• Buhari, APC, Lawan, others hail election, congratulate gov
• Yiaga Africa faults poll, says votes traded between N1000 and N7,000
• Akeredolu thanks Buhari, Tinubu, citizens
There were mixed reactions yesterday as Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State was declared the winner of Saturday’s governorship election.
Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who hails from Owo, Northern District, emerged victorious at the poll. He was declared the winner by the returning officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka. Akeredolu, he announced, polled 292, 830 votes to win the contest.
Olayinka, who is the Vice-Chancellor of University of Ibadan (UI), declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, a second-runner up with 195, 791 votes; while the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) candidate and Deputy Governor of the state, Agboola Ajayi, emerged third with 69, 127 votes.
He said Akeredolu was declared the winner, having polled the highest and 25 per cent votes across the 18 councils of the state, adding that the governor and his deputy governor-elect, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, would get their certificates of return on Tuesday.
Summing up the voting statistics across the 18 councils, he said there were 572,745 valid votes, 18, 438 rejected votes and 16, 709 cancelled votes.
The APC won 15 local governments, namely: Akoko North West, Akoko North East, Akoko South West, Akoko South-East, Ose, Owo, Idanre, Ondo West, Ondo East, Ondo West, Odigbo, Irele, Ilaje, Ese-Odo, Ajayi’s council; Okitipupa and Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo LGAs.
PRESIDENT Buhari, had immediately after Akeredolu was announced winner, sent a congratulatory message to him. The message, sent via his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday, said the victory showed that “one good turn surely deserves another.”
He thanked the people of Ondo State for keeping faith with their governor and the electorate for comporting themselves during the election.
He also gave kudos to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for organising credible, free and fair election and to security agencies that ensured orderliness.
He said: “When you serve with heart and might, the people respond in like manner, and we can easily get to where we are headed as a country.”
While the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his has message said the triumph was well-deserved and heartwarming, the APC pledged to continue to advocate for and support safe, free and credible elections that guarantee that valid votes count and the people’s will prevail
Lawan’s message was contained in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by his special adviser on media, Ola Awoniyi.
The Senate President admonished the governor not to deviate from the path that had taken him to a fresh mandate from his people. He also urged him to continue to implement APC’s progressive programmes for the benefit of the people.
BUT an election monitoring team, Yiaga Africa, observed that the election recorded vote-buying, interference by agents, disruption of the voting process, stuffing of ballot boxes, and intimidation of voters and INEC officials.
“Across several polling units, the secrecy of the ballot was severely compromised despite attempts by polling officials to prevent voters and party agents from showing how ballot papers were marked.
“On election day, votes traded between N1000 and N7,000 at the polling unit. It is Yiaga Africa’s opinion that the massive vote-buying employed by political actors in the election made it difficult for voters to freely cast their ballots in the polling units where they occurred.”
The group described as disappointing that the highest bidder and spender largely defined elections.
Yiaga’s Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, however, said that based on statistical analysis, the INEC official result for the election fell within the Yiaga Africa WTV estimate.
She said: “Had the official results been changed at the ward, LGA or state collation centres, the official results would not have fallen within the Yiaga Africa WTV estimated ranges.
REACTING to his victory, Akeredolu thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Akeredolu, who spoke immediately after he was declared winner, said the victory would have been impossible if Ondo people did not believe in the policy of the government and the party.
The governor spoke in the presence of the Chairman of the Governors Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; his Lagos State counterpart, Babajide Sanwoolu; Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); and Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
He said that the renewal of his mandate was an eloquent testimony to the degree of 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.”
POLITICAL observers are of views that the election reenacted the 2016 realities, when Akeredolu took advantage of the disunity between the South and central districts to win the November 26, 2016 governorship election for his first term. This time around, the PDP failed to unify its aspirants after the party primary. Thus, leading to a fragmented house, which the APC walloped with ease.