Vote buying and sundry incidents which bordered on safety and security marred the governorship election held in Ondo State yesterday, even as the incumbent Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu appeared on his way to victory.
The trio of Akeredolu, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Hon. Agboola Ajayi won their respective polling units in Owo, Akure South and Ese Odo local governments respectively.
Similarly, the National Leader of the Zenith Labour and former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko won his unit by in an election which was described as largely peaceful, but for the shooting of a suspected thug in Akure, the area that parades the largest voting population of about 260,000 in the state
. Akeredolu won his unit by polling 413 votes at Ward 05, Unit 06 in Owo Local Government Area of the state to defeat the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede who scored 12 votes. The candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, ZLP, Agboola Ajayi scored zero.
However, the Ajayi scored 395 votes at his Polling Unit 4, Ward 2, at Kiribo, in Ese Odo Local Government of the state, while PDP scored five and APC 1, just as the deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Hon. Ayedatiwa won in his own unit.
The election was, however, marred by vote buying as the parties allegedly paid between N2, 000 and N10, 000 to each electorate for voting for them in the election.
And in a twist the poll was also characterized by fake news, especially regarding alleged last minute withdrawal of Ajayi from the race, even as initial reports of attack at the polling unit of Governor Akeredolu and attack on his wife were later found to be false.
In fact the upset wife of the governor, Betty wondered who would go to such lengths to do such, however, expressed her delight that the private television station, whose footage was shown in attempt to prove that the incident took place, took extreme steps to refute the report.
During the election, however, a young man believed to be a thug to one of the political parties was shot while fomenting trouble at one of the polling stations in Akure.
The governorship election witnessed structured votebuying tactics as political parties’ devised new means to evade the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies in order to induce voters. In most of the voting centres in Akure South, the parties made efforts to outspend each other and even had independent canvassers who are not party agents to mobilise voters and avoid the prying eyes of EFCC agents present at polling units.
Sunday Telegraph investigation during the poll revealed that parties had engaged some community leaders and known elders in the neighbourhoods to disburse the monies to the voters. It was also observed that unlike previous elections where cash is distributed close to polling units and election premises, parties during yesterday’s poll created outposts where monies are collected after the proves that they voted for the party they are buying from.
A voter in Idanre, who simply identified herself as Esther, said she was given a sign of straight elbow for her to ascertain that she voted for the party she wanted to ‘trade’ with. “They collected my account number and said I needed to assure them of my vote.
So, when I finished voting, I did as if I wanted to make the ink dry, but it was to show a man that gave me the elbow sign. I don’t even know him but they told me already. I am yet to see the transfer but they said they will give me N2, 000.”
According to the Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Mrs Idayat Hassan, who also observed the vote-buying trend, said during the election, the monies handed were distributed to popular figures, especially leaders of youth groups to share to voters in their areas
“Our observers reported that party agents largely stayed away from coordinating vote buying. Political parties designated someone, who is not a party agent, but appears to be neutral to direct voters to an outpost where cash could be distributed,” she said.
Another source said that the funds were sent to the various units in the state on Thursday for consequent distribution to the various voters to ensure they voted for the respective parties. Sources said that electronic transfer of money was automatically restricted to discourage money transfer in the state during the period.
During the election, however, a contingent of INEC officials suffered a terrible accident as their boat capsized, but were rescued by the Navy. However, out of results from the 2, 371 of the 3, 009 units released, the APC is said to have won in most of the units, an indication that the party is costing home to victory.