Like many other elections in Nigeria, the October 10 governorship poll in Ondo State is set to be a contest of popularity between the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

But unlike in Edo, where the election was largely between the APC and the PDP, the upcoming election in Ondo has a strong third force.

The Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and its candidate are familiar contenders and political analysts believe the party founded by the former governor of the state, Segun Mimiko, is strong enough to give both the APC and the PDP a run for their money.

Come Saturday, the APC candidate and incumbent governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, will slug it out with his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, who fell out with him and joined the ZLP; and Eyitayo Jegede, his political rival, who’s contesting on the platform of the PDP.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State at the debate organised by ChannelsTV (Channels TV)
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State at the debate organised by ChannelsTV (Channels TV)

Expectedly, days into the election, political parties and their candidates have intensified efforts to sell themselves to the people of the state, to win their hearts and get their votes at the poll.

These efforts, however, did not come without the parties and their candidates trading blames and throwing jabs at each other every time the opportunity presents itself.

Here’s the timeline of the attacks between the APC and the PDP.

Jegede vows to take over from Akeredolu

In July, after winning the ticket to represent the PDP in a governorship election for the second time, Jegede who was defeated by the incumbent governor by wide margins in 2016 fired a warning at Akeredolu to get ready to leave the government house.

In his acceptance speech, he said, “By the grace of God, with the assistance of the people, and the support of party members and all the aspirants, we will take over the government of Ondo State on October 10.”

Eyitayo Jegede, the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ondo. [Twitter/@TayoJegedeSAN]
Eyitayo Jegede, the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ondo. [Twitter/@TayoJegedeSAN]

Tinubu declares PDP dead in Ondo

While the PDP believes the party could replicate its recent feat from Edo, the national leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu thinks the opposition party does not stand a chance because according to him, the PDP is dead.

On Saturday, September 5, 2020, when the APC officially flagged off the campaign, Tinubu called on monarchs and the people of Ondo State not to cast their votes for the party he described as ‘regressives’.

He said, “You don’t fight the PDP. There is no point fighting a corpse inside the coffin, just settle down and calmly nail their coffin.

‘Collect their stolen money and vote for us,’ Mimiko tells electorate

While campaigning for Agboola Ajayi, the candidate of his party, ZLP, Mimiko, the former governor of Ondo State, advised voters to collect the “stolen money” that some party had promised them and still vote for ZLP.

Former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko. (Vanguard)
Former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko. (Vanguard)

Mimiko said the ZLP will bring back good governance in Ondo, saying Ajayi is the man for the job if the people want tuition fee to be reduced from N150,000 to N50,000.

PDP accuses APC of attacking Jegede

In September, Jegede’s convoy was reportedly attacked by hooded men in Oba Akoko, a town in Ondo state.

According to the PDP, some members of the party were severely wounded and their campaign vehicles vandalised.

While explaining the reasons for the alleged attack, the National Publicity of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the APC was agitated by Jegede’s soaring rating.

APC accuses Mimiko of seeking third term through the back door

Mimiko is not contesting in the October 10 election, but the APC believes the former governor’s support for the ZLP candidate is a ploy to return himself to the government house in Akure for a third term.

Mimiko was Ondo governor from 2008 to 2016 and was the first to be re-elected in the state after dumping the Labour Party for the PDP.

However, during the build-up to the forthcoming election in the state, the ex-governor threw his weight behind the state’s deputy governor, Ajayi, who dumped the APC and the PDP in less than 50 days to join the ZLP and subsequently became the party’s governorship candidate.

Agboola Ajayi, Ondo State Deputy Governor recently dumped the APC for the PDP and then joined the ZLP in less than two months. (Saharareporters)
Agboola Ajayi, Ondo State Deputy Governor recently dumped the APC for the PDP and then joined the ZLP in less than two months. (Saharareporters)

Perhaps, due to Mimiko’s influence in the ZLP, the APC in a statement in September accused the two-term governor of ‘plotting a third-term bid surreptitiously through Zenith Labour Party’, adding that he controlled the party as its sole administrator.

PDP tells Akeredolu to stop ‘political terrorism’ on Jegede

Thursday, October 1, 2020, was a celebration day for Nigeria, but for the PDP, it was a day to issue a stern warning to Governor Akeredolu and whoever is behind ‘repeated attacks’ on Jegede, its governorship candidate.

In the statement, the PDP said the recourse to political terrorism, banditry and violence against Jegede and the Ondo people would not work.

Ondo state Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. [Twitter/@RotimiAkeredolu]
Ondo state Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. [Twitter/@RotimiAkeredolu]

The party also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to counsel Akeredolu to stop overheating the polity in the state, adding that no amount of violence would stop the people from voting Jegede.

‘Violence won’t save you from defeat’, Akeredolu fires back

Four days after PDP’s warning to Akeredolu, another round of violence erupted in Akure, the state capital.

According to Governor Akeredolu, five people, who are his supporters, were injured.

In a statement by the spokesman of his campaign organisation, Mr Richard Olatunde on Sunday, October 4, 2020, Akeredolu fingered the lawmaker representing Akure South/Akure North in the Federal House of Representatives, Mr Adedayo Omolafe, popularly known as ‘Expensive’, as the mastermind of the violence.

The governor said, ‘This latest recourse to attack, thuggery and wanton violence by the PDP is the height of insensitivity, irresponsibility and indecency.

He concluded that violence would not save the PDP and Jegede from defeat in the election.

APC says PDP’s campaign slogan incites violence

After the series of allegations and counter-allegations on violence in the state, the APC finally concluded that the campaign slogan of the opposition party is the motivation behind violent attacks in the state.

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.

The PDP campaign slogan for Ondo 2020 is “Eyitayo Must Not Fail”, and according to the APC, the ‘PDP youth are easily moved to action once they hear the slogan’.

The party alleged that many people have been victimised because they displayed Akeredolu’s stickers.

‘This seeming desperation in the camp of the PDP flag bearer induces the party’s thugs to go wild and destroy anything in sight’. the APC said.

Jegede has already won’, PDP boasts

Three days before the election, the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, expressed optimism that the party would win the Ondo governorship election.

Eyitayo Jegede (left) with Uche Secondus (right) [PDP]
Eyitayo Jegede (left) with Uche Secondus (right) [PDP]

He said Gov Akeredolu is intimidated and afraid of Jegede because the PDP’s candidate has already won the election.

Although 17 political parties are on the ballot for the October 10 governorship election, the build-up has shown that the poll is going to be a serious contest between the APC, PDP and the ZLP.