Akeredolu, Jegede, Oke leading in their areas
• Malfunctioning Card Readers Anger Candidates
• AD Candidate Alleges Manipulation, Intimidation
• Massive Turn Out Of Voters
The Ondo State Governorship election took place in all the 18 Local government Areas of the state yesterday, with voters trooping out early in the day to cast their votes.
However, Polling Officers (POs) had hectic time accrediting voters. This was due to the malfunctioning Smart Card Readers (SMC) that failed to either capture the fingers or picture of voters.
For instance, the state governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko could not be accredited because the card reader rejected his thumbprint. He had to fill the incident form before he was allowed to cast his vote.
The situation gave rise to condemnation by the leading candidates in the election. The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who spoke to newsmen after casting his vote in his Owo hometown, said INEC ought to have tested the devices before deploying them for the election.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Eyitayo Jegede lamented that the card readers were malfunctioning, warning INEC against disenfranchising his supporters.
The Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate, Olusola Oke complained bitterly over the situation, alleging that many of the card readers deployed to his area in Ilaje Local government did not function effectively.
“I am not easily frustrated, but it is embarrassing as a candidate that the card reader could not easily capture my hands,” he said
However, despite thefrustrationsabout the card readers, the election was generally peaceful in all parts of the state, with voters casting their votes unmolested.
Beside problems of electronic accreditation of voters, voting started as early as 8am in most of the polling units across the state, while cases of electoral malpractices and ballot snatching were minimal.
Law enforcement agents, including Police, Civil Defence Corps, as well as, road safety officials, were deployed to the polling units to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
The restriction order across the state was totally adhered to, while business and vehicular activities were totally shut down.
The electoral officers displayed a high sense of professionalism in their dealings with voters. In most of the polling units, the INEC adhoc staff separately handled verification, accreditation and voting.
To make the work of electoral officers easier and faster, most voters took it upon themselves to search for their names from the voter list displayed on the wall at the polling units, which they did wholeheartedly without any murmuring or complaint.
At the close of counting of votes in the polling units across the state, feelers showed that the leading contenders, Akeredolu, Eyitayo and Olusola Oke won in their respective senatorial districts of Ondo South, Ondo Central and Ondo North respectively.
As things are, the four local government councils in Akoko land and Akure may be the deciding factor as to who would win the election.
Already, early results from Akeredolu’s Owo base showed the APC candidate maintaining a clear lead by defeating his opponents, while Jegede also won overwhelmingly in his central zone. Oke, who defected to AD in the wake of the acrimonious APC primary, also demonstrated his control of the riverine area as he won overwhelmingly in this area.
The three leading candidates in the election lauded the electoral commission on the conduct of the election.
The candidates specifically commended the massive voters turn out and maturity displayed by the electorate during the election
Meanwhile, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Ondo State has alleged that both APC and PDP jointly rigged the governorship election.
According to the spokesperson of Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation, Kolawole Olabisi, the parties made good their threats to “win the election at all cost by embarking on spate of intimidation, heavy monetisation and outright manipulation of the ballot materials in the ongoing election.”
The party lamented that it was unfortunate that the APC, whose mantra of a complete change to a corruption free Nigeria was now the very apostle of corruption, intimidation and outright manipulation of votes by heavily monetising the voting processes in the election.
His words: “They have threatened to win this election at all cost and today, they have demonstrated their willingness to make their prediction come true. Our leaders were brutalised and hounded out of their homes in order to scare them and their supporters from the polling booths, they have brought in loads and loads of money to buy votes due to the pangs of hunger, which they brought unto the people.
“Yet, they say they are fighting corruption. Again, the PDP too has been attacking us, including our candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, they are now buying votes in the full glare of all, shamelessly to continue pillaging the State.
“From all over the state reports have it that cases of electoral manipulations are ongoing, the PVC card readers are not functioning properly and appear to have been compromised as they show figures different from what was usually recorded in the accreditation exercise.”