ANALYSIS: Six questions about Mimiko, others, Ondo election left unanswered

In this analysis, Bisi Abidoye looks at the talking points from last weekend’s governorship election in Ondo State

Gatecrashing the federal party?

The All Progressives Congress won Saturday’s governorship election of Ondo state. The candidate of the party, Rotimi Akeredolu, was declared winner, having received the highest number of the votes and met all the stipulated requirement. Mr. Akeredolu won in 13 of the 18 local government areas of the state and was runner-up in the other five shared by his two nearest rivals, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (who won in three LGAs) and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (who won in the other two LGAs.)

If Mr. Akeredolu’s election stands, it will be only the second time in the 40-year history of Ondo state that it has elected the candidate of a federal ruling party, the first being Olusegun Agagu who was elected on the platform of the PDP in 2003. Of course, the electoral commission had on two other occasions returned candidates of the parties ruling at the centre – Akin Omoboriowo of the National Party of Nigeria in 1983 and Segun Agagu of the PDP in 2007. But both verdicts were upturned at the court. Mr. Omoboriowo’s win was quashed after an uprising that gave the state its reputation for violent resistance to perceived electoral shenanigans.

It may be relevant that Ondo voted APC in last year’s federal elections, before consoling Mr. Mimiko by electing a majority of his party’s candidates into the state legislature. And just last week, the only Ondo senator elected last year on PDP ticket, Yele Omogunwa, defected to join the APC caucus. Maybe Ondo is an APC state after all.

When is a mandate?

Mr. Akeredolu won the election with 244,842 votes. But his tally represents only 44.41 percent of the valid votes cast, and means there were more voters on Saturday who preferred someone else as governor.

In some other electoral systems, where a mandate can only be delivered by a majority of voters, the Ondo state governor-elect would only have qualified for a run-off against his closest rival. But don’t blame Mr. Akeredolu for this seeming quirk – Nigeria’s electoral system awards victory to the candidate with the highest number of votes, if the candidate can show his or her footprints across the constituency. The framers of the nation’s constitution made provisions to ensure that the winning plurality does not come from only a section of the field. In addition to having the highest number of votes, the winner must also score at least a quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of the constituency.

Mr. Akeredolu cleanly scaled this hurdle – in fact, he had majority of the votes in each of 13 LGAs and returned second with more than a quarter of the votes in each of the other five of the state’s 18 LGAs, apart from Ilaje where his rival of the AD denied every other candidate that honour.

But that is not the only thing that may twitch some purists’ noses. Only 35.49 percent of the registered voters cared to turn out last Saturday, despite initial media reports of public enthusiasm about the polls. If you take Mr. Akeredolu’s 244, 842 votes as a percentage of the 1,647,973 registered voters, then it means he has been elected by only 14.85 percent of those who were entitled to have a say on who should be the next governor of Ondo State. Again, this is not peculiar to Mr. Akeredolu, many before him had been so elected, including the man who would soon be his predecessor, Olusegun Mimiko.

What happened, Mr. Mimiko?

The outgoing two-term governor’s party got only 27.27 percent of the votes on Saturday (150,380). Curiously, the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum was never elected on a PDP ticket. He became governor in 2008 after a successful petition against the 2007 election of PDP’s Mr. Agagu. A post-primary defector from the PDP, he had challenged Mr. Agagu’s reelection on the ticket of the Labour Party and was reelected in 2012 on the same party’s ticket, in a three-man race that mirrored that of last Saturday. His two main challengers in that election were Mr. Akeredolu of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria and Mr. Oke, who was the PDP candidate at the time. After his reelection, Mr. Mimiko defected with the governor’s seat to the PDP, infuriating sitting members of the party in the state, including Mr. Oke who eventually fled to the APC.

In the 2012 election, Mr. Oke’s PDP finished second behind Mr. Mimiko’s Labour Party. So with the LP dissolving into the PDP long before Saturday’s election, it was normal to project the PDP as frontrunner last Saturday. Alas! It returned a distant second with just over 27 percent of the votes. Considering that the PDP candidate was handpicked by Mr. Mimiko, did the outcome of the election indicate how sore Ondo voters were over the stewardship of the outgoing governor?

A rolling stone

As for Mr. Oke, what would he make of his finishing on Saturday? He was first runner-up in 2012, albeit with the (some have said half-hearted) support of the PDP which then controlled the federal government. Mr. Oke defected to the APC in resentment of Mr. Mimiko taking over the PDP in the state. He ran for the ticket of the APC but again left in a huff over alleged lack of fair play in the primary. Mr. Oke seized the ticket of the AD for last Saturday’s election to howls by some of the older members of the party. But it was widely speculated that a disaffected section of the APC covertly backed his campaign, so many punters made him the dark horse. It turned out not to be a smart bet. He returned very far behind the man whose nomination by the APC he had queried. Will he stay where he is now or keep his feet loose?

At least, Mr. Oke proved that he has home support though. He won in his Ilaje LGA handsomely, unlike Mr. Jegede of the PDP who only won in the backyard of his mentor, Mr. Mimiko.

Lame donkey or sabotaged?

To be fair to Mr. Jegede and the PDP, it still has to be analysed how much his race was affected by a headwind called Jimoh Ibrahim. For six critical weeks in the run-up to the election, Mr. Jegede gnashed his teeth in no man’s land after he was elbowed out as the candidate of the PDP by a court judgement the Appeal Court has sternly rebuked as fraudulent. While the other candidates were on the field courting the electorate and setting their nets for votes, Mr. Jegede was out in the cold baying at Mr. Ibrahim who had snatched his ticket and parading the courts for delayed help. When just two days to the election, the ticket was retrieved for him from the wily snatcher, Mr. Jegede did not know what else to do other than mount a fruitless campaign for postponement of the polls. No way the authorities would allow a family affair delay a race the community had long awaited. Now, the defeated PDP flag bearer can only rue what might have been! Still, you are not going to be proud of yourself when you cannot win even your LGA.

The-also-ran parties

Twenty eight parties presented candidates for the election. Although the media, trying to separate the men from the boys, projected a four-horse race, it turned out that only three horses actually ran to win, as Olu Agunloye of the Social Democratic Party garnered only 1.84 percent of the votes. The combined votes of all the other 24 amounted to a mere 3.47 percent! So what was their purpose on the ballot, apart from giving electoral officers clerical headache? Worse still, 16 of these parties had joined their voices with the PDP’s in calling for a postponement of the polls last week, pretending to be genuine stakeholders.

In some polities, a party or candidate has to scale some hurdles before being allowed on the ballot. This could be in the form of having their nominations endorsed by a percentage of the registered voters, or, as in the First Republic, making a deposit which they forfeit if at the end of the election they did not reach a particular threshold of the votes. May be Nigeria has to consider reintroducing something like that in the future, to weed the field. Imagine one of these parties being mistakenly left out of the ballot paper. It would have gone to court to have the entire election cancelled and repeated at great cost to everybody.

And by the way, what happened to Mr. Agunloye too? The former minister’s SDP has as its national leader, Olu Falae, an elder statesman whose chest is full of badges as a former secretary to the federal government, minister, presidential candidate of the combined forces of two major parties (AD/APP) in 1999 and an Akure monarch? Perhaps the media still has to learn how to identify paper tigers.

Finally, beware Mr. Akeredolu, speed breakers ahead!

Before Mr. Akeredolu assumes office next February, he would have to carefully ruminate on how to relate with his state Legislature that may be controlled by the vanquished PDP at least until 2019. The party has only a small majority in the House, but that is enough to make Mr. Akeredolu worry about forming his cabinet and passing his budgets. By giving control of different arms of government to different parties, Ondo voters too may need to hope that they have not inadvertently set the stage for gridlock in how their affairs will be run from next year.

BREAKING: PDP rejects outcome of Ondo election, heads to court

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has rejected the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State.

The party described the outcome of the election as declared by the Chief Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Abdul-Ganiyu Ambali, as a “charade and not the true reflection of the will of the people of Ondo State”.

Mr. Ambali had Sunday declared the All Progressives Congress candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, winner of the election.

Mr. Akeredolu polled 244, 842, to defeat the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, who rallied 150, 380 votes to place second in the race.

The spokesperson of the PDP, Dayo Adeyeye, on Monday said the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, aided the APC to rig the election.

He said INEC has now “graduated from inconclusive Elections as seen in Kogi, Bayelsa, Osun, FCT, Imo, Nassarawa and some other previous By-Elections in the Country to ‘Advanced Election Rigging’, as in the
case of Edo and Ondo States Gubernatorial Elections”.

Mr. Adeyeye, in a statement, said “it is common knowledge that the APC Agents openly bought votes of the electorates in the full glare of security operatives who did nothing to prevent such dastardly violation of the Electoral Law.

“It is not surprising that the electorates in Ondo state became so vulnerable to the corruptive influence of the APC because of the hash economic situation in the Country inflicted on Nigerians by the APC Administration which have indeed made all Nigerians virtually beggars in their own Country”.

Mr. Adeyeye said PDP had persistently called for the postponement of the Election before Saturday, for at least two weeks to enable the Party Campaign and prepare properly for the Election.

He said the party’s request followed the setback orchestrated by “Justice Okon Abang and the charlatans in PDP who allowed themselves to be used by the APC to destroy our chances in the Ondo State Election.

“The actions of INEC in collaboration with the APC led Administration left us no time to campaign and sell our Candidate and Party Manifesto to the electorates in Ondo State.

“Our persistent call for the postponement of the Election which was backed and supported by more than 20 other political parties were all rejected by INEC which were acting the script of the APC.

“It was a carefully planned and well-orchestrated strategy to rig the Election well in advance by preventing the PDP from planning and campaigning for the Election. The APC has hereby introduced a new formula of rigging Election in Nigeria.

“In view of the fact that the Election was blatantly manipulated from the beginning to the end to favour the APC, we vehemently reject the results of the November 26, 2016 Gubernatorial Election in Ondo State,” he said.

He also said Saturday’s election and all actions leading to it fell short of laid down principles guiding conduct of elections in Nigeria.

“We have instructed our Candidate and the Ondo State Chapter of our Party to proceed to the Tribunal to challenge the Outcome of the Election.

“We call on the Judiciary to redeem Nigeria’s image on this matter as we request for the total Cancellation of the Election in Ondo State,” the party said.

#OndoDecides: Election will hold on Saturday – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the Ondo State government will hold on November 26 as scheduled.

 

This was in reaction to calls by the Peoples Democratic Party and other parties for the postponement of the election.

 

Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi said the commission had already concluded all plans for the polls.

 

“INEC has no plan and does not intend to postpone the election,” he said.

 

“Preparations for the Ondo Governorship election started since March and 12 out of 14 activities planned for the poll have already been carried out.

 

“Besides, the grounds for postponing any election are enshrined in the Electoral Law and certainly, such calls for postponement is not one of the grounds.

 

“The 13th activity which is the Stakeholders’ Forum will hold on Tuesday in Akure, Ondo State. The Commission therefore will not postpone the election.”

 

The PDP had asked INEC to postpone the election by three weeks in order to allow judgment on its candidacy tussle before the Appeal Court.

Bola Tinubu Demands John Odigie-Oyegun’s Resignation Over Ondo APC Governorship Primaries

National Leader of APC, Bola Tinubu, has reportedly asked for the immediate resignation of the party’s National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun. According to Vanguard, Tinubu made the demand in a stinking communiqué sent to Oyegun and other party chieftains.

The former Lagos state governor in the letter accused Oyegun of interfering and sabotaging the will of democracy in Ondo State by overriding the decision of the party’s appeal panel that asked for a fresh governorship primary following investigations that showed that the delegates’ list used had been tampered with.
 He alleged that APC was now under threat of being suffocated by anti-democratic forces pretending
to be progressives, His communique reads

“The APC, a party born of the quest for democratic good governance, is under critical threat by those who managed to be in the party but never of it. From the party’s inception, the principles of democratic fairness and justice were to guide APC internal deliberations. Party founders realized that only by intramural fair dealing could the party remain faithful to the progressive ideals that we presented to the Nigerian electorate as our governing creed. If the party could not justly govern itself, it would find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation. In essence, the party was the embodiment of a democratic promise made between its members as well as a democratic vow made to the public. Evidently, some errant members believe promises and vows are mere words to be easily spoken and more easily broken.

Chairman John Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display. In doing so, Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira. The party was supposed to buttress APC members elected to government at all levels. Because of Oyegun’s conduct of our affairs, the party is rapidly becoming an albatross to those it was meant to help. Oyegun’s comportment regarding the Ondo State primary will become the textbook definition of political treachery and malfeasance of the basest order. In early September, the state primary was held. A purported winner was named. Having faith in the ways of the party, Tinubu publicly accepted what he assumed to be a verdict honestly derived. As a democrat, one must face the possibility of defeat and accept such as outcome with as much grace as one would embrace victory. One of the few bright spots during the conduct of the primaries was Jigawa Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar. He chaired the primary convention with decorum and impartiality. He was unaware that a tampered list had been slipped into the process. Indeed within hours of the announcement, news began to filter in that gravely disturbed me. Credible allegations of fraud troubled the waters. The delegate list had been materially altered by someone in a strategic position to so do. The names of over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors. This was not a clerical error. The alteration was wilfully executed that the primary would be directed toward a chosen end that bore nothing in common with the will of most state party members. A cunning few had tried to deceive the many into believing they were outnumbered. A conspiracy to steal the Ondo primary had been uncovered. Fortunately, the grand deception afoot had been unable to cover its tracks fast enough. Truth began to cry for justice. “Several candidates filed petitions contesting the result. The party established an investigative board to review the evidence.

In a two to one decision, the panel found the delegate roster had suffered tampering. The panel recommended that a new primary should be held using the valid delegate list. This recommendation was tabled before the National Working Committee (NWC). After many hours of deliberations spanning several days, a final vote was held by the NWC. Before hand, NWC members agreed that the decision of the majority would become the stance of the party. Such is the way of democracy. The NWC voted six against five to cancel the fraudulent results and hold an honest primary. For a moment, it seemed the party would restore its integrity by giving democracy a chance.

However, those who sought to scam an entire state would not let the vote of 11 people spoil their enterprise. After the NWC vote, a noticeably agitated Chairman Oyegun proposed the NWC engage in prayer before concluding the meeting. Adhering to this chairman’s request, NWC members began to pray. Seeing that the others had taken his bait, Oyegun used the prayerful interlude to secretly excuse himself from the meeting. Contravening the NWC decision and in violation of all rules of fundamental decency, Oyegun decided to safeguard the fraud done in Ondo by perpetrating a greater fraud. Oyegun arrogated to himself the right to submit the name of Rotimi Akeredolu to INEC as the candidate of the party. Truth has finally come to light. There exists a regressive element in the party that cares nothing for the progressive ideas upon which this party was founded. They joined the APC because it was the best ride available at the time. Now they want to guide the party into the ditch. They want to turn the party into a soulless entity incapable of doing good, just like they are. When such a person tastes power, they shed all good restraint.


They come to abuse the trust given them as if they are the owners of that trust and not its mere custodians. These people did little to build the party but now will do much to wreck it. Our party was to stand for change. Oyegun and his fellows seem to be on a different wave length. They are the cohort of Unchange.

The APC wants to guide Nigeria into a better tomorrow. Oyegun and the cohort of unchange want to pull Nigeria back into the past where rigging and vote stealing were the old and new testaments of politics. They want the people to think that there is no alternative to their reactionary system of skewed politics and imperious government. Thus, they seek to turn the APC into a factory of the very political malpractices the people soundly rejected in the past election. To choke the APC in this manner is to kill the chance for progressive reform for the foreseeable future. Much more than the Ondo primary is at stake. Oyegun has revealed his team’s game plan: It is the destruction of progressive politics and governance on behalf of the people. As party chairman, Oyegun was supposed to protect our internal processes and be an impartial arbiter, a person in whom all had confidence. Instead, he donned the garment of a confident man, duping the NWC, the party, and INEC in one fell blow. He has robbed APC members in Ondo State of the chance to pick in a fair manner who they believe is the best candidate. As such, he has broken faith with the party and probably has broken a few laws. The consequences of what he has done are more expansive than a man of his scope can fathom,” Tinubu said as he said that Oyegun must have been under some major sinister influence as to allow what happened. “With strong expectation, we await a response to Oyegun’s wrongdoing from those who clamored so long and loudly about Tinubu’s alleged role in the Ondo primary. Leading into the primary, a prominent lawyer from Ondo published lengthy missives alleging that Tinubu was a malicious hand intent on rigging the primary. His letters spoke of his great love for democracy and justice. Though Oyegun has assaulted democracy in a most public and vulgar way, this lawyer’s prolific pen will remain stilled. He dare not publish a word about this travesty. His silence will be sign for all who care to decipher its meaning. The plan was to point the accusing finger at Tinubu. With everyone focused on Tinubu, they would have distracted all attention from the heist they had set in motion. As fate would have it, the trickery they hoped to conduct in the shadows has come to light. Those who so actively attributed imaginary wrong to Tinubu now stand dumb and mute in the face of confirmed impropriety. They remain silent for reasons they cannot divulge.

Oyegun and his ilk turn out to be gangsters adorned in the tunic of party authority. Oyegun has engaged in the strange math where five is greater than six. This smacks of how the PDP conducted its affairs and orchestrated its own downfall. Tinubu disparaged such malpractice when it was not in his party. Tinubu surely disowns it now that it has invaded the party he helped bring to fruition. Tinubu has consciously refused to hold any official position with the party to avoid the perception that he was trying to control all and sundry. Tinubu has even kept his peace for some time despite many things that happened within the party that were not quite right. He exercised this forbearance because the party is young. A collective endeavor cannot avoid the mistakes and errors of organizational newness and evolution. Yet, the wrongs Oyegun committed had nothing to do with newness or the mistakes occasioned by the path of reform. His actions are in the nature of the old wrongs that have afflicted our national politics much too long. If Oyegun wants to walk backward into the past, he has every right to it. However, he has no right to drag the party or any of us with him. Against our choosing. The informal title of national leader of the party was given to Tinubu at the onset which he accepted it as a sign from those who wished to recognize my contributions to the party’s formation. It is an honorific title which he has been proud to wear until today. I would rather not have any title yet reside in a party that honors democracy than hold a title in a party that says it honors me but that treats justice with indecency. I find greater honour and comfort where democracy and fairness are found and respected. Oyegun has done the irredeemable. His coup is an insult to party and to patriot, to reason and to the reform agenda of this government. To remain silent would be to admit the defeat of the reform and progressive change many have labored to bring forth.

While the forces resistant to change and reform are strong, Tinubu dare not submit to them. Tinubu encourages all party members not to submit to them. If we acquiesce in this wrong, the one greater than this shall cascade upon us. “Oyegun’s transgressions are a warning. He is but the mercenary of forces that seek to return the nation to the old ways. If they get away with this infraction, no telling what or whom they will undermine tomorrow. Much is at stake. On the chopping block, lies the future of the political party in which the majority of voters had placed their confidence. To rescue the party, Oyegun must go. He has shown that he and democratic fair play cannot exist in the same party at the same time. If Tinubu is to choose between John Oyegun and progress toward a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made. For those who care about the party, who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear.”