Incumbent governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has been returned to office for another four years. The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the October 10 election with 292,830 votes to defeat Eyitayo Jegede of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose vote tally was 195,791. Ajayi Agboola, the governor’s former deputy ran against his former boss on the platform of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and received 69,127 votes. Jegede’s immediate reaction was philosophical. “This project is a project that God has ordained. As it is so, we wait. So we wait on God,” his campaign spokesman Gbenga Ademoyo said in a statement.
Accepting victory Sunday, Akeredolu told Ondo voters: “The renewal of our mandate in this election is an eloquent testimony to the degree of acceptance by you, the good people of Ondo State. It affirms that the confidence reposed in our Administration remains unshaken. It is a statement on your assessment of our performance in the last three and a half years. It is unequivocal, direct, inspiring and soul lifting. It is awesome. It is a reward for hard work, dedication, focus, honesty and patriotism. It is also a challenge to us for rededication to service in the interest of our people. On this, we shall not relent.
President Muhammadu Buhari, expectedly, has rejoiced with Akeredolu on his re-election. In a congratulatory message by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Sunday, Buhari lauded the “resounding” victory of the governor. He believed that the votes Akeredolu received “show that one good turn surely deserves another.”
The president thanked the people of Ondo State for keeping faith with their governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC). He noted that “the people know the person and party that truly serves them, and have spoken in a clear voice and unmistakable terms.” Buhari appreciated the electorate in the state for comporting themselves decently and in order and for exhibiting conduct that indicates that the country is making progress in its electoral behaviour.
He also gave kudos to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for organizing credible, free and fair election, and to security agencies which ensured that orderliness was enthroned and maintained. He urged Akeredolu to be humble and magnanimous in victory, and serve the people of Ondo State even better than he did in the first term. “When you serve with heart and might, the people respond in like manner, and we can easily get to where we are headed as a country.”
Warts and all, Ondo surprised even the optimists among observers of the state’s politics. Given its history of political violence, few gave it any chance of pulling off a vote as clean as Edo’s on Sept. 19. But it did, in spite of isolated cases of preelection violence. Attempted ballot box snatching was reported at some polling centres and votes buying by candidates and their parties took place, according to election monitors. Otherwise, the vote was credible, they reported. Good for Ondo, good for INEC and good for Nigeria.