In Ondo, it’s battle in the sun

THIRTY days to the October 20 governorship   election in Ondo State, the leading contenders are upping the ante to out-do one another.
The ruling Labour Party Candidate and Governor of the state christened Sunshine State, Olusegun Mimiko is not sparing any arsenal in his bid to surmount the mounting hurdles being placed on his path to re-election by the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. While Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) is flying ACN’s flag, Olusola Oke is bearing the umbrella of the PDP in the contest.
Aside traversing the length and breadth of the state canvassing for votes, the eagle-eyed contenders are quick to point out any undue advantage their opponents are plotting to exploit to win the contest.
It is on this account that the Olusegun Mimiko Campaign Organisation (MCO) raised the alarm that the ACN leadership planned to rig the polls by using some staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. It called on the National Chairman of the INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, to monitor the activities of the commission’s officials alleged to have aligned with the ACN to compromise the election.
MCO’s Director of Publicity and Media Relations, Mr. Kolawole Olabisi said that since it had dawned on the opposition in the state that they would lose their deposits and fail woefully in a free and fair election, they had resorted to this underhand tactics of compromising some INEC officials. Olabisi said that officials of the commission recently met with some leaders of the ACN in Lagos to strategise on the rigging plans for the Ondo gubernatorial election.
“But in order not to fritter away the gains by INEC in its duties and in accordance with its stance that there must be free, fair and credible elections in the nation, Prof Jega must take more than a cursory interest in what is happening in Ondo State by beaming his searchlight on the activities of some of his officials,” he said. But in a swift reaction, the Director of Media and Publicity, Independent Campaign Network, an arm of the A C N in the state, Bosun Oladimeji, said that it was the LP that wanted to rig the coming election because it was no more popular in Ondo state. Oladimeji said that LP was an arm of PDP, which he said was a master rigger adding that the ACN was a progressive party that would win the election convincingly.
Akinrinnade lead gladiators to roundtable today: To ensure a peaceful and credible governorship election on October 20, 2012, the 12 governorship candidates, leading stakeholders in Ondo State and other eminent Nigerians will gather in Akure tomorrow for a parley.
The gathering, which will hold at Royal Park Lane Hotel, Akure and will be chaired by Lt. General Alani Akinrinnade, is being organized by the Office of the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter-Party Affairs.
Speaking on the stakeholders’ forum, an offshoot of a similar exercise held before the recent gubernatorial elections in Edo State, Senator Ben Obi, special adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs, said the parley was necessary to ensure that the forthcoming election was violence-free and credible.
Expected at the forum include Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the Labour Party (LP) candidate; Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) flag bearer and Olusola Oke, the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) among others.
Indeed, the Police authorities, who have expressed worries over what they called politicising criminalities by political parties in the state ahead the polls. This is coming following spate of violence across the state which is heating up the polity.
The Ondo State Commissioner of Police, Danladi Mshelbwala, in a statement, in Akure warned that he would not compromise the subsisting peace in the state. Mshelwala said that necessary measures had been put in place to arrest the ugly trend and warned “those in possession of fire arms illegally are in their own interest warned to surrender them before they are caught or be ready to face the full wrath of law.”
Police, INEC make promises: In furtherance of the search for violence-free and credible polls; security personnel from 11 states of the Federation including soldiers would be deployed to maintain peace during the polls just as the INEC has promised to make the governorship election an improvement of that of Edo State.
Addressing stakeholders in Akure, the Ondo State Capital on the display of Voters Register ahead of the election, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akin Orebiyi said that materials for the October 20 election would arrive all the wards across the state on Friday, October 19. Orebiyi said that the Commission was prepared for any antics that the politicians might want to play during the election to circumvent the efforts of the commission in organising a free and fair election.
Security personnel
According to him the security personnel’s coming from 11 states of the Federation would provide adequate security across the state.  “We have put in place machineries to ensure that the October 20 governorship election is an improvement of that of Edo State. In fact this coming election will be the best ever conducted by INEC and it is going to be a model. With adequate security personnel’s including the Military men then we are sure that this election will not only be free but also fair. On opposition parties’ alleged illegal registration of voters in the state, Orebiyi dismissed the allegation as unfounded.
He said that he had been quizzed by security agents from the Police Force Headquarters on the allegation and it had since been discovered to be a ruse.
Orebiyi expressed worries over several fake allegations flying across the state by the political parties saying that none could be substantiated by them. The REC however assured that if evidence was provided by the parties it would be investigated and if found true the commission would act decisively.
Lapses in the register
”We have done our homework to give a level playing ground to the political parties, this election will be different. The ICT team of INEC has visited Akure three times to correct the lapses in the register. But I want to assure everybody that INEC is prepared to hold the best election in the country with the Ondo governorship election. However the parties should help us because in spite of the allegations of illegal voters’ registration, nobody has come forward with evidence. We are ready for any ambush by any of the political parties in the state. They will meet us there.”
Orebiyi equally denied the allegation by a political party that over 100,000 voters were transfer to the state for the coming election. He said that that commission only received and treated application for only 55 adding that only 30 applications for transfer of registration were received from outside the state while 25 people applied to transfer their cards within the state.

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