesola, said at the rally tagged “Redemption Rally”, that without Ondo, “our dream of regional integration may not be realized.” Said Akande ; “What I witnessed yesterday and today have shown that we have won and after the election I will come back to celebrate with you, but I want to urge the people to come out on October 20 and vote for Akeredolu”
The third day of the ACN rally at the nodal town of Ore in the Southern senatorial district dwelt extensively on the personality of its national leader and the need to correct the impression that he was holding ACN-controlled states in servitude. The leaders who spoke at Ore described Tinubu as an exceptional leader who is interested in the development of the Yoruba race but whose vision to reposition the region has been misconstrued by many politicians.
Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun described the ACN national leader as a strong apostle of progressiveness as passed down by the late leader of Yoruba, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He said the agitation for the regional integration by the ACN was the brainchild of Tinubu and was designed to usher in an unprecedented development to the South West region adding “ Tinubu is an exceptional leader who is never tired to bring together the Yoruba race. He has been a great pillar and support for this great party.
“The truth is bitter, but we must always let the world understand and know the real truth. Asiwaju has helped many of us without waiting for reward. I have been at the helms of affairs for over one year and he has never looked up to me for any reward either in cash or kind, the truth of the matter is that we must acknowledge that he is a great leader”
The Mimiko Campaign Organisation (MCO) however alleged that the two opposition parties could not muster enough crowd but had to rely on importing residents of other states to attend their rallies. In a release by Kolawole Olabisi, its spokesman, the MCO thanked the Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo for reiterating the Federal Government’s resolve to ensure a free and fair election in the State.
According to Olabisi, “the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State would be on the basis of one man one vote and no matter the level of desperation from the opposition parties nothing would make the people change a performing governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
“Even nature rejects the PDP and ACN as the heavens opened up and disrupted their rallies at Akure and Ikare simultaneously, a pointer to the fact that God does not side with the haughty. It is sad that the PDP could be preaching for the continuation of the Olusegun Agagu era in Ondo State when people were given surface-dressed roads that didn’t outlast one raining season; the era of drinking of water only on the screens of television sets or the era of phantom projects like the Adagbakuja New Town for which N6.7 billion was siphoned with nothing to show for it among others. Never again will those terrible days be our portion in Ondo State again.”
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Ondo: Parties In Last-minute Rallies