Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been declared winner of the Ondo state governorship election, thereby securing another term of four years.
He polled 292,830 votes to defeat Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who contested against him for a second time, having lost to the governor in a similar manner in 2016.
After PDP’s victory in Edo state, political pundits predicted that Jegede stood a great chance of winning the poll but the result has shown otherwise. We bring you some possible factors that could have contributed to his loss.
FAYOSE VS MAKINDE
One of the strongest factors that worked against the PDP in Ondo was its inability to unite its chieftains in the south-west, particularly Ayodele Fayose, immediate past governor of Ekiti, and Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo and chairman of the PDP national campaign council for the Ondo election.
The duo had been at loggerheads long before the election after Fayose moved against Makinde whom he accused of tampering with the leadership of the party in Ekiti and the entire south-west.
The infighting got so bad that Fayose was attacked by suspected thugs at the PDP rally in Ondo, just three days to the election. While he blamed Makinde for his experience at the rally, the governor said he would remain focused and not be distracted from his assignment in Ondo. Well, it turned out he may have been distracted.
LESS POPULAR RUNNING MATE
In Politics 101, it is said that the first test of strength and popularity in an election is the ability to deliver your primary constituency for your political party.
In the case of Ikengboju Gboluga, the PDP deputy governorship candidate, he not only suffered defeat across the three wards in Ilutitun, his hometown, but also lost his local government area – Okitipupa – to the APC. He failed to deliver the LGA for the PDP which managed 10,367 votes as against the APC’s 19,266 votes.
Before the election, not much was known about him outside Ondo apart from being a member of the house of representatives representing Okitipupa/Irele federal constituency. In fact, his choice as Jegede’s running mate sparked another round of crisis in the party.
In Ondo, he is not very popular among his people and did not come across as a grassroots politician.
LACK OF STRONG BACKING FROM GOVERNORS
Just three weeks ago when the PDP had a victorious outing in Edo, Godwin Obaseki, the governor and its candidate in the state governorship election, had the unwavering support of governors in the party — despite decamping from the APC in the last minutes — for two reasons: he is a serving governor and the six states in south-south were in the hands of PDP.
Compare that outing to the Ondo election where Jegede was seeking to displace a serving governor in the south-west which has only one PDP governor. Only two PDP governors — Makinde and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto — were on ground when Jegede flagged off his campaign. Although the governors in the party had stormed his mega rally just before the election, the support was not as massive as that of Obaseki whom the governors and even former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar were loud about their support for.
FAILURE TO WIN AJAYI OVER TO THE PDP
It is believed that Jegede could have performed better if he had joined forces with Agboola Ajayi, deputy governor of the state, who contested the election under the Zenith Labour Party.
He first joined the PDP from the APC but left for the ZLP after failing to secure the party’s governorship ticket. As a grassroots politician and mobiliser, Ajayi had the support of a significant portion of the masses which could have worked in his favour and that of the PDP if they had partnered together. In fact, some in the state believe he would have performed well if he contested under the PDP rather than the ZLP, a party seen in the state as a one-man army built around Olusegun Mimiko, a two-term governor of Ondo.
JEGEDE’S OUTING DURING THE DEBATE
Although Jegede did not perform poorly in the governorship debate between him and Akeredolu, the governor was believed to have had a stronger hand during the exercise.
Apart from speaking from a point of incumbency and arguing to consolidate on his “achievements”, Akeredolu also taunted Jegede with projects he said his administration had carried out in the state, including a road leading to Jegede’s house.
During the debate, the governor had asked Jegede if he had seen the “impact of good governance” since he began to tour the state, but the PDP candidate responded that he has not seen much. He then went ahead to list some areas in the state which lacked developmental projects.
Akeredolu, however, interjected and began to list some of his projects, adding: “Tayo, in your own time, the road leading to your house was not tarred. I have done it for you… I have done a lot.”