There is no better time than now for APC to come together in Ondo State in particular, and South West in general. The party needs to urgently implement what I call the three Rs: Rethink, Reunite, and Re-strategise.
Let me start by saying that the Ondo governorship election has come and gone, and a winner has emerged in Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the Governor-Elect.
No matter the excuses, scenario or circumstances, APC won the election and any contrary noise or agitation is that of bad losers. What more? Governor Olusegun Mimiko of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the State has congratulated the winner. So also has Mr. Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
My piece here is on the need for unity in APC, which is borne-out of my genuine concern for my party, the APC. There is no better time than now for APC to come together in Ondo State in particular, and South West in general. The party needs to urgently implement what I call the three Rs: Rethink, Reunite, and Re-strategise.
APC was lucky to have won the election by capitalising on circumstantial opportunities. My point here is that APC has no choice but to close ranks, promote unity, bring back ‘lost members’ and be more responsive and creative in promptly settling internal contradictions if the party does not want to be voted out of power in Ondo State in four years’ time.
As it has been witnessed in recent elections in different parts of the country, the percentage of voters turn-out was low when compared to registered voters. Out of about the 1.6 million voters registered, less than 600,000 voted. The civil society and the public orientation agencies need a lot of work to do in this regard. Akeredolu got about 44 percent of the less than 30 percent of registered voters in Ondo State.
I have heard PDP members and apologists say that APC members promoted internal division within the PDP and that weakened it and led to the loss of the election by the ruling party in Ondo State. My reaction is like: wait a minute, was APC supposed to strengthen PDP for the election? What is the business of a party going to the polls if not to weaken its opposition in all ways possible before the election? Were the PDP members not dreaming victory immediately after the fallouts from the APC governorship primaries? Please look for something more tenable to say now or be silent forever!
I have also posited that 80 percent of the votes credited to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) would have gone to APC if Mr. Sola Oke had remained in the party after the primaries. Let me also add here that knowing the political antecedents of the Ondo people, the external influence on the outcome of the just concluded election was not up to, or at most not more than, 20 percent in all the parties put together.
Now, a further breakdown of the points here may be necessary. Mr. Sola Oke left APC after the party primaries and walked into AD to pick its governorship ticket. This showed that AD had a mere figure-head, tag-along governorship candidate and was too happy to provide it’s platform for Sola Oke to contest about two months before the governorship election.
For that ‘rag-tag’ party, so to say, to emerge third in the race, winning two local governments out of 18 and polling 126, 889 votes across the State, clearly shows that the AD, its candidate and sponsors cannot be dismissed by a realistic political strategist with a mere wave of the hand. The PDP that has been in power for eight years polled 150,380 and won the same number of local governments (two) as the AD. The difference between votes gathered by the PDP and AD was 23,491.
If you put the votes of AD and PDP together, you will get 277,269 votes, as against the 244,842 votes scored by APC. That means the combination of PDP and AD had 32,427 votes more than APC’s 244,842. Please note here that I have not computed the votes of all other parties that participated in the election. If this is done the figures will come to about 330,000 votes against APC’s 244,842 votes. The Social Democratic Party (SDP), which is like the twin sister of AD, scored 10,147 votes.
There are other factors to be considered here. Why were Mimiko and Jegede agitating for the postponement of the election? What could have happened if the election was postponed? I did not see PDP still winning, but the gap would have been well reduced and AD would also have scored more votes. And the thought of approaching the election petition tribunal would have been more attractive. In fact, if Jimoh Ibrahim had been used as the PDP candidate, Sola Oke’s AD would have won more votes.
Come to think of it, if Jimoh Ibrahim actually boasted, and he did, that his numerous court actions were to undermine PDP and ensured that Mimiko “does not succeed himself”, if the agents of PDP during the election were submitted by Jimoh Ibrahim faction of PDP, we can them logically assume that majority of those agents compromised and undermined Eyitayo Jegede and his faction of PDP at the election in tune with the the agenda of the Donald Trump of the Ondo gubernatorial polls, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim. And if PDP still garnered 150,380 votes despite the fact that Jegede was confirmed as the right candidate just three days to the election (Thursday, the day campaign ended!), and notwithstanding the survivalist theatrics of Jimoh Ibrahim, then I insist as a true party man, and I state categorically that my party, the APC, needs more work to do in Ondo State and in fact, in the South West Nigeria. Let me add that the task is not difficult only if our leaders will come down from their high horses, dump their egoistic vaingloriousness, mend broken fences and pull their followers together.
I think it was Chinua Achebe who wrote in his classic, Things Fall Apart, that: “he who the gods have helped to harvest its palm kernel must learn to be humble”.
Bearing in mind that all the three top candidates at the Ondo State Governorship election are lawyers, that in itself was historic. Can I then safely say that, for now, “I rest my case”.
Tunde Oladunjoye, a social policy advocate, was former Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, Ogun State.