5th October, 2012
It was like a parade of two titans as supporters of the two main opposition parties in Ondo State in the 20 October governorship election in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, on Tuesday defied the heavy rain in Akure, the state capital and Ikare, the headquarters of Akoko North East Local Government Area to welcome their national leaders, who came to campaign for their candidates for the election.
Each with its own galaxy of supporters performing in one state but at two venues separated by some 30 kilometres yet with reverberations all through the length and breadth of the state.
The parties separately held campaign rallies in their bids to end the Governor Olusegun Mimiko-led Labour Party, LP, administration.
While PDP held its rally in Akure, which was attended by the Vice-President Namadi Sambo and the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the ACN held a similar one in Ikare-Akoko attended by its national leaders, including Chief Bisi Akande and former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The Mimiko Campaign Organisation, MCO, alleged that the two opposition parties could not muster enough crowd but had to rely on importing residents of other states to attend their rallies.
The National Leader of the ACN, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu led the National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, the governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, the former governor of Ogun State, Segun Osoba and others to tell the people why they should vote for the ACN candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu.
The ACN leaders, who spoke one after the other harped on the need for the state to join others in enjoying the dividends of democracy by voting for the ACN candidate in the election.
The ACN supporters, who started gathering at the Cenotaph area of the town with brooms burst into jubilation when they saw the helicopter that brought the national leaders hovering around the town.
Aregbesola, in his characteristic manner, set the tempo of the campaign with songs in praise of Tinubu, Akande and other national leaders, telling the people to reject the Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate and incumbent governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, in the election.
The speakers including Akande, Osoba and others urged the electorate to come out early on the day of election, cast their votes for Akeredolu and wait till their votes were counted before going home.
Tinubu, who betrayed emotion in his speech, disclosed all that he did to ensure that Mimiko got his mandate after he was cheated during election.
He, however, expressed disappointment that despite all he did for Mimiko, he never showed appreciation to the people that helped him including Akeredolu.
The ACN leader said if Ondo State joined other South-west states in installing and ACN government, the states can collaborate to establish a refinery, build a railway line and do many other things for common interest of the people of the zone.
He stated that installing Akeredolu meant liberation for the Southwest, stating that nobody should be allowed to draw them back.
The atmosphere became charged with the appearance of some aspirants of the ACN, who were earlier aggrieved over the choice of Akeredolu on the podium to promise their support for the candidate.
The aspirants including Dr. Tunji Abayomi, and the Mrs Jumoke Anifowose, promised to work for the party in the election and commended their leaders for their commitment to the course of the Southwest.
The Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, who led other leaders of the PDP, including the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the National vice-chairman of the party, Southwest, Mr. Segun Oni, National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu and the National Working Committee (NWC) for the campaign of Chief Olusola Oke.
The PDP crowd had defied the downpour in Akure, to witness the rally which saw the return of Senator Hosea Ehinlanwo, whose son is contesting the governorship election under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), to the PDP.
Also, the immediate past commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Akin Akingbesote, also defected to the PDP during the rally.
Speaking at the rally, Sambo said President Goodluck Jonathan’s intention was to ensure a free and fair election in all parts of the country.
He said if the one-man-one- vote policy was adhered to, Oke would win the election.
Sambo told the PDP supporters not to fret but ensure that they vote where they see the umbrella symbol of the PDP.
In his speech, Tukur asked the people of the state to throw their weight behind the candidate of the PDP. He said it is only the party that has the blue print for the development of the state.
Meanwhile, the Director of Publicity of the MCO, Mr Kolawole Olabis stated this in a statement that no amount of mega rallies; bad mouthing and grandstanding against the candidature and person of Mimiko of the ruling Labour Party (LP) could sway the people of the State into voting for them.
He said it was sad that parties which are laying claim to the state could not even mobilise their members but had to rent and import people from neighboring states in order to create a semblance of being popular.
The organisation thanked Sambo for reiterating Federal Government’s resolve to ensure a free and fair election in the state.
According to him, the October 20 governorship election in the state would be on the basis of one-man-one-vote and no matter the level of desperation from the opposition parties would make them change a performing governor.