It is often said that when a bee stings a man, the sounds from a tsetse fly frightens him. This is the situation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the party gets closer to the Ondo State governorship election slated for October 10.
APC just came out from governorship election in Edo State, where the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor Godwin Obaseki trounced its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu with over 80, 000 votes to the disbelief of APC members.
Till date the candidate of APC is yet to take a decision on what to do about the defeat, though the party, whose responsibilities it is to take the decision either to appeal the election result has congratulated Governor Obaseki and PDP. Since that defeat, the ruling party in Ondo State and at the federal level could be said to be afraid that a repeat of Edo governorship election could happen in the state.
Alluding to this, the representative of the youths in the APC Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Alhaji Ismail Ahmed recently said they knew that APC did not win the presidential election in Ondo State. “
So, Ondo is also going to be very dicey but the governor has done most of the reconciliation that he needed to do based on what the reconciliation committee recommended to him. We are not going to take anything for granted anymore, we are not going to be sitting on our oars again, we are going to go out and fight to make sure that we retain that state (Ondo),” he said.
But there are those who are more positive that the ruling party would retain the state as one of its states come October 10. Specifically, these are members of the APC National Campaign Council for the Ondo State Governorship Election.
The three strongest parties and their candidates in the election are: Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN (APC), Chief Eyitayo Jegede SAN (PDP) and Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). Their participation would in one way or the other affect who, among the three major candidates would emerge as the winner of the election.
Among those who are very positive that APC would win the election is the Secretary of the Campaign Council and former APC National Vice Chairman, North-East, Comrade Salihu Mustapha and the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu. Mustapha recently speaking about the chances of APC said: “Yes, we wished we had won in Edo State so that we will now enter Ondo election in high spirits.
Still we are in high spirits. “We are also putting all the strategies and the level of preparedness in place to see that we avoid all the mistakes that may probably be the cause of mitigating factor that made us not to perform well in Edo State. “Ondo and Edo, states are two different cases and they are radically different in terms of support base and other factors of our party. We have an incumbent governor there, who has performed.
So, automatically we are very hopeful and we have been able to take care of the internal wrangling because you can see all the other aspirants that ran with him, they are here in this campaign council. In fact they are coordinators, co-ordinating their various zones. Automatically we have internal peace in Ondo State and definitely we are going to put up better performance than what we put up in Edo State.”
Similarly, Okechukwu has expressed confidence in APC winning the election. He said: “Akeredolu shares the same features in common with winner of the Edo State governorship election, Governor Obaseki, therefore cannot lose.
“One, they devoted much more resources in the past four years to physical infrastructural development than stomach infrastructure. This is why some elites are antagonistic to both. Secondly, both diligently reconciled with their fellow gubernatorial aspirants within their parties thus going into the election with the spirit of internal democracy advantage. Thirdly, they both defeated same candidates in 2016 and one does not see the danger naysayers are hyping. Fourthly, don’t forget that they are products of our great party, APC.”
Political pundits believe that the victory of a party or candidate in an election starts from how the candidate emerged in the primaries of the party. If a candidate was imposed in the primaries, there are high tendencies that the candidate might lose at the election.
For many APC members, the candidate of the party for the Edo State was imposed on the members. They believe it was a sole decision of the APC’s past National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that Ize-Iyamu should be the candidate without primaries, if possible, they therefore stayed away from the processes of the election and the election itself.
Most of them had sympathy for the candidate of PDP, who was denied the opportunity of participating in the primaries of APC. For instance, the former National Chairman of APC and former governor of Edo, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said he stayed away from the campaign of Ize-Iyamu because of illegality.
Reacting to the election and the purported role he played against his party, Oyegun said: “I am a man of conscience. I am a strong believer in justice and fair play. “I am a strong believer that, when the rules of an association you belong have been so flagrantly disregarded, put aside and not complied with, then you have to go back to your conscience to say, can I support what has happened? Can I not support what has happened? I cannot support injustice. “Your loyalty in life should be what is right, that is principle.
Every human being must live for something. If you are ready to kill a man you know did not commit a crime, then something is wrong with you. “Even in the family, if a family member commits a crime, he has to agree that he has committed the crime.
When you start shouting no, he has done nothing wrong, then something is wrong with you. So, it was a basic issue of principle, it is a basic issue of conscience.” Oyegun was not the only party member without the above views he expressed, as many governors of APC stayed away.
This might not the same situation with Akeredolu in Ondo State. He seems to be enjoying the support of the APC governors led by the Governor of Lagos State and the Chairman of the Ondo Campaign Council, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Also, the Caretaker Committee seems to be giving him all the necessary support, as they constituted for him a 145-member committee against the 45 for Edo State governorship candidate. Notwithstanding all these, the PDP members are not relenting as they believe that the feat of Edo State governorship election victory can be achieved in Ondo.
Reacting to Edo election and the likelihood that PDP might win, the immediate past president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki said the victory of Godwin Obaseki is symbolic representations for Nigeria and its democracy.
Also, it underscored the determination of the people of Edo State to decide who governs the state and to ensure that their votes count at all times. “The results of the Edo election represent the true wish of the people who stood firmly behind their governor against power mongers who were determined to foist their choice on the people. It represents the will of the people to vote in free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
The people of Edo State who had sleepless nights in order to protect their votes, those who rejected the cash being thrown around to buy their votes and the intimidation to force them to compromise their belief, deserve our praise,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 election described his party victory as the end of ‘godfatherism’ in Nigerian politics. He said: “There is a new wind of democratic change now blowing all over Nigeria. The forces of despotism, nepotism and interlopers cannot successfully withstand this force.
Nigeria shall be totally free from these forces. The only power that will stand in Nigeria is people power, not the power of godfathers or despots.” Another thing that PDP believe might count to their advantage is the independence of the electoral body and the threat of visa denial by the international community.
They believed that those things played vital role to the party’s victory and would also play a strong role in Ondo election should they be adhered to strictly It will be recalled that on the eve of the election, the United States of America and the United Kingdom issued a threat that it would sanction anyone who rigs the election.
The US issued a statement to say that it will impose and had already imposed restrictions on the visas of Nigerian politicians who committed electoral offences in the November 2019 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states and who have behaved in similar fashion in the forthcoming Edo and Ondo Governorship elections on September 19 and October 10, respectively.
The U.K. Mission in Nigeria followed suit by announcing similar measures with the addition that assets of Nigerian electoral offenders in the U.K will be seized and such persons will be prosecuted under international law.
Definitely, the Ondo election will be a defining moment. But for APC members, especially those nursing Presidential ambitions, the win of APC would be to their interest, therefore they would want to do everything to see that APC won.
Also for PDP, the 2023 presidential election is one major reason that the party is pushing to expand its influence in the South West zone. However, for PDP to win it needs to double its works by narrowing the number of candidates that would contest for the election. They need to persuade some candidates to step down for its candidate, Eyitayo Jegede.