By way of beginning, this is to congratulate Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on his phenomenal win of the October 10, 2020 gubernatorial election. While his All Progressives Congress was victorious in 15 of 18 local governments, Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, won in the remaining three local governments.
That political jokester, Agboola Ajayi, and his master, former Governor of the state, Olusegun Mimiko, of the Zenith Labour Party polled a miserable 69,127 votes. What that means is that even if the highly-trumpeted alliance of Jegede and Ajayi had seen the light of the day, it most likely wouldn’t have been able to upstage Akeredolu.
However, Governor Akeredolu jolted poll watchers when he announced his disappointment with the people of Akure, the state capital, who constituted the three local governments – Akure South, Akure North and Ifedore local government – where he lost and which gave Jegede their votes. Jegede hails from Akure. Akeredolu had said in a television interview: “I thought I was going to win the 18 local governments. I’m shocked at what happened in Akure… But I’ll put that behind me. I’ll move forward. I thought I would win in Akure because I worked in those three local governments where people turned against us. But it’s alright with me. We’ll forget it.”
In a Nigerian politics where primordial sentiments take overwhelming position over any other consideration, it is shocking that Akeredolu is shocked at the paucity of votes he got from Akure people. The primordial nature of political support is revealed in that, in Owo where he hails from, Akeredolu defeated Jegede with about 30,000 votes, while Jegede also led him with about the same amount of votes in Akure.
Akure people were known to fight other people’s battles, even at their own detriment. The kingdom roasted like suya its crème de la crème politicians in the Second Republic – R. A. Agbayewa, Olaiya Fagbamigbe and Babatunde Agunbiade, former Majority Leader of the State House of Assembly, and many others. Their crime was that they supported an Ekiti man, Akin Omoboriowo, and abandoned an Owo man, Adekunle Ajasin. So, rather than be shocked at the outcome of votes from Akure, Akeredolu should be happy for Akure people because primordiality is manifesting as having its own gains after all.
For the very first time in a very long while, Akure queued behind its own in the said election. For decades, indigenes of Akure city and their kinsmen from the hinterland who constitute the other two local governments, had engaged in ancient bickering. Politicians exploited this dissonance to further set them apart. Akeredolu himself once said that Akure belonged to all. The monarchies in the three local governments strove unsuccessfully to mend this crack. It is worsened by an ancient but objectionable line of a native dialect song renowned with Akure in the city, to wit, “A mo i s’Akure oko o, Akure Oyemekun…” – we are different from Akure villagers; we are true born of Oyemekun.” This divisive song built a wall between the Akure people in the councils.
However, with this election, the three “warring” councils that constitute Akure were able to come together and speak in unison, albeit in support of their son, Jegede. To irredentist Akure people, this is phenomenal and should be consolidated. Methinks its leaders should use the outcome of the election to heal the ancient acrimonies, dump self-serving charlatan political leaders, get a leader acceptable to all Akure people and use their unity to negotiate for the development of Akure kingdom from political authorities.
In Nigeria, a second term has always been the bane of states’ development as re-elected governors literally go to bed and slip into a 4-year inertia. Akeredolu began the first four years well by attracting some industries to the state via synergy with the Chinese which produced the Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub in Ore and constructing the Ore Interchange bridge. He also made appreciable showings in road infrastructure. He should go down in history as the governor who deviated from the pack by spending every day of the next four years working. He would be a hero. He should also make the Akure people, who characteristically voted their son, to come tender apologies to him in 2024. This will happen if he breaks their expectations in infrastructure and human capacity empowerment.