The weapons that the oppositions used before and during the election were outright lies; half-truths; character assassinations; display of money; false propaganda; imposition of candidate(s); personality-based campaigns rather than issue-based ones among others.
The just-concluded governorship election in Ondo State has added another dimension to the democratic dispensation in Nigeria. The election has been widely acclaimed to be credible, free and fair by both the election monitors, electorate and Nigerians generally.
The election was mainly a contest among three principal personalities namely Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Labour Party; Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of the Action Congress of Nigeria; and Chief Olusola Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party, even though there were 12 contestants from different political parties.
A lot of electoral predictions before the election had warned that it was going to be a big war among the three principal contestants and that any of the three could win the election.
But those who know the Ondo State people and some flaws from the camps of the two main opposition parties, namely the PDP and ACN, had argued that it was going to be an easy-ride for Governor Mimiko.
Who are the Ondo State people? They are people who are morally principled, who hate it when others are being cheated and badly criticised. They also appreciate the good that anybody has done. They hate lies and they can pitch their tents with honest strangers against their dubious kinsmen. They also hate slavery, dictatorship and godfatherism.
How did these characters of Ondo State people play out in the election? The weapons that the oppositions used before and during the election were outright lies; half-truths; character assassinations; display of money; false propaganda; imposition of candidate(s); personality-based campaigns rather than issue-based ones among others.
The PDP was a little fair in its campaign. Though, it sometimes attacked the personality of Mimiko, most of the campaigns were based on denying the good works of Mimiko which were his qualification certificates before the people. Since the people of Ondo State hate lies, the party could not win the hearts of a majority of the people.
The flaws of the ACN were more. The first mistake was the imposition of Akeredolu as its candidate by the party’s leadership. This, to indigenes of Ondo State meant that there was no internally democratic mechanisms that were fair to all in the party; the people also saw the party as cheating against those candidates who were not given equal treatments. Akeredolu could be a very good candidate but the way he was selected was annoying and those who know the people of the state would not be surprised if a kinsman of Akeredolu opposed him for cheating others in the race.
Second, it was obvious that the ACN did not take its time to study the people. Since they had been succeeding in the other South-West states, the leaders of the party concluded that the same tactics, strategies and weapons used in those states were enough to “capture” Ondo State.
At the time the ACN was campaigning, Mimiko was the governor of the state and the people would have wanted him to be treated as such. The people did not like some of the languages used and the arrogance and pride displayed against their incumbent Governor. It was therefore true that some of those who had vowed to vote for the ACN actually changed their minds when they heard those derogatory words used against him by the party leaders. Even if money and materials were distributed, the people’s hearts had been fixed against the party.
Another thing that worked against the ACN was the perception of Bola Tinubu by the people of the state who saw him as the “only voice” of the party and godfather of all the party’s appointed and elected men and women including the six state governors in the zone. An average indigene of Ondo State abhors godfatherism and dictatorship. The people will rather like a governor whose administration cannot be hijacked by external interests.
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