It is still a surprise to many how the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party and its governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, lost the Ondo 2020 Election despite the seeming fanfare, and acceptability in Ondo Central, which has a huge voter population. A considerable number of people were of view that the party would win the election based on sentiments across Akure, the state capital, which is also the hometown of the state’s former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Jegede.
But governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who hails from the North District, defied such odds and emerged victorious, thus repeating history and beating the two other major opposition parties and districts as it was in the 2016 guber race.
There were a lot of campaign issues against Akeredolu. These were coupled with some draconian policies of the APC-led Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, which many believed would jeopardise the governor’s re-election. He did not help matters too with some homegrown policies like increase in tuition fees in tertiary education in the state. Moreover, the performance of the major opposition party in Edo State a few weeks ago, when the PDP governorship candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, defeated the APC flagbearer, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, had given Jegede and his supporters hope of replicating same feat in the Ondo election.
Since the party’s victory in Edo State, the hope of PDP supporters surged in the state. They were upbeat that the same fate would befall the ruling party without considering the circumstances that made Ondo State election peculiar and different from Edo’s.
But the result of the election, as announced by the Returning Officer of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, clearly proved the underestimated factors that worked against the major opposition party at the poll.
Akeredolu, (APC) defeated Jegede, (PDP) under the same circumstance that played out in the 2016 election, winning all the councils in both South and North Senatorial Districts, and three LGAs in the Central District, where Jegede hails from.
In summary, Akeredolu won 15 LGA and for the second time, he defeated his age-long friend, Mimiko. First, in 2016 when he supported Jegede and on secondly when he chose to support the state’s embattled deputy, Ajayi. The election, as noted by political readers, re-enacted the 2016 realities, when Governor Akeredolu cashed in on the disunity between the South and North districts to win the November 26, 2016 governorship election for his first term
According to observers, a lot of sentiments led to the defeat of the PDP candidate, Jegede, who was picked to succeed the former governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. They noted that the candidature of Jegede was a bad choice for the ruling party then, because he hails from the same Central District with Mimiko, who had spent eight years as governor after breaking the second term jinx.
The South District, which has been the stronghold of the PDP since inception of democracy in 1999, felt marginalised and decided to support the emergence of a third force in 2016. Bearing same semblance with 2020, each district had a strong contender in the 2016 election, but the North and South Senatorial Districts united to defeat the political recklessness of the PDP and Central District represented then by Jegede and Mimiko.
Political analysts believed it was morally wrong for the PDP to perpetuate a district at the expense of other districts, especially the South, which has been clamouring against marginalisation and abandonment by successive governments. The agitation since 2016 has given the South and North Districts some mutual grounds for agreement to work against the major opposition party, the PDP and the Central District, suspected of plans to hold onto power forever.
Taunting the PDP over its performance at the last polls, the APC stressed that PDP had lost the ability and capability to win election in the country, declaring that the party’s victory in Edo State election on September 19. 2020, was a mirage. Without mincing words, the Secretary of the APC National Campaign Council for Ondo 2020, Mustapha Saliu, stated that the Edo and Ondo elections were two different scenarios, on which the PDP had earlier tailored their narratives for unrealistic advantage.
He claimed that “Even the Edo election was APC election. The governor is still a progressive. It is the manifesto and the works he did based on progressives’ principles and ideals that made Edo people vote for him again. So, it is not PDP. This election was different compared to Edo.
Meanwhile, rival parties are yet to make any public declaration on the election, but rather disclosed that they were studying the results and would make their decisions public soon.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese