President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave assurances that next Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State would be free, fair and credible.
Buhari spoke virtually yesterday at the grand finale of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship election campaign held at the Akure Township Stadium in Ondo State.
He promised that security agents shall perform their duties creditably to forestall the breakdown of law and order by unscrupulous elements.
Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in the state, Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Chairman of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) National Caretaker and Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni; Chairman, APC National Campaign Council for Ondo State Governorship election and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and several leaders of the party used the opportunity to rally support for the re-election of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
A few kilometres away, in Ondo city, the National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, at the final lap of the party’s campaign, said the APC and its candidate, Akeredolu, were jittery of the popularity of the PDP’s candidate, Prof. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN).
However, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has again warned politicians against actions and utterances that could be inimical to a free, fair and credible election, and also cautioned the security operatives, including policemen on election duty to be professional.
APC governors from Kebbi, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, and Kogi States also attended the campaign rally.
Buhari, whose recorded remark was relayed via video, expressed his support for the APC’s governorship candidate, Akeredolu, saying that the incumbent governor deserves to be re-elected so that he can consolidate on his achievements in office.
The president urged the electorate to turn out en masse to vote on Saturday without fear of molestation.
He said: ”I have no doubt that our candidate is a good brand for the APC to market. I am particularly delighted by his ingenious approach to governance.
”His performance within the limits of available resources is endearing, just as he has taken the state to an enviable level and on the path of prosperity.
”Having had the privilege of commissioning some of his projects, which I consider enduring legacies, I join you here today to declare that Governor Akeredolu deserves to be re-elected to consolidate the good work he commenced in his first term.
”I am not just proud of his achievements; I am confident he will enjoy the mandate of the good people of Ondo State for the second term.”
The president said he had taken a special interest not necessarily because his party is involved but because his focus and attention have been to ensure that the nation maximises every given opportunity to raise the bar in its desire to deepen democracy.
Buhari expressed delight in the internal democracy in the party, particularly on the conduct of the party primary that produced Akeredolu.
The president commended the resolve of other aspirants, who contested the primary with Akeredolu but are now supporting him for re-election.
Also addressing the crowd via a recorded message, Osinbajo said Akeredolu-led APC administration’s achievements are visible in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
According to him, “I do not claim to know more than you about the development in the state, you know best. But I will like to mention a few things you know about the achievements of the administration, not my friend, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
“I want to call on traditional rulers, chiefs, elderly, market leaders, traders, teachers, students, civil servants and artisans to vote for a politician with integrity, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for continuity of good governance and provision of infrastructure, development and growth of Ondo State. Vote for APC on Saturday.”
The Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Buni, said the people of the state need not start from the beginning but to consolidate.
He enjoined all the people to come out to vote and ensure the continuity of good work.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the governors and other leaders of the party are in the state to reassure the people that they were all in support of Akeredolu.
“APC is here not to cause violence but to win the election. We are all here to express our total support for Akeredolu’s re-election and by the Grace of God, we shall win,” he said.
Fayemi said the support of all other aspirants who are now with Akeredolu, was a boost to his re-election because they are united.
“All I want to tell you is that this is the end of discussion,” Fayemi said.
Addressing the rally, the Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahaya Bello, said what the people wanted was continuity.
Bello, who also addressed the people of Kogi State in Ebira language, urged the people not to allow themselves to be intimidated on the day of the election.
He assured the governor that the Kogi State people in Ondo State that constituted more than 30 per cent of the residents of the state shall vote en masse for him.
The Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who addressed the people of the South-east in Igbo language, urged them to vote for Akeredolu, who is special to them.
Ondo Gov, APC Jittery of Jegede’s Popularity, Says Secondus
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the PDP, Secondus, yesterday said that the APC and its candidate, Akeredolu, were jittery of the popularity of the PDP’s candidate, Jegede.
Secondus said this at the grand finale of the campaign of the PDP held in Ondo City, the headquarters of Ondo West Local Government Area of the state.
The PDP chairman blamed the APC and its supporters for the recurring violence in the state, and accused the party of doing all things at all cost to remain in the office.
He, therefore, urged the people of the state to vote out the ruling APC, adding that the party had failed Nigerians woefully at all levels.
Speaking on how to curtail the pockets of crisis threatening the Saturday election, he advised that INEC and security agencies should be allowed to do their duties professionally without interference.
Secondus appealed to the people to protect their votes and resist any attempt by the ruling party to rig the election.
The Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council for Ondo Election and Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, reaffirmed the panicky situation of the ruling party, saying the ruling party was planning to rig the election.
Makinde assured the people that the PDP candidate would win the election and bring the dividends of democracy for the benefit of all.
The Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, urged the people to reject the APC with their votes, lamenting that the party has inflicted unbearable hardship on Nigerians.
Tambuwal implored the people to join other PDP states, which have departed from listless chains of poverty, unemployment, economic crunch and diabolical policies of the APC to repress the poor.
Other PDP governors present were: Chief Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa); Senator Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Alhaji Bello Matawalle (Zamfara).
Also at the rally, were former governors of Niger, Ekiti and Osun states: Dr. Babaginda Aliyu, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, respectively, as well as other dignitaries like Senator Abiodun Olujimi, Chief Oyewole Fasawe.
IG Warns Politicians against Violence
The IG, Adamu, cautioned security operatives, including policemen on election duty to be professional.
The force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, in a statement titled: ‘Ondo Poll: IG Cautions Politicians against Violence,’ stated that Adamu warned politicians against actions and utterances that could be inimical to a free, fair and credible election.
Adamu warned that the full weight of the law would be meted out to anyone who engaged in any electoral fraud, including violence, vote-buying, ballot box snatching, hate speeches and other unwholesome practices capable of undermining the peace and stability of the electoral process.
Mba said the IG also assured the people of Ondo State of adequate security measures during the exercise.
He reiterated that adequate deployments in terms of manpower, marine and aerial surveillance and other assets of the force had been made to ensure effective security coverage.
He enjoined all eligible voters to come out en mass to freely and peacefully exercise their franchise in line with their civic obligation, “without any fear of intimidation on the day of the election.”
The statement further said, “The IG has charged all police officers and other law enforcement agents deployed for the election to act in accordance with the Electoral Act and other extant laws guiding their overall conduct before, during and after the elections.
“He warns that police officers and officers of other law enforcement agencies found acting contrary to their oaths of office or in aid of illicit electoral practices will be strictly and personally held liable with dire legal consequences.”