By Yinka Adeosun
If there is anything the results of the Ondo central senatorial district election depict, it is the power of the people over the popularity of the candidate. Truly, the power of the people is much stronger than the people in power. The power of the people is hinged upon the reputation, performance, antecedence and impact of the candidate to a large section of the people. The election was about what has been done, presenting your score-cards to the people and not a promise of what to do.
Despite the fact that he voted in support of child marriage in 2013 and has been away from mainstream politics, having been voted out in 2015, Senator Ayo Patrick Akinyelure has emerged the senator-elect to represent Ondo Central senatorial district at the ninth national assembly.
The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Senator Ayo Akinyelure scored 66,978 to defeat the incumbent senator Tayo Alasoadura of the All Progressives Congress, who scored 57,828 and the former governor, Olusegun Mimiko of the Zenith Labour Party with 56,624 votes in a keenly contested election. It is interesting to note that Akinyelure rode on the popularity of Mimiko to win the seat in 2011 and lost it to Alasoadura in 2015.
The result of the Ondo state presidential and national assembly elections is a lesson for all politicians, especially those from the Southwest region. It is a clear message that the works of the people in power will continue to live after them, especially when they need the people for further support.
If Akinyelure had any chance of taking his pound of flesh at Alasoadura who had defeated him in 2015, Mimiko’s entry had changed the narrative. His last minute to join the league of former governors in the senate was seen as an act to silence other contestants. In fact, some analysts had said; “It is all over for AllOver”, AllOver, being the nomenclature with which Akinyelure is addressed by his teeming supporters.
The former governor, Olusegun Rahman Mimiko was tipped to defeat the incumbent senator, Alasoadura, whose party had become unattractive to the people across the state. No doubt, Mimiko is the most popular of all the candidates running for the office, having served in the capacity of the governor for eight straight years after a legal battle with his predecessor, late Olusegun Agagu who had initially claimed his mandate.
Some analysts are still shocked at Mimiko’s defeat. The former was just paid back in his own coin. In a culture where we celebrate non-performers and looters of treasury, Mimiko must have felt eulogised with the cheers of “Iroko” and waves from the crowds that attended his campaign venues. Like Atiku Abubakar, he must have also learnt that the crowd does not make the votes. If Ondo East and West make up Ondo Central senatorial district, by now, the self styled Iroko would have cruised to victory. After all, his major projects while in office were situated there. But no, the senatorial district is made up of four other local governments.
Mimiko’s story is similar to that of Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra state. He won his mandate at the court with a less popular party at the time, All Progressives Grand Alliance, when it was stolen by the PDP. Iroko had the prospect to build Labour party into a national party, but he bungled that opportunity for his inordinate ambition until the party was relegated into oblivion. He was in Labour Party at home, but PDP at the centre. When he decided to remove his chameleon skin and decide for PDP, the LP was no longer the same; the party had been relegated into nothingness, which it may never recover from. His open declaration for PDP was the puncture that rendered the umbrella in shambles and eventually crushed the hope of her governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede. Till tomorrow, the people of Akure South still believe that, the defeat in 2016 of their son, Eyitayo, who incidentally is the leader of PDP in the state, was caused by Iroko.
During his tenure from 2011 to 2015, Akinyelure’s impact was spread across the six local governments, which he represented. He is credited with landmark achievements. He boasts of reducing unemployment in his senatorial district by assisting 348 graduates to secure employment at the federal civil service, in addition to employing some in his established AllOver polytechnic which recently established a campus in Akure, among others. No doubt, Akinyelure, an indigene of Idanre, also rode on the popularity of other PDP candidates who are grassroots politicians in their own right and locality to win en mass the votes from Akure South and Ifedore local governments. Not even the result of Akura North, Alasoadura’s root could stop All Over.
Donald Omotayo Alasoadura was sent packing just as his beloved colleague, Saraki was dethroned from Kwara political dynasty; for it was Alasoadura and his ilks like Dino Melaye, who against their party’s wish queued behind Bukola Saraki as the President of the eighth senate.
The result of the president and national assembly elections is a strong message to the ruling APC in the state. The lacklustre performance of the bearded governor, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, his uninspiring approach to governance and the falling popularity of the APC-led government may not be given a second chance. He will soon be shown the way out if there is no strategy to redeem his divided and crumbling empire.
Adeosun writes from Akure, Ondo state